He said a day came at the hospital when his doctors summoned him down to a room, where he sat “like a monkey, hunched over on a stool,” while about 10 people looked at him. At this point, he was labor-camp thin. “Unshaved for weeks.”
One of them said, “You’re very sick, and you’re very psychotic, and we can take care of you.”
They told him they wanted him to undergo electroconvulsive therapy. He could take time to think about it. A nurse led him back into the hallway and down to his room.
The news destroyed him. Not because he didn’t believe them, that it was the best thing for him, nor even because he feared the procedure itself (though naturally it terrified him to face it), but because he believed it would mean the end of him as a writer. That his talent would be scattered. His brains scrambled. The mechanism disassembled. Not to write? A living death. What would it even mean to go about your day?
Also he felt that it was, he said, “a confirmation that I would never leave hospitals.”
He sat down on a chair. “Not 20 minutes later,” he said, “a patient called out, ‘Mr. Antrim, there’s a phone call for you.’ ” He shuffled down to the phones near the medication dispensary. He picked up.
“Donald,” a voice said, “this is Dave Wallace. I heard you were in bad shape.”