Monday, June 21, 2010

When I Learn To Drink My Coffee Black.

A neighbor of ours, Brian, takes Paul out for coffee and a cookie once a week. They almost always go to a little cafe and sit outside watching children play by the fountain. They read from a book, sometimes one of Paul's, or sit quietly watching the hour pass.

Brian told me how he offered Paul more coffee last week and Paul said to him, "yes! this is for the memory". Some things are beginning to make me think that Paul is aware enough to know he has a problem, which surprises me because he has no distress about his situation. Not upset about the nursing home he lives in, (Paul: "What's this place called" me: "Aviara Health Care Center" Paul: "Oh, okay."), not asking to come home, not wondering about his health or his mind.

Back in 2001, a month or two after our son Alexander was born Paul had the last of his bad "anxiety attacks". Several had happened in the few years before, most of them occurring during the year we lived apart, and that sent him into therapy, which then made it possible for us to reunite.

That night in 2001 Paul was out of bed at 2am wandering around the apartment, finally ending up in a fetal position on the living room floor. I woke easily, as we mothers do when we have nursing infants, and talked to Paul. He said he thought he was losing his mind. I assured him it was an anxiety attack and he could take some Xanax if he needed it. I think he eventually took a bath which calmed him down enough to go back to sleep. (The one time I did psilocybin it was with Paul and Donna in 1992, he felt terribly anxious and took a bath, she and I sat on the twin beds and laughed like crazy at our situation, it was all very funny you see)

Since the brain injury in 1995 Paul had his on days and off, but for the most part he was able to go about doing all things he done before: write books, give lectures, gripe about my terrible checkbook keeping, drive (though not very well), go for long walks and so forth. On his off days he would say his head felt "fuzzy" and tried using caffeine to get some clarity. I thought of the fuzzy days as a left over from the brain injury, but now I think it was possibly the early days of the dementia.

But what do I have to complain about? Back in 1995 the accident could have ended it all right there, and as my doc friend Karl once said "he had a near vegetable experience". But he didn't we had eight good years together after the brain injury and before the dementia came in. I'll take my blessings where I can get 'em.

(the title of this piece is borrowed from a song by anti folk hero, Lach)


  1. Wow, Cindy lee,
    Just Wow.
    Yesterday is gone, the future is not yet here, all we have is the gift of now, that's why it's called "the present". Could it be that Paul is living this?

    What writing!

  2. Yes Laura, i think Paul does indeed live in the present moment now.

  3. Cindy Lee...I was really emotionally moved by your blog. From 1967 to 1973 I wrote a wekly interview column in the Washington Star (the Doors, James Brown, David Bowie and 300 other great artists. In December of 1967 I was attacked by four U.S. Marines with a monkey wrench and a coke bottle...a silver dollar size piece of my skull splintered into my brain and after two neurosurgeries and surgery to rebuild my shattered nose...somehow I came out okay. I was an avid reader of Crawdaddy. My brother Ron, wrote the interview column from 1963 to 1967 when he went to work for Mercury Records and then I took it over for six years. We are now working on a book of the interviews that spanned 1963 to 1973 and anecdotes that wrap around the interviews. I was so happy when Kevin Avery posted your blog on facebook. Best...Michael