We checked Taz into a wonderful inpatient hospital program this afternoon (after 24 hours in the Emergency Room). It seems like a great place. The staff was warm and friendly. They are bending the rules a bit by letting us visit extra and putting a different behavioral system in place for him since he doesn't understand points and levels.
Taz has his own room, which I prefer because he's so little. I don't ever want him to be a victim of another sick child (although there's plenty of supervision, I'm just paranoid!). There's a wonderful recreation/play room with video games, movies, toys, and a sensory table with sand (Taz will love that!). They go outside every day. The wing is bright and cheery.
What won me over was the staff. They appeared happy and to really enjoy the kids, not like other places where everyone looks like they hate their job. The kids were all happy (in the moment, I know they're there for a reason). There weren't any big violent kids (also a little paranoia of mine) because they only accept kids to age 13 since they specialize more with the younger ages. There were a few kids with autism and neurological disorders so I'm glad the hospital is used to that because that's sort of part of Taz's bag. He's not straight behavioral/emotional. He has neuro stuff going on too. They seemed to understand that.
I think that we'll be able to consult with a neurologist while we're there too, which is something we've been pushing for. Unfortunately there's a shortage of children's neuros in my state so the ones we have aren't seeing kids for developmental issues, only for seizures. The wait list is 6-12 months long! I think at this hospital we'll at least get a consult while he's there!
The Emergency Room, however, was a whole different experience. We went back to the same hospital as Friday. Now this is a children's hospital mind you. Like, a very well-known, highly recommended children's hospital. We've been here a thousand times for medical issues and have been treated wonderfully. The psych section (or behavioral health as they call it) of the ER felt like a whole different place. I just wanted to scream these kids are sick, they're not criminals!
Tomorrow I'll write out some pretty depressing stories about how "behavioral health" patients are treated in the ER. It made me worried for Taz's future. But if any of those kids were mine, you can be sure I would have told off a few nurses, EMT's, and security guards (they were the worst!). I'll write tomorrow. It was surely an interesting night.
Right now I'm feeling satisfied that we found him a good program. But I have to admit I've cried almost every tear my body could possibly produce today. I held it together in front of every professional and in front of Taz. But I fell apart in between, mostly in the car. When we left the unit after getting Taz settled in I lost it in the elevator. And I cried through the hallways of the hospital and out to the car. Poor Chica was so concerned she kept patting my face and kissing me. Everyone I walked by must have thought someone died.
I remember another mother of a child with bipolar wrote she felt empty after her child was hospitalized. I totally agree with that feeling. Empty. Like part of me is missing. My baby is away from me. He's safe and well taken care of, but still....away. I just want to scoop him up and bring him home. But I want him to be well. More than anything to be able to healthy and functioning.
I know the little boy that exists inside him. The happy-go-lucky, funny, charismatic, compassionate, sweet little guy that is buried under all that rage and confusion and fear. I want the little boy I know and love back. That's why I'm risking the hospitalization. I know it's not ideal for a 4 yr old. But I'm risking it because I think it's better for him to get the short term, intense "fix" (as in medication change) under the safety of professionals then hang around in this terrible state of limbo.
I have hope. And I have pain. Maybe hope will win. Maybe it will all be worth it in the end.