Watch Out For Eddy

Linda Hoagland

© Copyright 2003 by Linda Hoagland


Drawing of a pyramid with a treasure inside.
"Eddy, are you awake?" I asked as I stared at my fifteen-year-old son noting in my mind that he didn't look right.

 "Yeah, yeah, okay..." he whispered in a fading tone.

 "Don't go back to sleep, Eddy. You have to get ready for school."

 I hurriedly continued to get myself ready for work. I couldn't afford to miss any more days. Even though minimum wage wasn't much, it was better than nothing was. Nothing was what we had when I was fired from my job at the bank after I had been absent from work for almost a month after Eddy had been hit by the car.

 I allowed ten minutes to pass before I appeared in Eddy's doorway again.

 "Eddy, I said to get up. Now!" I yelled angrily.

 "Okay, just get out and I will," was his sullen reply.

 After I closed his door, I stood next to it listening for sounds of movement. When I heard his feet hit the floor, I continued with my morning routine.

 As my husband and I were drinking coffee in the living room, we saw Eddy open his bedroom door and walk into the narrow hallway of our mobile home. He was bouncing off the walls and staggering as he struggled to get to the bathroom.

 Eddy was never a morning person, and ever since the accident, he was even more difficult to arouse from a sound sleep. The prescribed drugs he was taking dulled his senses and interfered with his balance. Keeping his eyes open proved to be difficult at times.

 He was standing a little straighter when he exited the bathroom, but he slid his hands along the walls as he walked as if he were trying to focus on each and every step. He disappeared from our view as he entered his bedroom. I could hear him opening and closing his dresser drawers as he gathered his clothes to dress for school.

 "Sonny, keep an eye on Eddy," I whispered. "Call me if he doesn't go to school," I added as I reached for my handbag and made my way to the car to go to work.

 Eddy would not leave my thoughts for a moment as I drove the twenty miles to work. I couldn't explain why I thought that morning was different from any other morning. Sonny, Eddy's disabled stepfather, sensed a strangeness, too.

 When I arrived at work, I grabbed the telephone book and looked up the number for the vocational school.

 "This is Ellen Holcombe. I'm Eddy Hutchins' mother."

 "Yes, Mrs. Holcombe, what can I do for you?" asked a cheery voice.

 “Eddy wasn't acting right when he left for school. He is in Mr. Raleigh's Electronics Class, and I would appreciate it if you would ask someone to watch out for Eddy.”

 “What do you mean?”

 “Just watch him to see if he acts different from the way he normally acts. I think there is something wrong,” I said impatiently. “I'll call back in an hour or you can call me here at work."

 "Okay, Mrs. Holcombe," was the skeptical response.

 I was in agony as I watched the hands of the clock move ever so slowly. Long before an hour had passed I reached for the phone and dialed the vocational school telephone number once again.

 "This is Ellen Holcombe."

 "Yes, Mrs. Holcombe, Eddy seems to have a problem," said a male voice who identified himself as Principal Charles Foster.

 "What's wrong?"

 "Mr. Raleigh was asked to watch him which he did. He said Eddy would just sit at his desk and stare. When he went out of the classroom on break, he wandered up and down the halls not speaking to anyone."

 "Where is he now?"

 "We put him on the school bus a few moments ago to wait for the remainder of the class time to pass. There are a couple of teachers with him. Do you know what is wrong with him? Do you want me to call an ambulance?"

 "No, please....I"

 "The vocational classes will be dismissing shortly. Do you want me to leave him on the bus?"

 "Yes, I'll try to find out what's wrong. I really thought he was getting better. I think the prescription drugs are doing more damage then good. At least, that’s what Eddy tells me."

 "In about a half hour he will be back at his home high school in Riverside. You can pick him up then," said Mr. Foster. "I hope he feels better soon. I know he's had a really rough time of it for the last few months."

 I fought back the tears for a few moments as I dialed the telephone again.

 "Sonny, you need to pick up Eddy at the high school in about a half hour. There is something really wrong," I said as the tears forced their way down my cheeks.

 "Ellen....Ellen! Listen to me, Ellen," shouted Sonny.

 "I am," I whimpered.

 "I found a note from Eddy...a suicide note. It was on the coffee table. It was folded up into a tiny square. I just found it. I'll go to the high school, meet the vocational bus and bring him home."

 "I'll leave work right now and meet you at the house."

 I grabbed my handbag, mumbled a few words to the receptionist about Eddy and suicide, and was in my car leaving the parking lot before the receptionist realized what had happened.

 The drive was so long that I had plenty of time to review the horrible events that had occurred within the last eight months.

 In May, Eddy was hit by a car as he was riding a bicycle that had no brakes down a hill into oncoming traffic.

 From the moment of the impact, Eddy became a violent person which was completely opposite from the quiet, shy, young man he was prior to the severe skull fracture and brain damage he had sustained in the accident.

 After having suffered through three surgeries on his head, leg, and his now completely deaf left ear, plus a stay in a psychiatric center for observation, Eddy was pronounced healed enough to return to school.

 The only medication he was taking when he returned to school was Phenobarbital to prevent seizures and Amitriptyline which was prescribed by a psychiatrist to control the violence that consumed Eddy after the head injury. Eddy and I both knew that he was not well enough to withstand the pressures of school; nevertheless, we did what we were told to do by the doctors.

 When I pulled my car up into the driveway I saw an ambulance parked in front of my house. I raced inside where I saw four strong, husky, adult males trying to wrestle Eddy onto the ambulance cot.

 Eddy was phenomenally strong when he was upset. His frail, five foot five inch body could get the best of a man twice his size.

 My heart ached as I watched Eddy struggle with the men who were trying to immobilize him without hurting him. He would wrench an arm free and swing it aimlessly trying to hit someone, anyone within reach. He pulled a leg free and kicked out at the air because all the men had begun moving to the opposite direction of the free limb until they could get hold of it again and secure it with a leather strap.

 Eddy finally realized through the drugged fog that he was in that his struggle was useless. He turned to my direction and I could see the rage and anger glistening in his eyes. I knew from his wide open stare that he wanted to die and that he hated me because I wouldn't let him.

 At the emergency room a second struggle ensued except that it took six men to get him transferred from the ambulance cot to the emergency room cot.

 When his energy was expended he went into a deep, death-like sleep. IV's were connected to him and he was transferred to a room where he could be watched for any signs of improvement.

 The doctor had explained to me that the pills Eddy had swallowed during the night, eight to twelve hours earlier, had already entered his bloodstream. All that could be done was to run water through his veins by using the IV's and wait. Hopefully, the water would dilute the drugs that were already in his blood enough to save his life. His movement and activity of going to school and fighting everyone who had tried to save him was what had actually kept him alive to this point.

 The blood test to determine what he had taken showed that he had swallowed several different kinds of drugs ranging from aspirin through Amitriptyline. He hadn't taken a lot of one drug, but he had taken several different kinds of drugs.

 The next step was waiting.

 My husband and I sat by his bedside watching him sleep, searching his face for any signs of life.

 After several hours of waiting and watching, the doctor came into the room as part of his evening rounds. He pulled an instrument from his pocket and rubbed it from heel to toe on Eddy's foot. He did the same thing to the other foot. Then, he turned to us smiling.

 "He'll be okay now, Mrs. Holcombe; but, if he had taken just one more Amitriptyline, he wouldn't have made it."

 "Are you sure he'll be all right?" I questioned as I looked at my motionless son.

 "His reflexes are returning. He will be fine."

 "Thank God," I whispered.

 My mind wandered back to the times that Eddy had told me his head was feeling funny.

 “Did you tell Dr. Ford about feeling funny?” I asked worriedly.

 “Yes, she said it takes a while to get used to the drug. But, I still feel funny,” he explained.

 “Tell her again at your next appointment, okay?”

 “Sure, mom,” he said agreeably but I don’t believe he stressed the “feel funny” part.

 “What does it feel like, Eddy?”

 “It’s telling me to do strange things.”

 “What is?” I asked.

 “My mind, the pills, I don’t know. My head just feels funny.”

 I had called the psychologist’s office several times trying to find an explanation but she wouldn’t talk to me. She believed me to be the root of Eddy’s problems.

 Eddy was taken off any kind of prescribed drugs from the moment the doctor and the new psychologist read the suicide note.


My f-----g head is killing me.
I can't stand it any longer.
I've tried to tell everyone there
is something wrong in my head.

 Eddy’s new psychologist interpreted the note to mean that Eddy was not suffering from physical pain. He was enduring a mental anguish that he could not understand nor control. The mental anguish was brought about by the skull fracture and brain damage that caused a loss of memory and many moments of violence.

 He had no control over his violence because he didn’t know he was doing the violent deeds until he was told later after he had passed the point of rage.

 All actions and thoughts became exaggerated in Eddy's mind to the point that he had no molehills to climb, only mountains.

 I have thought many times about what I could have done to prevent Eddy's suicide attempt. I asked myself if he had shown any outward signs of what he was planning to do.

 My answer was no. He kept telling me over and over for a couple of weeks that he had a surprise for me and that I was really going to like it.

 I really looked forward to my surprise because I thought he was showing a sign of getting better.

 Boy, was I wrong.

 Well, Eddy, I was surprised, but I didn't like it.

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