“I’m going to send him to a nursing home.”
The good doctor said as he spoke of our barely fourteen year old son. He sat in his leather chair across the room from us, looking up through his horn rimmed glasses, calm and collected, just as though he’d announced that it was Tuesday. We’d gone to his office in the Boston hospital for another meeting, one in a long tortutous string of meetings about our son that had dragged out over months upon months of sheer hell.
This was the good doctor’s conclusion and solution to his problem of our son:
Send him to a nursing home.
Our son who, by the way, was hospitalized but not in a coma, not in a vegetative state, not a quadraplegic, paraplegic, brain injured, permanently physically or mentally impaired in any way, by anyone’s standard, including the good doctor’s.
The doctor just didn’t know what else to do with him, by his own admission. He didn’t know what to do with our son, who up until a year earlier had been a healthy, robust, athletic child; who still posessed, displayed, and awed anyone who met him with his abundant creative and intellectual endowments.
There we sat, each in our own chair, Brian, June and I. My sister had readily volunteered to help us and her cherished nephew when it became clear to her that the good doctor and his colleagues were not right in their collective heads. They weren’t following well documented medical protocol and we couldn’t figure out why. She joined us in this meeting. So there we sat, the four of us, three of whom were in utter disbelief.
I thought I had, by now, become accustomed to hearing every imaginable absurdity come from this man’s highly educated mouth. Yet, to hear these words, “nursing home”, immediately sent me into a state of previously unrivalled shock and murderous fantasy. I was speechless. June was outraged. We’d allowed her to sit in on the meeting but had said nothing of participating. She immediately jumped all over him, “Never. You’re crazy! He’s a fourteen year old boy! You need to do the right things to make him well and send him home to his parents!”
And this was a moment that will, for all eternity be deeply engrained on my memory .
Now, finally after all of this time, all these agonizing months of Brian and I alone, we had a living, breathing witness to the insanity that surrounded and victimized our precious son.
I spoke up, looked that doctor straight through his spectacled facade, into his lying eyes and said, “No, never, not ever, over my dead body, over your dead body. We all know what’s going on here. Do your homework. Make him well.” Brian spoke up, “Never a nursing home. Never. He’s fourteen years old.”
The good doctor never cracked his icy, steel demeanor. “I’ll take your thoughts under advisement.” He said, just as though he were announcing that it was Wednesday.
Our Jeff was gravely ill. They couldn’t tell us why or how. They said they didn’t know. We had a firm diagnosis from a highly regarded expert in the specialty, another Boston doctor, which was being ignored. He wasn’t at home going to school each day, playing his guitar, playing baseball, riding his bike, snowboarding, sculpting, drawing, creating videos, acting, writing script, drawing, outdoors playing with his peers. He was in a Boston hospital, surrounded by the sickest of the sickest of kids, being treated for something he didn’t have. We, his parents, despite every clawing, desperate attempt, were slowly being rendered powerless in helping him and he wasn’t even aware of it.
And the dark lonely cavity that it created in me, the missing of him, the wanting of my only child to be well, happy and at home, where he belonged, deepened with every passing hour.