Hospital Stay 6, Day 2

I think I’m ready to talk now, but bear in mind as you read that I’m still processing all this myself and I’m not in a great place mentally or emotionally.

Committing my son to the behavioral hospital yesterday feels like the hardest decision I’ve ever made, even though it’s the sixth time I’ve made it. The very hardest part of all this is never knowing if it’s really time to admit him. I mean, he literally meets the minimum requirements for hospitalization about 80% of the time, so determining when he really needs to go in is extremely difficult and makes it nearly impossible for me not to second guess myself when I do put him in.

Most of our issues right now revolve around school, as usual. He’s been increasingly unwilling to even go outside to meet the car that picks him up for school or to choose to get in the car once he is outside, and he’s been increasingly aggressive towards me every morning. I’ve been watching this downward spiral for 4-6 weeks now, since before school even started, and wondering if and when we’d have to hospitalize.

I guess this week was the breaking point. I began to fear that he would do real, lasting damage to someone. Monday morning, in addition to the regular punches, kicks, and scratches, he actually found a large pry bar in our carport and chucked it at me. It missed, which he insisted he meant for it to miss and just scare me, but it’s still dangerous, especially considering that he’s really not that great of an aim. I couldn’t get him in the school car when they arrived, so I had to call my husband home to help. Luckily he works only ten minutes away. He was able to get Javan in the car and Javan went to school and had a fantastic day there. Like, he had such great behavior that the bus driver and aide stopped by Burger King on the way home and bought him chicken nuggets. You just never know what to expect behavior-wise from him.

The following morning, Tuesday, the morning aggression was still present but not as bad. I was beyond done though. Broken-spirited. I couldn’t fight anymore. So I told Javan that when the school car pulled up, he had 10 seconds to get in before I told them to leave and took him to the hospital because we needed help. When they pulled into the driveway, I began my countdown and he got in the car on his own and left. But the note that came home from school was troubling to say the least.

The note from Tuesday read: “Refused to do his work. Javan can no longer bring his backpack to school. He will have to earn that back. Threw our classroom globe and broke it. Made threats to our lives. Responds to us only by yelling. Was throwing chairs and his backpack at us. Running at us to try and hurt us. School friends are scared of him. Threats to cut our throat. Ripped our board and the decorations we had for our board. Threw desk over and when we arrived at school he didn’t want to get out of the car so he told us oh my hell I’m not going. NOT A GOOD DAY. Very angry and destructive.”

Some of you are probably wondering how I could second guess my decision to hospitalize him after reading that, but honestly over half of his daily notes read about like that. The other half of the time he does excellent. Like with everything else that is Javan, there is no in between.

I don’t know what made this note the straw that broke this Mama’s heart.  I just decided to call quits. Not forever quits, never that. But I decided it was probably time to get more help than I could give him and let the hospital try again.

We decided to give Dallas Behavioral Hospital another try. They had Javan three times last year and weren’t able to stabilize him. But a good friend who’s son’s diagnoses nearly mirror Javan’s told us that they got a new doctor at Dallas Behavioral who specializes in autism. So I packed his bags and ours and we headed out. My husband was able to drive about half of the three hour drive to Dallas before Javan started getting too aggressive for me to control in the back seat. We pulled to the side of the Interstate and switched places. I drove to Dallas. I drove IN Dallas. I DO NOT drive in big cities, ya’ll. But I did it.

The kind lady at the front desk saw that Javan was too riled up to wait in the waiting room, so we were almost immediately taken back to observation. He was also too riled up to wait in the large, spacious common waiting room with the tv and coloring books, so we were lead back to a private room. It was a highly claustrophobic 8’x8’x8′ cube of a room with nothing in it but a square table and three chairs. And we were in there for FIVE HOURS. Literally the longest hours of my life. Javan was absolutely distraught and very loudly protesting his need to be in the hospital. He had several full-on anxiety attacks where he could hardly breathe and at one point he was actually convinced the walls were physically closing in on us. He was squeezed into a corner holding the walls back for all he was worth and begging us to get out while we still could.

When he wasn’t feeling intense fear, he was feeling intense despair. He begged us to change our minds and take him home. He said he would do better, BE better. He offered to cook our meals for a month and never disobey again as long as he lives. He said he could feel his heart breaking and it caused him physical pain. He descried it like sharp teeth and claws tearing up his heart. Another time he said his heart was broken into a hundred thousand tiny pieces that were so small that if ants got in they would carry his heart out one piece at a time. Do you see why I encourage this child to write? Even in his darkest moments, and even with no intention of doing so, he writes poetry with his speech.

I do wish very much that they hadn’t left him to suffer with us for so long. The separation is the hardest part, and the five hours of knowing that that was what we were doing – separating – felt like a form of torture, or like a particularly inept nurse pulling off a bandaid as slowly as possible.  It would have been better to rip it off quick and just get it over with. The inefficiency at admission will be something I contact the hospital about in the near future.

Another thing I’ll be contacting them about is why we always have to do the admissions interview with a medical doctor via Skype on a tablet with a poor connection. We’ve done this with them four times now and it’s literally always difficult for us to hear and understand each other on their Skype connection. I honestly don’t feel that they’re justified charging  $1,600 A DAY to give us poor service in any area. Not that there’s any justification for such an exorbitant price.

I did, however, love the medical doctor that we spoke to this time. He was a sweet old man who repeatedly called Javan “son.” When Javan insisted to him that he didn’t need to be hospitalized, the doctor said in a kind voice, “Well, I think you do, and that’s why I’m a doctor, and you’re not one…yet.” The way he emphasized the word ‘yet’ was just so…I don’t know…something. it was just one word and yet it showed Javan that he respected him and believed in his abilities.

After the medical review was over, when most doctors quickly sign off, this one did something extraordinary. He spoke directly to Javan and said, “Listen, Son. I’ve talked to a lot of kids your age with the same challenges that you’re dealing with. For every 5 kids that go to a hospital like the one you’re at, 4 of them will think it’s like jail. They’ll think it’s a punishment. Those are the kids who don’t get better. Those are the kids that come back again and again. BUT, for every 5 kids that go to a hospital like the one you’re at, ONE of them will know that it’s not a punishment; it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to heal and learn. THOSE are the kids who get better. Be one of those kids.”

The nurse who took him up to his floor was one that he’s very familiar with and feels safe with. After taking Javan to his floor, the nurse came back down to let us out of the observation room and told us Javan was already calming down and getting ready for bed.

We left in a poor state of mind and heart, found a hotel, watched the end of a Will Ferrell movie on some random channel while we held each other, and slept. We actually have at least three families within an hour of the hospital that have graciously offered their guest rooms to us anytime, but even the thought of driving any distance and then observing social niceties of any sort was too much to contemplate at that moment. We both knew we’d fall apart at the first sign of compassion from a loved one.

Today, Wednesday, we woke up and went out in search of a sweater for Javan, seeing as the hospital uses sub-zero temperatures to discourage germs. It’s difficult to find a sweater with no zipper, hood, or drawstrings, but at last we prevailed with a plain, no-nonsense, no frills black sweater. He also needed pajamas and we were able to find some Pikachu ones and some shark ones. Both had drawstrings sewn in, but the hospitals will just have to cut them off. I hope they stay up ok.

We got a phone call from Javan’s new hospital psychiatrist. This is the FIRST time in SIX hospital visits that we’ve been able to speak with an actual doctor and the fact that HE contacted US was beyond amazing. For whatever reason, most hospital psychiatrists don’t think interacting with parents is useful. They usually also adamantly refuse to speak to outside psychiatrists. But this doctor was so amazing that I went out on a limb and asked if he’d call Javan’s regular psychiatrist to talk about his case and possible solutions. Not only did he say YES, but he already knew Javan’s regular psychiatrist and has spoken with him before regarding other patients. I don’t know if this sounds mind-blowing to you, but let me assure you that it is.

He went on to tell us that Javan was doing incredibly well today and had had no issues whatsoever. He said that Javan was overly concerned with knowing when he would get to come home, so he told him he’d most likely come home Monday. He said it isn’t uncommon for autistic children to get stuck perseverating on something like release date or some other detail to such an extent that they can’t focus on learning anything there, so he finds it most helpful to give them his best guess from the start. He said Javan’s told him that “He’s getting better by the minute.” He also told us that Javan is a very likable kid that really sneaks his way into your heart. I really like that guy.

After that, we wandered around Dallas a bit, caught a few Pokémon  (I got my first Grimer, ya’ll!), and drive over to Lewisville to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and sweet four year old niece. We weren’t feeling quite as fragile today and seeing them was a comfort that did us good. My little niece loves to laugh and it’s impossible to be around her and not laugh and smile along with her.

Finally it was time to head back to the hospital for visitation. I felt nervous going in because I had no idea how this visit would go. When they called us back to the cafeteria to visit,  Javan’s eyes lit up and he jumped up from his table to greet us with a smile and hugs. He told us how great he’s been doing there and that he’s on green for the day. He told us he’s “feeling better and more confident by the minute.” He loves his doctor, all his nurses, his teacher,  his therapist, and even the other kids.

He doesn’t like his room mate, but he never does, which isn’t surprising since he’s an only child and has never experienced the joys of sharing a room at home. He says his room mate, an 8 year old boy, constantly repeats, “Run, run, as fast as you can. You can’t catch me. I’m the gingerbread man,” and it gets on Javan’s last nerve. He said, “Seriously. It’s so annoying I’m surprised he hasn’t gotten the booty juice.” Of course,  we had no idea what that meant, so he told us that it means getting a shot in the butt. I asked him who called it that and why and he told me in a very serious manner that “There was an old man nurse that used to work here that called shots booty juice. He passed away. We honor him by calling it booty juice, too.” He says this to me straight-faced and I swear I tried to keep a straight face too, but I don’t think I succeeded.

We visited happily until about 10 minutes before visitation ended, when the reality that we would separate again so soon hit Javan and he began to get weepy. One of his favorite nurses came down to bring him back up to his unit and he told us how proud of Javan’s behavior he’s been all day. Javan cried and didn’t want to go, but this sweet nurse just put his arm around him and said, “We’ll hug all the way up there and as soon as we get to the floor you can call your Mom, ok?” Javan hesitantly went with him. That’s the first visitation ever that he’s gone semi-willingly back to his floor and didn’t have to be dragged out by two or more men. We will get to talk to him on the phone again tomorrow and visit him again Friday.

I don’t know how I feel now heading home. Exhausted, for sure. Happy that he’s doing so well there. But still also second guessing myself for putting him in there because he IS doing so good and they haven’t even changed medications or anything.

I don’t have any profound parting words or a neat and tidy way to wrap up today’s events. All I have is love. Love for my sweet boy. And love for all of you who hold us together when we can’t do it for ourselves. Thank you.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Naumans
    Sep 14, 2016 @ 23:25:05

    You’re a good mom. Thanks for sharing your story and your heart. Prayed tonight for all three of you!

    Sent from my iPhone



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