Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

It's hard to remember too many specifics from Thanksgivings of my past.  Thanksgiving isn't usually a day that stands out in memory---the best Thanksgiving seems like the ones before it, in a good way. However, I don't think I'll ever forget Thanksgiving 2014---waking up without Janey here, driving to visit her, coming home without her.  I also won't forget it because of how grateful and thankful I feel.

It was strange to wake up this morning to a house without Janey, as it's been strange for the last week. Everything seems oddly quiet and calm, and I have been waking up after sleeping all night long, something that has rarely happened in the last 10 years.  I miss Janey horribly in the morning, though.  It feels wrong to have her gone.  I have my morning coffee, but somehow it feels unearned.  I've cut back to one cup most days, which is a huge cutback.

Freddy went to see his last Thanksgiving Day football game as a Boston Latin student, and we had a non-eventful morning---no kids TV, no Janey asking for bacon, no monitoring her movements and anticipating her moods.  I am trying hard to accept the respite and to let myself enjoy it, knowing she is safe and cared for, and for brief periods of time, I am succeeding.  But it's been so long that our life has had her as a focus, everything feels a little empty.

We had a Thanksgiving meal for 4 around 1.  We are not big eaters of traditional Thanksgiving Day fare---we had a roasted chicken, but with purchased turkey gravy, and some strawberry shortcake.  We said what we were all thankful for, but didn't have Janey to coax to say something.

After we ate, we drove to Providence to see Janey.  Every time we get to the hospital, I feel a knot in my stomach.  It's not because it's not a nice place, because it is.  I think it's just the feeling of going to see my child at a psychiatric hospital.  It feels like I have somehow stepped outside of the world I know, and entered a different world.

Janey was very happy to see us, all four of us.  She hasn't seen William for a long time, since he was at college.  She gave us a huge smile, and we went to her room.  We had brought her lots of food for her special meal, and she ate a huge amount of Daddy's pesto, some purple onions and lots of chocolate chip cookies.  We sang to her, and played catch with her Care Bear.  She talked very little today, but seemed very pleased we were there, at first.  Eventually she got tired of being in the room and eager for more action, and when we asked her if she wanted us to say goodbye, she repeated emphatically "GOODBYE!"

We took her out to the staff people, who said they would take her to join her group in the occupational therapy room.  Janey had gotten a bit agitated by then.  She kept grabbing our hands and saying "Take a walk!"  We explained we couldn't, but her friends there would take her for a walk.  She started yelling "Goodbye!  Goodbye" but trying to go with us.  The staff distracted her, and we said a final goodbye and left.  My heart was a bit torn up.

And now---Thanksgiving night.  I am going to try to rest and not worry.

It has been a strange Thanksgiving, but it has also been a very good one, in that I know more than ever how much I have to be thankful for.  I have my family---my husband, who has been incredible through all of this, my wonderful boys and my Janey---my girl who has my heart, and both warms it and breaks it so easily.  And I have my friends---and I count all of you reading this as my friends.  You have been INCREDIBLE.  Your support, here and on my Facebook page, is what has kept me going many a long day.  You have made me feel like sharing my story has helped YOU, when it is YOU who has helped me.  My dear friend Jamie has reached out to get help for me with bills and expenses---something I never, ever expected but I am very, very grateful for.  I have talked to many of you, in person, by phone or by email or Facebook message, and you have supported me so hugely.  So many people I've never met in person have shown their caring for my family and me.  I know more than ever that there are so, so many good and caring people in this world, and I am very thankful for that.

I wonder what Thanksgiving 2015 will look like.  I hope Janey is happier, calmer and most of all we are all together, that Thanksgiving and every Thanksgiving from here on for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Visiting Janey

Bradley Hospital, where Janey is being held, is in Providence.  In ideal conditions, it could be a 50 minute drive from our house.  However, anyone who has ever driven in or around Boston knows that those ideal conditions exist only at the rarest of times.  In some ways, the drive to get to Janey seems like a metaphor for so much of the last few weeks---frustrating, exhausting, yet crucially important.

I'll give yesterday as an example.  Tony went in to work extremely early, so he could leave at 2 and we could get an early jump on going to see Janey.  We left the house right around 3.  When we got to where we get on the highway (about 10 minutes from our house), we could see it was almost completely gridlocked.  There is s storm predicted for today, and Boston is full of college students and others who want to go elsewhere for Thanksgiving.  So Tony made a change and got on some local routes.  We used our GPS, which seemed intent on giving us a tour of southeastern Massachusetts.  After a long time, we made our way back onto the highway, and proceeded to creep toward Providence, at 10 miles an hour.

Finally, we got past an area where bridge work was being done, and we were able to make some time.  Regardless, the drive to Bradley took two and a half hours.

We had agreed a few days ago to be part of a major study of autism while Janey was at the hospital.  I spent a big part of yesterday filling out about 10 long forms about Janey's behavior.  We had agreed to have blood drawn last night.  By the time we got there, the woman we were going to meet with was gone, but a head of the study and the blood-drawer had stayed late to get the blood.  We explained the traffic, and I hope they understood, although Boston traffic seems to be something very Boston, which although Providence is quite close, they seem somewhat mystified by.

After having the blood drawn, we had to go back to the waiting room to wait to see Janey.  We were told she was a bit upset and we'd have to wait a minute or two.  When they came for us, they said she had been taking off her clothes again, and asking to go to sleep, as she often does at home, far too early.  They calmed her down and she was waiting for us in her room.

The visit on Monday was great---Janey was calm and happy.  Last night, she was less content.  It was nothing like the scenes at Children's, but she bit herself a few times and at one point half-heartedly pulled my hair.  She also did the repeated asking for things "Want chicken nuggets?  Want to take a walk?  Want water?"  We finally resorted to singing---we sang her a mixed medley of her favorite Beatles and Black Sabbath songs, Black Sabbath being my older son's favorite group.  We modified words as necessary!

After about 40 minutes, though, Janey wanted more action.  We aren't allowed to visit with her outside her room, and she wanted to get out.  So we said goodbye.

Before we went home, we needed to drive to Waltham and pick up William at college, so he could come home for Thanksgiving.  We were thrilled to be getting him home, but tired beyond belief.  The traffic was okay on the way back, but not perfect.  We took local routes home, and finally got home about 9:30.

When I got in and checked the mail, there was a badly photocopied 5 page letter from something called something like Value Health in Rhode Island.  It said they had authorized a 5 day stay for Janey at Bradley, and that any longer of a stay would have to be arranged by the hospital.  I am assuming that has been done, as today would be day 6, but I am not sure at all.  In my hazy state, the form was hard to understand.  We have Blue Cross, so I am unsure why some other agency is the one to decide on Janey's stay.  There was no number on the letter.  Instead, there was a form for JANEY to fill out to authorize me to get information on her behalf.  I need to read the form more today, but a quick look last night said this had to be done even if the patient was a minor.  I need to make calls and try to figure out what is up with all of that, but I have a feeling the day before Thanksgiving is not a good day to reach the right people.  I also know my mind is not in a great place for figuring out complicated letters and forms.  I assume the hospital would let us know if the funding for her stay had ended, but I have nightmares of multi-thousand dollar bills arriving.

And that is where we are.  Janey is calmer, but far from all the way back to what I am learning is called "baseline".  We are tired and stressed almost beyond functioning, worried about Janey and money and what comes next.  Today the weather will keep us from visiting, it seems, and although the drive is a nightmare, it kills me to think of a day without seeing Janey.  Nothing feels settled, nothing feels calm.  And I wonder if it ever will again.

Monday, November 24, 2014

On Not Following the Script

I had a dream last night (and I feel compelled to say to my dear friend Julie, as I always do when talking about dreams, that she is free to skip this reading, as she hates to hear about people's dreams) about being in an English class.  The teacher had asked me to write a script, a short play, and I had spent the whole weekend doing that.  In the class on Monday, the teacher was supposed to have the class read through the play.  However, he didn't---he did something totally different in class.  I got upset, and yelled at him, screamed he wasn't doing as he said he would do.  I acted in a way I don't act, except in dreams---I spoke up loudly and told him how angry I was.

I do think most dreams are random, but in reflecting on that dream this morning, I saw something I recognized.  I was taken back to another time in my life that, as now, the normal script seemed to have been completely abandoned, replaced by what feels like a horrible ad lib.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I avidly read everything I could find about pregnancy and childbirth.  I love to read, and I had a faith that everything I could need to know was contained in books.  At that point, the most popular book around was "What to Expect When You're Expecting".  It had a firm tone.  It told exactly how things were supposed to go, how you were supposed to act and eat and exercise.  Once in a while, it had off-hand mentions of rare, rare exotic and vaguely shameful things that could go wrong, but they were stressed as the exceptions.  I liked that.  I was going to do everything right.

Well, it didn't work out that way.  William was born at 7 months, weighing three and a half pounds.  I had developed severe pre-eclampsia, and his life and mine were at stake.  I could have easily died, taking him with me, just as I learned had happened long ago to my great-grandmother, while giving birth to my grandmother.  We found her death certificate online, showing she died of eclampsia the day after having my grandmother.  Thankfully, modern medicine kept William and me alive, but I was thrown into the world of parenting outside the script in a most stunning and abrupt way.

Many things with this current situation feel like 20 years ago.  Then as now, I had a child held in a hospital, one I could only see by visiting.  Then as now, before we visited, we were supposed to call nurses to make sure it was a good time.  Then as now, the visits took a drive---then through crazy Boston streets, now south down a long highway.  Then as now, it felt like I had left some script, that was ad-libbing, doing improv, living without a map.

I think one of the very hardest parts about parenting a child like Janey is that we feel so outside the script.  Ten year old girls are supposed to be in 5th grade, getting ready for junior high.  They are supposed to go to sleepovers.  They are starting to make the friends that will remain friends for life.  They are reading books like the Little House series.  They might keep diaries, or play sports, or collect a certain toy avidly.  I remember being 10.  Ten was the start of life in a lot of ways.  Ten year olds are not supposed to be in locked psychiatric wards because they were hurting themselves and others.  They are not supposed to be talking mostly in movie quotes.  They are not supposed to be non-toilet trained.  The script has been completely abandoned.

And yet, I am finding, as I get older, that almost nobody follows the script exactly.  Almost everyone you truly get to know has parts of their life that are off-script.  Some had a childhood of horrors they are still processing.  Some have lost children in heartbreaking ways.  Some have their own illnesses, mental or physical, which take a huge toll.  Almost everyone lives a life that in some way doesn't fit into the confines of the cheery, authoritative tone of the What to Expect books.

It's the scariest part of life knowing that there really isn't a script.  But there is comfort in knowing, for me, that it's the same for everyone. We all muddle through to some extent, and the best we can do is keep on ad-libbing to the end.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The day it all hit me

It's funny how the mind and body work when you are in the middle of a crisis.  There must be some kind of system that kicks in that lets you keep going when normally you would have collapsed on the floor, overwhelmed.  That system was in high gear from last Friday until yesterday.  It's not that I didn't cry some or feel exhausted, but I was functioning.  Last night, the system wore out and I was hit hard.

I was okay yesterday morning.  I did housework and laundry and dishes, enjoying the feeling of doing everyday work again.  We drove to Providence to see Janey midday.  Freddy came too, to see her in the new hospital.  The drive went quickly---we are figuring out new routes to take, and it's a pretty straight shot to drive there, although a long straight shot.  We are starting to know the routine, how to check in, what not to bring into the hospital, where the long locked halls lead, all that.

Janey looked well cared for, which was great to see.  Her hair was clean and brushed, and she was dressed in her nice clothes.  She seemed much quieter, calmer overall.  We visited with her in her room, as we are required to do.  She seemed happy to see us.  We brought her her toy Olivia and Beanie Baby style My Little Pony, and we played with those a bit.  Then I sang her some Christmas carols, letting her choose what I would sing next.  She looked at me with the look I only see when she is totally overcome with music---a look of wonder and amazement, as if she can barely believe the perfection of the songs (not my singing!)  When I sang "O Little Town of Bethlehem", she kept repeating the line "yet in thy dark streets shineth" and I sang that part over and over.

After a while, she was getting restless and started asking for the kind of things she asked for in the hospital, over and over..."Want to take a shower?  Want to watch Olivia?  Want bacon?  Want take off socks?"  We realized it was probably time to go, before she got more upset, and we told her we were going to say goodbye.  She said "Put on shoes?  Go to Mama's house?"  If there is a moment when a parent has their heart broken, that is it---when your ten year old daughter, in a locked psychiatric ward, asks for you to take her home.  I hope I never again feel what I felt that moment, and I hope none of you ever have to feel that feeling.

We took her back out to the ward---the area they seem to spend weekend days in, outside her room.  I won't write much about the other kids there, because it is not my story to tell and I respect their privacy, but I will say Janey was the only girl I saw, and also the only child that seemed to talk.  She stood out, as it feels like she has done all her life.  I wish so much sometimes I could gather all the girls together that I have met through this blog, that we could get our girls together in a room so Janey for once could have peers like herself.  Maybe someday that can happen.  But for now, it so often feels like Janey is very alone.

After we got home, I did mindless things---watching some Star Trek, reading, knitting.  Tony was working on a long, long application we have to do to try to get state supplemental insurance for Janey, to help with the bills that will soon start rolling in.  At one point, he asked me for a little information for the form.  I found I couldn't answer.  I couldn't think.  I couldn't put together simple sentences.

Tony quickly realized what he was dealing with.  He stopped asking any questions.  He made me some hot chocolate, and then, a French bread pizza.  He comforted me as I collapsed into my bed, crying and crying.  I am incredibly lucky to have a husband like him.

Later, my rock of a friend Maryellen called me, and we talked for an hour.  She listened to my teary account of the visit to Janey.  That is so important---to have someone I can pour my heart out to, someone outside the family but still very connected.  I am so lucky in the support I have, from friends like Maryellen, from my family and from my extended blog family.  I truly want you all to know that---how much you all have helped.

Today I feel stronger.  I am sad we will probably not visit Janey today.  The Patriots play in between where we are and where she is, and traffic back and forth becomes a nightmare.  I would not let that keep me away, but I think also Janey might need a day without the confusion our visits seem to bring.  I hope I am right there.  I know she is in the place she needs to be, but I miss her so intensely.  It is not the normal course of things to have your little girl so far away, literally locked away.  My life has taken a turn which is often feeling surreal.  I need to get through this.  I think today, I will retreat to gather strength for the next round, to go on and keep on fighting.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Our Experience with the Mental Health Boarding Crisis

If you are one of the regular readers of this blog, you are probably thinking "ANOTHER post?  I am not up to ANOTHER post!"  Please feel free to take a reading break!  I will not be hurt!  I just feel so compelled to get down the details of this story before they leave my head.

So---what is boarding?  In this case, boarding means keeping psychiatric patients at a regular hospital, either in the ER or on a regular medical ward, until they are able to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital or sent home.  There are far too few psychiatric beds in this country, most especially for children.  So children wind up boarding at hospitals.  I was often given two weeks as a common amount of time to be boarding.  There is an article here especially about this crisis in Massachusetts, but it exists all over the country.

I think I'd vaguely heard of boarding before last week, but didn't really get it.  I knew it wasn't considered a good idea to bring autistic kids especially to the ER for anything but the more dire times, because there was little that could be done for them there, but I didn't get that the problem went beyond that.

In an ideal world, and in I think the minds of many people, things would work like this---You have a child that is somehow showing signs of a severe mental health crisis.  You, or your school, have no idea how to handle them.  They are becoming unsafe to themselves or to others.  In the crisis, you take them to the ER.  The ER assesses them, and somehow is able to  help them, within the time frames you'd expect for other medical crises---a few hours to a few days.  It's not fun, but it's in line with something like appendicitis or a bad case of the flu.

I'll use Janey's case to illustrate the reality.  She had been having a tough week.  Things escalated Friday at school.  The school rightly called an ambulance.  Janey was taken to the ER about 1:30 pm.  Her vitals were checked, we told our basic story.  We finally saw a psychiatrist about 5 pm.  The psychiatrist determined that Janey needed to get more help.  She said she would check if there were a space in the few mental health wards that could handle Janey's complex needs, but if not, we would sleep over in the ER.

I've written about the time in the ER.  There were no spaces available.  So, after a 24 hour hold, Janey was admitted to Children's Hospital.  She got a single room on what was actually a transplant floor, mostly for babies needing kidney transplants.  The nurses there were not psychiatric nurses.  The room was not set up for a psychiatric patient.  They removed a lot of things from the room before we went in, like the rolling vital signs computer and the phone, to make it a little safer.  And we settled in, to wait for the moment there became a place available at one of the two hospitals in our part of the country that could take Janey.  The hospital checked three times a day for a spot.  On Thursday, around 8 pm, we finally left by ambulance, after 6 days.

Those are the bare facts.  The reality was, well, hell.  Janey was not allowed to leave her room.  I understand the reason for that.  She wasn't stable, and she could hurt other patients.  But for a child in mental health crisis, being confined to a small room is not easy, to say the extreme least.  Hospital procedure, and from what I am told procedure at most hospitals, is that a mental health boarder must have someone from the hospital or contracted to the hospital in their room at all times.  These people are called "sitters"  In theory, that is a good idea.  It's a second set of hands, someone else to keep an eye on the child.  In practice, well, it makes things a lot tougher, actually.  The sitters varied.  Most were well-meaning, but mostly they did what the name says---they sat.  They sat in a chair and did nothing.  They didn't play with Janey or help in any way.  We were not supposed to leave Janey alone with them, so we still needed to be in the room with her.  They were supposed to let us be able to sleep, but in reality, when Janey woke, it woke me up.  They became one more person in the room to protect from being hurt.  We were unable to talk to each other with any candor.  I felt I had to make conversation at least a little with the sitters to not be totally rude.  They were an added source of stress for certain, although I know they didn't mean to be.

When Janey's behavior escalated in the hospital, we tried to handle it ourselves.  If she got more upset, which probably happened about 10 times while there, we called the nurse.  That was the procedure.  The nurse could do little to help.  She would call the psychiatrist on call, or what was called the behavioral team.  The only real response they had was to give Janey more medication.  There wasn't much else that could be done in the confines of a hospital room.  A few days, Janey wound up overmedicated and groggy.

Aside from having a great deal more psychiatric beds available, what would help patients and families who are boarding?  I have a few ideas.  The biggest one---have SOME spot in the hospital where the child can run around, can be out of their room.  Even if this is only once a day, and has to be scheduled so the child is alone and there is staff there, it would be a HUGE help.  With sitters, either train them better or make them optional.  Have them be helpers. Have some understanding of the stress it puts on a family to have some stranger in their room all the time.  Give the parents an hour of respite now and then.  I was lucky to have my friend Maryellen help me several days with Janey.  Janey's current and a past teacher, which felt like heaven---help and support. Another dear friend braved horrible traffic to bring us some of Janey's favorite foods---a sour pickle, bread and cheese!  In one of life's strange coincidences, a friend who is part of the staff at Janey's old school actually had a relative in the same ward as us.  Seeing her friendly kind face quite a few times during our stay was wonderful.  She brought us a bag with food for Janey, some Play-Doh, puzzle books for me and other treats.  I will be grateful for all those kind gestures, as I will be for all of you, my internet, blog and Facebook friends, for your support and love, for the rest of my life.

The United States is one of the richest countries on Earth.  It is a shame, a crying, horrible shame, that we can't put more resources into helping our children with mental health issues.  Next time you see a news article about a troubled adult acting out, remember they were once a troubled child, and that the money spent to help them at that point is far better spend that money that will be needed as an adult for prison or for a locked ward someplace.  I hate to be that blunt, but that is the reality.  One child having to "board" ever is one child too many.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Third post of the day!

I've never written three posts in a day before now, and I don't think I ever will again, but I wanted to write about visiting Janey at Bradley Hospital while it was fresh in my mind.  I'm blogging lately for myself as much as anyone, to remember these eventful and challenging days accurately.

The couple pictures here are ones I found on the internet of Bradley.  You can't take pictures there yourself.  The room looks very similar to the common room of the ward Janey is on.  I'm not sure it's the exact same ward, but you can get an idea how nice it is.

We called this morning to make a time to meet with the staff at the hospital, and agreed on 11 am.  We left about 10, thinking the drive was an hour, but it was actually more like an hour and 15 minutes, which was fine, but good to know for the future.  It's a pretty drive at the end, through Providence, a city I've never spent much time in, although both my parents and my sister have lived there at points in their life.  It's great the hospital is south of Boston instead of north of it, as that avoids the horrible traffic that driving through the city always involves.

When we got to the hospital, we had to show ID at the main desk and wait for someone to come get us.  Everything is very, very secure there, which we don't mind at all.  It was striking at Boston Children's Hospital how very UN-secure everything was.  It was only on the weekend you had to show any kind of visitor's badge at all.  Anyone could walk into any room there pretty much unchallenged.  But at Bradley, that would not happen.

The social worker assigned to us came to get us, and we went into a meeting room.  There we talked for a long time to quite a few people---the psychiatrist that has been assigned to Janey, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, someone I think was a behavior therapist and a few more people whose roles I am not sure about right now!  They asked us many, many good questions about Janey, things like what upsets her, what calms her, what her speech is like, how her behavior has recently changed, what medications she takes, how she is at school, how her sleep and eating area---all that.  Everyone was very understanding and respectful.  The process felt unrushed, unlike anything at all at the regular hospital.

After the long talk, we went to the ward to see Janey.  We had to put our things into a locker---my pocketbook, Tony's jacket, a clipboard---you can't take much of anything in with you.  I did bring in a big bag of clothes for Janey.  Once in the ward, we had to sign in again.  And then we saw Janey!  She looked very cheerful.  There was a relaxed smile on her face we hadn't seen for several weeks.  It was wonderful to see.

The rules of visiting are that we have to visit with Janey in her room, not in the common area.  Therefore, we stayed just a minute, because I couldn't bear to have Janey shut in a room again.  She was happy being active, and it was the middle of their day there.  She was about to have arts and crafts with other kids.  So we put away her clothes, gave her a few big hugs and said goodbye.

The hospital is very strict about talking to other children.  We saw a few boys who are on the ward with Janey, but the rules are that you can greet them if they greet you, but can't talk to them otherwise.  I can see the reasons for this, although I would love to get to know other children like Janey a bit more.

We got the feeling that Janey is already winning over the staff.  They had a few cute stories to tell about her already, including how they did the "Turkey Pokey", like the "Hokey Pokey", and that Janey loved that and did an impromptu solo dance and song after it was over.  I can see Janey being very happy there.  They will keep her busy and give her attention.  I think the question will be more---will this carry over?  Will we get help and ideas and medication changes and so on that will help us once she is home?  I am going to try hard for right now not to think about that, to just be glad she is in such a great place and to try to relax at home.  This is the respite we had wanted.   Not in the way we ever wanted to get it, but I still need to use this time to regroup mentally---between drives to Rhode Island.  I am certainly going to sleep well tonight, and I hope Janey does too, a whole state away from me.

The Long Day's Journey---Part Two

After we got the news that Janey would be going to Bradley Hospital, we started packing up the room and getting ready for the call that is was time to go.  We were told it would be a few hours, probably into the afternoon before we went, which was fine.  Janey wasn't having a good day.  Maybe just the change in the mood and the moving around of the stuff in the room upset her.  She was screaming a lot, very agitated---not happy.  Our "sitter" for the day was the same one we had had on Sunday.  On Sunday, she had been one of our least favorite sitters.  This day, however, after we took a while to talk to her, we found her to be a wonderful woman---warm and understanding and interesting.  It taught me something I need to be taught over and over in life---that first impressions aren't always right.  She told us she was praying hard for Janey.  I am not much of a prayer, but I am a huge appreciator of people praying for me, and I was touched by her saying that.

As the day wore on, it was apparent that Janey's discharge was taking longer than anyone had said it would.  Finally we were told there was some kind of hold-up with the insurance, but that it would be taken care of and we shouldn't worry.  Well, I worried.  A nurse once again checked with the referring department, and they said it wasn't the insurance, it was that they were waiting for a call from Bradley, and she suggested I call Bradley myself.  I did, and they said it WAS the insurance---that they had not yet gotten the authorization.  I told that to the Children's Hospital people, and they said not to worry again.  I decided to call our insurance myself.  That was not a fun call.  The department that deals with our particular brand within the brand closes at 4:30pm.  I called about 4:35, and although the woman I reached was very kind, she said there was no way at all she could access those records.  I told her we could lose a placement we had been desperately waiting for, and she was very upset, but I don't think sincerely could do anything.  I started calling every number on my card.  I finally reached someone who might have been able to help.  At that moment, a nurse found me and showed me a wonderful set of numbers--the authorization had come through.

The next wait was for the ambulance to take Janey to Rhode Island---about an hour's drive.  It's a little unusual for people to be moved medically from Boston to Rhode Island.  Usually it would be the other way around.  So it took a while to get the ambulance.  In the meantime, Janey was very upset.  At one point, she suddenly lunged at and bit the sitter.  The sitter was great---she said it was nothing, that Janey was sick and we should not worry about it.  But word got out and the nurse in charge told the sitter she had to go report the incident to the hospital police and then go to the workman's comp office.  The sitter tried to say the bite had not broken the skin and there was no need, but the nurse insisted, so the sitter left and I never really got to thank her.  She was the last sitter we had---I guess since we were leaving, it was no longer considered necessary.

Finally, about 8 o'clock, we got an ambulance.  The EMTs were wonderful.  EMTs must be a special breed of people---they always seem great.  Janey was thrilled to be leaving the room.  She got onto the gurney very willingly, and was happy and alert almost the whole long trip to Rhode Island.  I saat behind her, so she couldn't see me, and I did have to reassure her several times that was there.  But overall, the ride was great.  We arrived at the hospital about 9.

My first impression of the hospital, in the dark, was that it was much bigger than I pictured---all kinds of buildings.  We were ushered into the admitting lobby.  A security guard checked us for metal and took my bag to inspect.  We didn't mind that at all---it kind of felt reassuring.  The lobby was lovely---a gorgeous room, and we were met right away with lots of people.  There were a lot of preliminary questions to be asked, and paperwork to be done.  Janey was mostly happy, although she did bite herself a few times and once lunged at Tony, so it was seen why she was there.

One funny moment---I guess to certify that Janey was being admitted voluntarily, since she is 10, if possible they wanted her to sign a form saying she was there willingly.  Janey can make a "J", and occasionally write the rest of her name if she is in the mood.  We got the form and explained it to her---I am quite sure she didn't totally get it, but she took the pen and made a big "J" all over the paper.  And that counted.  Janey's first signature of a legal document!  Thanks to all the teachers who taught her to write the J!

After a bit, a nurse came to take Janey to her ward.  We stayed behind for a bit, signing a lot more papers.  We learned a bit about her ward.  It holds in total up to 18 kids, in two wings.  Right then, there were 16 kids including Janey.  And were were told that at the current time (even then at night) there were SIXTEEN milieu therapists.  Milieu therapists was a another new term for us.  Here's a definition---Milieu Therapist  That is an amazing amount of hands on help!  We were starting to realize we might be in a very good place.

We went to say goodnight to Janey in the ward after that.  She had been given a room, her own room.  It has a nice bed and a comfy chair, and a bathroom next to it.  We were told someone would stay outside her door until she fell asleep.  She was happy and excited.  When we said goodnight, she waved dismissively and said "goodbye!"  She has never been one to have a hard time separating from us, which in this case was good---we were able to leave without breaking down much.

The ride home continued the theme of the week---being stuck.  We had a nice drive for the first 45 minutes or so, although we were both beyond tired.  Then---nothing but brakelights.  Something had stopped traffic on Route 95.  We sat totally stopped for over an hour.  We finally turned off the car and just waited.  We called my sister in Colorado to see if she could look on line what was happening, as we don't have any smart phones, just dumb phones.  She figured out the problem was something to do with downed wires.  Finally, traffic started again and we finally got home about 1 am.

We slept very soundly last night!  Now we are about to call to see what time the hospital wants to meet with us today.  We are going to meet Janey's psychiatrist and start working on a plan as to what happens next.  I am feeling hopeful, but still---overwhelmed, nervous, scared, stunned.  I think she is in the right place, and I think we are on our way, but it's going to take a while for me to be able to really feel less than on full alert.  It's been an experience so far like none in my life, like no experience I ever expected to have in my life.  And it's a journey that is going to continue.