Part 1 of a Really Bad Trip to UBH

Posted: March 6, 2012 in Stories from Other People

This article, and the subsequent parts of the story, was written by the mother of a 12 year old boy who was held at UBH Denton two days past the point at which she requested his release.  This is her story, and it is told in her own words:

I am a mother to three wonderful boys. I am a college honor student, an active volunteer, an officer to two organizations for children with special needs, and a special education advocate. My husband is a high-level manager for a large business. We live on one income. We are your typical normal family…and we have good insurance.  I never thought that pinching pennies on a single income to pay that all-important insurance premium would ever work against us. It was supposed to enable us to have choices in our care and to get the best treatment necessary should the need ever arise. This time, it sent us down the rabbit hole. This is our story…

I have a son who is 12 years old and entering that teenage phase where he wants to fit in with his peers. I go hunting for online coupons to find great deals on the “cool” clothes so that he can have that extra layer of self-esteem. You see, my son has a couple of learning disabilities, ADHD and dyslexia. He is brilliant in so many creative ways. He is an artist, a movie buff, a filmmaker, and a master at taking Lego pieces and building elaborate buildings and planes out of a huge tub of random pieces.

Because he did not receive enough individual help (resource room time) during his early school years, he fell behind. This caused him to be held back. He knows it, and his peers know it. It lowered his self-esteem, which I knew I could bolster and we could get through that problem, but I had no idea of the backlash it would have at school with regard to bullying or comments that other children might be able to brush off. My son is very sensitive to having been held back, and he couldn’t brush it off. Every comment was like scratching a sunburn. To use what I call a “Dr. Philism”, in certain situations it takes 100 “attaboys” to erase one negative comment. We worked with his school, and many staff members were very helpful in watching out for this, but my child spiraled down into depression, despite our best efforts.

I allowed him to have a slumber party with a friend two doors down, and during that party he made several remarks towards my youngest son in front of their mutual friend, causing my youngest child to cry and sleep alone instead of join in the fun of the party. At a certain point, I felt I had no option but to mention to my 12 year-old that, if he did it again, he would lose a planned upcoming birthday party at Medievel Times. He kept doing it, and as a parent, although I had given him several warnings, I finally had to follow through with what I said and took away the party. I don’t think he realized that I was going to follow through with the punishment, as bad as it was. We had ALL been looking forward to giving him this special party and had saved the money to do so.

When he mentioned his party several days later, and his father and myself told him it was not going to happen, and that we were sorry but it was his choice and he made the wrong decision, he had a meltdown. He hit his head with his fists, was crying and screaming uncontrollably, hit his head against the wall, and then mentioned suicide. It got our attention. He mentioned it enough times that I told him that things had just crossed a line that we, as parents, cannot ignore. At the time, he was taking 50 mg of Vyvanse every morning. His grades had improved, but his depression had not.

As this was the ONLY medication he was taking, I called his ADHD specialist and they made an emergency appointment to see him. I also called our local Children’s Hospital in Dallas, which I consider the best in the area, and spoke to someone in the psychiatric unit. I told her the whole story and she recommended that we bring him to the ER there because, at the very least, he would be fully evaluated. We went to the ADHD specialist, who ALSO recommended Children’s Hospital, and actually wrote a referral for me. We immediately left there and went downtown to their ER. During the 6 hours we spent there, they drew blood, did full lab work, and was evaluated by several professionals (some for as long as 30 minutes to an hour). The employee who evaluated him came to see me in a private waiting room and recommended inpatient treatment. I was in ruins, an emotional wreck. The problem, she said with great displeasure, was that their beds were full and they did not have room for him in that wing.

She told me that they would have to check other facilities for an open bed. The mother in me was suddenly in sharp focus.

“PLEASE,” I told her. “I am sure you have done this before. I know that the quality of care can be very different from one facility to another. PLEASE be as selective as possible when you look. You are familiar with many of these places, as I am sure you have had to do this before. If a better facility is 300 miles away, I don’t care. I will be there for him every day. PLEASE use the utmost caution when selecting a facility, do not just look for “an open bed.”

We waited for quite a while, and then she brought a colorful brochure for UBH hospital in Denton. She seemed very happy that they could accommodate him, and at this point, absolutely emotionally drained and exhausted, I trusted her. I didn’t have a choice BUT to. She was a caring professional who had heard my explicit plea for quality care.

We waited while they coordinated the ambulance, and I followed them through the freeways of Dallas, into my beloved city of Denton, and pulled into the quaint, one-story set of connected buildings that made up UBH hospital. Little did I know that this was the beginning of our nightmare.

  1. Michael Schwarz says:

    Awaiting part 2

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