Next week I will get to sit down with the Deputy Medical Examiner for the State of Montana. I have to tell you how much I respect and appreciate him. Dr. Walter (Willy) Kemp is a huge part of my life.
I met Willy not quite two years ago over the phone. I had to set up something that was very difficult for me but also very necessary. My mom was in the process of dying. (There are past posts about mom's schizophrenia, my legal guardianship, and the subsequent choices we had to make on the right side bar of this blog.)
Willy is an amazing scientist. He had donated his father's brain to the study of CJD. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a very rare and incurable degenerative neurological disorder (brain disease) that is ultimately fatal. So he had direct personal experience with some of the symptoms that I dealt with as the daughter of a schizophrenic.
I called the MT Crime Lab as a possible help to find a doctor to provide services for my mom's brain donation when the time came. And it did come on March 1, 2007. Willy volunteered to help me with the necessary procedure.
He agreed to be on call for weeks as we waited for that sad moment. Then he got out of bed at 1a.m. to follow through with the plan to retrieve and donate my mom's brain to the study of schizophrenia. Why? Because we both believe so strongly in finding help for the future and for others. Maybe our parents can be one more link in the chain toward a better life for someone else.
I'm also a brain donor. I'll be telling these stories in full as I finish writing Insanity Rules.
Dr. Kemp, Michelle Sutton and I have teamed up to share coping skills and paradigm shifts for other people dealing with mental illness (or diseases that cause similar symptoms) in their loved ones.
If I could offer any tip off the top of my head for someone in the hurricane of this issue right now, it would be:
Preplan. It doesn't matter if you are planning a medical procedure or how you will handle the next big emotional blow up-the one you know is coming because they always do -preplan. Set up in advance how you will act. By rehearsing things that are hard to handle, you will always be in a better frame of mind. Not only that, but if you fail, you fail forward:-) You've taken steps to raise the bar.
I know several times I meant to be patient with my mom in her delusions. I'd practice and practice what I would say or how I would maintain my calm only to lose it. But because it was in the top of my mind, I was so much better the next time.
Okay, think of it this way...You want to learn to shoot a basket. You shoot, miss. Shoot and miss. This goes on 30 times. But each time your ball is closer to the basket until on number 31-swish. Would you stand still? NO! You dance around the gym. You feel joy and exultation.
Break down the behavior you want to change in yourself to practice behavior. Now practice until you swish:-) It's about the character of patience and perseverance. Picture it mentally just like an athlete does in preparing for the Olympics.
Willy and I set a plan in motion and it succeeded. Because of that, my mom and I have something to offer the world-a chance to keep practicing until the cure or treatment becomes a swish!
Welcome aboard, Willy Kemp, to the creation of Insanity Rules.
Welcome to our journey, friends, we hope it will make yours easier.
PS Remember to visit the FAITH Girls blog for part 2 today. (I post every Wed.)