Saturday, October 11, 2008

Challenging Times

It started well. A new job with lots of exciting opportunities and my first trip to the Colorado Rockies to spend some time with the executive management team. All seemed sort of right with the world as I sat in the conference room at the Happy Valley Ranch just outside of Boulder. I really enjoyed the profession approach to team building that was being taken and I was learning much about myself and the men and women that I will be working with over the coming months and hopefully years. We were nestled well up the mountains at nearly 9,000 feet elevation and while the air was thin, it was clean and crisp and Thursday morning was absolutely delightful with that briskness that one can only experience in the mountains. Then, on Thursday evening as I sat in a restaurant with the rest of the management team enjoying a glass of wine and a lovely meal, my mobile phone rang. It was Kate and she was really upset.....crying and it was all I could do to understand her with the noise in the restaurant. Something about Joe and the hospital. I rushed outside so I could hear her and after managing to get her to calm down I learned that Joe had been admitted to a Behavioral Health Clinic that evening as part of a strategy that his psychologist, psychiatrist and doctors all agreed would be best to address the most recent challenges we have collectively encountered with Tourette's. I'm calm now, but at that point in time all I wanted was to be home with Kate and Ellie and to get to the hospital to see Joe. After finishing my conversation with Kate I walked back into the restaurant and shared what was going on with the CEO. He asked me if I wanted to go home that evening and I said that I did and he was on the phone to his Executive Assistant and with an hour a flight had been arranged from Denver to Atlanta on the red-eye, which would put me back into Atlanta at 5:30 a.m. on Friday morning. I finished my meal and some colleagues drove me to the Denver airport and I arrived back at the house around 7:00 a.m. on Friday morning.

Seeing Joe for the first time in that environment was incredibly difficult and I immediately understood why his Mom was so upset the night before. It is called a Behavioral Health Clinic and it's designed to work with a wide range of behavioral health issues, both with kids and adults. The rules are hard and patients are treated with a certain level of objectivity as opposed to compassion. The nurses are a bit hard-core and conversations are candid and very direct; e.g.: your son cannot do this, or that, or go there, or have this in their possession. Joe was beside himself last evening when we visited and he desperately wanted Mom and Dad to take him out of that horrible place. How do you tell your son that having him secure in a place like that is the best way to get him to a happier place in his life? How do you tell him that everything is going to be okay when every instinct tells you to pick him up and carry him out as quickly as possible?

The facts were relatively straight forward. Joe needed to switch from one course of meds to another and during the transition he would experience significant anxiety and distress and having him go through this process in the care of professionals was the best option for him and for our family. The Doctors told us that it would take between 3 and 7 days to complete the process and if everything went to plan Joe would emerge a happier child and the most recent episode of Tourette's would subside significantly. All good stuff, but all horribly frightening for a 12 year old lad.

We were with him again on the Saturday for an hour and while he wasn't as distressed as the previous evening, he was still clearly unhappy at the thought of staying another night. He kept telling me to make certain the Doctor released him on Sunday evening, which I knew wasn't going happen since the Doctor wasn't scheduled to see him again until Monday morning. And even then it could take several more days before he would be ready to come home.

Scary stuff, especially when you know there isn't a bloody thing you can do to change the course that the process needed to follow. But hopefully this new approach will work as advertised and our Joe will grow into a healthier state, both emotionally and physically. This most recent escalation of the Tourette's has worn him out and he needs some time to relax and be a 12 year old kid instead of hanging out in a Behavioral Clinic. We won't know for for awhile, but I know Joe has lots of prayers coming his way from friends and family and I know God is listening and watching over him. Still, it would be nice if he could catch a break. It seems so much has been placed on his shoulders so early and I can't imagine what it must be like at school where he is ridiculed and taunted by his peers.

I could write for a week about the school situation.........the teacher who told Joe to "stop it" because she had not taken the time to read his IEP and the stupidity that most of his peers display when they take an extra moment to tease him and make him feel like he is somehow inadequate because he has Tourette's. I can't quite figure it out, but it's obvious that this is a cruel world and Joe is going to have to get tougher if he is to survive. We can't depend on the school because the teachers are either incapable of grasping the full extent of Joe's challenges or they simply don't care.

Time will tell if things are going to change for the better. Meanwhile, we are motoring forward in hopes of a better tomorrow. With God's help we will get there soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I feel very horrible for your son. It must be so hard. Maybe you could try homeschooling him