Last Friday, the 16th, we made the difficult decision to take our son to the hospital for CPEP (Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program). It was not a decision we took lightly, and there were events that led up to this decision. Events starting back to when he was younger. He's put his hands on both Gianna and Sofia many times since Gianna was an infant. I have brought it up to his therapist each time, and it was never really addressed. I was never really helped in that aspect. I wasn't really instructed on what to do. Typical punishments mean nothing to my son. Taking things away, spanking, time outs, isolation (sent to his room), nothing. It makes him mad, and he doesn't learn anything long term. We used to use a reward system which worked briefly. Every day he behaved earned him 15 minutes on the video game system we had (PS3 at the time). He could "redeem" his time on Saturday. I did not expect perfection in his behavior. We used the 3 strike system. He was "allowed" (for lack of better wording) 2 strikes, but if he got 3 in one day, he earned no game time. Most weeks, he got at least 30 minutes out of the game. After a while, he didn't care and said it wasn't worth it, so we stopped.
Let me get back onto what happened this past Friday. While out and about with the kids (no school), I had to run to my insurance company to pay them. Since I had my SIL with me, I left them in the car together while I ran in to pay. Since the ladies at the company know us, there was no waiting for them to misspell our name, dig around for our file, etc. They know right where our file is, and know how much we owe. I was out of there in less than 2 minutes. When I returned to the car, my SIL handed me her phone immediately. I thought she was going to show me something funny that she found on FB, so I almost didn't watch. But when I looked down and saw my kids on the screen, and the look on her face, I had no choice but to watch.
What I saw disturbed me, upset me, and made me hurt for my poor baby girl. As most of you know, I still have her rear facing because it's safer. Because she is still rear facing, one of the ways she sits is with her legs hanging off the sides of the seat (yes it's safe. Read HERE and refer to Myth #2). AJ apparently didn't like that, so he picked her leg up and SLAMMED it back into her car seat. She immediately put her leg back out of the car seat, where he proceeded to do it again. She winced a little at that one. Once more, she put her leg back out, he slammed it back in, and this time kept his hand on her car seat to prevent her from dangling her leg again. She did kick his hand and tried to make him move, with no luck. Once he moved, she dropped her leg off the side again. This time, he grabbed her leg, squeezed it REALLY hard, and spoke through gritted teeth to her. He threatened her by saying "Don't forget. I AM stronger than you." He then slammed her leg back in, reached into her seat and proceeded to slap her a few times. I couldn't see where he struck her, or exactly how many times, but he later admitted at CPEP to hitting her arm. He couldn't remember the exact amount of times he hit her, but said it was "at least 4 times".
I made a few phone calls to different areas in regards to this- First I called a local mental health hospital who gave me another number within the hospital. Called that second number, spoke with someone who transferred me to someone else who gave me info I was looking for. They also gave me the CPEP info, instructed me to take him there, and also told me to call his therapist. I called his therapist but was told by another in the office that she wasn't there on Fridays and I was laughed at for not knowing that. So, I hemmed and hawed about taking him to CPEP. I didn't know exactly what it was, other than what I was told from the guy from the mental hospital. He was vague, just told me that it was for crises, to take AJ when we're ready and talk to them there. They would decide what the best course of action was, up to and including hospitalization.
When my husband came home, we talked about it. It was decided we were all going. This way, I wasn't alone with the two younger kids, trying to talk to the doctors and nurses and whoever else. I would have an ally with me. Someone who knows his behaviors as well. Someone who could help me explain what we go through, talk about the difference in moods, how he snaps over minor things, etc. We arrived at the hospital at 6. I was told to go to the ER and tell them we were there for CPEP. I assumed that was something separate from the ER and that we would be taken there immediately. Nope, we sat in the ER for hours. In those hours spent waiting, we witnessed many people come in due to injuries from fighting- they were handcuffed and escorted by police. At least 2 of them were teens. We saw a meth addicted woman lock herself in the bathroom until she was given a room. We watched cops pat down a male in his late 30s, and pull out 3 heroin filled needles off of his person. Along with multiple other ailments from people who were not brought in by police. It was scary, and I almost left.
We were finally brought back to a room around 9ish. From there, we waited for a doctor to give him medical clearance to be seen by CPEP. It didn't take TOO long for the doc to see him. He was cleared by 10. However, at around midnight, I asked to sign him out AMA. I told the nurse that we could have waited through this at home. A man had been brought into the same room we were in (2 bed room) and he was drunk and scaring my kids. Nurses walked away instead of helping or making him go back to his bed. I mentioned that to the nurse. I told her that everyone was tired, especially AJ, and he was getting more agitated. I would prefer to just go home, call either the Mental Health hospital in the AM, or his therapist again and see if we can get in as an emergency case. The nurse informed us that they would be forced to call CPS on us if we left. I was almost tempted to leave anyway, as CPS could hook us up with the help he needs, PLUS could offer more resources. But, after the last debacle with them, I'd rather not deal with them again. So, I sent my husband and our oldest home while I stayed with the two littles.
When the doctor came in to convince us to stay, I informed him that we ARE staying, but this wait is ridiculous. If this were a serious crisis, and we were waiting for THIS long, this could be a worse situation. I did inform him that waiting was a trigger for AJ's episodes, and if something were to happen to my daughter, again, I would not hesitate to place the blame on them. Suddenly, not even 5 minutes later, a woman from CPEP came to get us. She took us to a separate area where she talked to us a little bit. First to me, then to AJ separately. Her "findings" were that it's simply sibling jealousy causing all this rage out of him. Jealous because he wanted a brother and not a sister. This has been discussed with AJ before, and he never said he didn't want a sister. He never said he would have rather had a brother. And even if that were the case, it does not excuse his behavior. Regardless, she still had to consult with the Psychiatrist on call and discuss her "findings" with him.
After another 45 minute wait, she came back to tell us what the Psychiatrist said. He instructed her to give us the information for the Mental Health Hospital (the same one I called and got info from earlier) and instructed us to go there for their open enrollment (OE). They have OE every day of the week, for a few hours each day. We will go Thursday, when they have later hours, so that I can be sure to get Gianna off the bus. I will have to bring her with us. Though not ideal, it's not too bad. At least she can talk to the people there and let them know what he's done to her since she seems to be the main target of his outbursts. Maybe someone there will get to the bottom of it and be of some more help to us. We left CPEP around 2 AM. It was NOT how I thought it would go, at all.
Since our visit, AJ has put his hands on her twice more. Once was to pinch her cheeks together because he was mad that she wanted the light on while he wanted it off. The other time was today while I was cooking. She says he shoved her down, he said he didn't. I didn't know who to believe since I didn't see it myself, so I just separated them and put him in his room until I finished. He's getting worse, and I wish someone would see what I see. I am hoping that we get somewhere on Thursday when I take him to OE. Somewhere, someone has to be able to help us. Please keep us in your thoughts.
A brief, kind moment between the two of them at 1 AM