Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Amazing Tale of Jonathan Winston - Chapter Two

June 22, 2014 - The Georgia Gazette

On the morning of February 16, 1987 Jonathan Winston sat in the waiting room of the office of Dr. Warren Judson. For the past four nights, Jonathan had gotten no sleep. None. He was scared, but he tried to mask the fear as he filled out the two page form before him. No, he wasn't experiencing any chest pain, headaches, vomiting, nausea. No, he didn't have a history of any of the ailments listed. No alcohol issues, no drug problems. No unusual fatigue. No, no a thousand times no. The form did not have any questions related to the strange "shudders" he was experiencing every night nor why, despite having been awake for more than 100 hours straight, apart from the anxiety, he felt remarkably well.

Jonathan's regular doctor, Thomas Burns, whom he had seen for more than a decade, was on vacation that week. Initially, Jonathan thought he could wait for Burns return to schedule an appointment. But this was too bizarre, too unnerving.

Warren Judson had been working for Thomas Burns for less than six months. After finishing up his residency in Chicago, he returned home to Atlanta, to begin his career. He had never laid eyes upon Jonathan Winston before he entered the room and saw him, holding the two page chart in his hands. He noticed that Winston's hands were shaking, just a little.

"Good morning, Mr. Winston, how are you feeling today?"

What could Jonathan say. This was not someone who knew him, or could possibly understand what he was experiencing. "Strange" was all he could think to utter.

Dr. Judson looked at the form and studied the section where it asked for present complaints. He seemed puzzled. He pulled the history of his patient searching for something that clearly wasn't there.

"Let me have a look at you."

After taking Jonathan's blood pressure, listening to his heartbeat, having him take deep breaths and doing all those things that doctors do, he was no closer to an answer.

Jonathan was certain only that this was just the beginning. He thought of the next step, the scan of his brain and the hope that it wouldn't reveal something awful. If he was not sick to his stomach when he walked in, he was as he walked out. Jonathan's world, as he had known it for the past 42 years, was about to change. But he had no idea how much, and for how long.

The next two weeks were an endless cycle of tests and more tests, appointments layered on top of other appointments. Jonathan was still not sleeping, yet still invigorated every morning. His nights were filled with worry and with the realization that what was happening to him was even more complicated than he had originally feared, The doctors were not providing any help.

Finally, on March 7, 1987 Jonathan Winston, after more than 500 hours without sleep and after a battery of tests that would try the patience of any man, cracked wide open. For the next 48 days he would reside not in his two bedroom apartment, but in a 12 by 12 room in a place known as Glen Oaks. It was the oldest psychiatric facility in Georgia.

The twists and turns of Jonathan Winston's life did not end after his release from Glen Oaks. In many ways, his truth turned out to be much stranger than  fiction.

For more on Jonathan Winston, read part three in next week's Georgia Gazette series on "The Life and Very Strange Times of Jonathan Winston."

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