The ambulance driver and I made small talk as he transported us to the Emergency Room. Lights and sirens were not used on our drive, and I was thankful. He told me that, in his experience, drivers did strange things when they saw an ambulance on the road.
Most notably, he said, when a situation is emergent (using lights and sirens) people tend to not see him or just don’t move out of the way as the law dictates. Ironically, he noted that when there are no loud sirens or flashing lights, other drivers tend to give him a wide berth.
I tried hard to stay engaged in the conversation. It helped to fight the rising nausea in my stomach, the indistinguishable thoughts in my head, and the constant threat that my heart kept making: that all of this was simply and ridiculously too much, and it would soon just give up and shut down.
My daughter was a few feet behind me in the ambulance, separated by the cab wall, but strapped safely to a gurney and attended to by competent emergency personnel. I could only imagine what she was experiencing, how scared she must be, if she – like me – was wondering just how all of this had happened and where things went from here. Did she too feel a sharp mixture of fear, dread, relief, and hope?
I wanted to be with her, to reassure her that she was not alone among strangers, to promise that I would not leave her to fend for herself. After all this time, I still wanted desperately to know that I could hold her and make everything okay again. I couldn’t. I couldn’t hold her, and I couldn’t make everything okay. But I so wanted to.
(Photo Source: Google Images)
We reached the bay doors of the ER and I watched my daughter, on her gurney, come out of the back of the ambulance. She was wheeled in through the automatic doors and I followed closely behind, gratefully noting the kind interactions and well-wishes of the EMTs as they spoke with her and shared their goodbyes.
She was taken back to an evaluation area set up for situations just like ours. There were a few patient rooms with large windows for easy observation. Mini-blinds were sandwiched inaccessibly between two panes of (presumably unbreakable) glass and doors were double hinged to prevent tampering and escape.
The rooms were Spartan in their appearance, leaving nothing to chance when it came to patients who were making physical threats or experiencing suicidal ideations or other mental health crises.
There was a small central area which the rooms surrounded, a place where nurses and guards could keep a watchful eye on those who were unstable, who were a very possible threat to themselves or others.
It was sobering to realize this was a necessity at our local Children’s Hospital.
I remember walking out to a large, public waiting room to call my daughter’s therapist. I needed to let her know what was happening, and to cancel the next afternoon’s appointment.
(Photo Source: Google Images)
I dared to wish for understanding and empathy from another adult who grasped the intensity, depth, and true severity of my daughter’s plight.
How grateful I was when she offered words of sympathy and encouragement. I was comforted by the fact that she wasn’t surprised by our current turn of events.
It helped me understand that I had not failed, that I was not incompetent and thus unable to keep my daughter safe at home. I was reassured to know that the professional who knew my daughter best agreed with my assessment and decision to call 911 and take her to the Emergency Room for a mental health evaluation.
My ex-husband had arrived and we began a long wait. I think we likely both felt a natural though unrealistic hope that now that we were here in the ER, now that she knew this wasn’t a joke and when you threaten suicide, adults take it seriously … now she would just come to her senses and stop with the crazy talk already. Unrealistic indeed.
© Monica Simpson and Help To Hope, 2013