The Unit. Day 50

Back from work this evening to find Will here. Fab surprise.  He drove me [????] round to see LB. Yes. He drove me round to see LB.

We found LB in the living room with his DVD playing on the big screen. Everyone sat around, chatting a bit. Watching the film. Hot Fuzz. Peaceful times.

LB didn’t really say much but Will caught his attention a few times – with mention of Chunky Stan and his work trip to Somerset tomorrow. And Eddie Stobart of course.

50 days later.

The Unit. Day 1

Saddest time ever. But we keep telling ourselves it’s a necessary stage to help LB. He’s been sectioned now. Twice since yesterday evening. And was restrained in the night. On the plus side, we can visit between 10am – 8pm and it’s close. It’s easy to pop in for 10 minutes and the open door policy gives some confidence in how the staff are treating the patients.

It’s a building rather than a ‘ward’, designed in a circular shape so you can walk down the bedroom corridor, into the dining room through to the lounge and quiet room and round to the front door. Spacious, clinical, warm and clean. The staff don’t wear uniform and it wasn’t that clear at first who was staff and who was patient. Kind of hilarious.

The other four patients are youngish. We hung out in the lounge last night, waiting to get the OK to be there (after a bit of a mix up about ‘beds’). “Do you like fishing?” Rich asked one guy who was watching some fishing programme on the big TV. “Yeah, love it. I caught five fish!” “Cool! What kind of fish?” asked Rich. “Normal fish”, he said, cheerfully. Jenny* sat quietly chatting to herself about her trip to Londis the next day. She ignored LB when he asked her what she’d ‘got’.

Today our visits were about setting LB up with home comforts. I took in the rest of the coffee cake with a mobile DVD player and his Eddie Stobart box sets. He was pretty agitated when I got there and had a right old tough nut character watching his every move from his bedroom door. Tough Nut took me to the kitchen to get a knife to cut the cake. “They always find the first couple of days hard,” he said, kindly. LB ate the cake. His first food since he’d got there.

The second visit, with my newly appointed (she doesn’t know it yet) advocate Fran, was to drop off some more DVDs and money to buy snacks. He was calmer but sad. He wants to come home. He wants to go to Trax.

sackboy1The third visit with Rich was about pimping his room. A poster of the London Underground and Beatles album covers. He was asleep mostly, endured a bit of a cuddle and asked for  Series 2 to be put on his DVD player. He hadn’t touched his dinner.

So. A long day. And here’s to the Coffee Cake Fairy working a bit of magic. LB needs it.


The maybe pile

11.06pm. Wednesday night.

Mum? Mum?!!! Where’s my Hornby book Mum?!!!”
“Er, which book?”
“The Hornby book Mum. About trains Mum.”
“Mmm. Dunno. Do you need it now? It’s getting late.”
“Yes, Mum. Where is it Mum?”
“I dunno. I’ll come and have a look in your room.”
“Yes Mum.”
… “Mmm. Can’t see it. How about Horrible Histories?”
“No Mum.”
“Victorian London?”
“No Mum.”
“Eddie Stobart: the Story?”
“Maybe Mum.”
“Ok. I’ll start a maybe pile. How about Cars: The Cowley Story?”
“Maybe Mum.”
“Alex Rider graphic novel?”
“Maybe not Mum.”
“Bus magazine?”
“No Mum.”
“The Oxford Bus Museum booklet?”
“Maybe Mum.”
“Well there’s quite a few books in the maybe pile now. Which one do you want to read?”
“The Hornby book Mum.”

Monitor, distract (and Chunky Stan)

Brief summary. LB’s become very anxious, constantly agitated and out of sorts over the past couple of months. He’s developed a fear or phobia of someone harming him.  His teacher/school nurse have suggested he be referred to mental health services which we’ve resisted. First, because we feel the medicalisation of these dude kids is a bit too free and easy (and can be damaging), and second, because previous encounters with mental health services have been pretty pointless (along the lines of “Er, have you thought of using star charts?”)

ryan5-25Then the Christmas tree fell over. Probably because all the baubles had been put on the same branch during a bun fight deccy situation. ‘Mmm’.. I thought. ‘This don’t bode well’….

Christmas morning, LB lost it over a tiny thing and had a distressing episode (? breakdown? frenzy? malange? Slinky malinky?) Not sure what language there is to describe this sort of thing, other than crap, meaningless jargony social care/health type stuff). But horrible. For everyone. Especially so at Christmas.  He stayed home, rather than going to his dad’s, and we swung into a ‘monitor and distract’ routine. For those of you who haven’t come across this (you lucky bastards), it goes like this;

    1. Constantly listen and look for any signs of mounting distress (in LB’s case, talk of being attacked, gesticulating and gurning).
    2. Act instantly to stop these (in LB’s case, through a firm ‘Stop it now’).
    3. Follow this up with a distraction (in LB’s case, an Eddie Stobart book, Mighty Boosh DVD, drawing cartoon figures).
    4. If necessary, follow this up with an uber distraction (in LB’s case, a very long, hot bath).
    5. Revert to A.

ryan5-23So 48 hours of monitoring and distraction was successful but relentless, wearing and, again, pretty shite over Christmas. We also weren’t confident of containing his distress anywhere other than home. I called the GP who suggested a type of prozac. And some emergency tranquillisers to use, if necessary, until the medication started to work.

That was yesterday morning. Last night (after step D) LB turned into a bit of a chill pill. We stayed up watching documentaries like Cop Squad with him. Enjoying the peace.

A mistake of course. Other family members also need monitoring. Like cheeky Chunky Stan.


Christmas Wrapping

LB’s presents this year. A success. We managed to get him a die cast cattle truck that he’s wanted for the best part of this year. Very, very cool. And Eddie Stobart; The Ultimate Guide to British Trucking Legends (by Martin Roach). A full colour, hard back guide to the legend that is Eddie S. Rock and roll presents that are kind of age appropriate (or at least no Playmobile for the second year in a row).

After wrapping them up, I couldn’t resist going to check with him what he wanted for Christmas. Just to enjoy hearing him say ‘Cattle truck Mum’ again. For the last time.

“A onesie Mum”, he said. Without missing a beat.


Happy Christmas!

Laughing boy and the mermaids

LB came back from his dad’s house very chirpy indeedy.  He’d watched the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film and was very, very taken with the mermaids in it.  Turns out he hadn’t come across mermaids before.  Having such specialist interests from a very early age (buses, lorries, Eddie Stobart and the London Met) meant that he boycotted all the usual books/films that mermaids would crop up in.  At nearly 17, mermaids were a revelation.

He’s now become very focused on finding out if they exist, or not.  Since yesterday morning, we’ve repeatedly said they are a myth.  Richy has googled images of manatee’s to talk about where the myth may have come from, but he ain’t convinced.

Today he came back from school with a handwritten note to put in a bottle and drop in the River Thames. The note says;

To the mermaids, do you exist or don’t you? From LB

I’ll keep you posted.

The Eddie Stobart Story

These posts aren’t in a chronological order, so this probably won’t have the resonance it should. But random is good (sometimes). Laughing Boy came into the kitchen tonight and said “Thank you mum for phewddryfhddndfhrrhsssvvbnrtt”.

Whoa!!! Wha?? LB initiating a conversation? Unprompted? That isn’t about a need (toilet, internet access, maintenance of routine…) This is amazing. A “thank you” opening??? What are you saying LB???? Continue reading