February 15, 2007

responses from y'all.. and more on Francois...

Well, the last update got a ton of response, and I thought some of what you had to say was definitely worth sharing, so here you go! (Don’t worry, names have been removed, and I left *most* of the glowing praise out of it!) And at the end of reading all the comments, stay tuned for an epilogue of last week’s episode.


"...with all your best effort and intention things out of both your and Frances' control got in the way. That with all the wealth this province and country has there is such a lack of human services and long-term solutions. But, like you mentioned, you two didn't just talk about the problem you acted on it. That is true compassion and that is what although it may not seem so at the time, in the big overall picture makes a difference. That six weeks may be a short time but for Francis you never know what doors and possibilities that may have opened up, even if the aren't apparent right away..."

"...Hmmm I appreciate the sentiment of doing good and all...but the whole Ned Flanders ...okilly dokilly ...live in my basement is a little much for me. A wonderful Christmas effort though...But, I don't think my scared little recovering catholic arse coulda done the same..."

I understand your frustration and sadness, having worked in health-related industry for going on 16 years now. I lived with my aunt, who was a paraplegic living alone, for about 6 months in 1997 and saw the health care system from another side as well. Currently, it’s quite upsetting to me that we’re spending millions of dollars on the 2010 Olympics and other ‘great things for the city’ when there are far more important issues to be addressed..."

there is so much wrong with the "system" and we may never understand what this kind of mental illness can do to a person. I'm sure soon there will be another Francois who may be able to take full advantage of your basement, and in the meantime its onwards and upwards..."

"...I was glad to read your story today, thought more about it and know that it is a problem. I see homeless people like Francois every day on my way to and from work and often wonder if I'm doing the right thing by offering food instead of money when I can..."

I am happy to hear I am friends with someone who tries to make a difference instead of just complaining that no one is helping. It is inspiring for the rest of us. I also wish the best for Francois and all those in similar situations..."

"...I'm just so sorry for that poor man. It makes me even more sad thinking that even medication cannot help him..."

"...It's really really sad and scary to think about. It could be anyone. It's not just reserved for a certain section of people.

Just think about Alberta right now, with the boom...people are living outside of their means. If something happens - and it will - lives and families will be ruined and people will have nowhere to go. And they, like Francois, will have to start the battle and possible find themselves twenty years down the road still trying to find peace, inner peace.

That could be any of us..."


The day after he left, Francois was back again, looking level, wanting another chance. Wanting to try for at least another month. Kate and I were tired, but willing. But before he was going to be allowed to stay, rules would be set down. A tenancy agreement that left no stone unturned.

We sat Francois down. This was how it was to be: first, the damage deposit. We’d need it back. He didn’t have it. Strike one, but let’s move on. Next, we have to live our lives as we always have, with friends and family visiting, with repair and maintenance people coming into the house do maintain our furnace, etc.

And that was all it took. He lost it again. Stormed out. Ten minutes later, back again. Calm, again. We talk to him for an hour. This time, no trying to get him to stay, no telling him to go. Just trying to get him to the hospital.

And so it was agreed after much discussion with him, that Kate would take us to the ER first thing, and I would wait with him until we got him some help. 8:00 am, we said, we’d leave the house and take him to Vancouver General. He could stay in the basement suite overnight.

Would he still be here in the morning? Would he be here, but refusing to go?

At 6:45 in the morning, the bell rang. He was ready to go. Kate drove us over, and Francois and I went into the ER.

Long story short, he didn’t want to stay, but I found ways to keep him there. It was a long day of waiting, broken up with the occasional visit from a nurse or doctor. It was a very revealing day, listening to him speak to the staff. Turns out he went off his meds weeks ago, and was using cocaine. Now we know where our damage deposit went. Anyway, the whole day of waiting almost all fell apart when Francois decided that a man in the waiting room had a gun, and we had to go before we got hurt. Talking him down from that was worth it though, because 20 minutes later, there was two psychiatrists to talk with him. Off they went, and I headed to the nurses station at Triage.

I made it clear that no matter what, I had to talk to those doctors when they were done with Francois. And I got to. I filled in all the details of our experience and left nothing out (trust me, there is WAY more than what this blog says).

They had me go back to the waiting room, to sit with Francois. Shortly, they came out asking Francois to have another chat with them. One of the two doctors came out seconds later, saying that was it. He was in.

I left the ER, got on the bus, and went home.


We’ve seen Francois once more; looking not just level, but human. He was out on a day pass and came back to us to get a bag of his clothing, and to get the damage deposit back. We had to tell him that we already gave it to him, that we understood how he may have forgotten, given what he was going through. As of today, we’re happy to report that Francois has stayed on with the hospital, where he can reconnect with housing and care services. Whether or not he stays on the system remains to be seen.