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To hospitalize or not? April 26, 2008

Posted by linnic in behavior, Diagnosis, Medication.
Tags: , , , , ,
4 comments

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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