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Circumstances dictate action and sometimes we may not be prepared or quite ready to respond but deep down we know we must act accordingly and do what is best especially when it's for our child. In raising a child we always wish to provide them with our love, nurture them, protect them, teach them, help them and always be there for them. When our child is hurting our natural instinct is to try to find out why and then reach out to them to help them through their pain. When our child is young it makes us sad to see them in pain and we sometimes don't know how to help them. When we encounter a young child's emotional swings we feel at a loss because we don't expect our child to struggle with their emotions so young but it seems that the world we live in has become a colder and a more unfeeling place as it seems we live with so much struggle and competition and we are living in such difficult economic times. Children are smart and they pick up on our fears and insecurities so we have to always be careful how we act and talk in front of them. We certainly don't want to worry them as they have a right to their childhood and we want them to have a youthful innocence during that time in their life.
When I was a young child my mother was very nurturing and always very protective of me as was my father. I had psoriasis since I was 2 years old and I have lived with it my entire life and the one thing I will never forget was how much my mother would do all she could to help me with finding treatments to help with the dryness and the itchiness. She would rub olive oil on my skin to help with the dryness and she would wash my hair with medicated shampoo. She truly cared and I could tell she was upset that I had to live with psoriasis and she wanted to do all she could to help me and I was always so appreciative because I knew how much she cared.
I feel the same exact way with my son as I want to help him in every way I can and do what is best for him. His condition requires a lot of patience and understanding and I need to do whatever it takes and stand by his side at all times to get him the medical help he needs.
On that Sunday when our son experienced a complete meltdown and was running away I started to realize that he seemingly had no control at the time of his emotions and I knew I had to be strong with my emotions and do what I thought was best to get him into a safe place so he could receive the proper medical care he so desperately needed. This was his way of crying for help and that was when I knew I had to take action and get him to a hospital emergency room. It was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make but it was something I had to do for his very own protection.
It was a long night at the hospital as we met with the nurses, the attending physician and we hung around awaiting what would be best for our son. As we explained to the doctor on call why we brought our son in she started to realize how important it was to find him placement in the hospital for evaluation. We were advised that he would have to be transferred to another hospital since he was too young for their facility. It was getting late and I was preparing for a long day with the impending transfer so I told the doctor I would leave him in their care and his grandma stayed with him for the night.
I gave him a kiss and said good bye to him and his grandma and called Maria who was working the night at the Autistic adult home where she helps autistic adults who are unable to care for themselves and have no other options so they reside at a group home. It is very sad and we pray our son will never need such a place and that he will be able to go on to college and have a life for himself. I am projecting but I truly want my son to be able to mature and grow into young adulthood fully capable and with every opportunity to have a fulfilling life.
As morning arrived Maria and I went to the hospital preparing for his transfer to another medical facility and we were grateful to grandma for staying the night with Matty. As Matty awoke Maria administered his medication and gave him a bowl of cereal. He seemed tired and was happy to see us. We explained to him that he would need to go to a new hospital so the doctors could help him feel better and he realized that it was a bit scary but it would be for his best interest.
I accompanied Matty in the ambulance when he was transferred to South Oaks Hospital in Amityville where he would be observed by a psychiatrist in the children's wing of the hospital. Before his intake I had to sign a lot of paperwork and I was very concerned for Matty and was hoping he would get the proper medical care to get him back on track and functioning properly so he could get back to school.
During Matty's 10 day stay at the hospital we went through so many emotions and we had the most difficult times saying goodbye as we only had 2 one hour visitations and I could only make 1 visit a day and was lucky if it was for a half an hour. We saw Matty have a range of emotions in those visits and we saw a lot of young kids being treated. It was very sad to see our son and all these kids in the unit but felt they were there for necessary reasons and we were hopeful as I'm sure the parents of the other kids were as well.
The hardest part of leaving your child for an extended stay at the hospital is the separation. It was the longest time we were apart as a family and it was emotionally draining and very difficult but it wasn't about us. It was about our son and getting him well. As hard as it was we held on to hope and trust that we made the right decision and that our son was getting the help he needs. At times we were worried for him because being together with so many kids who had emotional difficulties tended to create stress and some of the kids had short fuses and really expressed their anger at times and some of the kids had to be restrained which was not something you wanted to have your child see. At times our son also gave in to his feelings and would cry and refuse to come out of his room. It was a difficult time but we did see some progress being made and he was finally being seen by a psychiatrist who could address his medical needs. He also had the opportunity to talk in a group setting among his peers in front of counselors which is a form of therapy that I believe was helpful.
We visited Matty everyday and was longing for him to come back home as we waited patiently and remained hopeful. It was a painful time but we stayed strong and was supportive of Matty during this time and we encouraged him, spoke with the attendants and his doctor and social worker. As each day passed and we arrived home we certainly missed our son. It was not the same coming home and it was difficult peering into his room knowing he was at the hospital. We had a little surprise for him awaiting his return which I knew he wanted and would love which was a kid's size HD flat screen tv, dvd player and cable hookup.
As I came to visit Matty I got to talk to him and some of the kids there and I was impressd with all of them. I feel all the kids there are great kids who need some medical attention but are wonderful and just need to have emotional support, love of family and encouragment. I tried to make the most of my time visiting Matty and was looking to see if he was improving and it seemed each day was getting a little bit better for him and his new found friends.
When we learned our son was due to be released we were all excited but that excitement was tempered when the doctor changed his mind after Matty had a bad meltdown. Our hopes were dashed and we went from being excited to the reality that we would have to wait another day. After the meltdown he seemed to come around and after we met with him we seemed to feel he should be coming home within a day or 2. As we suspected his doctor gave the ok for him to be released the next day and we were very happy. Maria made arrangements to pick him up and she texted me that he was home and I was so happy to hear the good news. We were finally all back together and I could not wait to finish the work day and get home to see Matty. I missed him so much and it was such a great feeling to come home and see him back home in his room and we hugged each other and I said "Welcome Home Matty! We all missed you and we Love you very very much." It was the happiest moment for all of us as we missed him terribly. We celebrated his return by going to his favorite restaurant, Friendly's as we all were so happy to be a family again.
I believe our son's experiences were difficult but it seems since he was hospitalized and admitted he had made progress and we know he has a long road ahead of him but as I have said many times we will always do our best to be there for him and we are just grateful to have him back home where he belongs. God Bless our son, Matty!
Edward D. Iannielli III
Coping tips for child's hospitalization
Mattel Children's Hospital
Child's Hospital stay and coping
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