Thursday, March 17, 2011

Things Are Not What They Seem

Intersection Of My Dreams

I tell you, my experience of parenthood has definitely been an interesting one. I must also say, that my experience has been a difficult one.

During the past week, my 12 year old has been once again obsessed with reading. He has always been the type, that once he finds something of interest, he gets completely lost in it. Recently it has been The Hunger Games book trilogy. To my amazement, he read all three books in only 7 days. Now, there were two competing, or contributing, factors here. For one, he found himself loving the first one. About the same time, I mistakenly ordered two Kindles online, and really didn't want to go through the trouble of sending one back. I initially offered it to my daughter, who always has a book in her hand. But she is a die hard paperback reader, and said she could never give up actual books. Remy, on the other hand, simply saw the opportunity to own yet another electronic gadget. I suppose he gets it from me.

To prove his point, that he would make good use of the Kindle, Remy began reading his books on it night and day. Of course, when ever I walked by his bedroom I would stop and make him turn out the light, and get some sleep. I suspect that he waited for me to go to bed, then just flicked the light back on.

Yesterday morning Remy was very tired. He said he was so tired that he felt sick. That didn't go far with me, as I just instructed him to get ready for school. He then went down his usual litany of symptoms, that were meant to prove to me that he really needed to stay home, including having a hallucination.

"Right Remy. Nice try."

I arrived home from work last night around 6pm. Remy was sitting on the couch, looking catatonic. "Hey, did you do your homework?" These words were met with the slightest eye movement, as if to say, of course not. I then firmly told him to get to the table and get started. That is when I began to see that something was very wrong.

At first I thought he was just acting silly, or trying to work my last nerve. He kept looking around the room. He would mumble words that I couldn't understand, and he would get up, and walk around the room without any purpose. At one point I turned to him and asked what he was doing. He responded the "she" needed to use the bathroom, and he was showing her the way. He then turned, and began talking to "her."

From that point on I began to see that he was completely out of touch with reality. I was in the room, but I don't think he really knew who I was. Every time I asked him a question he would begin to answer, then get lost in thought, as if his mind's course got disconnected. I started looking into his eyes. I looked around the kitchen to see if he had mistakenly, or not mistakenly, took some medication. I began asking if he took any pills, or if someone gave him something to ingest. He just kept looking at me as if I were far, far away.

I then explained to him that we needed to go to the hospital, because something was very wrong with him. He said okay, but didn't know what the reason was. In fact, he was more compliant than I have ever seen him. As if my words were his thoughts. I would say stop, and rather than ask why, he would just stop in his tracks without any response. At the hospital emergency room, everyone was watching him, as it was clear that something odd was occurring. Almost immediately we were escorted to the triage nurse, who attempted to take all of his vitals, but we had a difficult time getting him to stay put, as he just kept wandering. She then had us wait in a different waiting area than the rest, as we didn't know what he would do. Our wait was very long, and I had to constantly redirect him from walking away.

Eventually we ended up in a private room, where they drew blood, took a urine sample, and ran an EKG. During our very long wait, he was constantly interacting with characters from the books, and it was clear, that I was not always dad, but some friend of his. After awhile I began to really worry. Would he come out of this? What was the cause? I didn't know if I wanted there to be a cause. It would be simple for the cause to be drug induced, right? But then, did I want to learn that my 12 year old had taken some kind of drug? Then I thought, but what if it isn't drugs? Then it could be something much more serious. What if he had some kind of psychotic break, and what if he doesn't come out of it.

Well, we were there for over 7 hours, and in the end all of the test results came back negative. Eventually the doctors and nurses just looked at me, and asked what I wanted to do. It was obvious that I knew how to handle the situation, as I remained so calm and focused during the entire night. Occasionally my mind kept gravitating to Michael. I kept wondering what else lied ahead for me in life. What other challenges would I have to face alone. Then I just paused, prayed, and also asked Michael to be with me so I wouldn't feel so alone.

Finally, about 3am we headed back to the parking garage for our car. I didn't know what was ahead, and he didn't know what was happening, but he did seem to trust me. We drove home, had something to eat, then both climbed into my bed. I wanted to wrap my arms around him, and hold him close to me. But then I had to remember that I wasn't "Dad" at the time, I was some dude. He just looked over at me, and with a quick lift of the chin, he said in a very 'guy to a guy' way, goodnight.

In the morning, I was awakened by the sound of our animals, who were at my door, wondering where their morning meal was. I started to get up, then looked over at Remy. He sat up, looked at me, and walked out of the room. I sat there wondering if he was back, and if not, who I would be this morning. I walked out into the kitchen, and said good morning. He looked up, and smiled, good morning Dad.

After breakfast, Remy wanted to go to school. I explained that we needed to stay home today, as I needed to watch his behavior. Throughout the day he has been piecing together his whole evening. He says he felt like he was awake in a dream. It is all coming back to him, and he can even remember who he thought I was, and why he was responding to me in certain way. I looked up his symptoms online, and found that the lack of sleep can certainly bring on hallucinations. We have an appointment tomorrow afternoon with his psychiatrist, and hopefully he will agree that it was because of the sleep deprivation.

All I know is that he is back, and I am thankful. It's nights like last night that I can truly recognize the gifts that Michael left with me. He left me a good helping of his calmness. He left me feeling like I am more than capable of taking on what life puts in front of me. I wish my life, or the life of my children, didn't have to be so complicated. But, if it need be, then I am grateful to all that contribute to my being able to respond to their needs.


  1. wow. that is intense. Rather a lame and obvious thing to say, but jeez. Hope all is continuing to come back to relative normal today, dan.

  2. Scary! I hope you get the sleep deprivation diagnosis today. Congratulations on remaining so calm! Keep us posted on how Remy is doing.

  3. your strength and calmness is a tribute to Michael. i sincerely hope that Remy's imagination, lack of sleep, and the fantasy of these books are the only reasons for his bad night. please do keep us posted as you and Remy will be in my thoughts and prayers. i wish you peace.

  4. As megan has commented, sounds pretty intense. I hope Remy is feeling okay now. Sleep deprivation can cause some pretty odd responses.

  5. OMG! Sleep deprivation does cause hallucinations for sure ... and I hope that the doctor finds that this is the cause. You are a wonderful father, you really are ... to remain calm and strong for him <3

  6. How scary! I hope the doctor was able to provide some answers. Thinking of you...

  7. Oh my gosh! How very frightening~