Dear Mr. McCartney,
I’ve sat for weeks now, writing, deleting, and rewriting this letter to you. Because how does someone convey in words, what can never truly convey? Let me start at the beginning… My son was bed-to-bed transferred from Maryview to The Barry Robinson Center in November after exceedingly elevated behaviors that left me feeling hopeless and helpless, like things would never get better for him. One of a parent’s worst realities really – seeing their child struggle, and not knowing what to do, or where to go, to help.
To give you some background history – we spend five years being seen by psychiatric specialists at a children’s hospital in Colorado. And for five years, I advocated for my son, struggled for care and assistance, and watched his moods swing like a pendulum. For five years, my fears and concerns fell on deaf ears: no one ever seemed to try and help. I doubted myself. I doubted my ability to be a good mother. I questioned if this really was as bad as I felt it was, or if I was just making a big deal out of nothing; that: “boys will be boys” and U just needed to roll with the punches. Each time we had a follow-up appointment, I’d tell the specialists my fears, but only for short periods of time, and we’d end up back where we started. It got so concerning, he was eventually brought before the United States Navy Exceptional Family Member committee and designates into the highest classification they have – category five. Being classified as Cat5 meant being assigned “Homestead”, where we get assigned to one place for the duration of the military member’s career. But there are only five places we can be homestead to Hampton roads is one of them.
Being military, we’re accustomed to moving every couple of years. It becomes your “norm”. So, we packed our bags and moved our lives, and the struggle continues in a new place, but with fresh, unfamiliar faces. Upon arriving in Virginia, and getting settled, I start the all too familiar process of going through my son’s history… and let me tell you, it’s a pretty long history.
When the behaviors started getting out of control again, I called the doctor, made the appointment, and expected nothing more than what I’ve received thus far, which is, for lack of better words, a dismissal. His PCP, PA Lantry, told me to take him to the ER: that they’d so a psych eval/hold on him, and get him immediate assistance. I looked at him like he’d grown an extra head. I’d done this for five years in Colorado, and nothing ever came of it. Ge reassured me the process in which these concerns are handled is different here, and to trust him. So, I did. And I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I did. It’s important to me that this piece is included. Because these key players are what led up to him being admitted in the BRC. AND without them, it never would have happened. Although their roles were nowhere as lengthy as the BRC’s, they’re important players in the overall intricate outcome to their initial assistance in getting him to your program.
My first introduction to the BRC was through Joel Fink. He truly met me at my worst: out first meeting, to tour the facility, was on a horrible, rainy night. I was running late due to traffic, and on my way to the BRC, received a call from home that, my son was having one of his elevated fits again. I was a mess, and Joel handled me, and all my overwhelmed anxiousness and stress, with calm and patience. It was exactly what I needed, and gave me a first-hand understanding of what my son would receive if he himself were at BRC. Joel quickly identified the necessity in which his application needed to be submitted and got me in touch with Laura Chaney. They both went above and beyond to get the application expedited and moved mountains to get transferred directly to the BRC after he was sent back to Maryview less than a months’ time from his last admission.
Upon admission to the BRC, we were assigned to Otis Bynum. Now, this… this is where I just get “tongue-tied”. I’ve searched for the words to properly convey the gratitude for each person who worked with my son along the process, and none seem to really come close. But with Otis – there truly are no words. They say things happen for a reason; the same is true with people. Each person along the path made a lasting impression. But Otis- he literally saved our family from crumbling under the stress of dealing with our son’s behaviors. He was real. He was knowledgeable. He was a sounding board. He was exactly who we needed to survive this: to understand that what we’d been dealing with was not the “norm”. And he listened. He critiqued. He suggested. He took an active role in my son; in figuring out what ways would work best when dealing with him.
My husband has his own beliefs in therapy. Mostly, he feels it’s pointless, because all it really turns out to be is a nagging/venting session, with no real progress made. My husband is the one who said the family sessions saved us, and that it wasn’t just our son who benefited from them. Coming from my husband, that’s the highest praise to be given; he doesn’t just do so without a firm belief that what he’s saying is fact. And maybe those are the words that best sum me and our, gratitude.
In closing, I would like to thank you for all that you provide through the Barry Robinson Canter to the families who turn to you seeking help. It is professionals and facilities like that BRC that make the helpless feel hope again.