How we landed in a pediatric psych hospital

Dear Everyone,

You are receiving this email because you expressed interest in updates about Isaac. Thank you for your interest, your prayers, your kindness, your messages, everything! It means the world to our family.

Isaac, our ten year old son, was diagnosed with autism at a very young age. That is not at all what we are trying to cure. It is a part of who he is, and we love him for it. It does, however, complicate things when it comes to understanding and treating his other disorders.

Isaac has been mentally unstable for a while now. The psychosis started about three years ago, but it was mild. Almost cute. Since then, it has been building slowly, building building building, until suddenly it became a huge crisis. Hubby described it this way to another friend earlier today: “To me, this has been like a huge slow-motion tsunami that we could see coming from miles away, but we didn’t know what to do about it until it was upon us, drowning us.”

Things hit a breaking point yesterday when Isaac had a complete mental breakdown. I drove him to Primary Children’s Hospital where MUCH DRAMA ensued. 6 hours of unrelenting, agonizing hell. The kind of drama that involves half a dozen armed security guards, a room where every chair/tray/machine had to be removed, and not one, not two, but three epic sedatives were administered.

The third sedative finally hit its mark, and he conked out. Once he was out cold, they transferred him from the ER at Primary’s to pediatric psychiatric hospital (PPH from here on out). I was sorry that he was so knocked out for his ambulance ride (though obviously, in this case, it was essential). The “real” Isaac would have really enjoyed that adventure!

I drove myself to the PPH and was immediately swept into a a whirlwind of paperwork and interviews and insurance stuff, etc. This took a couple of hours (which was nothing compared the 6 hellish hours at Primary’s). Finally it was time for me to go. They let me into Isaac’s room to say goodbye. Of course, he was still totally zonked out.This angelic baby did not at all look like the monster I had just described to a team of mental health experts. I kissed his beautiful face and whispered all my love to him and left. Worst moment of my life, right there. I knew that at some point he would wake up and be completely confused and scared, having no idea where he was or how got there, and I would be gone.

But I also knew that he was where he needed to be. So I left.

First thing this morning, I got a phone call from Isaac. He was scared and angry and desperate to come home. I had to explain to him that he wouldn’t be able to leave for a while. He was distraught. Finally the nurse simply had to disconnect the call.

Later, I went to visit him. I’ll be able to visit every day for about half an hour. I brought him some clothes (he didn’t have any–he was in enormous hospital scrubs after the, uh, urine-as-a-weapon incident of yesterday). He was calm and totally sweet. He told me that a nurse told him he could come home when he was all better, so he’d decided that he was ALL BETTER. He was on his best behavior and was sweet as can be. But, of course, he can only control so much of this (or, really, almost none of this at all). He can’t just choose to be well, alas. He couldn’t believe it when I was leaving again and he wasn’t coming with me. Hadn’t he just demonstrated that he was ALL BETTER? But after talking and talking in circles, he slipped into stimming and I said goodbye and left, unmissed.

His social worker called me later to say that after refusing to participate in anything thus far, he was finally able to join in with Group Music Therapy. Apparently he loved that! Yay for music! I also had a good talk with his psychologist and then his psychiatrist. He has a good team of people fighting for him. We will have an official meeting on Monday morning with a more detailed plan of treatment and perhaps some idea of when he’ll come home (or get transferred to a different facility).

The PPH is compared to the ICU, but for mental health instead of physical. It is for an acute mental health crisis. Like the ICU, when you’re discharged, you’re not “well,” you’re just past the immediate crisis. You are then sent to wherever you will get the best care to move forward.

I called him tonight, and he was no longer trying to be “all better,” but angry and heartbreakingly sad. He’d just come from group therapy, which was “horrible,” and he was miserable. He begged me to come visit, which I couldn’t do but I promised him I’d see him tomorrow and I’d even bring his dear daddy (who was able to fly home tonight from Boston–yay!!!!). I promised Isaac that we’ll even bring him his favorite blanket. He was somewhat comforted by that.

He has a very structured schedule. Every day he has a variety of therapies (many different types, group and individual), games, meals and snacks, and free time. We have specific times of day that we are allowed to call him and to visit him. We are looking at one phone call a day and one visit a day.

Well, that’s today’s update. I know there are a lot of questions I haven’t answered yet. I’ll get there. Thanks again for your incredible love. We feel it, and it makes all the difference.


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