Thursday, August 20, 2009


we were never given instructions when we dropped our daughter off
at her residential treatment center last week

we thought they were the experts
we thought they had the instincts
were we wrong

we did not have instructions
about how to tell people
we were missing one daughter
how to handle our other two girls
when they asked some questions
about her therapy
about her living quarters

after 6 days
1800 miles
of a family road trip

never again
said my husband

we had our first
family therapy session
at the residential treatment center

my husband and I met with
our daughter’s therapist
we met with her on drop off day
she seemed generally interested in our daughter
she updated us on her treatment
her plans
her goals
we felt good

we had still not met the doctor
a psychiatrist
the MD
I had left him three voicemails
but had never gotten a response
he was the one who decided her treatment
her plan
her medications
her tests

the therapist had not heard from him
during our meeting
he called the therapist
he said he would be over soon

when he showed up
he said he was sorry
he had not returned my calls
I held back
I was strong
I wanted to find out what he thought
about our daughter

when he asked his first question
and the answer was obvious
I was surprised
the answer was so easy to find
in her history
I asked if he had seen her file
No he answered
she had been there for 8 days
he had been her doctor for 8 days
and he had not looked at her file

he said it was never given to him
and you didn’t ask for it?
I questioned
he had been too busy you see
he has 31 patients
and some are
sicker than our daughter
he told us
could I believe my ears
my daughter’s doctor
was saying he was too busy
to treat her
to care
to look for her chart
to read her files
to find out about her
to understand her history
to learn about her past treatment?

my husband and I
went ballistic
the doctor sat there
like a bump on a log
like he couldn’t care less
that if we took her out of her hands
she was one less patient for him to worry about
we did not have instructions how to act
but we had our instincts
and knew this was not how to be treated
by any professional
we needed instructions on
how to get the doctor to listen to us
believe us
know that only
was important to us
we didn’t care about the other
30 patients
to us
there was only one patient at this place

next thing I knew
the wonderful therapist
took us to the CEO’s office
we were letting this woman know how dissatisfied we were
with this doctor
with this institution
with the way things were handled

we told her we wanted this doctor
removed from our daughter’s
treatment team

that is unusual
she said
I don’t care
I replied

we were not leaving
the facility until
we knew that a new doctor was in place
we’ll wait I told her

then the 5 of us
Karen and her sisters
went to lunch together
it was so sweet
all 3 girls

we went to the visiting area
we told jokes
we gave Karen
new shirts
some candy
new underwear
some books
some magazines

we all walked back to the admin building
where the therapist said
she was waiting to hear from the medical director

Bethany the middle sister
started worrying
her haircut was in dallas
in just a few hours
she wanted to be home in time

we’ll work it out
we told her
we will get her there

the medical director came to meet us
along with the therapist
who was a godsend
she was our guardian angel
who did not leave our sides
during this crisis

he asked us our worries
he asked us about our daughter
he wanted to know more about her

he listened
he questioned
he explained

there is another unit on the facility
that was more social
although it would be hard for her
he wanted to move her there
and then
he would be her doctor
would we be willing
to make that move?

as long as we keep the therapist
as long as we can trust you
as long as you are honest with us
as long as our daughter is happy
as long as we can still talk to her
see her
visit her
write her

he assured us
he gave us better instructions

we drove away
after a week of dropping her off
the first time
in some ways
more apprehensive
in other ways
knowing she was in a better place