Wisteria

The last week has been a living hell for Ollie. He has spent the week on an acute paediatric ward, awaiting a specialist inpatient bed at an eating disorders unit. He has been "nursed" by RMNs as well as the ward staff. 

The ward staff at our local hospital have been heroic. Faced with an incredibly difficult patient, suffering from the most severe case of anorexia they had ever seen, the nurses rallied and went above & beyond the call of duty. One nurse in particular championed Ollie's case, swapped her shifts & worked on her day off, and was by his side for four consecutive days. Without her unrelenting help we would have been lost. She could see the desperately ill, terrified 11-yr old boy, and she was amazing. 

The RMNs (agency mental health nurses) have been appalling. They saw only a risky patient. One of them - a burly man - accused Ollie of assault, after Ollie fought back when being pinned to a bed by three adults. Another took me aside and told me I was irresponsible for allowing my son to self-harm. I cannot describe how detrimental their presence has been this week. 

Ollie went from illness to hell this week. He has not spoken for ten days. He has spent the last four days repeatedly banging his head against a wall, sometimes hard, but often gently. He felt betrayed by the hospital once he discovered that they had NG fed him in his sleep, and he trashed his room in response. 

All the while, the search was on for a bed for him. Because of his age, NGT feeding, and the extreme severity of his illness, it has proved incredibly difficult to find a suitable bed. As I said in the last post, a unit in South London told us they could possibly admit him. We just had to get to Monday. 

The weekend was an ultra marathon like no other, requiring our lovely nurse and both of us parents to be with Ollie at all times. Sedatives had little effect, and Ollie was unhappy with the presence of the RMNs. We limped on, reassured that Monday would bring the long-awaited admission. Even the horror of secure transport seemed ok by us; we were nearly there. It was going to be fine. 

Monday morning arrived and Ollie traveled to London, with his favourite nurse by his side. We took the train and met him there. Immediately we realised that something was off: it became clear that the unit was not necessarily going to admit him. They seemed to think that he was too ill for the unit, despite having had detailed notes about him over the weekend. The unit refused to dismiss the ambulance until the assessment had come to a conclusion. We sat there, with our desperately ill son banging his head in the corner, trying to process the possibility of being turned away. Where were we going to go? Who would help us?

The assessment took several hours. The ambulance eventually left, leaving our nurse (and two RMNs) stranded with us. We were like deer in headlights. Ollie refused to cooperate; we were interviewed relentlessly about every last detail of our lives. Our exhaustion washed over us in waves. 

In the end, the unit agreed to take him. The ward is called Wisteria, housed in an ageing building in a mental health hospital. We have left him there tonight. He's the only boy on the unit; the other patients are all 14-18yr old girls. Ollie is by far the most seriously ill patient there. He will be nursed 1:1 and we have been asked to stay away for a while. 

We unpacked his bag in his tiny room. Left him there with strangers. Argued about whether a Section 2 or 3 were necessary. Walked away, our hearts in pieces. 

My baby. My sweet, kind boy. Unrecognisable to himself. 

I miss my boy. 


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