I have remained silent about a recent event that took place in my home. My Pastor knew as soon as I could reach him. A few other people were contacted over a 24 – 48 hour time period in which I asked for prayer. What’s so crazy is it seems like it happened months ago, and yet it has only been weeks. I share this now because of a post I read this morning by Sean Dietrich – One Thousand People. I realized if I experienced this sort of pain as a parent, that I am not alone. I have allowed God to use my past for His good, so there is no reason for me to not expect Him to bring good through this as well.
August 9th was the first time my son hit me. We were driving home from my dad’s funeral. The melt down was historic. And it not only happened in front of people that had only heard stories of his rage, they were right in the middle of it.
My son was soon to be turning 13 years old on September 19.
A few days prior to his 13th birthday my son was hospitalized because he wanted to die. The sleep thing – well – lack of – the emotional upset from dad passing away the previous month – and puberty – was just too much for him. I walked in his room only because God quickened my spirit – he had raised his blinds when just moments prior he was going through the house closing blinds and turning off all lights because it was too bright.
So why was he now opening the blinds in his room?
As I walked in he wrapped the chords even faster. The chords were around his neck.
He told the police officers, doctors, and nurses over and over he just wanted to die. He couldn’t take it. In fact, he confided to me later that evening the reason he wanted to see the school counselor the next day was because he wanted to die and had contemplated suicide.
And he couldn’t tell me.
We spent the next 24 hours in a closed room with no electronics, no books, no nothing. A twin bed, a pillow, and a chair. I sat next to him or laid in the bed next to him that night.
I sang Jesus Loves Me and many of his favorite songs.
He cried some more.
I sang some more.
And I prayed. A lot.
I left the room a few times to contact my husband or mom to give updates. One of those times he was not in the bed when I returned but was in the corner of the room, on the floor, rocking . . . . scared. He thought I had left him.
The next day my son was admitted to Baptist Behavioral Health Unit in Pensacola. A facility not equipped to help children with Aspergers. A facility that didn’t listen to the parent, a nurse staff that didn’t listen, and a pharmacy that went against my orders to not give medications because the hospital had already given him medications. And they gave him a double dosage of medications where he couldn’t even stand. The only good thing that saved me was the head nurse was in our interview process and she heard me tell his nurse not to give him daytime medications, only nighttime medications. I had to leave my son at a facility where he was supposed to be safe. A facility where within five minutes of me walking in went on lock down. A facility with fights and cussing so bad it hurt my ears. My son spent his first night away from home at Lakeview. He was terrified. I cried harder and more than I’ve ever cried over that forty-eight hour period.
“Lord, please don’t let another child touch him inappropriately.”
“Lord, please don’t let a staffer touch him or hurt him.”
“Lord, please don’t let anyone try and fight with him or make fun of him.”
“Lord, please keep my boy safe.”
“Lord, please . . . . . ”
Christopher was released after 24 hours because he was begging to come home. He hates hearing bad language, the loud noises, and the fights were making things worse. The psychiatrist that saw him prescribed a mood stabilizer, and adjusted some other medications. An appointment was made for him to see the psychiatrist at Lakeview, a counselor, and attend orientation. We sat there for an hour waiting. The paperwork I had filled out that morning dated the same day we were supposed to be there, but no one knew we were there (even after signing in and turning in the paperwork). No one could find our paperwork. No one had answers. The longer I sat the madder I got. Once we finally were called back we visited a series of offices. Four to be exact. One of those four was a doctor and one was a pre-screening counselor. Not one person introduced themselves to us. In fact, when we were taken to the prescribing physicians office and he started talking medications, I didn’t even know he was the doctor! By this point I
politely rudely asked who it was we were talking to. The final person, she was doing an exit interview, rolled her eyes at me. When I asked her what the purpose of a patient plan of action was when we hadn’t even seen the counselor yet she rolled her eyes again and said, “medications.” I explained to her that he needed more than medications, he needs therapy for his anger. Again, she said, “I do medications.” And again I said, “A pill isn’t going to solve his problems. He needs therapy.” She was one of the rudest, unsympathetic person I have ever met. I signed the papers and walked out. I needed someone to embrace me and tell me everything was going to be okay. I needed assurance my son was going to be in good hands. Instead my son was thrown in to a cesspool of a facility called Baptist Behavior Health Unit and Lakeview, where you are merely a revolving door patient and not a person. Where kids are overdosed because the staff doesn’t listen.
And I’m supposed to trust them to care for my son?
The same son that wanted to kill himself just days before.
I cancelled all remaining appointments for my son to see the staffers at Lakeview.
Unfortunately, there are no other facilities in the panhandle of Florida that help children with suicidal thoughts that are low income.
All other providers have pulled their contracts so those in low income brackets with kids that are special needs and mental challenges have nowhere to go.
I can’t help but wonder if things would be different if the Administrator of Baptist Hospital had to put his children through such care. Maybe, just maybe he should subject his own children and his wife to such treatment. Unfortunately, this is not the first bad experience I had with Lakeview. The last time the prescribing doctor wrote one of my son’s medications in 2009, she wrote it for the wrong dosage amount. Had I not noticed, and had the pharmacy not noticed it, then my son would have died that day.
So this is our healthcare system, where a patient that is mentally ill is no longer safe by of his own hands, nor by the healthcare professionals that are treating him. And a mom is left trying to figure it all out. Where she feels sad, alone, and afraid. Christopher is fortunate to have a pediatrician willing to help us through this journey. Not many others are as fortunate as we are.
I thank God He let me hear my son’s blinds being opened that evening.
I thank God the week before that horrible event my son’s actions broke his door and that the door had to be taken down. If that melt down had not occurred I would not have heard the blinds being raised.
As mad as I was about him breaking the door, I thanked God for it.
I know a lot of people don’t read my blog, but maybe someone reading this will read it and see that they aren’t alone.
This song, Strong Enough, by Matthew West, has been so refreshing for me.
I don’t have to be strong enough.
And neither do you.