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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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The Beginning October 24, 2007

Posted by linnic in Diagnosis, IEP, Medication.
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My son was born 5 years ago and from the beginning, had more energy than his body could handle. By 5 months, he was doing “tummy scrunches”. He would lift his head and feet up off the floor while lying on his back. He did this so much, his little tummy looked bloated!

Later we hit the terrible twos. He wasn’t much different from any other toddler. He had way more energy than mom and we were forever chasing him. He had temper tantrums like any other boy his age. Unlike many boys his age, these tantrums never improved.

When he was 3 he started preschool. Within 6 months he was being sent home for hurting others. We sought counseling. Things kept getting worse. His tantrums became unmanageable and we had to physically restrain him. I have a background in special education and had been trained to deal with severe behaviors that required physical restraint. Soon we were restraining daily. We sought out a psychiatrist to begin medication. Soon, things at school were not good and he was asked not to return. We sought testing for special education placement. So far we were told this was ADHD (a severe case) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.

Testing showed he was gifted in math. No surprise there. At 2 years he was able to add and subtract in his head, although he had no idea what math symbols were. He was placed on an IEP and into a special education Pre-K. With med adjustments occurring monthly, things still weren’t right. He completed the program and we had a nice summer. That brings us to the present.

This year my son started kindergarten. His first few days were great. We were in the process of finding a new house, and moved about a month ago. This set us into a downward spiral that we are still in the middle of. At the beginning of October, he had an episode at school in which he was restrained for over an hour, the decision was made (by me and the school personnel) to call in a community police officer to help transport him to a crisis center. A hospitalization at a pediatric psychiatric hospital followed. That had to have been the worst 5 days of my life! Since we have had med changes, and finally, what I consider an accurate diagnosis. The diagnosis of Pediatric Onset Bipolar Disorder was given last week. Since then I have done a TON of research and things are finally making sense. I see the mood swings that he is cycling through at the incredible rate of manic to depressive within minutes.

I decided to begin this blog as an outlet for myself and hopefully as a resource to others. I have not yet found a support group, but am looking for one. Until then, and even after, I plan to use this blog to post my thoughts, research and insight.