How do you leave an abusive relationship when your bruises are from your child?
How many times do you need to be told by nurses to call 911 to get help before you listen?
When do you realize that something is wrong, that these are no longer tantrums or meltdowns but have turned into rages?
The answers for us are
You don’t. You just buy more long sleeve shirts and darker sunglasses.
Twice in one week.
Xander’s behavior has been regressing for some time and today we finally did something about it. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make but Xander is thisclose to potentially hurting himself or the baby and I am not going to stand by and let that happen.
Twice this week Xander has had episodes that prompted me to call our public health line and consult with a nurse. Twice they told me to call 911 and get a team out to help us. Twice I brushed it off, made excuses, and was a coward. As each day passed and Xander became more intense it became clear that I couldn’t continue to make feeble excuses for him anymore.
Today we did what we needed to accomplish in the morning and at 3pm we made our way over to the children’s hospital with Xander in the back of our station wagon. He was calm for the drive but exploded as soon as we had to wait for a triage nurse inside the emergency room. He screamed, no, he shrieked repetitively and pulled at my shirt until he fell over. I picked him up as we were ushered into a room to talk with a nurse and he ripped my glasses from my face and threw them. This is an hourly occurance at our house but the shocked stares and hurried posture of the staff at the hospital hurt me worse than my son ever has.
That was eye opener. Not my hands bloodied from bite marks, not my thinning hair that I lose tiny handfuls at a time, none of those mattered until people other then us had to see them.
I collapsed in a chair while Xander clawed at my face and I wept that my son needed help.
Our paperwork was completed quickly and we were in a private room before we knew it.
Pat and I cried for most of the two hour visit. Nurses and Doctors paraded in, careful to not let the hysterical Xander into the hallway, and we talked over his piercing shrieks.
There were two main areas we needed to explore.
The first thing was to rule out anything physically wrong with Xan that could be causing him discomfort. It is common in children with autism to have difficulties communicating. As a matter of fact it’s actually a necessary area of difficulty to get a diagnosis in the first place. So with that said it’s fairly common to see children like Xan lashing out in surprising ways as a result of confusion, pain and the inability to express themselves and get help.
After a thorough examination the Doc deemed that Xander was not in pain, which I completely agree with. No change in diet, no earth shattering events happened, everything has been same same same with the exception of his MRI on Monday and we have records of his behavior deteriorating far before then.
The second area we need to address, and the reason I feel my gut pulling me towards, is mental illness. In my family more people are diagnosed with some form of mental illness than not, so this is something I have been preparing myself for since before we had kids. I guess I just hoped that since Xander already has anaphylaxis, autism and most likely tourette’s that he would get a pass from the mental illness.
So with the physical issues ruled out the ER doc ordered a full psych evaluation to be done as soon as possible, which is apparently 9am tomorrow morning.
There is a chance that the child psychiatrist we see tomorrow will talk about some behavior disorders too. Maybe Xander’s OCD is getting worse. Maybe it’s time to consider medicating our 3 year old. Maybe they will need to keep him as an inpatient until he becomes less of a threat.
The questions are hard and the answers are hard too.
My heart is heavy, but I know this too shall pass. We will be on the sunny side of life again, I know it. I just don’t know when.