The Year Was 2004

So while Tommy and I were more than happy to say goodbye to the year of 2003, we had no idea what 2004 had in store for us. No clue that Thomas would be hospitalized at least 4 more times between February and May/June, 2004. Forgive me if my dates are off. I do have every discharge paper with Thomas’ name on it I’m just too lazy to look for them so I can be exact.

He was hospitalized mostly due to aggression. I was the main focus of the hitting and/or throwing things, occasionally one of the girls would be a target, in that case he was admitted immediately with little to no discussion other than a call to Dr. F. Thomas’ behavior at school was fine with no aggression. By this time I was used to this, if Thomas was having a difficult time at home or he was starting a new medication I would let the school know just to keep them in the loop. I never received any complaints from his teachers or therapists about Thomas behavior at school. Wait…I did receive a letter and phone call from his teacher that Thomas said a voice in his head was telling him to cut his fingers when they were using scissors. Of course I reported this to Dr. F immediately.

It was around this time that I finally decided enough was enough and it was time to leave our pediatrician. I was way past “the time” I should have left. She made it very clear she didn’t approve of Dr.F, would be snarky with me if I wanted to delay Daniella’s vaccinations (just delay not withhold). Her whole attitude was one that made me very uncomfortable and defensive. She somehow believed there wasn’t anything wrong with Thomas to the degree his father and I did. How could this go on? It couldn’t. My mom worked with this one pediatrician in the hospital (my mom was a nurse instructor with the staff education department) and she really liked her personally and professionally. I was skeptical of course. I made an appointment for Thomas when he was well so Dr. V could meet him and meet me when it wasn’t an urgent situation. I wanted to go over his medical, developmental and psychiatric history in a calm manner. I liked her a lot! Dr.V is from India, she’s very kind and very compassionate. She’s also conservative when it comes to referring us out to specialists, I really appreciate that. In the 10 yrs we’ve been with her I’ve complained about the lack of parking by her office but not about Dr. V as a physician or how she’s treated me which has been with nothing but compassion and respect.

So yes, Thomas was hospitalized no less than 4 times during the year of 2004 at the facility in Westchester NY, two hours from our house. This facility is very different from the traditional hospital Thomas was first admitted to. This place is set on acres and acres of land with many different buildings, there is a cafeteria building, administrative buildings, a medical building. Where the patients (or clients) are housed are cottages. Thomas was in the cottage for the youngest clients. Tommy and I liked the staff, they were very good with the kids and you could see that the children liked the staff. They did his laundry and allowed us to bring favorite foods. The day was very organized and similar to the traditional hospital setting there was school every day. Yes kids go to school in a psychiatric facility. I liked that, I mean you worry about so much when your child is hospitalized why do you also need to worry about them missing school?

I liked and respected the psychiatrist they assigned to Thomas. She was young and also a mother so she didn’t talk down to me. Unfortunately Thomas was very well behaved in the cottage even when his meds were lowered. It was clear the structured environment was wonderful for him. The psychiatrist was gracious enough to talk to Dr. F about meds and when Thomas was discharged it was usually with meds that Dr. F was conferred with.

The revolving door of admission and discharge was taking its toll on all of us. Our life was full of stress; running up to Westchester for visits, arrainging for my mom or dad for childcare, trying to have a semblance of a normal life for Alyssa and Daniella, Thomas still had weekly therapy with his therapist, Darlene who remained wonderful and supportive. We had an agency involved who was attempting to provide people to help Thomas in the home. Problem was, the agency people didn’t understand the severity of our situation. The service coordinator even suggested to me that perhaps Thomas needed residential school? I almost blew a gasket when she said that. Not because it was true and I didnt want to hear it, but because it was not her place to say that. Her job was to determine if services they provided were appropriate and available for my son. She had no business providing unasked for opinions. In those years I had a low tolerance for people like that and I let them (or their supervisors) know of my displeasure.

In the middle of all this I was given a crash course on how to get your child admitted to residential school. Oh my goodness, talk about your head spinning! Certified letters to the district, letters from the hospital, Dr. F, Darlene the therapist, etc… Who to send all this documentation to? Time lines the District are legally bound to follow, what if The Board of education refuses and says they will not pay for very expensive residential school? Tommy and I were instructed to retain an education lawyer, thank God we were in a position to do so. The lawyer came highly recommended by Nancy my present therapist.

I look back and I’m still amazed to see the Hand of God at work. I was led to people who helped me and expected nothing in return. There’s no way I could have walked that path without God paving my way even when I didn’t recognize his glorious work.

One thought on “The Year Was 2004

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