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Taking your son to the Detox clinic – Atlas

Taking your son to the Detox clinic

Frankie McMillan

After many circuits around the hospital grounds you find the detox clinic

You wheel your son’s suitcase up the narrow concrete path and he says he can wheel it himself but you can’t seem to let go so you walk side by side, the case bouncing behind. The wooden building is locked. His father says it’s in need of a bit of paint. Your son pushes a buzzer, says his name loudly, as if he’s a soldier reporting for duty. These are my parents, he says when the nurse opens the door.

It is important to have a door that maintains connection

You troop into a room so hot you almost expect the swaying of palm trees and up on the wall is a big sign of a tattooed arm, think before you ink and the fresh faced nurse asks your son to slip into a blue gown, his blood will be taken, his heart monitored and tomorrow being countdown day his body will be emptied but please be aware things can be left behind, a tremor, a small tic at the bottom of the bed, rarely psychosis but a seizure is not unusual and you visit his small room; a single bed, one pillow and the nurse points to an oil burner, it is aromatherapy, some people like it and if he wants he can lie on his bed dreaming of oranges and sandalwood but in an emergency she will call your number for the path forward is not always easy.

At times people may falter, slide back, regroup and start again

Each day he texts you; 15 mg then down to 12.5mg and tomorrow will be halfway and so you are happy, you chant the magic numbers and he says it is not too bad, in fact today he is buzzing. Two more admissions have arrived; an Indian man in a suit and a shifty looking guy, overweight, so that makes a change from the giggly girl in pink pyjamas who stole from her family. He himself has tried the back door but it’s locked, even the biscuits are under key, but he only has to ask, they are fruit fingers and not too bad. When your son sees snakes rise from the Indian man’s head, hears their whispered obscenities, he plugs his ears with Eckhart Tolle. He cries out that his thoughts are just passing clouds, there is nothing to fear, he reads the Welcome signs on the wall over and over.

Kia ora, talofa lava, let us keep close together not wide apart, kia ora, talofa lava, let us keep close together, not wide apart.

Frankie McMillan is an award winning poet and short story writer who lives in Christchurch. She is the author of The Bag Lady’s Picnic and other stories and two poetry collections, Dressing for the Cannibals and There are no horses in heaven. Her forthcoming book, My Mother and the Hungarians and other small fictions (CUP) will be published in August 2016.