I didn't sleep well last night. I kept waking up and having flashback type memories. I've always heard the anniversaries of events can bring them back vividly, and I guess it's true. It was a year ago tomorrow that Janey was taken to the emergency room from her school by ambulance, the Friday of Veteran's Day week---like today. She was in a state of agitation such that she was biting, lashing out, screaming non-stop, taking off her clothes, flinging things around---it was a nightmare. She stayed 6 days at Children's Hospital as a boarder, waiting for a place at a psychiatric hospital, and then 19 days at Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island (as most of you already know).
Of all the memories of that horrible time, the most vivid one, the one that kept coming back last night, took place the morning after the first night in the ER. Janey had slept very little. She had no clean clothes---Tony had gone home to get some and hopefully get a little bit of sleep. I asked if there were any scrubs or anything she could wear---thinking a children's ER sure might have something. They gave me, to go with the hospital top, a pair of pants that were about a child's size 2 and a Depends style pullup that would have fit a men's XXL. Janey wouldn't keep them on. We were in a tiny room, split in half by a pull-down metal wall that covered all the "medical" parts of the room, so we had only a cot on a bare, dirty floor---absolutely no room to move. We were required to leave the door open, so an eye could be kept on Janey. We were right by a busy desk. Janey wanted out. She kept taking off the ill-fitting clothes and trying to run down the hall. As I tried to stop her, she bit me on the hand, very hard. Then she grabbed some chocolate milk and flung it around the room, and tried to break the tray it was on.
The room was suddenly filled with people---probably 10 people, including two cops. A nurse pulled me into the hall and told me I had to go elsewhere, that I was the focus of Janey's anger and I needed to not get hurt more. I was taken to a small meeting-type room. Another nurse brought me some ice for my hand, and some tea and toast. I sat there, stunned. It felt impossible that this all was actually happening. A few minutes later, a third nurse came in and asked me "How does Jane usually react to Haldol?" Haldol? Wasn't that what they give violent criminals on TV shows to sedate them? Why would Janey have ever had Haldol? I said blankly she had never had Haldol. The nurse looked skeptical and left. And I sat there, feeling that my life had changed into something I didn't recognize.
That sequence, that scene, is what kept me awake. It still seems unbelievable, like something that could not possibly have happened. But it did.
I could write for hours about the past year, a year in which we spent far too much time in hospitals. I have a lot brewing in my head about the difference between treatment in different hospitals, and treatment when you are there for a psychiatric reason and for a medical reason. But I will save that, and say only two more things.
One is that a year later, Janey is doing well. We are in probably the longest stretch even without any tough times that have lasted more than a day. I think the changes are due to both a change in medications and a change in our parenting. Whatever it is, it's good. However, we know all too well now that things can change suddenly, and we don't take the good for granted, not for a second.
The other is that while I had my dark night last night, what kept the memories from overwhelming me was remembering the support I got from friends at that horrible time---friends in person and friends from around the world I know from this blog. You all were incredible. Your love and support and generosity---I cannot possibly say how much they meant to me.
Here's a picture of my big girl, wearing a jacket I bought for her brother that he didn't like but she loves for some reason. My love for this amazing girl keeps me going---with a little help from my friends.