This week has been a challenging one for us. Alex is still in the hospital as we wait for news of a residential placement for him. Although he had been doing well during this third hospitalization, this week he began having meltdowns, which reminded us why he needs to be there, where they have resources to help him, instead of at home. On Tuesday morning, the hospital called to tell us that he had awakened agitated and aggressive, so they needed to give him a sedative shot to calm him. Later in the day, he became edgy again, and they recommended that we forgo our daily visit, thinking that might stir him up again.
The next morning, they called early in the morning to tell us that he had again awakened upset and needing a shot to sedate him. Since we didn’t hear from the hospital in the afternoon, we assumed that he had been all right after that. Once we arrived at the hospital in the evening, they apologetically told us that someone should have called and told us not to come. A later meltdown had become so aggressive that they needed to put him in four-point restraints for a while so that he couldn’t hurt anyone or himself. In addition, they had to give him a combination sedative of Ativan, Haldol, and Benadryl to ease his anxiety. Also, a staff member stayed with him constantly, monitoring his behavior.
On Thursday, he continued his morning meltdown pattern and again needed medication to calm him. However, the nurse on duty that evening felt that we could come visit him because he had been fairly calm most of the day. In fact, earlier in the day, he had been able to express his frustrations verbally to his caseworker, telling her he needed crayons “to communicate” and that he didn’t like his “food choices,” requesting “more fruit,” specifically “grapes and strawberries.” When we went to visit him, he was so drowsy from the medication that he fell sound asleep shortly after we arrived. At least we were able to see him calm, which was reassuring.
Friday morning brought yet another meltdown and more medication. When we went to see him, he was resting in bed, awake yet drowsy. As Ed tried talking to him, Alex became more agitated and swatted at him a couple of times. Not wanting to make him upset, we cut our visit short and just let him rest, hoping for the next day would be better.
Yesterday, we had not heard from the hospital, so we were praying that no news was good news. Unfortunately, when we arrived, a nurse rather bluntly informed us that he had yet another morning meltdown in which security had been called when he went after a staff member, and he had been given a sedative shot. Fortunately, no one had been hurt, and the staff member who had received his wrath assured me that she was all right. Moreover, the compassion and kindness she showed for Alex eased the feelings of upset we felt for what had happened. Once again, Alex was drowsy from the sedatives, and after Ed talked with him for a while, he became agitated, swatting at him. For fear of upsetting him more, we decided to leave. We watched outside his door, as he settled down and seemed to be falling asleep.
While these daily meltdowns are heartbreaking because we hate that Alex is so agitated, we’re thankful that he’s at the hospital where they are able to handle his behavior better than we are at home. Although we have no idea what is causing him to be anxious on a regular basis, we have seen this pattern at home where he is calm for several days followed by being regularly upset for several days. His caseworker thinks that he is tired of being at the hospital and wants to come home, but having seen him display the same behaviors at home, Ed and I tend to disagree with this reasoning. Also, these behaviors are precisely and sadly the reason why he can’t come home; his aggression is too dangerous for Ed and me to handle by ourselves.
Throughout the trials of this week, we have been blessed by the support of family and friends who have expressed their concerns and support. We are thankful for the kind words, notes, and e-mails we have received, and we appreciate all the prayers being said for our family. After being Alex’s only caretakers for more than twenty years, Ed and I have had to realize that we need help in providing for his needs, and right now all we can really do for Alex is to love him unconditionally—as we always have—and pray for him, which we have done throughout his life but now with an increased fervor during this period that requires greater faith than ever. We face an uncertain future, not knowing where and when Alex will be placed and hoping that these meltdowns will cease so that he can get better. As we face our fears with faith, we take comfort in knowing that God loves Alex even more than we do and holds all three of us in the palm of His hand. Nonetheless, I ask for your prayers which lift us and sustain us as we wait to see the hope and future promised in Jeremiah 29:11.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10