Hello my darlings, and thank you to all who left comments regarding my absence. It’s nice to be missed.
It has been a very difficult year and a half, and so very, very much has occurred. The boys and I are not quite the same people we were two years ago. It is only now, as we are finally making big steps forward, that I can even string together the words to describe the challenges we’ve faced.
I am so incredibly proud of my sons; so proud of us.
Let’s start with Jake. Before I stopped working and posting, you might have noticed I was not writing about Jake all that much. Yes, he was away at UNC and no longer a daily part of our lives, but it was more than that. Jake was not…Jake.
The summer before he left for college (2010), I had begun to notice a change in his personality. Irritable. Hyper. Aggressive. He refused to get a job; refused to help. In fact, helping around the house inevitably led to damaging the house. He just wasn’t the Jake he’d always been. He was a different Jake, and one who was kind of a jerk.
Jake had never really done the “angry teen” thing; never really rebelled, and I came to the tentative conclusion that I was just seeing what happens when an 18 year old begins to break away and become independent.
Off to school he went, and while he seemed happy (if overly social) and made a lot of friends at Chapel Hill, I was alarmed by his appearance when he came home for visits. He was sunken-eyed, underweight, dirty, wound up. He got himself into trouble in Chapel Hill, and I helped him out of the trouble and lectured about the changes that needed to occur.
By spring I had become deeply concerned, and last summer was awful. He was angry and defiant, irresponsible to the point of endangering himself and others, rude, still dirty, would NOT stop talking, and on my heels every waking moment. Nothing he said rang true, and every answer contradicted the last. Sending him out with my bank card to perform simple chores resulted in huge amounts of money spent.
I asked Jake to see our family doctor, and he refused. I insisted he find a job, and he refused. I asked him–FOR THE LOVE OF GOD–to leave me alone for five minutes, and he would not.
Mike and I had fights about Jake: I could not take anymore, I told Mike, and something is very wrong with our son. Nothing is wrong with Jake, Mike would say, except that he needs to grow up. Mike paid for Jake to return to school in the fall, and that’s when all hell broke loose.
That is also when Riley suffered a traumatic brain injury. On October 12th, Riley took a blow to the head in the first half of his high school’s soccer game. Instead of following protocol and taking him out, the coach asked if he was alright and put him back in the game. Unfortunately, self-awareness is the first thing to go when the brain is injured.
By the beginning of November, Riley’s test results where still similar to those of patients who had just suffered a concussion within the past 24 hours, and the doctors agreed that a minor concussion had turned major because Riley had continued to play after the blow to his head.
Treatment for brain trauma is “dark therapy;” no light, no sound, no stimulation. Pretty awful for a 14 year old boy, huh? Loss of impulse control is a symptom of concussion, and keeping Riley calm and lying down in the dark required that I never leave his side. One day while I showered, Ri got up and ended up hitting his head again.
The concussion symptoms worsened, and he lost his ability to balance. He became giggly, loopy, and had no short term memory. It was a lot like living with a serious stoner.
Again, Riley’s condition failed to improve, and in December he was admitted to the hospital when he started convulsing. It was during Riley’s hospitalization that Jake hit rock bottom.
And tomorrow, I will tell you the rest.