The T-cell count of Kevin Davis had fallen, and within the margins of the mental health system, he sometimes believes he is the only one worried about the tally.
“Anywhere below 200 is dangerous. It was somewhere around 200 before I went in the hospital,” said Davis, a tall, rawboned man who was released from the Kaweah Delta mental hospital some three weeks before an interview.
“I tried to tell them that, at least 10 times. But all I got was two or three minutes a day with the nurse, that’s it,” said Davis. “I never found out what the count was.”
When he was released from the hospital, it was back into the care of the Tulare County Mental Health Redesign, which started over with Davis after a relapse.
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Davis connected with a doctor to finally get the blood screening, and the results are pending. The early progress during this second go-around was so satisfying that it became a muse for Davis, a budding poet:
Find the Key to the GATE
CHOOSE to Walk through it
And AWAKE ...
Learn to live AGAIN
Learn to HEAL
Recover your LIFE
BE the water in the well
Lovingly grab the pail
“Kevin used to not be able to go out because the voices would get so bad, and he would start talking to them,” department therapist Carrie Rodriguez Mason said during a roundtable interview with consumers and staff in which Davis shared the verse. “He still hears them, but he’s able to say ‘They are hallucinations and I’m not going to respond.’”
But things have changed, Davis said during a more recent interview. Make no mistake, he said, he is now no fan of the mental health approach.
He wants out of the county transitional housing, which he had said during the roundtable “fulfilled my wishes.”
A fellow housing recipient uses drugs and offers them to him, said Davis. He added that when he ventures away from people in the safety net, he finds no comfort.
“I’m this skinny, little, frail, sick guy,” he said. “And most of the people I meet are afraid of me.”
The test results should come in soon. And if his T-cells permit, Davis said he will use the higher level of immunity to leave Tulare, and he hopes, the mental health system.
“This is a transitional living center,” he said, emphasizing the word transitional. “I want to get into school to be a massage therapist and I want to go to hair-cutting school.
“I’m going to move out of California and I’m going to start new.”
— John Gonzales