Damian is learning that he must communicate with us. The first major rule he has encountered at Hillside is that when you are spoken to, you must answer. This seems like a tiny step but for Damian it is a huge hurdle. Communication is a controlling technique for him. It has been exasperated by 5 months of hospitals which allowed him to; refuse visitation, control when and if he called us, and let him hang up are end communication whenever he wanted to.
New rules; you will call your parents once a day, you will speak to them on speaker phone so the staff can ensure you are being respectful, you will not curse, you will not hang up, the call lasts 10 minutes. If you choose not to follow one of these rules you will have a 30 minute dialectic behavior therapy session and then try the phone call again. Today Damian went through 4 therapy sessions and finally on the fifth phone call was able to speak with us for 10 minutes successfully.
We have a long way to travel, but atleast we have a map now.
So after a long time of feeling helpless, I decided to think of something to help us all engage. We made baskets for the staff at Hillside. It was great to do something positive and the kids were able to feel like they were contributing 🙂
I WILL see this smile again.
This weekend we are explaining to the children where Damian is and why he will be staying there so long.
Some of their questions…
- Was Damian’s brain broken?
- Why doesn’t he want to stay with us?
- Why can’t we just take care of him?
- Isn’t there some medicine to fix his brain?
- Why is he so mad?
- What can I do for him?
- When can we see him?
- How long will he be there?
- Will he always be like this?
- Did he want a different family than us?
- Is it okay that I am mad at him?
- Is he lonely there?
- Does he miss us?
- If I get mad do I have to go to the hospital?
- Why do we have to go to therapy because of Damian?
- Can we have the scissors back in the art room since Damian is not here?
- Why does he try to hurt himself?
- Can we fix the holes in the wall now?
- Does he have toys there?
- Who hugs him goodnight?
- Can we have people over to the house now?
- What does he eat there?
- When he comes back will he be nice?
- Is he still my brother?
- If someone else is taking care of him, are they his new family now?
- Does he have friends there?
- How are they going to fix him?
- Will the therapist keep coming to our house?
- Sometimes I wished for him to go away did my wish make that happen?
- Can I write a letter to the doctors so they will help him?
- Does he need an operation on his brain?
- Can I draw him a picture or will he just rip it up?
- Is that why you are so sad mommy?
- I have fits sometimes is my brain broken then?
- Can Damian has some of my medicine, cause it helps me?
- Will my brain get broken like Damian’s?
- How did Damian’s brain get broken?
- Is this like when Grandma Laura’s body was broken? Is he going to die?
- Did Grandma Laura want to die, like Damian does?
- Why are some people’s brains broken and not the rest of the people?
- Will the leprechauns visit him there?
- Does he go to school?
- How long is a long time?
- Can we go outside now?
Damian is safely admitted into Hillside.
Garrett picked Damian up from the hospital this evening. He fell asleep on the way home so he was blissfully sleepy when he came in the door. I made sure the other kiddos were either asleep or in their rooms happily bribed with new iPad games. I put him to sleep in my bed and left the room for about 15 minutes to make sure he fell asleep. Then I curled up next to him and held him. I cried those silent tears that only a grieving mother can cry. Then I sat and just watched him sleep. I marveled at his soft curly hair. I thanked God and the universe for letting me be his mom. I stayed as long as I could before the real tears came and I had to leave.
Tomorrow we will take Damian to Hillside, we will turn in the 65 pages of documents we have collected for them, we will entrust our son to them, we will sign documents limiting our legal rights as parents for the next 90 days.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
This afternoon we received the call we have prayed for. Damian will be admitted to Hillside Residential Treatment Facility tomorrow. For about 5 seconds I manage to be grateful to God and the universe. Then the emotions start rolling, overwhelming me. I mange to get out of my job and to my car.
The door that secures Damian’s place in my mind is wide open.
I try to close it, I try to breathe, I can’t.
I close my eyes, imagine my happy place, I can’t.
I make a mental checklist of what I must do to get home, I can’t.
I turn the radio on, try to focus on the words, I can’t.
I think about calling my sister, I get my phone out, I can’t.
I clasp my hands together, bow my head to pray, I can’t.
I rub my eyes, squish my face, will myself to cry, I can’t.
Out of desperation I finally will myself to open that door, in all of our minds, that holds the darkest moments of our past. I let those moments overwhelm and suffocate me. And when I feel no longer able to breathe or think clearly, I close that door to the past and gasp for breath. This is not that bad.
I can do this.
We tried so hard to try to find an interim placement for Damian until his residential treatment bed at Hillside is available, no luck. He will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow late afternoon. We are a still 5-6 days away from a possible opening at Hillside.
Garrett did Damain’s required exit family meeting today and it was the same stuff. Damian saying he will take deep breaths, read a book, or talk to someone if he is feeling angry or suicidal. His “new” breakthrough idea is he wants to play the violin. When Garrett reminded him that he destroyed $200 dollars of Christmas presents, Damain’s response was that he did that because the presents were crap and we don’t ever get him anything he wants. Obviously the rest of the session went downhill from there. But he is not going to kill himself or us, so the doctors say he is ready to go home.
Continued prayers and good thoughts into the universe needed so we can get him safely through the next week!
January 16th was Damain’s last manic cycle, it lasted for 5 days. Today was his first manic cycle since then. The hospital called Garrett today to tell him that Damian was talking non-stop about things that made no sense and had no context. He packed his bags and told them he was “cured” and going home. He attempted to escape the hospital 3 times. His phone call tonight was crushing.
“Hey mommy, why didn’t you come get me today? I am “cured” now and you didn’t come get me. You need to come pick me up now. The doctors just don’t understand that I am fine now. You need to tell them I am fine. Mommy, are you listening?”
I tell him I love him, but I am not in charge of those decisions when he is in the hospital. I ask him if he notices that his mood has changed so quickly.
“Well because the rain is here it made me think of some sad things,. Then today I had an apple at lunch and it was good. So I am happy now. Hey mommy, are you coming to get me now?”
He is in there somewhere, but not where I can find him today.