Tuesday, July 21, 2009

::failed, part 2::

(to read part 1, click here)

As I stand near the door, paralyzed, David leads the firemen into the room where my niece is staying. She is laying on the couch, her eyes almost completely closed, with her phone up to her ear. As the firemen begin to ask her questions, I take the phone. On the other end, her friend is frantic, worried. I tell her that I am A's aunt, that help has arrived, and thank her for calling 911. A. is completely limp, mumbling almost inaudible answers to their questions. She looks at me groggily and mouths "I'm sorry."

My niece, after our argument, sent text messages to her friends, telling them good-bye and that she loved them. This friend, in Boise, called back and asked what that meant; A. explained that she had just taken all of her sleeping pills. The friend had the presence of mind to keep A. on the phone while asking her what my last name was and for our address was in Spokane. A. didn't know if I'd changed my name after I re-married last year, nor did she know my address. The friend somehow convinced A. to get up and look around the room to find something with my address on it. Thankfully, Anna had re purposed one of my amazon.com boxes as a bunny condo; A. found the address there. Her friend gave the address to her mother, who called 911 while she stayed on the phone. It makes me sick to think that all of this was happening while I was standing on the back deck, talking to David. If the friend hadn't called A. and then called 911, I would have assumed my niece had simply gone to bed and I wouldn't have checked on her until the morning. This friend literally saved my niece's life.

Soon the paramedics arrived and it was all a blurr from there. David was amazingly calm and focused; he and a paramedic took the two bottles and determined how many pills had been left based on the prescription date. I was asked if she had intended to hurt herself; it seemed like a foolish question given that she'd just swallowed approximately 12-15 sleeping pills. I was informed that because she had tried to hurt herself, they would have to do a psychiatric evaluation. That actually came as a huge relief; I knew that she needed help, real help, not just anti-depressants.

In the emergency room, nurses and doctors rushed in to get her hooked up to machines to track her vitals. The nurses were so cold and treated her like she was a slab of meat. It made me sick. She was forced to drink liquid charcoal to absorb the pills she had taken. It was nasty black sludge, that ended up around her mouth and splattered on her hands and pillow. I began the series of phone calls to her parents, my mom and other sister. I never in a million years thought I'd be calling her mother to tell her that her daughter had just tried to kill herself on my watch.

As David and I waited, she gradually began to become more lucid. I sent David home knowing that it was going to be a long night. I sat with her for almost 5 hours, rubbing her back, stroking her hair, telling her how much I love her and that if anything had happened to her, I would never forgive myself. We talked, a lot, about everything that had happened. She asked what the black stuff was on her hands. We talked some more. She asked what the black stuff was on her hands. She closed her eyes for a bit, woke up and asked what the black stuff was on her hands. It began to get funny; I would explain in detail that it was the stuff she'd had to drink to absorb the pills. She'd say "Oh" and then not 2 minutes later, she'd ask again. By then we were laughing and teasing each other; I'm sure the nurses thought we were crazy. But it was all just so fucking absurd and surreal. Finally, after almost 4 hours, the "psychiatric triage" doctor or nurse came in; he was a huge bald black guy with a gorgeous smile and a calm demeanor. He asked her a lot of questions, ending with "So tell me what your dreams are." She said that she wanted to go live in Japan. He said "I lived in Japan for 4 years!" and they began speaking Japanese to each other. It was very sweet and she LOVED that he could speak Japanese too. When she'd arrived in Spokane for her visit, she'd said that one of her goals for the week was to get to practice her Japanese. I teased her that this was a pretty desperate measure to take.

He recommended, based on what she'd shared with him, that she be admitted to the psychiatric ward for evaluation. I said that we needed to get her home to Boise, closer to her family and the friends that are so important to her. There is a hospital there that we had already looked into for her. We all knew that if "Camp Kate" failed, that was the next step.

I still can not wrap my brain around the turn of events and if I think about it much, I cry. I am so grateful that her friends handled the situation with the determination that they did; they literally saved her life.

She spent the weekend in the hospital in Boise; they changed her medication but accomplished nothing else. She shared a room with a woman in her 60s who cried all night, and the group therapy sessions were populated mostly by ex-convicts and drug addicts. That was not the place for her. She is back in the care of her father, with my sister and mom checking in on her regularly. The search continues for a place for her that is for young adults who are struggling with emotional and psychiatric challenges. She is such a bright, shining star, with so much talent and a beautiful, loving, forgiving heart. I just so badly want her to be happy and healthy.

Help. If you have any ideas, please share them. We are at a loss, but we will NOT give up.


robyn said...

Everybody's said it already, so I hope you're starting to know that you didn't fail. It may not seem like it, but you were there for her when she needed you.

Hugs to you all.

Dee said...

Somehow I believe this was in her life's plan-----the way for her to get some help and for it to all come to the place where we all finally knew how desperate she is. I can only hope that somehow, someway she CAN talk to a professional who will actually help her.
I am so sorry ---I can't even imagine how frightening that was for you. You helped in every way you could. I thank God for her friends, for you and David for your love and for Jodi for her determination to be there for her.

Fancy Schmancy said...

Thank god she called her friends is right. And thank god you were there for her, Kate. Unfortunately, mental health has been drastically cut from the federal and state budgets and insurance. They now also have a tendency to throw in the addicts and alcoholics because so many them are self medicating for mental health issues. You're going to have an extremely hard time finding just a psychiatric hospital or ward any longer. Possibly her best bet will be intensive outpatient therapy. Check all the social services in that area. Best of luck to your niece, and your whole family. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Have you checked into Intermountain? Or St. Al's? Both used to have adolescent psych wards and she would definitely be with people her own age. I work in the mental health feild. Check those two out.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh.

First of all, I can't believe the nurses didn't clean her up. That is sickening.

Secondly, I can only hope she gets the help she needs. I am sorry this is happening to you all but you guys are doing the right things to save her life.

kate said...

Anonymous: Intermountain is where she was over the weekend after the overdose, rooming with an older woman and group therapy populated by ex-cons and drug addicts. It wasn't what we'd hoped at all. They did, however, get her on new meds which seem to be helping a lot. So something good did come out of it.

Robyn, Fance, Mary, thank you for your kind words and support. You have no idea how much it means to me. xoxo

kate said...

Oh! And not only did they not clean her up, they made a stink about her leaving the hospital in one of their stupid ugly gowns!! I said to one of the nurses, "She's going to have to wear this gown home because her clothes are soiled. I'll wash it and bring it back tomorrow." Thinking, you know, surely this is a regular occurance in an EMERGENCY ROOM, right? But the head nurse actually FOLLOWED US OUTSIDE, TO THE CAR, telling me that she couldn't just leave in that gown. I gave her the evil eye and said "Well, I'm not sending her home naked." And I got Andrea in the car, glaring at the nurse the entire time.

I could NOT believe the level of callousness. In fact, I might write a letter.

Dee said...

This just gets worse. Those are the most callous medical people I have heard of. The only ones who might equal them are the emergency nurses at St Als. We have another nightmare story---son arrives at hospital in ambulance, after waiting hours in horrible pain, is given a shot for pain and sent home, nurses refusing to call his surgeon. Who when he was contacted performed emergency surgery.
Compassionate nurses? nuh uh.

lisa said...

i am so sorry this all happened while she was there. i feel horrible. i can completely see allll of this clear as day. sounds sooo A. you did a good job painting the picture. thank you for all your help. love you.