Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Ava is home again.  As of last night.  I have not had time to update here much, but about 48 hours after her last release she was rehospitalized.  That was last Thursday.  She came home from that stay angry and defiant, and by day two we were in deep water.  It ended after she crashed my front window with a rock, the flying glass missing Stevenson and Elle's heads by about 12".  I called the sheriff and the ambulance and this time she went to the emergency room willingly.  She did not stay there willingly, she tried to walk out, which ended badly involving hospital security, about 6 personnel members, bed restraints and a sedative.  Not to mention another hospitalization.  Perhaps I have just grown cynical, but to me it seemed like she was an actress on a stage.  She knew what would happen when she did all those things.  The hospital has urged me not to re-admit her, but to use the Juvenile Justice System instead next time.  No one says 'should it come to that' anymore.  I think we all know it will come to that again, it's just a matter of time.  Do I think Ava will benefit from the JJS?  No.  But maybe yes.  She is sick and possibly even dangerous and needs  long term residential treatment. That is her best hope.  Going thru JJS may be the only way to get that for her.  My upgraded insurance, when it kicks in (January) will only cover 30 days once a year.  30 days is not going to be enough time to turn her around.  First of all, because she is not really interested in changing her behavior.  And she likes being the center of the drama, which she certainly is. She is pretty much non-functional.  She cannot function properly at school or at home.  Well, she can for awhile.  Till she blows up again.  For her, it's all about control.  This is how she controls everybody, and it's pretty effective.

Elle said something to me the other day that was revealing for so many reasons.  She told me it was my fault Ava was in the hospital. After I recovered from my shock I asked her why she thought that.  She said I wanted to put her in there.  I assured her that was not true, and asked her again wny she thought that.  She said that I say things that I know will make Ava mad. In other words, I don't let her do what she wants to. I let her know why, I draw a line, a boundary.

I tried to explain to Elle what I do and why I do it, but not sure that got thru to her.

Let me clarify:  I generally work hard not to escalate situations.  I've gotten alot better about not yelling, about talking calmly, and sometimes when Ava says really outrageous things I ignore her because I know what she wants is a reaction. Often that escalates her to more outrageous behavior and ends up having to be met with limits.  Like restraint, or police, or ambulance or hospital.  Elle's comment made me wonder how much Ava was placated in Haiti.  Not so much at the orphanage, but at home.  She is very grandiose.  She expects compliance.  She is outraged when she does not receive it.

Right now she is walking around in kind of a bubble.  She is happy to be at home, but she is not willing to change her behavior or thinking.  She is tolerating my rules for now.  I talked to her about the JJS.  I told her that she might have to go there instead of the hospital next time, and she does not care.  She is very naive about what that is all about, and does not hear the facts.  She is in a bubble and she thinks she is bulletproof.

I am desperately worried for her and her future.  It's also difficult to attend to the other's neediness when she is taking up all the space, and unfair for them too.   I am being held up by a power greater than myself, I can assure you, and that is what keeps me moving forward in a mostly rational manner.  So if you are a prayer, please continue.  Please continue for all of us.  Thanks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We March On

We have been very busy.  Admittedly, I have been very stressed.   Ava is once again in the hospital in Atlanta.

One of the things we did on Saturday before Halloween  was attend a Halloween Birthday party at the local skating rink.   It was the first time my three kids had ever been on skates, and they took it on like Kamikazes.  I soon figured out I would have to get some skates too, even though the last time I did that was at least 10 years and 50 lbs ago.  Elle and Stevenson were crazy for it, and they did not care how many times they fell.  So I had to try to contain them.  Ava was more cautious, and she fell fairly early and said she hurt her wrist.  So she spent alot of time in the social arena.  She did complain to me about her wrist a few more times, which is typical for her.  I kept looking at it, but there was no swelling.  I had no doubt she'd hurt it, but it did not seem serious, just annoying, and did not keep her from enjoying her day.  I checked it the next day and the following, and still, no swelling.  Tuesday (election day) their school was out, of course I had to work.  But Ava had a therapists appointment at 10 am, and I came to get her for that.  On the way home, she said she wanted me to stay home with her, and I said I could not, I had to go back to work.  I saw the dark cloud come over her face, and by the time we got back to the house she blew.  It was another full on episode where she ran away (for about 15 minutes) and when she came back, she started throwing rocks at the house, and me when I came out to confront her.  I told her I would have to call the sheriff and she was defiant and said she did not care.  The sheriff took his time getting there, and in the meantime, she quit throwing rocks and went inside and thumped on her younger brother, sister and the two dogs.  When the sheriff got there he said all he could do was take her into the local hospital for an evaluation via ambulance, and that was all.  I said no, I would get the same results, but alot faster if I took her straight to the hospital in Atlanta myself.  Then he told me I needed to take her behind the woodshed and give her a good spanking.  I said thank you, but that does not work in her case so that was not my way.  Then he proceeded to go on about how corporal punishment was not illegal in Georgia even though the schools tried to teach the kids differently, and I said I was aware of ALL of that.

She seemed in a calm enough space, although I could tell she was not done yet.  However, I had to go back to work, so I told Lucas that if she tried anything inappropriate, to call the Sheriff Dept. back and then call me.  I was almost to work when he called me and said she had threatened to hurt him and herself with a kitchen knife, so back home I went.  With every intention of taking her to Atlanta.  On my way back, her teacher from last year called me, and when I told her what was going on, offered to come over to the house and talk to her.  This teacher has had a calming effect on her in the past, so I said OK.  Long story short, after about an hour and a half, she had Ava talking, feeling remorse, and apologising.  So I decided not to take her in, because I could tell she had turned a corner.  Inside the house I asked her if she wanted to lay down with me, which she did, then she launched into a full on grief episode, crying for her mommy and daddy. She let me rub her back and comfort her, and then I asked her if she wanted to go for a car ride.  She agreed, so I piled them in and we drove for about an hour and a half.  It was almost 7pm by the time we got home.  She asked me to put an ace bandage on her wrist so I did, hoping it would at least make her feel better. 

Wednesday the school nurse called me asking about Ava's wrist and saying her hand was swollen.  I expressed surprise, told her about the skating and no swelling, but said I would take her to the emergency clinic that evening, which I did.  The doctor put a brace on her arm after taking an Xray determined that she had no fracture.  He said it was not that unusual for a sprain to swell later due to gravity.   I was thinking too that the ace bandage might have forced it.

I could do multiple posts on my experiences with Children's Services.  But for now, just let me say that my case (alleging abuse and neglect) has been closed.  Because they finally figured out I had at least one child with severe behavior issues, I have a parent aide that works with me.  Thursday, my aid called me panicked saying someone had called in a complaint because Ava came to school with a brace on her arm.  I knew it was the school (again) and I cannot tell you how upset and furious I was at this turn of events.  I called up the school nurse who was very cold.  I was so mad I literally thought I was going to have a heart attack.

Meanwhile, Elle was having severe tooth pain.  Monday, I took her for an assessment, and she ended up going straight to the oral surgeon to get her baby molar pulled.

Not that she was real happy about that, but at least that was part of one problem solved.  (She is still complaining about tooth pain and insists the doctor took the wrong tooth!)  I had called a meeting for Tuesday at the school with the counselor and the vice principal, my parent aide, and myself.  I'd had enough.
And not only that, I wanted to talk with them in depth about what we were dealing with in Ava.  I wanted them to know that they were probably dealing with a degree of RAD as well as the PSTD and depression, and what those symptoms look like.  Particularly the manipulation.  I went armed with documentation.

However, the first thing I wanted to talk to them about was 'mandated reporting', which I understand.  Until it reaches the point of ridiculousness.  I did all the talking since they took the 5th and said they were not allowed to talk about the particulars.  You see, in Georgia, anyone can call in and say anything they want to children's services and open an investigation.  And they can keep doing it if they want to.  It can be and ex-husband, lover, unhappy employee, anyone.  They are anonymous, and they have no further duty or responsibility.  The parent, however, is guilty until you can prove you are innocent.  While this is set up to protect the children, there is obvious abuses.  The law also states that if the school does the calling, they have to have reasonable cause.  I wanted to know why they thought they had reasonable cause, but they would not tell me anything.  I pretty much told them what I thought about that, and I pretty much pissed off the vice principal from the get go.  The feeling was mutual, and it was a good thing my aide and the counselor were there because they managed to keep the meeting flowing.  I think he and I might have come to blows.  ( I kid.  Sorta)  Anyway, we discussed Ava's issues and her needs and how to get there, which looks hopelessly difficult at this point, but of course not impossible. 

It is hard to advocate for your kid.  I ended up taking all kinds of (figurative) body blows and left the meeting feeling beat up, but with some time bought.   The good news is we were able to hone in on some more resources.  In the end, at least for now, I felt they were on Ava's side.  The VP, after much hostility, claimed at the end that he wanted us to succeed.  Good.  I am going to hold him to that.

Thursday, Ava woke up and refused to go to school.  She had refused her morning meds the last 3 days.  Somehow I got her in the car (carried her barefoot, but I had her shoes with her bookbag)  She would not keep the door closed as I was driving, so I ended up having to call the Sheriff again.  By the time the officer got there we both had to restrain her until the ambulance got there.  Ava knew the ambulance driver from before, so she did at least get in willingly after he bribed her with some ice-cream.  I called off work again.  I met them all at the emergency room.  We waited 4 hours for the mental health accessor to come.  Later when the doctor told Ava she was going to have to go to the hospital in Atlanta, she went bullistic.  It took one security guard, two nurses and a hospital tech as well as me and the doctor to restrain her.  Then they had to actually put restraints on her and give her a sedative.  They did not get around to transporting her until about 10 pm so I was in the emergency room for 14 hours.  I am still exhausted.

Why do I write this stuff down?  Because so much happens all the time, I think I would go nuts if I did not attempt to keep it straight.  Also, I want the facts recorded.  I may need that in the future.

Ava's therapist says he believes that residential treatment is best for her, and I agree.  She just cannot stay on point right now, regular family life is too chaotic.  Unfortunately my insurance does not cover that benefit.  I'm working to change my insurance, which would not go into effect until the beginning of the year. And I don't feel she can wait that long.  Every time she blows up she ups the ante.   Now we have a team of agencies trying to work together to hopefully get some funding.  The hospital has agreed that she can be released to their long term facility when the funding/benefit is lined up. 

Stevenson loves his Spiderman costume!!!

Meanwhile, trying to have a 'normal life'.  Elle has been very disruptive lately.  Stevenson has tried to copy Ava's  behavior. They feel she gets all the attention, and they will do anything, including bad stuff, to get some for themselves.   And so I am trying to deal with those side issues as well.  Truthfully, I just feel tired.  But I am also hopeful that things will improve, and I have not lost my faith.

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