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To hospitalize or not? April 26, 2008

Posted by linnic in behavior, Diagnosis, Medication.
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My son had to be hospitalized for the first (God willing the last) time this past October.  I mentioned this in a previous post, but did not go into much detail.

Last October we moved, this was a tough time for every but especially for my son.  His behavior at home and school was at an all time low.  We were restraining multiple times a day.  His episodes would last anywhere from 30 min to over 2-3 hours.  We would be in a restraint for 15 minutes, out for 10, then back into another one.  We were under the care of a psychiatrist and a social worker, but nothing seemed to be helping.

In early October, he was having horrible problems at school.  I am a teacher at the school he was attending and was having to leave my class to help with him.  That afternoon we had him in the principal’s office and were in the 3rd restraint of the day.  He was completely out of control and trying to knock over and throw furniture, hit, kick, and bite the 4 adults in the room.  It reminded me of caged animal.  We were 30 minutes into a restraint and he was only becoming more aggressive.  Our school counselor worked at a crisis center on the weekends and suggested it.   I knew the time had come to seek hospitalization.  What I didn’t know was that the only psychiatric hospital in town did not accept kids under the age of 12.  The closest place that did was 3 1/2 hours away.

We called in a police officer to help us transport him to the crisis center.  He finally calmed when the officer walked into the room.  By the time we were at the crisis center he was calm, but not back to normal.  His speech and thought processing was significantly delayed.  The crisis center set up an appointment with the hospital to admit him, and my father and I drove with him for the 3 1/2 hour trip to the hospital.

Having never admitted someone to a psychiatric hospital, I did not know what it entailed.  We arrived around midnight and they gave us some paperwork to fill out.  Soon, a nurse came down to get him.  We said our goodbyes to him, gave him a hug and kiss and he left.  I did not know that it would be 2 days before I would see him again.

Apparently many parents drop off their child and head home, but there was no way I could leave him in a city 3 1/2 hours away.  We found a hotel and stayed the night.  The next day, my father and I wanted to return to the hospital but were discouraged to do so.  They wanted time to evaluate him and get a handle on the situation.  We set out to find an affordable place to stay for the week they were projecting he would be there.

The week ended up being 5 days, but it was the longest 5 days.  During that time I saw him on 3 different days each time for only 1 hour.  This was my little baby.  he was only 5 years old and I felt that I had sent him to jail.  There were tears every time he went back into the facility.

The hospitalization put everyone through hell.  My son, dad, myself, but also those left back at home…his grandma, sister, brother, and stepdad.  We left there with new medications, a new diagnosis- bipolar mood disorder, and a new appreciation for family.

Was it the right decision to hospitalize him?  I will never know.  It did qualify us for some intensive services through our county’s mental health agency- free services.  His medication, therapy sessions, and even attendant care (someone to sit with him in school or at home to help him control himself) are all paid for.  We now have access to services that we could not have provided for him.  We finally have a doctor with a lot of experience dealing with kids like my son.

I certainly hope that no one reading this will ever have to go through what we went through last October.  I have never felt more alone and like a terrible parent as I did during those 5 days.  I do believe it helped us, even if indirectly.  Things have significantly improved since that time.  Things are far from perfect, but they are better.

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Comments»

1. barbaramarybeth - April 26, 2008

Hi there!
My heart goes out to you and your family. We too have a bipolar child and went through much of the behavior you describe. When my daughter was 11, we found a company called Truehope, which has a vitamin regimin specifically for bipolar. The doctor who wrote the article that you have on your site, Dr. Popper, from Harvard, is part of the Truehope program. My daughter is now 15 and med free, doing very well in school, still has social anxiety, but works through it on her own and is pretty much a poster child for what the right mix of vitamins and minerals can do for mental illness.
I am not a spokesperson for this company, just someone who feels like they were handed a miracle four years ago. These supplements have helped thousands of people. Please at the very least, check out the website: http://www.truehope.com. Sincerely, MaryBeth

2. Joanna - July 14, 2008

Hi,
I understand exactly what you are going through. My bipolar son will be six in August. Since he turned four he has been hospitalized five times. He spent his 5th birthday in the hospital. David spent an average of a month in the hospital each time he went, sometimes longer. I thought I was going to die the first time we took him. I cried for hours wondering if there was something I didn’t try, something more I could have done. I don’t want to say that it got easier each time, because it never is easy or feels good, but I feel more confident when he gets to the place that he isn’t safe, he is better there.

We have tried countless different med cocktails, none of which have helped so far. On top of feeling guilty on my own I have my family and a lot of providers who have told me that its my fault he is going through this, that I wasn’t a good enough parent.

We have faced a lot of difficulty trying to get services for him and getting someone to diagnose and treat him as bipolar. We keep getting doctors who want to treat him as adhd and give him stimulants (which is why he has gone so many times, I am convinced) or give him “safe” drugs like risperdal and seroquel. So we keep fighting for what we know is true, and keep doing what we have to. Its not fun and I know a lot of people would criticize the fact that we have taken him so many times, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

My heart breaks for you, for me, for any parent that has to watch their child, especially one so young, deal with something so terrible. I hope the best for you and I hope you don’t ever have to go through it again. Feel free to email me anytime, or not. 🙂 If you want to know more about what I’ve been going through our blog is blog.helplittledavid.com.

Joanna

3. Andrew Schoen (aka Morbid) - August 29, 2008

I am bipolar and am 15 I have severe deppression,manic,and mixed episodes I have severe homocidal thoughts and severe suicidal thoughts and actions but they are both so regular that I don’t go to the asylum unless they get out of control. They are literally running out of medicine to give me. I have scars from all over my body from cutting,slicing,and prodding myself with glass,knives,needles,and anything I can get my hands on at school. Once I got so so sad and mad that I broke a candle and peeled of the glass with my bare hands and spent hours with tweezers getting them out when I became sane. And when I turn 18 I’m buying a gun and killing myself. And yes I’m a christian.

4. BenMD - November 2, 2008

Morbid,
As a board-certified psychiatrist, I would encourage you to continue a regimented plan of treatment. Please note that I am licensed to dispense official medical advice over the internet, but here are my thoughts:
i. Don’t say that you are going to take your own life when you are eighteen because you really don’t know

ii.Religion has nothing to do with your sanity.

iii.You should consider a long term admission to a psychiatric and behavioral institution. You don’t have to go to a state-funded hospital, as there are plenty of institutions that offer financial assistance to patients.

iv.You should be under the care of a psychiatrist until a valid, cohesive plan of treatment is prescribed and followed.

Also, for all of you parents out there who have had to commit your children to hospitals, don’t fret, as you did the right thing. Your child will thank you when they are of age. As a physician, I see children everyday (even adults) who have received help way too late. I wish you continued success with your children, as they are truly a gift to you from god.
If you need anything, please contact me at ben.md@live.com
Dr. Ben


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