The Timeline of the Absurd
April 3rd 2017 at Phoenix AZ
Greg Scaggs – Director, McDowell Clinic
This sir – is the mere gist of the tale I will be presenting – it is stunning. You may share this draft of my complaint with anyone you wish – you have my permission – for I aim to get to the bottom of this. This is a monstrous tale – and it must be resolved – soon. I would prefer administratively rather than judicially – but I will pursue this until I am satisfied. (No one shared it – no one gave a damn – hahaha – it’s all a goddamn joke — I guess” —
The Time Line of Events
My name is James Hlavac and I recently moved to – and now live at – and plan on living at till I die many years hence, as Providence decrees shall happen – at 5001 North 11th Avenue, #E204, Phoenix Arizona 85013. I go by the name Jim, or Hlavac, as most of my friends and even family call me. Even my father calls me “hlavac.” Everyone in the system insists on calling me “James” no matter how many times I say call me “Jim.” That is merely the first annoyance in this confounded system in which I am embroiled and embedded.
This is two interwoven tales, like a helix. The first is me – what I do and have done – my actual life. The second is what the system has done, while creating this imaginary me that bears no resemblance to the real me.
I am a 58 year old HIV+ gay man who was diagnosed with AIDS in 2001 because my T-cell count was 174, and the Federal definition of AIDS starts at 200 or less. So, I thought I would die soon. And I did not. I did not get sick at all. In fact, I barely catch colds. In February 2016 it was noted that my T-cell count was 184 – back to the AIDS designation. This was caused by stress – which I had in abundance in November and December 2015 and January 2016.
I lived through the entire plague, from the epicenter in Greenwich Village NYC in 1980 when it had no name to today. I buried a 100 friends and acquaintances. I wondered for the last 35 years when it would be my turn. It never came, instead I had an exciting and accomplished life. It involved living in more than a dozen cities, almost never more than a year at a time, before I moved to the next, or back to one I had already lived in, since 1985. In each city I did one or more sensational projects. I created trade shows, radio shows, websites, marketing plans, business plans, music directories; I helped create the Louisiana Alligator Farmers Association – and so much more. I played piano publicly in a dozen or more cities. It would fill volumes to explain it all. Now I’ve decided to retire and settle down. I thought Arizona would be a good place to do that, for I had spent a lot of time here between 2002 and 2009, when I was helping run the Phoenix International Youth Hostel at 1026 North 9th Street during the busy winter months. But I was an AIDS activist since the beginning – I was bar buddies with Larry Kramer and at the table when “ACT UP!” was conceived. I was at the table when the logo “Silence = Death” was created. I have led protests – I was involved. And then I stepped aside. Now, I find myself involved again.
I’ve never done drugs, (Well, coke in the late 1980s in the Club Scene in Manhattan when gay men all thought all was lost – but not since March 9th 1990) – I’m not an alcoholic. I’ve never had any legal problems civil or criminal. I’ve never been arrested or sued. I’ve never sued anyone. I’ve never physically attacked anyone, (well, Michael Henderson and Allan Rolli in 9th Grade for calling me “sissy,” “queer” and “faggot” one last time – then I was the “bashing fag” and high school was pleasant.) I have lived a life of peace. I’ve never thought of harming myself or others. I have never self-mutilated – I have no tattoos and just one pierced ear from 10th grade in 1973, (the right ear, the gay ear,) and I haven’t used it in more than 40 years. I’ve never been homeless, abused, harmed – but had utter peace and progress. I led a life of rather amazing accomplishment. A quick search of Amazon, Youtube and any search engine will bring an outpouring of my accomplishment, and there’s so much more. Really, an amazingly productive life. It did not cease at the Arizona border in 2012. I still am productive, and creative, and intellectual, and well, pretty much the same as I’ve always been. I pay my rent, I pay my bills; I have never been evicted, and I have never had my lights turned off. I have friends and family on 4 continents in 4 languages that I speak fairly well. I do projects, I do things. And I clean my bathroom every Saturday morning while the opera is on as I’ve done for decades. And so much more – endlessly more.
And yet, it turns out, bizarrely, everyone in the HIV and social services system in Arizona seems to think I led and perhaps still lead, a life of dissolution and mental instability and a hopelessness that requires their attention and intrusion into my life. Indeed, they have declared me “severely mentally ill” and “special needs” – to such a point that they won’t even explain to me what they mean by these designations, because, as they tell me “you wouldn’t understand.” They have labeled me with a slew of disorders – bipolar, manic depressive, depressed alone, mania alone, anxiety, panic, delusion, paranoia and agoraphobia and who knows what else. And now they claim they will serve my needs, whatever they imagine them to be – regardless of what I say about it. I told them all it was like Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” – 3/4’s of the people mentioned here never heard of the writer or the book. The book is about K. – that’s all he’s known as. Who comes up against obstinate “authorities” who charge him with a crime, but won’t tell him what he’s done. And the romp is on. Quite fascinating, eerie even, the parallels between K. and I. And the “authorities” are the people mentioned here. All of whom should be ordered by this court to read the book – so they might comprehend their folly.
The terms “severely mentally ill” and “special needs” seem to have a very broad definition – but comes down to the inability to function in life and get things done, a lack of relationships and endless failings. And I never had such an inability. I run my life, I get things done – and I have a charming time doing it. In fact, the only obstacle to running my life I really ever have encountered in my life are the people in the system mentioned here. It’s like I crossed the Arizona border and became a completely different person. The idea is ludicrous.
In July 2012 I moved to Tuscon – and stayed at the Roadrunner Hostel where I always stay when I’m in that city – and within 5 days had an apartment at 373 N Wilmot Road. I moved my bank account from Louisiana to the National Bank of Arizona, where I still have a checking account and my Social Security check is deposited the 3rd of each month. And I got a library card from the Tucson Public Library across the street from my new home, and I took out some 200 books on dozens of subjects over a one year period. That’s what I do – I go to a city and within days set up a life. And I set up medical care. I am very good at it.
As soon as I got the apartment I went to SAAF (Southern Arizona Aids Foundation, at 375 South Euclid Avenue) – and had an “intake” with a young man. I gave him every piece of paper and evidence he required – lease, social security award letter, ID etc., etc. I signed every form he asked me to. I provided an answer to every question. I told him that I needed three things – 1) the HIV drugs 2) dentistry 3) a male counselor to discuss surviving AIDS. Our meeting was 40 minutes of form filling and signing. I never saw or talked to him again.
I asked for nothing else – not one other thing. For I needed no other help. I simply do things and get them done quickly. I do not dawdle along fretting. I act, and I accomplish.
I was already off the drugs for 4 months because of bureaucratic screw ups in Baton Rouge – it took them in Tucson another 4 months before I got the drugs.
SAAF sent me to Michael Castaneda at COPE – 101 S Stone Avenue – to be my male counselor. Within 15 minutes I figured out he was talking about drug rehab – and I asked him why he was talking about that. He said SAAF told him I was a meth head. I was sort of shocked. I’ve never done it – I don’t know anything about it. I don’t even know what it looks like. SAAF simply imagined an alternative me. Where they got the notion from I have no idea.
So we switched to reality – and I asked if I could continue to see him because I liked him. So we just ignored the fact that he was a drug rehab counselor and I was not a recovering drug addict. For all I know this designation as a meth head is still on my record. I saw him nearly every Tuesday for about 8 months, until his program funding ended. We became buddies. I still talk to him every 6 months or so.
SAAF assigned me a case manager – a woman named Pat Desson – she was the manager of the case managers – she was the top and the best I was told.
She needed a statement from the previous agency in Baton Rouge that I was HIV positive before she could connect me with medical care in Tuscon. So I told her to get it from HAART in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where last I lived, for nearly 3 years, tending a WWII Veteran in his home in his last years – and then I waited. A month later I finally had to tell her to call the director of HAART, Tim Young, and get the piece of paper she needed. She had no clue how to get the paper out of HAART – she merely faxed over a request – blindly – not to any specific person – -just a “to whom it may concern” fax with no one in particular awaiting it. With no answer for a month – she did nothing. She never called them. I told her to call Tim Young and she told me “Oh, he’s the director, we don’t want to bother him with this.” I was like, here’s his personal number, he’s a friend of mine, give him the call. She hesitated – then called. 20 minutes later we had the paper she needed.
She said I was eligible for food stamps, though I hadn’t asked for them. I had never received them before. She was going to help me get them she said. She had no earthly clue how to use the online food stamp application – she couldn’t even call it up online. She sat there flummoxed in confusion.
I asked her where a DMV was to get the AZ ID they and I needed – she had no clue where one was. She lived in Tuscon for decades – and claimed to be the person I needed to talk to for assistance – and yet she had no clue where the DMV was – amazing. Didn’t know how to look it up online either. She was at least able to provide a $12 check to cover the cost, though I hadn’t asked for that either. So I went and got one the next day. It was $9 – I kept the three bucks.
2 or 3 weeks after I first met her, and with not a single discussion with me about my life, she presented me with a “Life Plan” – that’s what she called it. It was a carefully written up document explaining what she was going to do to get my life together – for she thought it broken, apparently. She was going to get me off the streets into a group home, she said – I already had an apartment that I furnished with table, chair, pots, pans, dishes, utensils, towels, bedding, internet access – the stuff one needs. I went out and bought it within days of moving into the place on North Wilmot. After all, I had arrived in the city with just my laptop and small suitcase. She simply did not grasp that I had an apartment. She presented this to me as a done deal – and I was flummoxed. She imagined some scenario out of whole cloth. Where she got this notion that I was hopeless I have no idea.
Within a month of arriving in Tuscon I began painting paintings – and sought an art exhibit. Six months later I had an art exhibit at Brooklyn Pizza on the arts district’s 4th Avenue. I had a painting for sale with the Tuscon Arts Brigade, and another one with something called “BICAS” (they create, repair, sell bicycles.) I had paintings at a ‘wine and paint’ place – I do not recall the name of it.
Within a month I found a piano to play at the Arizona Cancer Clinic on North Campbell Avenue, to which I went 2 or 3 times a week for the year I lived in Tucson – for a few hours to play the piano in their lobby to the enjoyment of all who heard. On youtube are examples of my playing. No one in this system seems to even believe I can play piano – they imply, though have not stated, I am delusional about my amazing ability to play.
After SAAF got the piece of paper they needed from HAART – I was transferred to Robert Gadsden at the 6OPC University Medical Center at 1501 North Campbell Avenue – the HIV/AIDS clinic in the city. Who couldn’t see me for another month in his busy schedule. Another month without the drugs – now going into the sixth month. My constant plea to just give me a bottle of the stuff simply dismissed as unimportant – there were papers that needed to be filed with who knows who. And Pat Desson, SAAF and Robert Gadsden didn’t seem to know who at all.
I met with Gadsden at his office at the University Medical Center. First, he tells me it’s at the corner of Speedway and Campbell – it is not – it’s more than ½ mile way up Campbell. When you don’t know how to explain where your office is there’s a problem.
He tells me I was not eligible for AHCCCS – even though my sole source of income is my Social Security Disability. But in order to get to the right insurance program – and I already have Medicare, which he dismissed as unimportant – I had to fill out an 8 page application for AHCCCS so I could get denied first – before we go to the next insurance step. And so I signed half a dozen of more forms and permissions and whatever he put under my hands. Then he tells me to go home and wait. Come back in a month or so. Still – no drugs.
A week later I get my approval for AHCCCS – I call up Gadsden to tell him. He’s surprised, utterly. So he sets an appointment for me at UMC at 1501 North Campbell Road and I go – and I get there – and they tell me there’s no such appointment – indeed – there was no such doctor at this location. The appointment desk all but told me I was imagining things. They said that my appointment was really a few days later some 30 miles and a 2 ½ hour bus ride from my house – rather than the 5 miles and ½ hour bus ride that the North Campbell location was. More amazingly – there was a UMC Infectious Disease Clinic at 501 (or something) North Wilmot – almost literally next door to where I was living.
At this point I just railed at Gadsden – I was furious. Months of trying to get the life saving drugs – months in Tucson – and utter sloth and incompetence and bizarre behavior by the people at SAAF and now at UMC.
I railed at Pat Desson – I went to her office from the nonexistent appointment to declare my unhappiness. She dismissed my concerns with a tralala who cares attitude. Told me to come back another day, and well that’s the way it is. Stunning disregard for the lack of pills which everyone I was meeting in the system asked “Are you taking your pills?” – “No, I can’t get them,” I told them. They laughed. Literally even.
So they set another appointment for a month later. I say “emergency,” they dawdled along. Finally I get blood work and then I see a doctor. Oh, they are so thrilled, a Patty McCracken was just giddy that my T-cells were 250 (a major measure of health for HIV) – and they were 500 just 6 months previously – but the lack of drugs made them fall. This lack of drugs and the refusal by anyone to hurry along, or get anything right, imperiled my health.
So, I get a prescription – where do I get it filled? It’s always a specialty pharmacy. They don’t know. I’ve been assigned an insurance company – United Health Care – perhaps they can tell me. They could not. I was assigned Humana too – they also could not tell me where to get the prescriptions filled.
I write to the ombudsman of the hospital to complain about all this. She couldn’t figure it out nor render any assistance, but gave weak apologies.
I get calls from case managers, agents and others I don’t know – every 3 or 4 days – people I don’t know, never met, have no idea who they are – calling me out of the blue – and each telling me something completely different and often opposite to what someone else had said – and each of whom I talked to only once before the next one called me. Never did I speak to the same person twice. No one could figure out how to get the drugs to a guy with Medicare, Medicaid, Ryan White and ADAP (The latter two the primary all-coverage HIV programs.) They were all clueless as to what insurance I had.
I got a call from a Walgreens – If I paid a copay of $700 and they would be glad to give me the drugs.
I got a call from Walmart – they said I had a copay of $2,500 and they would be glad to give me the drugs.
I got a call from Albertsons – they don’t have the drugs – go somewhere else.
Who submitted the prescription to any of these places I don’t know. No one was telling me anything but that they don’t know and go talk to someone else elsewhere. Maybe three dozen people paraded through my life.
Finally the stress of this incessant nonsense and the worry about the lack of pills gave me such body pains, chest pains, aches – that I went to the emergency room at St. Joseph’s hospital across the street from where I lived. They thought I was having a heart attack perhaps. They kept me overnight for observation. I hadn’t been overnight in a hospital since I was 8 years old for a tonsillectomy. They also would not give me the drugs everyone insisted I should be taking.
I finally get an appointment at 735 North Wilmot to see a Primary Care Provider through United Health Care, which they insisted I see – but not before trying to send me to a place dozens of miles from my house which I just refused to go to. He wrote me a prescription for the Atripla that I had been taking – just on my request. He wasn’t an HIV doctor – but United said I had to go to him. Right up the block, I went. Nice guy. Reasonable, knowledgeable, but not really about HIV, which is a specialty. Meanwhile, there was a fungus growing on my body, dropping T-cells will do that – he prescribed a cream to stop it.
There’s a flurry of phone calls and letters between 6OPC at UMC, SAAF, United – and the ombudsman at UMC – and no one could figure it out. Months go by and I’m still without the drugs which everyone keeps asking me if I’m taking – and I can’t get them. When I point out they won’t give them to me they shrugged their shoulders and sent me to the next person.
Meanwhile, I’m seeing Michael Castaneda and explaining this. He intervenes, he knows someone in the system. Finally I get the drugs at UMC pharmacy. How simple that could have been from the beginning, how absurd it was.
Then SAAF decides they have enough of my complaining about their sloth and stupidity – virtually every single thing they told me was wrong. They were wrong about what I was eligible for, where to go, what to do – which forms to file and where – and they were astonishingly arrogant to write me up a “life plan” as a diktat of what they insisted I do with myself – so they banned me from their premises. They were going to deny me the services they never provided – while they imagined me a meth head living on the streets – it was simply flummoxing.
Castaneda hooks me up more formally with COPE – his overseeing agency for his program. I go to this COPE office for an intake. I meet once with some case manager who has me fill out forms and ½ hour later I never saw or heard from her again. Castaneda suggested I take a pill, I didn’t think I needed one, but well, I followed his advice, because I’m having these feelings, this melancholy about the loss of so many buddies while I still lived healthy, maybe the pill will help. So they put me in a bare room with a TV – and I look around and I’m like ‘Huh?’ – and the TV springs to life! Scared the hell out of me. I do not own a TV and haven’t for 40 years. I hate TV – now I find I’m talking to one! A woman tells me she’s in Phoenix really, and she’s my psychiatrist and she has all my charts and information – and then asks, within 2 minutes of the start of this charade – “So, you want a pill?” Just like that – I was rather surprised. I thought I should have to explain my feelings first, I certainly wanted to – but nope, she knew all about me, she said. From where she could have learned a thing about me I have no idea – except whatever SAAF may have said. I declined the pill and within 10 minutes I was gone.
I kept asking for a male counselor to deal with surviving AIDS – and Castaneda, while nice, is just a drug rehab counselor with no experience or training with what I am dealing with – so they send me to a man named Dale Hawkins. He’s actually in his office. I go prepared to have a discussion with him about my feelings, my emotions. Within 3 minutes he’s got his prescription pad out telling me I need to take Risperadone. He’s a pill pusher. Nothing but a drug dealer to me. So I’m cajoled into taking this pill. It’s .5 mg – and he labels me “bipolar.”
COPE has me see this other man, to do some assessment. Question after question about problems in life – drugs, booze, sex, homelessness, criminal activity, violent thoughts, wetting the bed – 100% wholly irrelevant to my life. And not a question about me – nor any room on the computer form to put in a word of what I said. There were 100 questions or so – and he diligently stared into the computer, barely glancing at me, so that he could enter all this data into his computer. Castaneda sat in for this session. To what purpose it was I had no idea, but bureaucrats, eh, you have to go with the flow. I met him one other time, by chance in the lobby, and he drove me home and came up to see my art. Nice guy, from Africa, we discussed his home country of Nigeria – he was very impressed with my knowledge of the place. No room for that on the form.
In fact, I only went to the COPE offices 4 times, maybe 5 … once for my first case manager and the TV psychiatrist, once with Dale live, once with Dale on a TV from Indiana while he was having lunch, and shoving food into his face while in between bites he pushed pills – and once to see the question man. That was my sole experience with them. I never spoke to them at all. They never called me up. I never called them. I didn’t need them, and I didn’t know what they did. I simply had no dealing with them beyond these four short visits of barely 15 minutes with four of them, and the hour with the question man.
Finally it seems to settle down. I get the drugs – each month – with Castaneda having to make phone calls to different people because each month seemed to be different. Different insurance providers, different prescriptions, different co-pays – it was just different every month – I didn’t fit any parameter or form or slot or peg hole they had. They were all confused about it.
I continued my life – I published my third book, “The Pink Sheep of the Ninth Circle” – my view of the “gay thing” as I call it. I’m published on several major right wing political websites with my views on gay marriage. I’m defended by a notorious anti-gay commentator on a rabid anti-gay website for my views promoting gay men (That’s how rational I am.) I’m playing the piano to the delight of hundreds of people at a major medical clinic. I’m making friends at the gay bar and with my neighbors. I go to my niece’s wedding in Pennsylvania. I have an art exhibit, I’m painting, I’m writing music, I’m working on more book ideas – I’m leading the normal creative life I’ve always lead. Amazingly, through a post to my blog I wind up reconnecting with long lost relatives in Australia. And I’m paying for it all myself and managing my meager money well.
Finally a year goes by – I’ve done a lot – and the medical situation finally seems stable.
Meanwhile, they’re doing months of air conditioning work at my apartment – though the hottest months of the summer my door has to be open so they can run tubes through the house and out the door – they give me a portable air conditioner to blast (thankfully electric was included in the rent.) But I have a lease, and I can’t afford to move.
I sign a new lease – and they carpet clean as a thank you – everything cleared out of the way – there was not a bedbug to be found. A week later the bedbugs surfaced by the hundreds – literally – one day not one, the next hundreds – they came out of the woodwork. Sure, 4 or 5 apartments surrounding me were all vacated and being refurbished and there I was – the last piece of flesh around. I discover that the complex had been cited repeatedly by the city and county for bedbugs. I was up for 7 days – couldn’t sleep – I was fighting off the bugs – they were attacking me as I stood still. The complex tells me not to worry – in 10 days they’ll take care of it. Don’t worry if they crawl on you and bite, I’m told – “they are not disease vectors” I’m told. They tell me I have to pay them 100s of dollars first- and besides, they’re going to be evicting me anyway.
I called Castaneda to see what might be done. I call my new “case manager” at COPE who I had never spoken to to see what might be done. They say they’ll send someone over – so I wait. For days. They have the wrong address – they can’t find me. They finally get to my house and tell me I’m on my own. Tough luck buddy. They send someone to haul me to a rehab center – they imagine I’m on drugs because I don’t have bite marks. Once there I say “I need sleep” — they keep me up to question me about my condition. The next morning they send me home to the infested house. I stay up for more days. It’s the end of the month, I have no money – so I’m stuck.
Finally I collapse – a neighbor calls 911 – they take me to the hospital – they pull bedbugs off of me – but decide that since I have no bites – I’m imagining this all – and they put me in a psyche ward. To deal with my hallucinations, they seem to say. They simply would not believe there was a bedbug issue as the things were crawling on me in the emergency room. Apparently I am one of the rare people who do not get bite marks, what can I say?
They let me out the next day – and hand me back my phone and wallet – washed! My wallet was sodden. They washed my phone! Now I can’t call anyone. I get my check, the bank is across the street from the hospital, next to my apartment complex. They let me use their phone. I call my neighbors, who had just moved out too – and I rescue everything I can out of the apartment, which was mostly the 40 paintings I had done while there, and abandon the rest. We had time for one trip – and I put it into storage – with help from my neighbors. COPE told me to jump in a lake.
Wondering what to do – I arrange a temporary address, and head for Mexico – that’s what I had money to do. I ask for the pills before I go, which are denied to me because it’s 2 days short of when I’m supposed to get them. 2 months later I fly to my sister’s in Pennsylvania, I pass through Tucson – can I get the drugs? No – they won’t give them to me. I’m told to just stay in a homeless shelter until COPE or some other agency gets their act together and gets me into a group home. I tell them they are crazy. The holidays are upon us. I figure I’ll sort things out while enjoying some family time – and then move to Phoenix. I was rather tired of Tucson at this point. The UMC would not mail me a month or two of the drugs. Nor was anyone allowed to pick them up for me and mail them to me. So, back to no drugs. My T-cells were back up to about 320. Once in Pennsylvania I come to find out that COPE – on their own volition, without my knowledge even – calls up all my medical providers – insurance – AHCCCS, the UMC – everyone – and tells them I moved to Philadelphia (didn’t go near that city) – so everything gets canceled. And once again I’m without the drugs! – thanks COPE.
And somewhere along the line – either SAAF or COPE or both – put on my record that I was “Severely Mentally Ill” and “Special Needs.” Only I don’t realize this until I get to Phoenix. And still wasn’t sure what anyone was talking about until 2016 – when it began to become clearer to me. These people have created an alternative me that bears no resemblance to the real me.
So I spend 2 months in Scranton, Pennsylvania dealing with family and selling things I had on Ebay to raise money for the move to Phoenix. I’m off the drugs again for several months. In December of 2013 I call Judy Norton of MIHS (Maricopa Integrated Health System) and tell her I’m landing on January 4th, 2014 – I would like to get the drugs – and a male counselor to talk to about surviving AIDS. These are the only two things I ask her for. I seek no other help from any agency or entity to do anything. I take care of things as I always do.
We set an appointment for January 6th at the McDowell Clinic at 1101 North Central Avenue, Phoenix – I’m there. Ms. Norton cheerfully hands me a bag with about 100 condoms, with a wink wink, nudge nudge. It frankly insults me – the sex crazed homosexual of lore come to the fore. I didn’t say a word. I gave the condoms to the local gay center. I get an intake with Julie Langston – more pointless questions. I say again and again – I’m off the drugs for months. Don’t worry, I’m told, soon.
The first week I stay gratis at the Phoenix Youth Hostel, where I’m one of the family, and within 5 days of arriving in Phoenix I get an apartment at 4444 N 7th Avenue. I tell MIHS where the new place is. Two weeks later I get my stuff out of storage in Tucson, with the gracious help of a woman I had just met at the gay center (Lesbians with pickups, best movers ever) – I start acquiring furniture and pots and things for the house. I go about my life, I go the gay center daily to use their wifi. The gay center gives me some furniture as a welcoming gift.
Meanwhile, no one in the system can figure out what I’m covered by to get medical care. I’m sent to this and that agency – I can barely recall them all, a dozen at least. I have one or two phone calls with them and they sent me to the next agency. Or they came to my house and I signed some forms and I never heard from them again. A man from an agency called “Chicanos Por La Causa” comes to my house. The man tells me he’s going to take care of me. He’s going to get me into a group home where I might be tended. I tell him he’s out of his mind and throw him out of my house – in Spanish – I am quite conversant in the language. I have an apartment I paid for – I’m not moving into a group home. I don’t need anyone to tend me. He told me otherwise, and didn’t listen to a word I said.
AHCCCS has no clue about me – I’m simply gone from the system I was in several months previously. MIHS can’t get me to a doctor – SAAF, or COPE, or UMC, can’t pull themselves together to fax the much needed proof that I’m HIV+ – why not just give me another test? Can’t be done. A bureaucrat has to state it, your own blood is not proof enough.
Center for Eligibility can’t figure out what I’m covered by. So convoluted are meetings with agencies, at their offices, or my house, or on the phone that I do nothing but sign still more forms and I am sent on my way, never to see these people again. I’m assigned an insurance company – United Health Care again – they too are utterly clueless about what I might be covered by – and have no evidence that they were my insurance provider just months previously in Tucson. Phone calls, meetings, form signings – all to no avail.
I go back to a doctor Thanes, that I had seen years before – he takes me in. Does blood work. Then can’t figure out what insurance I’m covered by. Medicare, Medicaid, Ryan White, ADAP – it’s all a mystery to them. They refuse to give me a prescription. They charge me for the visit. I explain that I must have insurance. No, I’m told – I’m not eligible for any insurance of any kind.
I call a Crisis Hotline because I don’t know what else to do, I’m just flummoxed in rational rage – I ask to speak to a male counselor about all of this. They take me to a drunk tank on 99th Avenue – “Community Bridges” – they tell me I have to dry out for a few days before I can see anyone. I hadn’t had a drink in weeks. I get out right away.
Patrick Scullion of Empact comes and gets me on 99th Avenue, and we go visit this and that place, Food Stamps, DES – a food bank, and to get a government phone – none of which I needed or wanted – but when might I get the drugs? No one knows and Patrick does his best to get it done. Really, he was impressive with what he knew, was right about and got done.
It took a woman I met at the gay center, Nadine Wells, to take me to the AHCCCS head office to straighten out who is my primary and secondary providers. Even they were somewhat confused, but seemed to finally straighten it out.
Most of these agencies had addresses for me in Louisiana in their system, or the address of the Youth Hostel where I lived at in Phoenix 6 or more years previously. How they had any address on me at all I don’t know, I guess I’m in the system. No one seemed to have any knowledge or notice of my time in Tucson – it’s like it never happened. Agencies argued with me over my correct address – they were going to tell me where I lived. It was amazing.
Meanwhile, I became friends with a dozen people at the Phoenix One Voice gay pride center which was next door – I’m still friends with them all.
Southwest Center for AIDS at 1101 North Central says they’ll be my case managers – great. They assign me an earnest young woman, Katy Vacuravich – she has no clue as to how I might get any services, though what services I might need I don’t know. She has no idea what insurance I might be covered by. Can’t figure out any website she goes to. Has no idea where the Social Security office might be to get the most current award letter, because the one from late 2013 is no good anymore, perhaps just in case my check doubled or something. I get all the papers they request. It’s still not enough. Nadine Wells helps with this too, knowing just where to go, the Social Security office on Tatum Road. I get the letters and proofs I need.
Finally, they get me a male counselor – come to find out in a month that he’s not covered by my insurance at all. Now I have a bill I can’t pay – thankfully they just dismissed it. But I saw him just 4 or 5 times. They say they have another – no, it’s a woman, I decline to see her. Yet another woman comes to my house, to sign forms and assess my needs, she tells me, from some clinic on 7th Avenue at Osborn, I don’t remember the name – 3333 North 7th Avenue. They send me to someone else – they set the appointment on my birthday, without asking me – at the Townlee Clinic – I had to get a ride there – there is no way to reach it by bus. It took a woman named Erica at the One Voice to even find out about this appointment – people wanted to know my case manager – “I have no case manager” I said. They assign me a case manager and do an intake – and then tell me they have no idea who to send me to next because of my “special needs” and I didn’t understand what they were talking about. But there was no point in seeing them anymore, they didn’t have what I wanted – a male counselor to talk with about surviving AIDS. I never heard from them again.
I had to go to the Department of Health at 150 North 18th Avenue to meet with a Jimmy and Laura (I don’t know their last names,) who are in charge of the Ryan White/ADAP program. They too have no idea what I’m covered by or who is paying for it. We met for more than an hour as they investigated. They conclude perhaps I’m covered by the ADA (American with Disabilities Act;) they are not sure. Still, no drugs.
Four months I wait for a doctors visit – before I get a bottle of Atripla in my hand.
MIHS McDowell Clinic recommends I see Zhanna Schpitalnik, a psychiatrist – right away she wants to foist a pill on me. Another drug pusher in my mind. I say I really don’t need a drug – I need a male counselor about having survived AIDS – she dismisses my plea and writes a prescription for 1 milligram of Risperadone – doubling the dosage COPE pushed me on. It really seems to have no effect on anything except hampering my creativity.
By April I finally see a doctor – Brian Arey, and get prescriptions for HIV drugs that can actually be filled – Hallelujah! I go to the Avella drug store at 15th Avenue and Camelback (Since closed) to get the pills. Nope, never heard of me, I’m not in the system, go see someone else. I go ballistic. It’s absurd already. More phone calls and emails – including to my city council member seeking intervention – I was willing to try to talk to anyone to get the drugs I need – and which everyone kept asking “Are you taking your meds like a good little boy?” “No,” I answer, “you won’t give them to me.” They shrugged their shoulders and told me to talk to someone else.
On May 13th of 2014, after being picked up by a new and now dear friend at the clinic that couldn’t help me mentioned above, Townlee, she takes me to One Voice – and I’m given a surprise birthday party! I am the first and last and only person to ever get a birthday party thrown by the One Voice gay pride center. I am extremely popular. They hang my art on their lobby walls. Young people come to me with their issues and I advise them like an uncle. I’ve been doing that for decades. I wrote a cartoon book: “Old Gay Geezers Give Good Advice.”
I give up the counselor idea, it was pointless bringing it up to person after person who simply dismissed my request as piffle.
I finally get settled with the drugs, and food stamps. I don’t ask for anything else. I don’t go to any food banks, I did not ask for a phone, I did not ask for any assistance of any kind. I ran my life, as I always did, rationally, calmly, reasonably, with plenty of mirth and merriment and creativity along the way.
No agency came to me to see if I was OK. But everyone sure had more forms to sign. A blizzard of them. To what purpose I don’t know. I signed whatever they asked.
In August, into September, 2014 I painted a monumental 4×4 foot painting of 5,000 years of gay history for the new Phoenix Gay Pride Center at 801 North 2nd Avenue. After I delivered it on September 5th to much acclaim and wonder – I collapsed from exhaustion, I guess. I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at St. Joseph’s Hospital at Thomas Road and 7th Avenue. Coming out of the emergency room I discovered a piano in the lobby. The next day I start to go there once or twice a week to play. For the next 2 years I play there regularly, weekly, every Tuesday and Thursday, and I’m beloved and have fans and people applaud and tell me it made their day. Eventually, in August of 2016 the hospital asks me to become their official lobby pianist – they give me a badge and everything. My job is playing piano for four to five hours a day, they give me lunch at the cafeteria.
From January 2014 to November 2015 I painted dozens of paintings while I look for a place to have an exhibit, composed hundreds of pieces of music, and I published the 12 books that were in the pipeline – I had been working on them for years. They were put up on Amazon Kindle.
Everything finally seemed to settle down, great. I was happy. I renewed my lease in January 2015. In November 2014 a cat strolled into my life. I get him neutered and all his shots, and within a few weeks he and I are going for nightly strolls with him on a leash – even to the Bunkhouse next door where we are popular fellows.
The two charming front office ladies at the complex I lived at took my rent, bought my art, and we got along great, they bought me ½ dozen donuts from time to time because I made them laugh. They left in August and September of 2015 for their personal reasons. The complex then hired this crazed woman who was a fellow tenant – one who had screamed at me in the public area of the complex several times over the previous two years and that I sought to avoid. I ran away from her. One day I go walk in to pay the rent – there she is – the manager. She takes my check while berating me in a shrill voice, almost yelling at me, about god knows what. I ran away. There’s no logic to this – perhaps I looked like an ex-husband – who knows? It’s nonsensical, she just hates me.
In November she slammed a notice to my door proclaiming that I am a loud and disruptive tenant. I go to ask her what she is talking about. She screams at me like a crazed banshee to get out of her office. A half hour later there are two cops at my door wondering what is the matter. “Beats me officers, I didn’t call you.” They hand me notices – half a dozen of them. Threats, insinuations, accusations, based on specific provisions of the law – of gang activity, noise, intimidation, drug dealing, disrupting other tenants. And they told me I walk my cat too close to her dogs, oh yes. It was stunning. Over the next 3 weeks, cops were repeatedly at my door at the behest of this woman. They kept telling me it was a civil matter – I said I’m being unlawfully harassed. In the second week of December the manager gave me another notice that they would not renew the lease on January 1st. I now have 3 weeks to get out. – OK, that sucks, but apparently it’s allowed by law. She sends a “crisis team” to my house – who knows what she claimed. Two guys from Empact come. I entertain them and sign their forms that all is OK. Then to top it off, she serves me with eviction papers on December 21st. I have to get a lawyer right away and solve this problem. Basically some strange woman I never knew tried to have me arrested, hauled off, and destroy my credit and rental history. It was monstrous.
I wind up moving to a dark studio apartment out on 43rd Avenue and West Glendale – so far from everything I do and need. It was the only place I could find in such a tizzy; I had 14 days over the Christmas and New Years holidays to find a place, pack up and move, while visiting lawyers at the HIV Law Project. Friends and family stepped in to help – no agency did a thing – nor did I ask them. The only thing I did was ask Patrick Scullion if he knew of any places and he sent me to a website where I found the Cinnabarr Apartments, to which I moved. I was extremely unhappy. Oh, miserable even. I didn’t want to live there. It was, actually, the farthest from a gay bar I had lived in since 1980.
In May 2016 I turned 58 years old. This melancholy descended on me. I was alive, and so many of my old friends were not. I was doing stuff, they were dead. Fortuitously, I thought, Mercy Maricopa – now my insurance company – calls me up in mid-June to inquire on routine matters, as they do once or twice a year – and I asked to speak to a male counselor about these emotions, this survivors guilt, this wistful ennui – I didn’t really understand it – so I sought a male counselor to speak to. Seemed reasonable to me. And then everything really got weird. All of sudden I’m told point blank I’m “severely mentally ill” and “special needs” Oh, it’s in their computer, they tell me. So they tell me they’ll send me to the very place I need. I was told I could no longer see Schpitalnik, who just giggled and said “Well, I can’t see you anymore, you’re SMI” and dismissed me.
I was told I was “SMI” – I didn’t quite understand what it meant. Another set of initials by bureaucrats, eh. So they assigned me to the Southwest Network. Fine, I’ll go talk to them.
First a woman comes to my house – for an “assessment” – what she is assessing I don’t know. She barely looked around my house, and mostly fumbled with her papers, some of which I had to sign, to get “services,” and asked me if I was going to harm anyone or myself. Well, no, I’m not. I never have, the idea is ludicrous. What “services” she doesn’t say. I say “So, a male counselor?” Oh yes, she says, next week – one in Scottsdale. I’m thinking, I need to travel 25 miles to see someone? Well, it’s their cab. So I go – and the cabby brings me to Seacrest Family Chiropractic office – and leaves me there, zooming away. They and I have no idea why I’m there. It takes Mr. Seacrest a half hour to convince AHCCCS that I’m there, that I’m on AHCCCS and that I’d like to get home without a 3 hour bus tour of the city. A cab finally comes, I go home. I call Mercy Maricopa – they are clueless as to why I needed to go there, or was taken there. They know nothing about it. They arrange another meeting.
This time I meet with a Melodie Harmon. Why I needed to meet with her, I don’t know – she could certainly not be the male counselor I sought. I’m told another “assessment.” I meet her at 16th Street and East Osborn. She has me sign forms electronically, I don’t even know what they are for. 4 or 5 signatures she required. I ask – “Where is the male counselor?” Oh, she’ll get me one, she says. She asks inane questions like can I remember a few numbers and letters. She dismisses as irrelevant any positive thing about my life, and being a long term survivor of AIDS with some melancholy about 100 dead friends. Then she tells me I’m to go to 3640 West Osborn to a clinic. OK, sure, why not? That’s where she tells me the male counselor I seek awaits.
I go to this clinic – and can’t find it. There is no 3640 address on West Osborn. I walk around for 40 minutes in July’s searing heat looking for the place. Not finding it, I go home just enraged – and my ability to find places is legendary with my friends and family, I assure you. I call them up (I do not carry a phone with me, never, not ever.) They simply cannot explain to me where they are. “In the industrial park right there.” Which industrial park? They can’t say, they don’t know.
So my newly appointed “Case manager” – now I have two – one with Care Directions – one with Southwest – a man named Relles Abeytia comes and picks me up – he’s 20 minutes late because he can’t find me or call me. His office had to call to tell me finally he’s at the front office of my complex – then I’m taken there. And it’s hidden behind everything and not visible to the street. It’s nearly ¼ mile north of Osborn! Stunning. I meet with a woman named Mary Kay Tharalson – I have no idea her qualifications – but for sure she is not a male counselor. She has me sign more forms, 3 or 4, also electronically. I don’t actually see the forms, or know what they are, but well, intakes, it’s signing forms. I sign them all. She can barely find what she’s looking for in her computer, or on her desk. I have to help her. She stares into the computer and tells me “Yeah, I’ll just give you prescriptions for the same drugs McDowell has you on.” Another pill pusher. All of 15 minutes with me, and she’s pushing pills. I ask “Where’s the male counselor?”
I’m told, “We’re going to assess your needs.” I’m puzzled. What needs are these people talking about? And where is the male counselor which I requested? They tell me to wait, they’ll fix it all up.
The following week I meet with Relles, and he goes through the same asinine question list that COPE went through several years ago. Absolutely none of this is relevant to my life. I’m a long term Gay Male AIDS survivor of great accomplishment – and they’re asking me about my criminal records and drug use and living on the streets. I talk accomplishment – they ask about troubles. I asked Relles repeatedly in that meeting – after every question even – it became a sing along joke after awhile – for the name and number of a male counselor so I can call and make an appointment. Oh no, he needs his ridiculous form filled out – so they can assess my needs, he tells me. Every thing I asked for and said dismissed as nothing – I am beginning to figure out that these people are talking about something completely different than I am. They are talking about some imaginary person – not me.
And that’s when I first start hearing more clearly about this “Severely Mentally Ill, Special Needs” designation. What does it mean? I ask – they won’t tell me – “You wouldn’t understand,” I’m told. And then I go home and don’t hear from them for weeks. Eventually they call, and insist I come see their nurse and their doctor because they are taking over my health care from McDowell Clinic. I told them, “You are doing no such thing.”
I write a letter to Tharalson and Relles laying out clearly what I want and why – a male counselor to discuss my emotions about surviving AIDS – and that they are “harming” me for not giving me the name and number of someone. I said there is no reason to meet with her – I don’t need any pills. And I will not and cannot talk to a woman about my emotions. She never responded in any way – he started pestering me.
Meanwhile I figure out that this Risperadone, now up to 2 milligrams, as Schpitalnik insisted – as these pill pushers insisted I be on, was giving me dangerous side affects. Friends and family started to tell me I did not seem myself. People grew concerned. I was no longer the bon vivant I had been all my life. I keep telling my friends – I do not feel right – something is very wrong – and I don’t know what. My friend Carl Bednarz, who I have known since 1980, and I had a Skype call – he said – oh no, stop that stuff immediately– it’s killing you. While on the call he looked up the side affects of this drug – and I was having nearly all of them. Come to find out, the stuff is toxic to me. These people poisoned me, frankly.
Then the Pulse shooting happened in Orlando. I became more – I don’t know – melancholy? Anxious? Whatever it was – it did not interfere with my life. I still created music endlessly, still went to play piano, still was writing, was still seeing friends, still going to the bar to seek new friends – I kept the same eating, sleeping, bathing, hygiene, friendship habits I always had – nothing changed. I was just looking for someone to talk to about emotions – and all these people were talking about me – talking at me, even – like I was mentally ill and couldn’t function in life. Nothing I said changed their view one iota.
And every time I spoke with Relles he could not and would not give me the name of a male mental health counselor. He told me that “Your team is working on your assessment.” Now I had a team, oh my. Never met a one of these people, and they are assessing my needs. Just stunning. Who knows what they imagined and created? Now that I have seen their 186 page report on me – it is just fabricated fantasy. I’ve never read anything like it. It’s like a novel was written about me – but well – it is not me at all – not in the least.
Relles and Southwest insisted I see their nurse, doctor, psychiatrist and more – and I said “no.” I did not need it, did not want it. I wanted one and only one thing – a male counselor to talk to about surviving AIDS – I brought it up at every contact point – phone, writing, in person. To no avail. I find in their report: “James says he wants to see a male counselor. It could be considered an option.” That is just stunning – an option? Really? To be decided by this guy who doesn’t know me? Amazing arrogance.
This went on from August to December. I filed a formal complaint with the Mercy Maricopa Grievance Committee – they call me up to tell me they’ll arrange a conference call with Southwest to resolve the rather simple matter of a male counselor. So we had the call the next week. I’m told to expect a call every day until I get what I wanted. I never heard from Southwest again for weeks. I ignore them.
I begin a series of emails with Ron Valdez, ombudsman with Mercy Maricopa – I write “Do you have the name and number of a male counselor covered by my insurance that I can call and make an appointment with?” There’s a flurry of emails – his filled with obfuscating gobbledygook and no name and number – mine more strident with each return – but nope – he would not and could not provide me with a name and number. He all but insisted I wouldn’t understand what they were all doing for me, and that I had to deal with Southwest because I was “severely mentally ill” with “special needs” I was just flummoxed. What were these people talking about?
On October 26th, 2016, while coming home from piano playing at St. Joseph’s I was in a bus crash and I broke my wrist. I was rushed to the emergency room at the Abrazo Campus Medical Center at Bethany Home and North 19th Avenue. The next day I went to an orthopedic surgeon – he told me I had to have surgery right away. I had surgery the next week. Friends came and helped. I called Noah Altman, my new case manager at Care Directions, if there was anyone who could come help me cook and clean a bit. No, he had no clue. Mercy Maricopa told me I was on my own. So I had friends come over and cut up meat and vegetables and open cans so I could put them in leftover containers so I could cook as best I could with one hand. For two, even three months, friends came and helped me – and not one agency lifted a finger.
On about the 1st or 2nd of December Relles called again finally – I asked him point blank – “Do you have the name and number of a male mental health counselor that is covered by my insurance so I can call and make an appointment.” He said “No, I do not.” I said, “So what is the point of talking to you?” He said he’s taking care of me. How could he be taking care of me? It’s nonsensical. He’s doing nothing.
Then more people from Southwest began to call me – to tell me I had to see them. They said they had no male counselors, but I was “special needs” – and they were going to take care of me. What “special needs” they imagined I don’t know. No one from any agency ever came to my house to see if the rent was paid, or the lights were on, or if I had food or clean clothes – no one did a thing. And I went about my life ignoring them as best I could – and telling them to go away. But they called, repeatedly, to tell me they had no answers and I should just wait, my team was working on my case – but come and do it at their office. All my life I did things, I did not wait. But they seemed to think that my refusal to meet with them was a sign of how very mentally ill they imagined me to be.
Then, one day, December 4th or 5th or so, Relles came to my house unannounced, to tell me again that he had no name and number for me. I was just then trying to cut a piece of steak for my cat (he’s spoiled, yes) – I asked him to help, since I was still in a cast and it was very difficult. He cut it – but he did not ask me about the cast. Not a shred of concern about the broken wrist of his “special needs” “client.” A stunning lack of humanity, frankly. Nor did he even look up around my house, but kept his gaze to the floor; very odd, I thought. I have 40 paintings on my walls – you can’t miss them – some are 3 and 4 even 5 feet across, they are bright, colorful – virtually every square foot of my walls is covered by art – everyone comments on them. Not a word from him on them, the wrist, my life – nothing. Just “No, I have no name yet.” I told him to get lost. I told him he was a pointless fool in my life, because he was. What was he doing in my life? I wanted to know. He’s taking care of me he says. Just wow.
Six months – and no one can come up with the name and number of a male counselor? Really? Oh, he’s assessing my needs, he says, and getting me the very right person I needed to see. But he needed me first to come into his office to sign yet more forms. I told him no, no more forms.
Then on Friday December 8th he came again – I said go away, I would not let him in my house. By this time I am fed up with this miserable excuse for a man. Then – later that day – he brought cops to my door in an obnoxious and vain attempt to compel me to sign some form called an “ISP” – I don’t know what that means. I told the cops to tell Relles to go to hell. I would sign no forms. It was like Old Czechoslovakia to me, my cousins told me stories of cops come to compel compliance. No, there cannot be cops at my door to compel me to sign some pointless irrelevant form
Then on Monday too – Relles and other people came back to my door several times to try to compel me to go with them, or come into my house – and to sign more forms – and I told them all to stay away – that they were pointless in my life. I told them – come back one more time and I was calling the cops. It was simply harassment. My facebook wall will amply show my commentary on this hounding, it was amazing.
And then during the day of Monday December 12th, they came again! Several times – just pestering me with nonsense. Sign forms, see our doctors! – bleating like children. And still without the name and number of a male counselor I could call. And then finally I called the police at about 5 in the afternoon to complain about this harassment. Only it turns out that Relles and Southwest had called the cops on me first! Cops come to my door and I think they are for me – and instead they tell me, no – I must go with them. They have an order to take me away. By who? I asked. It’s in the car, they said. And then I was so rudely hauled off in my pajamas by the cops to a psyche ward at Phoenix Memorial at 1201 South 7th Avenue. I was incensed. I still was healing from a broken wrist, awaiting a visit with my surgeon in two days about the healing and the cast still on my wrist. And I was having a pleasant evening chatting with friends and family on facebook, as I’ve done since 2010 or so – and I post nothing but charm, intelligence, erudition and more on a 1001 subjects – and a railing against heteroos (rhymes with Underoos, little boys underwear line) the likes of which you might never have seen and I make no bones about. I am, to coin a word “Heterophobic” – I despise the lot of you – have since Father Bennack when I was 15 years old, in a Catholic catechism class, went off on gay men – to the point I rushed him and said “You say that crap again and I’ll thrash you.” I do NOT tolerate any hetero nonsense, never. I am vociferous in my defense of gay men – and more vocal in my castigation of heterosexuals. I am the “radical militant homosexual” so many fretted about, I’m sure. Since I was 8 years old. I was never in the closet. I never said I was a homosexual to anyone – I said “My, isn’t he a cute guy?” – When I was 10. And AIDS is part of it – and I have emotions about it – which the system has simply spit on. They spit on me.
At Phoenix Memorial’s psyche ward they stuck me in the corner of concrete room and a squadron of women came in to stare at me. They didn’t ask me anything, they didn’t speak at all – -just stared – as I just berated the lot of them. How dare they do this? Perhaps mostly because I was demanding to be let out, that this was insanity to drag me here. Their leader shook her head in disdain, and with a sour face said, “you can’t talk to him.” She had never uttered another word, just stared at me. Her obnoxious arrogance just stunning. Then two large orderlies manhandled me like a sack of turnips, carried me into a more plainer concrete room, held me down on a bed while someone shot me up with some drug which caused pain in my rump for days. They left me in this room for a half hour and then talked to me like I was deranged. They didn’t listen to a word I said, while telling me I was “severely mentally ill” – and I was just pissed as hell. They then stuck me in an uncomfortable chair to sleep in and ignored me for the night. One orderly, during a bathroom trip said to me, “Man, you don’t belong here.”
The next morning, the 13th, I meet some Dr. Wolf who tells me “You don’t belong here” – “No kidding,” I said. I was out within 2 hours. On the discharge papers she put “Mania” for my “condition” – I guess “Righteous Indignation” wasn’t on her form. I was so angry – it was amazing. Not in 58 years was I ever hauled anywhere by police for any reason whatsoever. I had never even pulled over for a speeding ticket in my life. For gay rainbow stickers, yes – but speeding no. Amazing, yes?
The cops hauling me away would not show me by what authority they had to do this. I want to see this document. But somehow Southwest simply imagined a scenario, fabricated a story – and lied to the police. They lied, point blank. There is no way around the fact that this agency – Relles, Dorothy Williams, Tharalson – whoever signed off on this – lied – they imagined things – they fabricated a story out of nothing. Whatever they told the police was sheer unadulterated fabricated lies – or delusion, if you wish. Fantasy? Pick a word.
I had to take two buses and the light rail home, 2 hours it took – through the streets – in my pajamas! It was humiliating to say the least. I am always respectfully dressed. Along the way I went to the McDowell Clinic in a snit. To demand some kind of action. This was absurd.
I met with Greg Scaggs, director of McDowell – we called Southwest, spoke with Dorothy Williams – I said it clearly, in several ways – I do NOT want to talk to you people again – get out of my life – you people are crazed.
So they needed yet another form. They couldn’t fax it right over. No, I had to come back on December 14th – taking the hour trip from my house to McDowell – and an hour back home again, so I could check a box on a form, sign it, and fax it over to them. So I think I sign a form “voluntarily refusing services” and I’m done with these people. But no, it made no difference, they are not done with me yet.
At 2 PM on Friday December 16th a woman named Cory from Southwest Network called me – I never heard of her before – she was going to take care of me she said – I needed to come to their office so they can tend me – I told her I dismissed their network and goodbye and told her “Do not ever call me again.”
At 5 PM on Friday December 16th a woman from Southwest Network shows up at my door unannounced – and informs me cheerily she is my “peer counselor” – I was flummoxed. I showed her the paper that I dismissed them and told her to go away. Oh, she was a bit miffed, “I came to help you,” she says with a pout. I asked repeatedly for a male counselor since June – and they send a woman to my house to be my counselor – 3 days after I dismiss them from my life? It was just ludicrous.
Then, on Sunday evening at 6 PM December 18th, Dorothy Williams calls me! To find out how I am! – I told her I’m seeking a lawyer and a judge against her. I asked her “Do you understand this, you are not to call me anymore.” Then I dismissed her.
I then had a lawyer friend call Dorothy Williams and tell her to go away.
Even that wasn’t enough. I had subsequent conversations with Greg Scaggs – and now an Eric Moore of MIHS, apparently Judy Norton’s assistant or something, was involved. Now these two were trying to tell me I had to go back to Southwest to get their permission to see another clinic or another agency. They told me there was a meeting set for January 11th.
On Friday December 30th I saw Brian Arey NP my very nice HIV doctor and told him what had happened and about this “Severely Mentally Ill Special Needs” designation. He almost shouted “No Way!” I never saw him so animated. And I handed him a letter I wrote to share with everyone that stated emphatically I simply would never see or deal with Southwest again – that they were simply incompetent and even evil. Surely they broke any trust that a patient must have with his medical providers. They abused me. They lied to the police about me. They had me hauled out of my house to a psyche ward – a monstrous act. I told Eric Moore that they “harmed” me in the way that the various protocols about patient care mention. Frankly, these people have committed malpractice in one way or another.
Then about January 7th or so – a Laura from Southwest Network calls me to tell me that I have – that I simply have – they set it – she demanded I go to it – an appointment with them to see their nurse and doctor to get the care they think I need. She tells me it’s at 11 AM on January 11th. I was like, lady, you are out of your mind. I said “do not call me ever again.” Amazingly – she calls back an hour later to inform me that the appointment is really 1 PM on January 12th! I again tell her – “I will never set foot in your office again – do not call me again – stay away from me forever.”
Meanwhile, Greg Scaggs and Eric Moore are telling me they will go with me so I can get the care everyone seems to think I need. And I was simply amazed – what care do these people think I need? They won’t tell me – I wouldn’t understand they say. I shouldn’t worry – they will take care of me. Meanwhile, I’m running my life.
I had the paralegal from Lerner & Rowe with whom I’m talking about the wrist case – I have a claim against the city of Phoenix – call Dorothy Williams. She feigned this utter innocence. She said there were no police or courts involved. She denied everything, and stated my relationship with them was completely voluntary – at the same time her office is calling to simply demand I meet with them.
Meanwhile, in early January some agency I never heard of – the Bayless Agency – calls me up – and in a brief 4 minute call the lady tells me that they can’t help people like – because I’m “severely mentally ill and special needs” she says. Beats me who they are – or what they wanted, or how they heard my name or got my number or why they even called. It’s a complete mystery to me. But I can’t be having strange agencies call me to tell me point blank that I am basically “insane” and “incompetent.” It’s insane.
Then – I’m referred to Jewish Family Services – where I’m told there is a male counselor. I get there on January 6th for my 10 AM appointment. I sat seething in the lobby until 10:30 because Relles from Southwest Network got to meet with a woman named Lindsay Morgan for a half hour to explain all about me – and I come to find out – hand over what looks like a 100 page report on me (I was a printer for many years, I know what a 100 pages looks like.) How an agency I met 3 or 4 times could prepare a 100 page report on me I don’t know.
I speak with her for nearly one and a half hours. She asks me endless questions that are irrelevant to what I ask for – a male counselor. I just need his name and number to call and make an appointment – I make every other appointment I need to – to discuss me being a Gay Man who survived AIDS after burying 100 friends. That’s it. That’s my issue. She goes through a similar set of questions as the COPE guy and Relles did. Every question is about the “problems” in my life, my alleged inability to function, my alleged danger to myself or others, my alleged substance abuse, my alleged lack of friends and family, my alleged failings in life. Every mention of the astoundingly great life I led is dismissed as irrelevant – she is a cultural illiterate to top it off – she had no idea about anyone I mentioned, gay life in the 1980s – nothing – she knows nothing but her computer form. During this charade she leans over and asks me as if talking to a child – “Now I’m going to say three words, can you repeat them?” And then she says “Door, Chair, Tree” – those are the three words that are going to test my memory. It is an abomination. My memory? My memory is near photographic, always has been. So rude, insolent and obnoxious, I was just short of losing my temper, (it is legendary, I’m sure, by now with this nonsense.)
We continue – and at the end of this charade she leans over and tells me not only does she not have a male counselor for me to see – but because, she tells me, that I’m “severely mentally ill and special needs” – she’s going to refer me to a much better agency to handle my case. But first she’s going to assign a case manager to me, to help me with my needs. And I’m just flabbergasted. What could she be talking about? So I left, vowing to simply ignore these people.
On January 10th I get the phone call I was hoping for – I was on the waiting list for 6 months for the apartment I am in now. I did what was required, signed a lease by January 20th and moved in by January 30th. Friends all came and helped. It is my “life plan” to live here in Phoenix in the same adorable apartment in this fantastic location for the rest of my years, playing piano at St. Joseph’s as the official lobby pianist and work on my art and books about my fascinating life, until I get a nice obituary in the Arizona Republic.
And these agencies, these people, this designation, these reports, these fantasies and fabrications and labels – all of it – are a danger to my life, my plans, my aspirations, my liberty and more – my sanity and repose and peace. I cannot be having police come to my door at the behest of bureaucrats who imagine fantasies about me. These people are a peril to my life. Who knows who will show up again? Who knows who will lie to police and have me hauled off again? Who knows what policeman will think me a danger to himself and shoot first and ask questions later? Who knows what they will do while they continue to think that I’m insane and incompetent – and yet they know nothing of me but that I can sign their confounded forms? 101 forms with 4 dozen people, each of whom I met once.
A month later on February 3rd I get a phone from a Dijana at Jewish Family Services telling me she’s my case manager! I told her I’m suing her agency and to tell her boss, Lindsay, to expect a letter about it. I say goodbye.
Then on February 6th a man named Brian from JFCS calls to tell me he’s my new male counselor. And by this time I had solved the problem with the help of friends and family. For instance, one friend bought me two months of online counseling, I’ve been writing back and forth with Ken Fields of Betterhelp.com. But many friends and family called me, even facebook friends I only know online, one from Wales UK, even. And I figured it out – I was having a “midlife crisis” as it’s called, and as I joked “I can’t afford a sports car.” While it was building from about 2010 or so, and then the radical change between constant travel to what I thought would be settling down, and the entirety of what happened from August 2012 in Tucson and then from November 2015 when the cops began to show up at my door until I moved to this apartment on North 11th Avenue would try any man. And I sort of wrapped my mind around the fact that, well, I lived, what shall I do now? Mr. Fields simply gave me a profound proposition that altered the way I was looking at it. Done. Thanks.
So I tell Brian to forget it, and that since I was planning on suing his agency to remove this designation from my record, to just go away and leave me alone.
On Friday February 10th Lindsay Morgan calls me and in a most patronizing voice, as if she’s talking to an imbecile, she wonders if I’m OK. I’m told her I’m working up a lawsuit against her. That she and the system are nuts. I ask her does she understand this? She soft patters me like a mother to a hurt boy, “OK, OK,” and I hang up infuriated.
It’s all absurd. It is malicious. All these people have either created a fake me – or been complicit in this – and it is monstrous.
I send off a stern letter demanding records at the beginning of March. So far COPE and Southwest have complied. The others have not. What I read in these reports is simply incredible – it is just endless nonsense – I want to be a Hollywood movie star and move to Costa Rica? What on earth? And way too much more.
I get a letter from Lindsay Morgan, telling me all about how I can redress my grievance by going to her and asking if she thinks I’m crazy. Just brazen nonsense. She sends it to my old address. She calls me confused – and I give her my new address in the letter to which she is responding – and she sends it to the wrong place. The woman is a whacko. I call her – castigating her for screwing up the address – and demanding “Give me every word you wrote about me – now.”
On March 27th 2017 a woman from “Recovery Empowerment Network” calls me. I never heard of this agency in my life. She tells me she’s my “peer counselor” – and I am enraged. I ask for a male counselor for 4 years – and still these idiots in the system send women to me.
On Friday March 31st 2017 – a 6’3” 250 Lb linebacker bouncer sort of fellow shows up at my house – pounding on my door – not knocking, no – but pounding! – to demand entry – and possibly to go with him – I did not let him speak much. I said “You are insane, and get out of my life, and tell Lindsay to send the report.” I get the COPE report and go to show him what I meant – and there’s Lindsay – and in a sickening treacly voice like a mother to toddler says with a little snit of a smile and a royal wave “Hi James, we’re here to …” and that was it! – “Get out of my life,” I said – “And send me that report.” And slammed the door.
Now it is April 3rd – what more do these people think they are going to do? They must be stopped. This is insanity – I won’t stand for this attack and assault upon me. They are simply hounding me because they created a fantasy. It’s Twilight Zone already, seriously.
There is so much more to this story – and I suppose exhibits galore could be presented proving my case. 1,000 pages might be produced, the 980 articles I wrote on my blog “The Daily Mush” more than sufficient to prove my mental facility. 100 letters from friends and family could be produced. But I don’t want to waste the court’s time. Checking out the basics of what I say about me would take a few clicks on the internet. Listen to a few of my music videos. There are really only three “Jim Hlavac” on the internet – one of them is me – and I’m all over it. But a point by point refutation of every word they wrote – they wrote a fantasy the likes of which I have never encountered – would be hours and hours, and pages and pages – it is that bizarre.
What these people have written about me into their computers and paper files I explore in the following pages. How any of them could say that after form signing sessions of barely 20 minutes anyone is competent to say what I am is absurd. None of them have any competence – nor had time – to declare me this or that disorder. I should not have to prove I’m sane and rational. Let these people present any evidence they have that I’m not. And all they have is their incompetence, fantasies and tomfoolery – and 101 forms well signed by me. Still, they denied me the life saving drugs for months at a time and had no clue how to resolve it. And they are calling me insane and incompetent and a criminal.
And as for Zhanna Schpitalnik – who I spoke with a ½ dozen times for a ½ hour – she said I was fine. She was very impressed with my off the cuff drawing on Red Square in Moscow – oh, I can draw a picture of every major city in the world, yeesh. We talked more current events than my personal emotions. And that’s because I couldn’t open up to her. I’m a Gay male – I do not relate to women whatsoever. I have made this clear repeatedly – anyone from my aunts, uncles and sister, to my friends of 40 years will tell you that. 85% of my friends are gay men, 10% are straight men, and only 5% of them are women, nearly all aunts and cousins and my sister, and only since I got to Phoenix a handful of Lesbians. I simply will not, cannot, talk about personal matters and my emotions with a woman. And surviving AIDS as a gay man in America – from when it had no name in 1980, to it became GRID and then AIDS, as I buried so many buddies – is an emotional personal matter. And everyone simply refused my simple request for a male counselor about surviving AIDS while they went off on wild tangents of their delusions – to the point of coming at me with the police while poisoning me with drugs they pushed.
Still, they will not relent. From this phone number, 602-248-0368, some woman from “Recovery Empowerment Network” – an agency I never heard of – called on March 27th; 2017 at 1:30 in the afternoon – to tell me that she was my “peer counselor” to help me “in recovery.” I asked her “Recovery from what? Who gave you my number?” Well, Southwest Network did! – She said she was going to help me recover from my drug and booze addictions and life of dissolution and crime – and I just went ballistic. I was enraged. How dare this Southwest Network keep propagating their evil nonsense? I told her furiously “Do not ever call me again, take my number out of the system,” and hung up.
On Friday March 31st 2017 some huge linebacker sized guy pounds – not knocking – pounding! – on my door demanding entry to my home and perhaps for me to go with him and he’s going to take care of me. He’s from JFCS he says. I tell him he’s out of his mind. I would not let him in – I would not go with him – I told him to get lost – and I also told him to tell Lindsay Morgan to send me a copy of my records. I showed him the COPE report through the screen door as a sample of what I am talking about. And there’s Lindsay Morgan, poking out from behind this man – talking to me like a child again – and I was just furious. I told her to send me the report – and get out of my life. And then I just slammed the door in their faces. I have not seen this agency’s files on me yet. Ms. Morgan seems to think I have to go back to talk to her – for another assessment or other nonsense. She is rude, obnoxious and ignorant. I will not speak with her. I had to spell words for her in our meeting – egad.
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