Hospital Stay #7, Day 1 and All the Feelings and All the Things

Javan has been home from the hospital for exactly one month today. Kind of a harsh realization, seeing as how we’re headed back there at this very moment. The month hasn’t been all bad. In fact, we’ve had some really good moments. Good days even.

I keep notes on an app in my phone so I can look back at them for updating the psychiatrist on our monthly visit and to help jog my memory for blogging. Looking back on those notes now, I’m just awe struck by the roller coaster this month has been. I hate roller coasters, but I’m revisiting this one today and I invite you to grab a seat and come along with me because I need a hand to hold during the ride. The more hands, the better.

After being released from the hospital last month, Javan got The Virus that Would Not Die and was down hard for two weeks. Though it was awful and messy and exhausting, I cherished being able to care for and nurture him during that time. He was too lethargic to be defiant or destructive or anything other than accepting of love and nurturing. In my memory, it was a sweet time of spiritual and emotional healing. Coaster going up.

The first note that I wrote in my phone app after his sickness was about the day he spent at the pumpkin patch with his Weebo and Pops. He did awesome. He participated in tons of activities and played happily outdoors around other real people. Coaster going up.

The next note is about how he had us stop the car to put the child locks on the doors because he had the sudden urge to jump out of the car and he wanted to keep himself safe. Coaster going down.

The next note is about a morning he woke up super agitated and became infuriated because every time he breathed out of his nose, his brain said “a haaaalf” in an annoying, deep, sing-songy voice. I remember distracting him from that particular intrusive thought with cake for breakfast. That did the trick. Coaster still going down.

Then a note about how excellent he did while getting a haircut at Walmart, even though the last time we went the lady accidentally cut him with the scissors. He was nervous, but he cooperated. I heard him whispering,  “Ice cream, puppies, Wendy’s, Arby’s…” He later told me he was thinking happy thoughts to stay calm. Coaster going up.

The next note was about a particularly bad Monday morning. He’d awoken at 5:20 a.m. after having a terrible nightmare in which Mom and Dad were killed by monsters. I knew that he needed more sleep before school, but he refused to go back to sleep, even in my bed. After the normal physical aggression did not dissuade me from insisting that he try to sleep, he forced himself to throw up on me and the sheets. We definitely got up. Somewhere between the failed aggression and the successful expecto vomitus, Javan had a full on hyperventilating panic attack in which he hallucinated monsters in my room and screamed that the walls were closing in. Coaster plummeting at sickening speed.

Several notes involve refusal to get on the bus for school or hurting the driver and aide on the way to school. And hurting teachers, threatening students, even running away from the school. He’s had to be escorted into the school and to his classroom by the campus police officer a couple of times. Coaster still plummeting.

Of course, he’s had a few good and excellent school days scattered throughout as well. I went on two field trips with his class this week, one to a pumpkin patch and park and one to the zoo. He did great at both, apart from the fact that he won’t stay as long as the others. It was obvious that he loves his teacher and aides and even a few of his friends. Coaster ascending once more.

Then a note about the night he lost a baby canine tooth while brushing his teeth and cried from the pain and then cried again when he put it in the tooth fairy tin, saying genuinely to the tooth, “I’ll miss you.” And then a second note about how a few nights later he forced out another, completely unready, baby canine tooth with his tooth brush because he wanted more tooth fairy money. Dad told him that he knows the tooth fairy, he used to date her, and he was going to tell her the very next day not to pay Javan for any more teeth that get knocked out before they’re ready. Coaster wibble-wobbling a bit.

Then an exciting note about how Javan took his very first solo shower. From undressing, getting the water right, washing hair and body, rinsing, drying, and redressing, he did it all by himself, without even an iota of adult supervision. Coaster soaring to new heights.

Followed by a note about him finding and playing with matches. I had no idea we even had matches in the craft room. Who keeps matches with the craft supplies? I smelled fire from the next room over. I had been making a phone call and my first thought was that my phone was burning, but it looked alright so next I looked for Javan. He must have heard me coming, because he’d already put up the matches and was pretending to do something else when I came in the room. The recently struck match on the craft table was the only evidence of foul play and it looked like he’d blown out the matches as soon as he’d struck it. Still. Fire bad. Coaster drastically dropping into a dark cave.

And then there was this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced fear like I did today. Javan had refused to get on the school bus and had used physical aggression toward me when I tried to persuade him to do it anyway. I had sent the bus away and called my husband home to help me take him to school. I sent Javan to his room until Dad got home.

But he didn’t stay in his room. He came out. With a large pumpkin carving knife held to his throat. Demanding that I not take him to school. I wrestled the blade away from him and sent him back to his room while I shortly composed myself and put the knife away. We had bought a pumpkin carving kit yesterday evening and I had left the package out on the table, never guessing that he would open it and use the tools as weapons. I should have put it in the knife cupboard, but it honestly just never occurred to me that it was a potential danger.


I went into his bedroom to talk about what had just happened. It turns out, he didn’t intend to kill himself, but he did intend to cut his throat badly enough that a simple bandaid wouldn’t be enough to stop the bleeding so he wouldn’t be able to go to school. That’s too far, ya’ll. That’s far enough that if he’d accidentally gone a little too far, he could have ended up dead. And it’s far enough that the hospital, which we just left him at, classified it as a suicide attempt. I’m still coming to terms with that phrase being applied to my ten year old son’s actions.

Leaving him at the hospital this time was truly harder than it’s ever been before, as hard as or harder even than leaving him for the first time. Because this time was so very different. Exponentially worse. As I filled out paperwork, he jumped from his spot on the couch in the waiting room and fled from the hospital. He made it halfway to the parking lot before Dad caught him. We were shortly led to one of the tiny locked observing rooms reserved for agitated patients, same as last time and every time before that.

While there, Javan threatened to kill himself if we didn’t take him home. He did this no less than 20 times and that’s probably underestimating. He imitated stabbing himself in the heart with a pencil or scissors or “any sharp he could find” at the hospital. He bit up his hands and arms HARD. He didn’t draw blood, but he did create deep and immediate bruising. I don’t know when’s the last time you’ve been bitten, but it hurts. A lot. And he’s never bruised me half as bad as he did himself. He told us if we left him there, he’d cover his arms and legs in bites like that and then he’d bite off all of his toes, except not the big ones because those would be impossible to bite through. I wouldn’t be surprised if he really tries it. He told every staff member and nurse that he came in contact with that he’d kill himself if he was forced to stay there. Coaster does a sudden and unexpected dead drop in the darkness.

Saying goodbye to him tonight didn’t feel like it has in the past. It didn’t feel like a “see you soon” kind of goodbye. It felt more final. Like during our hours there we’d lost him. We’d realized that he’s an absolute danger to himself and we can’t keep him safe at home any longer. It felt like the beginning of the big goodbye that will be finding him a more permanent safer place to live. Because he meant it, ya’ll. He meant that he would kill himself. As safe as I try to make our home and as much as I try to stay right with him every minute, I have to go to the bathroom sometime, and I can’t possibly remove every potentially dangerous object from our home.

So what’s the next step? Well, I know his regular psychiatrist wants us to try to get him in to the state hospital for a thirty day stay or longer. He thinks extended observation could give him a lot of helpful information about diagnoses and possibly treatment. How do we get him into the state hospital? That’s a bit trickier. We’re supposed to go through our local MHMR (mental health/mental retardation service center) who will evaluate him, then after meeting their requirements he’d be reevaluated at the state hospital and placed on a waiting list of indeterminate length for admission. I don’t see how that will work for us, but I left a message with our MHMR today and will contact them tomorrow for further guidance.

I always wondered how I’d know if and when it was right to put him in a long-term or even permanent facility. Now I know. When the choice is an institution or death, you choose the institution.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joanne
    Oct 20, 2016 @ 23:59:05

    I cant imagine the horror you are going through. I wont give you a lengthy response about everything being ok. You and japheth and javan are all going through hell. And that has to be the worst feeling of all. To be faced with a decision like you are has to be a kick in the teeth. I know we all say it, and we all mean it. And i know there is really nothing we can do, but i will say it anyway. If you can think of anythingwe can do for all of you, let us know. We are continually praying. We love you.


  2. Michele Swint
    Oct 21, 2016 @ 17:16:24

    I’m so sorry to hear this. My heart aches for your family. There is nothing I can possibly say to ease your pain, but you are in my thoughts and prayers.


  3. Kathe Suchan
    Oct 21, 2016 @ 19:44:32

    I have been wondering how you all were doing. I am so sorry. My hand is here to hold if you need it.


  4. joyfulmom2boys
    Oct 24, 2016 @ 19:49:56

    Hand holding yours across town, friend. I’m so sorry. You and Japheth are so brave. I’m praying. Even though it’s not pretty, God is seeing you through. Love you.


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