Janey is home, and the overwhelming feeling we have, so far, is joy. It is wonderful to have her home. We realized, this past month, what a crucial part of our family she is. She is our focus, our center, our mission. Without her, I think all of us felt a little lost. She is a huge challenge, a huge job, but most of all, a huge joy.
We have, however, learned a few lessons which are tougher to take than the lesson of how we need her.
Janey's release from Bradley was sudden. Late last week, when both the school and I talked to the hospital, it seemed that her release was not going to be soon. Then, on Monday, I got a call from the social worker at first asking how our visits were going and then telling me they were planning on releasing her the next day, Tuesday. I had a huge mix of emotions. First, happiness, but then, a little confusion and a lot of "what next?" Yes, she had calmed down. Yes, her medication had been adjusted. Yes, the immediate crisis was over. But most things had not changed. Janey was still screaming often, biting her arm quite a bit, often upset. We still had no respite. We had no new ideas for dealing with Janey, no new plan. There was not going to be any release meeting. We didn't speak to the psychiatrist in charge---we had met him only once, at the intake meeting. Basically, Janey was coming home because her mood had changed. That is something that has happened at home, without a hospital, many, many times. We could have done that here.
To play the devil's advocate with myself---we did get some respite. We had the 18 days with Janey at Bradley, where we were able to sleep all night. We were able to spend 18 days, when we weren't driving to Providence, doing the kind of things we haven't done for a while---mindless games, mostly. We probably didn't relax as much as we should have during that time. We were still in a bit of shock, and we still were thinking about her constantly, and driving to see her often. But we did have that time.
However, I would have to say overall, I am still quite troubled by the state of our country's mental health treatment for children. The Children's Hospital time, when Janey was a "boarder", was hell. I don't have another term for it. It was hell, hellish. The Bradley hospital is a lovely place, full of kind people. I know Janey was treated well there. But it is an extremely short term solution, and in the end, it changed almost nothing.
There was a moment as Janey was being released when I was signing forms at the nurse's station. The nurse and the social worker asked me if I had any questions. I think they could see the look on my face, a look that was that was a mix of concern and something like internal laughter. Yes, I had questions. Just where do we go from here? What I said was "We just wonder if you have some suggestions on dealing with Janey's difficult behaviors at home?" or something along those lines. The answer was that they had sent a list of their strategies to Janey's school. The social worker said "You know, we could send a copy to your house if you want!" Um, yeah. That might be good. Although excuse me for saying I don't hold out huge hopes that the list will solve everything.
But I'll end here on a more cheerful note, one more appropriate for this Christmas season. We HAVE learned something. We have learned that we are the ones who are the experts on Janey. It isn't like there are people out there who can tell us how best to help her. We are the people who know that. There are places she can go in times of extreme crisis, if we are able to first endure the horrors of boarding. We have learned that besides that, one of our best allies is the Boston school system---who stood by us during all this, stayed in close touch and showed a huge level of caring for Janey.