I first came to with a feeding tube in my nose. I was wearing those uncomfortable hospital clothes that never seem to fit right or even stay snapped on. I have brief flashes of memory from before this, but I was so confused that I didn't really start to make sense of it for a few weeks. I was in isolation in what I would later find out was the behavioral health center for the VA. After slowly coming to and realizing who, and where I was, I spent a few days trying to get in touch with a social worker, and talking to a therapist. They'd prescribed some heavy sedatives and anti-psychotics for me to take until they could get me rational enough to start talking and potentially get a handle on what was going on with me.
I discovered in my brief meetings with my psychiatrist and social worker, that Mike had reported me missing to the police, and that I had been found rambling and babbling at a church. I had apparently, also assaulted a 67-year-old woman who worked for the church. When they brought me in, my blood pressure was through the roof for a man of my age, and I was severely dehydrated. Otherwise, they couldn't explain my mental state.
When I explained to them where I was, they started suggesting methane and carbon-monoxide poisoning, and once my lab work came back, they confirmed it. Apparently, while I was down in those canals, I was exposed to a gas leak, and had started to hallucinate. I didn't think it made a lot of sense, until I later called Mike and had him drive up to help me get my car out of impound. We talked about it a little bit over the phone before I was released, and Mike had said that I had called him, but seemed "pretty out of it" after I passed through the canal the first time. When I told him that I was going back through, he was worried, but didn't think much of it, until I didn't call him by that evening.
He called the police early, and reported me missing. Luckily, the police knew ahead of time that I was a vet, and by the time that they had me in lockup, they realized that I had no idea where I was, and sent me to the VA hospital for treatment. The woman at the church didn't want to press charges for the assault, so I was released to physician's care.
So, I get cleared by my doctors after about two weeks in the hospital, and have everything squared away with Mike to pick me up on the day of my discharge. Discharge at a VA hospital takes pretty much all day. You have to get signatures from a bunch of people, you have to check out all your belongings that you keep with you, and you have to speak with a series of social workers. The very last thing you do, is verify that the possessions you brought in are all still there, and then they give you your shoelaces, pocketknives, etc. back.
I'm standing in the visitation room with one of the orderlies, who is counting out my belongings and checking them off a list when Mike walks in the door escorted by another orderly. We count out everything I had on me at the time the police picked me up: one rucksack, two dry rations, unopened, one can pepperspray, one canteen, empty, one canteen, full, eleven pieces chalk, wallet, phone, and to my unending dread... twenty five dead glowsticks.
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