This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

How I spent New Year's Day

an essay by MTM

I really hope this isn't how my whole year will go! I swear I pigged out on Black Eyed Peas on New Year's Eve! Will finish the rest today in case I had the tradition incorrect.

As of this afternoon we had to take Kitty to the mental health hospital. My first time ever to do this! It's good to try new things, right?! They're not sure how long she'll stay, but the average stay is 4-7 days. Admissions took 7 hours!!!! That's right 7 freakin' hours! A little bit of paperwork interspersed with mind-numbing hours of sitting in an office chair staring at blank walls (no pictures, no magazines, no nothing).

No one ever warned us how long the wait would be. It's a locked floor so you can't leave without permission (Kitty probably couldn't leave at all) and I would never leave my daughter alone, particularly since there were (scary) adults waiting to be admitted. After an hour and a half (about 1:30pm) I finally begged for some food for my daughter and I. 30 minutes later ONE tepid meal was brought to us (after sitting on the front desk 15 minutes). Luckily for me, Kitty wasn't very hungry so I got a little food (dry cornbread, canned green beans, and chicken parmesan - which wasn't bad, but difficult to eat with a plastic spork).

The one day, poor Grandma got off, and we ended up having to call her to watch the kids. Poor Bob was under the weather and watched TV all day. Bear was stuck explaining to all the neighbor kids why there was a cop car in front of our house and Kitty and Mom were getting into the car with bars on windows. Hubby had to stay and get cleaned up (got a little sweaty restraining Kitty), he stopped for fast food and then drove to the hospital to join us.

While I'm stuffing my face, of course Hubby and the intake nurse show up (can't spread out the activities to alleviate the monotony *sarcastic eye roll*). When the nurse was done (about 5 minutes) she told us we'd see the social worker next, and oh by the way we could wait in the lounge around the corner which has a TV! NOW she tells us!

5 minutes after we sat down to watch Disney channel a man (obviously soon to be a patient), walks in and asks to sit where I'm sitting (on a love seat with Hubby, in front of the TV). Kitty was in a chair next to me. Not going to argue with Mark (he introduced himself and told us what year he was born in), so I said sure and hopped up and moved to a chair on the other side of Kitty (no eye contact, no eye contact, no eye contact). Hubby moved too. Then the man sticks his hand out to Kitty for the remote! She meekly hands it over to him (Bear has her well-trained). He changes the channel to football (wasn't even the Husker game Hubby wanted to watch). Mark starts talking about how the team wears green. Peter Pan wears green. Peter Pan died last year...

We left the lounge. We went back to another intake room ("ours" was now occupied) with 4 chairs and a desk and nothing on the walls. Really, it's a good thing my dd had already calmed down as we were leaving the house with the police officer and crisis intervention guy. I don't know how my poor ADHD daughter stood all this. After we'd been there 3 hours I went to the desk to find out what was taking so long. That's when I was informed that the process normally takes 4-6 hours!! Wish I'd known that at the beginning! I might have had Kitty throw herself on the floor or throw chairs or something to see if we could get a faster intake!

The social worker overheard me ask and possibly took pity on me. Told me we were next anyway and that she would come in to talk to us as soon as she finished something. Only 20 minutes later she came in! She interviewed Kitty, and then Hubby and I with Kitty present. By this point Kitty is still totally mellow and I'm waiting for them to say go home. Luckily the social worker apparently riled up Kitty a little during the private interview - so even though she said she's not the doctor of course, but she thought Kitty would be admitted.

Another 45 minutes or so later the doctor came in. More questions. At least he did appear to have reviewed the answers already submitted so he didn't ask anything stupid or inappropriate. He did have a tough time with some of his questions though. *grin* He asked Kitty if she'd ever heard the saying, "Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk." She said "No." He asked her a couple of other really common sayings - she'd never heard of them either and then finally he asked her if she'd heard "The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side." That one she'd heard of! But she still couldn't tell him what it meant. One of the first things he said was, I'm going to say three things, and I'm going to ask you to repeat them back to me now, and later. "Brown, shirt, honesty." Kitty could repeat them immediately, but later couldn't remember them. She finally got brown and shirt - with some hints, but couldn't remember honesty (hmm?!).

The doctor then informed us Kitty would be admitted, and we would be given the admission paperwork soon. We checked, and Mad Mark had finally left the lounge so we settled in to watch TV. Less than 5 minutes later (of course) they called us to the front desk for paperwork. They also served (only) Kitty a dinner at the same time (again, so as not to spread out the activities and relieve the monotony). We filled out paperwork (and Kitty ate) while standing at the front desk. Then they escorted us to Kitty's new temporary home... well, another waiting room in the lobby area of her new home.

We waited awhile, then filled out more paperwork. They handed Kitty a packet of questionnaires and a form for an autobiography. At that point she was so bored she actually filled out the questionnaire, but the writing... well I hope they don't hold their breath. Part of what triggered this whole episode today was that she didn't want to do her school catch-up work.

More waiting. More paperwork. Finally a tour of the facility (day room, quiet room, nurse's station, locked bedrooms). Kitty will be sharing a room with another teenage girl (we don't know how old she is, only that legally she can't be more than 2 years older, and younger than Kitty means she'd be in the children's rooms, so the girl must be 13, 14, or 15). We didn't meet the kids. They were all watching TV in the day room.

Then peeing in a cup (no supervision thank goodness), and a skin check. There were only 2 people on duty so I had to be present during this so the other staff could man the front desk. Luckily Kitty is not very shy. The nurse noted the 2 miniscule scratches on her arm that Kitty probably accidentally inflicted on herself when trying to claw Hubby during the restraint. The missing toenail (from when Kitty dropped a pool ladder on her toe several weeks ago while climbing up to get a second story screen that had fallen into a tree from Bear's window). Some old scapes.

Then the nurse said to tell her parents goodbye and join the other kids in the day room.
Kitty of course had been refusing to allow us to touch her all day. Hubby forced a hug on her. She walked up to me, and I reached for her, but she put her hands up between us. I pulled her in for a hug anyway. My sweet stubborn baby! It's like hugging a plastic porcupine Ninja that doesn't want to be hugged (how's that for a visual?!)

Felt weird to be leaving her there, but she walked off without looking back. I know she'll be fine. She makes friends quickly and easily, and she won't be there long enough for the honeymoon to wear off. I don't know what to expect from this. Mostly mucking with her meds, but better there than here. Tomorrow we meet her new psychiatrist and will bring her some clothes and books and things. Not much since there are a LOT of contraband items. She couldn't keep her shoes because of the laces. Did I mention that she told her shoes goodbye and seemed more upset to be losing them then us leaving?! And she is NOT my RAD child.

*sigh* Let's hope this is the worst thing that happens this year! Maybe she'll even be released on Bear's one year anniversary of his release from residential treatment. One more anniversary to celebrate!

Better go write a letter to biomom telling her Bear has decided he wants to see her after all.


Anonymous said...

Holy Crap! Mary. What happened at home and how did that lead to a police car taking you two away?

I'm so sorry your year started this way. We had a bad Jan. 1st, 2007, but the rest of the year went okay. I hope you got all your bad mojo out of the way now.

Torina said...

Wow. That sucks. Are you okay?

Psych intake takes about 8 hours in our neck of the woods, too. It is horrible.

Lisa said...

Mary I am soooo sorry. I'm with purple walls...what happened????
This just sucks! Hopefully they'll be able to readjust her meds and maybe some good will come from it.

Jen said...

I am really sorry to hear Kitty is having such a bad time. I hope they get her meds straightened out and she is home with soon!!