I called the jail repeatedly the next day, but Corporal C. was not working and no one else would call me back. I had no clue what was going on, until evening, when I received a text from Tyler, saying Cory had been transferred to Western State Hospital, just 20 minutes from our house! God is so good! The last I had heard, the possible option was a place in Lexington. Staunton was much better! In the midst of all the phone calls and texts, our friend Aaron texted me and asked for the name of Cory’s antibiotic. I replied “Levafloxacin, or Levaquin,” and didn’t think any more about it.
I was running some errands the next day with my mom, when a psychiatrist from Western State called, with a report on Cory. He was getting better! He had correctly told her our anniversary, our address, my phone number, my birthday, and the gender and due date of our baby. She commented that “he seems to be quite a clown,” (though she didn’t seem very amused by his clownish-ness) and mentioned other things he’d said, which assured me that my dear funny Cory was coming back from whatever trip he’d been on. Then she informed me that Cory is bipolar, but refusing the medication. I questioned the diagnosis, as I live with him, and was pretty sure that if he were bipolar, I would have noticed some signs before. She crisply assured me that “denial is a common response” and encouraged me to educate myself on the illness, and learn natural ways to prevent further episodes.
“Mrs. Dexter,” she said, “I want to ask you a question… Which would you rather have: your husband repeat this episode again next month? or be on medication?” I answered that if he truly needed the medication, I would encourage him to take it; but not until some other issues had been ruled out. She replied, “Yes, that’s wise of you, I will tell Mr. Dexter that you said he should take his medicine!” I got off the phone, annoyed that she hadn’t listened to me, happy for the news that Cory seemed himself again, but still scared.
What if that diagnosis is true? What if this craziness is my new life? How am I going to raise a baby, with a father who just might lose his mind, randomly? I was still rolling all this around in my head, a few minutes later, when I ran into a lady that I used to go to church with. I thought I was going to keep it together and play it cool; but when she asked about Cory, I started to tell her his “diagnosis,” and fell apart. She was a dear and let me cry on her shoulder.
That afternoon, I got a call from a Staunton area code. I answered and it was Cory! He sounded like himself, but nervous and emotional, telling me he had lots of explaining to do. “Honey, it’s ok!” I said, “ I’m just glad you’re back!” We planned that I would visit him that evening, as soon as visiting hours opened. 4:00 couldn’t come fast enough. I wasn’t sure about navigating security in such a place, so mom went along with me. After getting through security, we were directed to the second floor of the building. There we were led through two more locked doors, and ushered into a small room with a table and chairs.
We waited a few minutes, and Cory appeared, looking almost unrecognizable in hoodie, sweatpants, and slippers, and a week’s worth of beard. His initial three weeks of sickness had taken some weight off, and refusing to eat the food at the jail hadn’t helped. He had lost around 20 pounds total, and I couldn’t believe how small he looked! It was wonderful to see him, and I could tell he was glad to see me too. After we hugged and had a good laugh at his outfit, we sat down to talk. Mom and I mostly just listened as he talked about his experiences. I was amazed. I thought things had seemed scary on my end, but Cory’s stories made mine seem… insignificant, somehow?
He talked about how confused he had felt, in those days before he left. “Jeanette, I felt like a horse was dragging me around!” I asked why he hadn’t told me, and he said he’d wanted to, but didn’t know how. “You know,” he said, more to himself than us- “they say when you’re deceived, you don’t know you’re deceived… Maybe that’s the way it is when you’re going crazy…” He shared how driving down the interstate at 140 mph, hadn’t even felt scary to him. The scary part for him was the hallucinations. He was afraid of the cops that were chasing him, and in his confusion, he thought if he could just hit the mountain going fast enough, he could leave the police in the dust, and go airborne all the way to California. (We still haven’t figured out why he had chosen California as a destination.)
He recalled that things didn’t seem real, and for awhile he thought he was playing “Need for Speed” he said. He saw the officers roll out the spike strips, and didn’t even hit the brakes. Once he felt the tires blow out, he had stopped and remembers trying to find a reset button somewhere, (this game hadn’t gone so well, and he thought he’d just start over.) He couldn’t understand what all the policemen were yelling at him for, but he heard them say “Get out of the car!” so he did. They kept yelling, but to him their words didn’t make sense, and they had some scary looking dogs, so he had started walking away from them. That’s when they had jumped on him and tackled him to the ground, he told us, and “That hurt!” He remembered trying to bribe the trooper, saying “I have $99.00 in my wallet, and you can have it if you just take me home.” Of course that hadn’t worked, so after being taken to the hospital to check out his alleged “injuries,” he found himself in jail.
He talked about how he hated the jail, and couldn’t understand why no one would take him home. (He had become afraid of his cat that night, while still at home, and had tried to drown her in the bathtub. In jail, he thought he saw her in his cell, became convinced she was Satan, and was terrified.) “I thought I was in Hell!” he said, through tears, “Thank you so much for bringing me your Bible! When they gave it to me, I was relieved, because I knew Gods word couldn’t be in Hell.” We talked about the farm, and how the turkeys were doing. I assured him that they were in the capable hands of Ben and Shaun, and that I was keeping the bills paid. We talked about the residents he had already befriended at the hospital. He asked about the car. “How bad is it?” he asked, and was surprised as I had been, that it was still drivable.
I asked how he felt about his diagnosis, and Mom cautioned us that we shouldn’t quickly accept such a diagnosis without first ruling out some other possibilities. We discussed some of those possibilities, but Cory felt that it was simply a matter of God trying to get his attention. (Though we now know what caused this to happen, we both feel that it was allowed -if not orchestrated- by God, for our good, and to draw us closer to Him.) He told us about the nurse trying to give him Lithium, an anti-psychotic medicine, when he was still confused, and how he had heard an audible voice saying “Don’t take it!” so he didn’t take it! We are thankful, because shortly after that, things started to clear up and make sense, and, had he taken it, Lithium would have taken the credit for his recovery.
If it sounds like we were jumping from topic to topic to topic, we were. He was making sense and definitely coming out of whatever had hijacked his mind the past few days, but he was still feeling some effects of it. He had to think hard to make his words come out right, and his eyes were squinted shut, almost the whole time we were there. His thoughts rambled from one thing to the next, and back again, and his words did the same. When visiting hours were over and we had to go, Mom and I couldn’t believe how tired we were from all the listening. Trying to follow the tangential rundown of his experiences had been interesting and enlightening, but exhausting. Though we were thrilled to find him so much himself, there were still unanswered questions.
Then, that night I got another text from Aaron. “You need to look online and see what people are saying about that medicine.” I was a little dubious. It’s just an antibiotic! I thought, but I went to the computer. First I googled “possible side effects of Levaquin” and there was a huge list! I’ll just list the ones Cory experienced.
- unusual thoughts and behavior.
- moodiness and suicidal thoughts
- weakness/unusual tiredness
- dehydration and extreme thirst
- kidney pain
Then I googled “negative reactions to Levaquin.” Story after story came up. One person said: “I took Levaquin and I think it should be banned. It gave me horrible racing thoughts. I will never take this class of drugs again!”
Another wrote: “I took this antibiotic for a bronchial infection. I did get rid of the infection, but while on it, I experienced horrible nightmares. Also I was jittery and moody, and don’t even get me started on the back pain.”
Yet another: “He became violent and experienced visual hallucinations of people in his hospital room. His confusion worsened gradually and he slept very little. The possibility of Levaquin induced psychosis was suggested and Levaquin was stopped. Within 48 hours, psychiatric evaluation revealed him to be oriented and alert with no further hallucinations. He did not require any anti-psychotic medication.”
This was all I needed to hear. I called the lawyer and he promised to do his own research. I called Cory and he was relieved. It all made sense now! Within a few hours, our attorney was also convinced, from the information he found. Now we just needed to convince the psychiatrist and the court.
From here, the story gets kind of boring, but God was still at work, and He continued to go before us, working out the details. I will try to be brief as I recap the events of those next months. Cory was in Western State Hospital for 16 days. (15 of those days he was in his right mind. He thoroughly enjoyed relating to the residents; and -knowing his heart for ministering to the mentally ill- I expect he will be back there as a volunteer some day.) On January 20, 2016, he was released back to Rockbridge Jail. That day, he had a bond hearing, and I went with my parents to see if we could bail him out. The judge set his bond, and we went to the jail, where they told us the magistrate wasn’t on duty and we”d have to drive two counties away and meet with the magistrate there. We were in the lobby with Tyler, (our attorney) trying to decide what to do, and a corporal came out and told us that if we had cash, we could just go back to the courthouse and bail him out from there. Daddy had $45.00 in his wallet, but that wasn’t nearly enough. We asked about the nearest place to get some cash, and were trying to make plans, when suddenly Daddy looked at Mom. “The Johnny cash! How much is in that envelope?”
Turns out, Daddy had sold a generator to a man named Johnny, who had paid him in cash. He had stuck the cash in an envelope, and for some reason it had ended up in the glove box of their car. They dug it out and counted it, added Daddy’s $45.00, and -Praise Jesus- it was the exact amount we needed! (We are still laughing about the “Johnny cash.” If you don’t get it, you are probably either really young, or really, really old. 😉 Back to the courthouse we went, Johnny cash in hand, and paid his bail. Cory was a free man again!
Here is a low quality “dumb phone” selfie that we took right after he was released. ❤️
We celebrated by going out to eat, then we headed for home. When we were almost home, it started snowing. We had a relaxing evening watching it snow, and just being together.
Cory’s final court date was set for April 20. This stressed me some; Baby’s due date was April 19. Cory wasn’t worried about it, and he was right- it all worked out. I was still very pregnant on April 20, but I decided to go along to court, where I listened as Cory, Tyler and the commonwealth attorney discussed the plea bargain.
A doctor at Western State had written a letter saying they believe Levaquin was the culprit, and the Commonwealth Attorney had found cases in her research that convinced her of the same; so she agreed to drop the felony charge for eluding the police, if Cory would plead guilty to reckless driving and pay a $500.00 fine. She even agreed to take the speed off the public record, since “138 in a 70” could jeopardize any trucking jobs he might apply for in the next 11 years. He also had to forfeit his drivers license until a psychiatrist declared him stable and safe to drive. The judge was hesitant, but thank God, he agreed to the plea bargain, and I drove us back home from Lexington. Once again, we were thankful for God’s working out the small details. Had I stayed home, Cory would have been stuck without a way home.
Two days later, on April 22, 2016, our little Anna Grace was born. We were so thankful that Cory could be there, though he had to break the law to drive me to the clinic. (Within a week he had his license back but we were glad Baby didn’t wait that long. 🙂
If you are reading this and you sent mail, food, flowers, money, etc, please know we appreciated it deeply. Many of you prayed for us and we could feel it. God was faithful, and as He promised, we didn’t have to fight the battle; truly it belonged to the Lord.
This concludes the story of our 2016 New Year adventures. I hope someone can be blessed by reading how God cares and provides for His people. I’m sure there are details that I have forgotten, so if you have unanswered questions, please feel free to ask in the comments, and I will answer them as well as I can.