Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

As Long As It's Healthy

originally written in January 2006

How many parents, when they discover they're expecting a baby, say, "We don't care if it's a boy or a girl, as long as it's healthy"? This amazes me!

If you don't yet have kids of your own, I want to warn need to go back to school! If you already have kids of your own, start taking night classes. You should be focusing your new training on a masters in psychiatric medicine. That is because as a mom, nobody tells you that you need to be prepared to deal with these kinds of issues...just in case.

My 17 year old son has, among a long list of other things, parnoid schizophrenia. At least that's what we think it is. When you go in your child's room and you find that he's writing letters to the demon voices in his will instantly make the hair on the back of your neck stand at attention.

I bet nobody has told you there may come a day when that beautiful baby, the one who had the huge smiles for you in his crib each morning, would one day threaten to end your life in a most gory way.

I bet nobody has told you that little boy who was so proud of himself when he learned to take those first steps would one day use those same feet to run away over and over again, leaving you at home to worry in the dark. Is he cold? Is he hungry? Is he alive? Did he finally find the bridge he's been talking about? I bet nobody has told you that some kids attempt suicide at a very early age, and that when they go to bed at night you don't know if they're going to get up again in the morning.

I certainly never thought my morning ritual would include the emotions it does now.

Each morning, when it's time to wake my son up for school, I stand outside his bedroom door willing myself to open it. I open it slowly, holding the knob firmly to have something to hold onto should I find the worst.

Because of the angle of his bed and the way he sleeps, his foot is the first thing I see every morning, and every morning the first thing I check for is the color of that foot. Is it blue? Grey? Does it flinch if he hears me?

I step around the tall dresser that is right by the door, too see if his face is showing as he usually sleeps with it covered. If I can see his face, I wait before I say anything. I want to see him......its the only time he is at peace...when he is sleeping. Sometimes if I look closely I can see the baby he was 17 years ago.

But most of the time I can't see his face so I'm forced to say his name. Softly....I say it softly...I want him to remember my voice is not always harsh and frustrated. Sometimes it is soft and loving...."Tyler....Tyler...." I hate that he doesn't hear me right away. It adds yet another moment of fear. "Tyler, are you awake?"

The moan of a sleeping teenager brought back to conciousness is music to my ears. But I'm not out of the woods yet. I have learned.... from experience... that the "moan" can mean he's so drugged from an overdose of something that he's unable to speak, and that I have just minutes to call an ambulance.

I have to get him to talk.

"Do you have anything going on after school today?"

His answer, though mumbled, lets me know all is right for the moment, and I can go on with the rest of my day.

Unfortunately, I have been known to let my guard down too soon, like today. No, he didn't try to hurt himself. Instead he threatened to hurt me. To put an end to MY suffering. With eyes clearly possessed by something evil and very foreign, this disease called schizophrenia, he stared me down and dared me to challenge him. Instead I locked myself in the bathroom and called the police and an ambulance to take him away.....again.....

What I would give to have that smiling toddler standing in the crib waiting for me. What I would give for that.......


1 comment:

Lori said...

Hi Leah, I am a new reader and figured I'd start from the beginning and work my way forward. This post about your Tyler just leaves me in awe of the courage you both have! Tyler, because he is fighting a battle no one deserves or asks for and you for not only fighting beside and for him but also being willing to talk about it! So many people are silenced by shame. I've got ptsd, panic disorder and major depression. I've in the past struggled with suicidal ideation and attempts due to years of trying to heal from childhood sexual abuse. I also have two college degrees in mental health, took an open book final exam while hospitalized on a mental health unit, graduated summa cum laude and most importantly, I am a Christian. We are MORE than our diagnoses and labels! I am so glad you know that! Lori