The Mute

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mickey

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[Dreams of having the man-defining courage to do the right thing, instead of having my contemptible brute animal instincts too terrified of consequences for me to do anything.]

The Mute
by Mickey Kocic

November 11

They have betrayed me.

My appointment with Murchison was today. He told me that “we don't have much to go on” (his exact words). Both of the EKGs were normal, and the contrast MRI revealed nothing new. The piece of my brain that is missing “has been with you all your life” (again his words) and there was no need for further investigation or treatment. I asked him what about the fact that I am worthless and not living but lingering like a stink until I am released by natural death. He said that was outside his area of expertise and that I should talk to my family doctor about it.

The telling factors were not the words exchanged but Murchison's behavior. He looked terrified, avoided eye contact, and nervously flipped through my file the entire time he was talking to me. And I already know that the butcher who hacked off a piece of my brain thirty years ago was a young hotshot neurosurgeon back then but is a senior executive at the children's hospital now. It doesn't help me to know that, because anything I said would be pooh-poohed as just a symptom of mental illness. Anything a person with my misdiagnosis says is treated that way by anyone who finds it inconvenient.

So my hope for a better life is now gone. It felt good to think of myself as a respectable man with a brain injury rather than a worthless and universally despised piece of shit with mental illness. But now I have to pretend to be the latter while keeping the truth to myself in order to avoid reprisals.

Except that there is something I can do. I can turn my back on the traitors in a safe way. Koder is accustomed to refilling my prescriptions by having the pharmacy fax him a form. He is so overworked that he might not notice if I don't make appointments for a while. In that time I can just stop taking the Sugarix, Cholesterate and Pressurol, throwing the refills in the garbage with no one the wiser. The Wackizone I can't go cold turkey, because I know from experience that the withdrawal effects are extreme. But I can taper it down very gradually over about six months and then be free of it. Not needing refills of Wackizone would leave me free of the traitors forever.

What I would do then is an open question. Disability already said they won't do any more eligibility reviews, so my pittance of an income is secure until I turn 67, but I don't know if I'd feel right about accepting it after the Wackizone and the traitors are out of my life. What I could do is try to save up a bit of money and eventually write “moved, address unknown” on an envelope containing my latest check and return it. They'd send me a letter asking for my new address, but, if I didn't respond, they wouldn't give me another thought. I would be free of any reason ever again to mention the misdiagnosis. I'd need a job, and I'd have to make up some bullshit reason for having been out of the workforce for eight years, but I'll deal with that when it comes.

They have betrayed me for the last time. And I'm going to pay them back my way.

April 17

Things were going well, but now there's an obstacle.

The Sugarix, Cholesterate and Pressurol are such ancient history that I never think about them any more. Picking them up from the pharmacy and shoving them in the trash is unconscious and automatic. The Wackizone, I've tapered to one-fifth of the original dose, and there were a few minor adjustments, but nothing I couldn't manage. I actually feel and function better than ever.

Then the pharmacist told me that Koder was giving me a refill for only one week, and won't give me any more until he sees me again. Which means he must have noticed somehow that I haven't gone to see him since last October.

I'm not sure what to do. I can just ignore Koder and use the one week's worth of Wackizone to last me five weeks, and hope that I can finish tapering it by then. Or I could go to see him, let him take the lead, see what he wants, and deal with it.

I find myself curious about something. The conspiracy nutjobs keep saying that medication causes the problems it's supposed to treat, because, allegedly, that's how drug manufacturers create an ongoing market for their products. It's stupid, but I find myself in a position to test it. My blood pressure has always been on the low side of normal. The Pressurol is supposed to be for kidney function, in order to reduce internal pressure on the nephrons. Koder prescribed it some time after, as he confirmed, he got a letter from that ophthalmologist at Payola Hospital, who kept harping on my blood pressure no matter how many times I patiently told her that it had never once been elevated, and who said she'd write Koder a letter. I didn't think anything of that, and I don't think much of it now, but there's no harm in having Koder check my blood pressure to see whether taking the Pressurol has affected it.

April 22

My blood pressure is higher than a kite.

I'm numb. There's no way that a bunch of crazy people could be the only sane ones alive on earth. But the evidence tells me they are.

Joining them would be pointless. Despite being numerous and well-organized, they haven't extracted anyone's dick from between the system's teeth, and all of our dicks keep getting bitten when we don't obey. That includes Koder's dick, because he is just as trapped by the system as the rest of us. I can't think of anyone, including senior executives at the drug companies, who isn't trapped. Even the shareholders of the drug companies take the same medications as everyone else. The whole world is a snake trying to swallow itself whole tail-first without being aware that that's what it's doing.

But never mind the world. I've never been Atlas, and never wanted to bear that much weight. The fact that I have been regarded as a worthless piece of shit for eight years, because of a misdiagnosis I must keep secret, absolves me of any duty to anyone. I have the right to stick to taking care of myself and ignore all else.

Koder was actually a patsy to deal with. All he said was that he hadn't done blood tests in some time and it was time to do them. So he arranged for me to go to a lab and said I should phone him next week to get the results. But he used some fancy machine to test my blood pressure several times and then average the results. So what he ended up doing was boosting the Pressurol and prescribing two new medications. All of that crap is already in the trash, and I now have plenty of Wackizone to keep tapering off. I think I can just forget that Koder, or any of the rest of them, exist. The blood pressure problem pisses me off, but I don't feel any different from the way I've always felt, so I'll worry about it only if it becomes a practical problem.

April 25

It was Koder who phoned me. He said my sugar and cholesterol are ridiculous, and my kidneys are on strike. Then he said there's no emergency, but he did fax the pharmacy a number of prescriptions he wants me to fill right away. Then he transferred me to his secretary to make an appointment in two weeks. So I did, but I'll wait a couple of days and then phone back to cancel it. The pharmacy is free to sit on the prescriptions until they hatch.

Okay, so my health now really is shot, and I can expect to get idiotically sick and then die in agony. But since there is no practical way to avoid that, I'm going to try not to think about it. One thing I might do is just quietly stay on disability, because I am going to become physically disabled sooner or later.

January 7

Disability screwed up my check, which they do from time to time to everyone in order to generate office visits so their manager can ask for a budget increase next year. I didn't think anything of it, just went there to grovel the way all of us do. I've never been bothered by satisfying other people's sadism and malice if it doesn't harm me, and feigning humility has no effect on how I really feel. But the caseworker said she wants a letter from my psychiatrist. I said I'd get her one, but I haven't even had a psychiatrist for four years because I've been totally stable.

This changes things. Now I have to get a job. Which I guess is fair enough, because I never did have a mental illness of any sort, and my physical health still permits me to work. The fact that I haven't taken any medication in forever and still feel fine and function well makes that obvious. But I don't have savings, so I'll have to see if I can get welfare until I can find work. Finding work will take some research and planning, because the bullshit I make up about the gap in my work history will have to be good enough to pass everyone's smell test.

January 9

Welfare says I can't get money from them because I'm still eligible for disability. I've thought about writing disability a letter saying I want my eligibility rescinded, but that would probably piss welfare off enough to make them stall me until I starved to death. All I can do is try to find a job faster. I'll have to be late on rent, which has never happened before, so I'll see if the landlord wants to be patient.

April 27

Well, I'm finally working. Getting the job was harder work than anything I ever did for a paycheck before the misdiagnosis, but that means keeping the job should be comparatively easy. And the landlord was starting to sound less and less sympathetic and more and more testy, so this job arrives just in time. It'll take me a while to catch up on back rent, but I want to catch up. The landlord is blameless in this whole business and deserves their money.

I'm lightheaded right now. I'm a healthy working man who has never had a health problem in his whole life, and doens't have one now. It's like my misdiagnosis and all the misery it caused have been erased from the past. Can the past really change? I feel almost as if my whole mental health history, including the symptoms that led me to see a doctor in the first place and get put on Wackizone, were just some ugly delusion I have recovered from.

It's like being born again to move on.

December 24

The boss found out. I have no idea how. Some asshole on his payroll should rename herself Sherlockia Holmes.

I knew it the second I got called into his office and the human resources lady was there. But I sat there patiently for all eternity while he did the typical office-working chichenshit mealymouth circumlocution and finally got around to asking me if my sob story about my dying mother had been a lie. I admitted in one word that it had because I didn't see the point of doing anything else. Then he wandered around his point some more until my buttcheeks grew numb, and he finally ended up suggesting that I sign a letter of resignation because it would be best for everyone. So I signed, and he said he would give me a reference if I wanted to “pursue better opportunities in the future.”

I guess it isn't a total disaster, because I have some recent work history now and a reference, so I shouldn't be out of work for too long. But I've gotten used to a normal income and having the things everyone takes for granted, and, until I find another job, I have to go back to pinching pennies and worrying about money in my sleep the way all people on a government check do. It's a step back, because I thought I was free of that forever.

Merry Christmas to me.

April 1

It was a mystery worthy of Miss Marple, but I solved it.

I applied for more jobs than a porcupine had quills, had a crapton of first interviews, and a few second interviews, and all of them led to nothing. Total silence. So I phoned my best prospect to follow up. She was silent for a long time, and then mumbled something in a voice that sounded profoundly depressed. She said “I can't give you a job. I'm sorry.” I thanked her and hung up because prolonging the conversation would just have been torturing a good woman.

I don't know what my old employer is telling them, but they are not giving me a good reference. Which means that I have zero chance of working again.

I'm totally out of options. The end.

Evening

I don't know what date it is, because dates and days of the week are not the kinds of things I keep track of. They have no practical impact on my life. If something comes up, someone reminds me of it, because they're convinced I'm stupid and unable to handle any responsibilities.

What was the last thing I said in my old diary? I can't even remember when I destroyed it, let alone the details of what it said. What I do remember is that I waited until the eviction was finalized, then walked out into the street with nothing except the clothes I was wearing and my remaining cash. I had just enough cash to buy a clawhammer at the drugstore, and my pocket was big enough to hide it. So I picked whatever random pedestrian looked like they had a soft skull, and smashed them with the claw end. It turned out they died instantly. And it was only later, when people started asking questions about my sex life, that I realized it had been a woman.

I've never read or seen the way I must have been demonized in the news media, because no one ever forced me to. All I did was drop the hammer and then just stand there, saying nothing. The police ordered me to do certain things, and I obeyed, but I still did not speak. Eventually they started hitting me to make me speak, and, to my own surprise, I did not vocalize at all, not even in reaction to pain. So suddenly I was in a secure nuthouse, and they started feeding me medication. I noticed that the doses kept increasing until I lost the ability to keep track of them because the high doses put me nearly in a coma. Someone must have noticed that I was unable to sit up to feed myself, because I eventually started recovering the ability to be aware of my surroundings and do a few minimal things, and the doses were lower than I last remembered them. To this day I'm surprised my mind works at all, and that I'm able to write anything down.

They let me out eventually and someone got on a Greyhound with me, but when we got off three days later there was a media scrum, so someone else ended up with me on a different Greyhound, and so on. I travelled more than Magellan until either we gave the media the slip or they lost interest. Since then I've had a bedroom in a house I share with a few other people and some staff. They're all used to me not speaking, and I think most of them believe I was born not able to speak, so they feel sorry for me and treat me well.

And I'm not sure if I am still able to speak. It has been so long that my voicebox might have atrophied beyond the help of therapy. What I do know is that I love being silent. During my time being questioned by various people, and simply not answering them, I discovered something important that Plato should have been smart enough to figure out, but never did. All speech is necessarily persuasive, and persuasion is necessarily wrong because it robs the listener of autonomy. Not speaking is my moral duty, and I am fulfilled in fulfilling it.

I'm hoping I can sneak this paper under some trash in the trash bin before anyone reads it and starts bothering me about it. Next to being silent, my favorite thing is not being bothered, and most of the time it's my reality.

- 30 -
 

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