Please Check This Brain for Rabies

I’m going to tell you a story about my friend, Susie.

Her name isn’t actually Susie.  But later on in the story, when I introduce Susie’s sisters, it makes for some excellent comic fodder.  I love making things funny.  And I love the word “fodder.”

So Susie had a really nice Christmas.  Her parents came for a visit and it was a perfect, quiet Christmas.  Susie missed her sisters and their families terribly, but she still had a great time with her parents, husband and kids.

Towards the end of the Christmas break, Susie got sick with the flu.  Then both of her kids got sick.  Her husband didn’t get sick because he lives on jalapeno peppers and various forms of whisky, and it turns out the flu is not capable of surviving in such harsh conditions.

So Susie’s parents flew out on New Year’s Day, and Susie and the kids were stuck in the house for another week, sick as can be, smelling like week-old pajamas and looking like something a cat would drag in, eat, and then hack up on the living room carpet.

During this time Susie started to get into a bit of a funk.  She had been in funks before, usually after holidays spent with family.  She hates living so far from them and it makes the typical post-holiday blues a bit more blue-y.

In the past she had always been able to get out of the funk within a day or two, but this time something was different.  In addition to the funk, her OCD was going haywire.

You see, Susie and her husband had decided to buy their sons a new puppy for Christmas.  The 17-year-old dog that she thought may have made some sort of immortality pact with the devil finally died with the assistance of a veterinarian who wondered whether he was actually putting a dog to sleep or just wasting drugs by injecting them into a furry, emaciated, dog-shaped corpse.

Either way, there was a sweet, new furry puppy running around the house, just generally being adorable.  She would chase Susie’s children around the back yard.  She would cuddle when she got tired.

Then, for absolutely no reason at all, Susie became convinced that the dog had rabies.  She started keeping track of every innocent scratch or tiny bite that the new puppy would inflict in play.  She began obsessively checking for signs of rabies.  When she looked at the puppy’s mouth, she actually SAW rabies.

Then there were the other OCD things that got out of control.  Susie does this thing sometimes when she watches a movie.  She’ll watch a movie, say Jane Eyre, and then she’ll rewatch parts of it over and over again.  She’ll find clips on YouTube and she’ll memorize them.  She’ll memorize long dialogues and every movement and facial expression in multiple scenes, and then she’ll replay them in her mind, perfectly, before she can move on to another task.

Sometimes she does it perfectly and she’s able to get back to her life for a while before the compulsion pulls her back in, but sometimes she makes a mistake and it causes her great anxiety because she has to get it just right.  So she would start all over again.  But Susie’s kids would interrupt her with ridiculous requests for lunch or homework assistance, and Susie’s anxiety started to get worse and worse.

So she began hiding in her closet to practice her scenes.  A few times her kids found her in there and she’d make up some excuse about putting laundry away.  But she hadn’t done laundry in days because she was obsessing about a rabid dog and perfecting a dialogue that no one would ever hear.

And she cried.  She cried about her life.  Her lack of talent.  Her life spent drifting without purpose.  And she suddenly hated her husband.  Her husband who had put up with more than his share of insanity, who had numerous reasons to leave her, was suddenly her enemy.

And then the next minute she would be crying intensely on his shoulder.  She would cry in restaurant bathrooms or while walking through Target.  She didn’t care about showering.  She woke up every morning and thought, “Why?”  She didn’t want to make breakfast, do laundry.  She couldn’t imagine anything that would bring her joy.

Then one day she texted her sisters:  1.  Snoozie (Snoozie is not a boring person.  She’s actually quite fun.  But she’s an accountant, and if you told me I had to be an accountant I would probably saw my fingers off of my hands so that I couldn’t use an adding machine.)  2.  Schmoozie (Schmoozie is semi-famous in the city in which she lives and as such she gets to schmooze with some bigwigs in the city.  Plus, an actual ex-mayor hates her.  GLAMOROUS!)  3.  Boozie  (Boozie is really self-explanatory.  She has three young kids.  She drinks a lot.)  4.  Boozie II  (Again, self-explanatory.  Three young kids.  Lots of alcohol.  Also, she and Boozie are twins.)

Anyway, Susie texted her sisters that she was in a funk, was drowning, was contemplating cutting the head off of her new puppy, putting it in a bag and taking it to the rabies people so that they could test it for rabies.  She told them about the hours spent in the closet quoting Jane Eyre.  She told them about hating her saintly husband.

Without Susie’s knowledge, her four sisters started texting one another about Susie’s likely imminent check-in to the nuthouse if something wasn’t done quickly.  They texted Susie encouraging messages of love, while I’m sure their texts amongst themselves said things like, “Sweet Jesus, I think she’s going to kill the dog,” or “Dear Lord, she’s in her closet rehearsing for a play she hasn’t been cast in.”

Boozie’s husband is a doctor and he spoke to a colleague about Susie’s issues and apparently this colleague said that Susie hadn’t snapped yet, but she was right on the verge of snapping, and when that happened there would probably be a puppy head in a bag.

So Susie’s sisters started planning.  Could they all fly down to help Susie?  Should they involve their parents?  Susie didn’t want their parents to know.  What should they do?   Schmoozie said, “At what point are we going to tell the grownups?”

Then Snoozie sent this text: “You know, Susie, have you thought about having Mom come and stay with you until you get through this stretch?  She’s really good in a crisis.”

Susie replied back, “I don’t know if I want Mom and Dad to know.  They’ll just worry.”

Snoozie said, “Just think about it.”

The next morning, Boozie Facetimed Susie and said, “Look, J (the doctor) is really concerned about you.  I never worry about things unless he says to worry, and he is legitimately worried about you.  He spoke to a friend, and they think you’re on the verge of snapping.”

Susie said, “I don’t feel like I’m going to snap.”

Boozie said, “If people who were about to snap felt like they were about to snap, they’d get help before they snapped.  You are about to snap.  Let us call Mom and Dad and see if they can fly down to help you.”

Susie said, quietly, through tears, “Okay.”

Susie hung up with Boozie right as Boozie II FaceTimed.  She said, “Are you going to let us tell Mom and Dad?” and Susie responded, “Yes.”  Boozie II said a whole bunch of encouraging things and Susie just kind of nodded in agreement.  Then Boozie II put the FaceTime call on hold.  When she came back on she said, “Schmoozie just went by Mom and Dad’s house.  They are flying to you tonight.”

Then Susie broke down.  She cried like a baby.  She didn’t realize how much help she needed until that help was on its way.

Susie’s parents flew in and helped her take care of the kids.  They set up doctor’s appointments and got Susie on the medicine she has needed to take for years but refused to for one reason or another.  Susie’s mom would check on her periodically if she disappeared for too long to make sure Susie wasn’t hiding in the closet reciting lines from Pride and Prejudice.

And Susie is now on the mend.  She is seeing a psychiatrist, a psychologist and is taking her meds.  She no longer wants to harm her dog.  She’s no longer hiding in the closet memorizing classic literature that has been made into film.  And she loves her husband again.

And she really really loves her sisters and parents who rallied around her, put their lives on hold, to make sure that their sister/daughter who lives a thousand miles away was okay.

Now, I must go to sleep.  My meds have kicked in and Susie needs her rest.

P.S.  All grammatical, typographical or other errors are the result of the Ativan making me not give a crap.