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Monday, 22 September 2014

Family Trauma



I’ve kept putting off writing this for some time, but know that at some point something has to be said. The gossip/rumour mill hasn’t been kind to us in the past. I imagine it’ll have fun with this anyway but at least I have a chance to tell things from our perspective.

About two months ago, life for our family changed pretty dramatically. My oldest son Sheldon’s behaviour has at times been a concern, mostly little things that just seemed odd. This escalated rapidly this summer to a crisis. Out of respect for Sheldon I’m going to be very lean on details. We brought him to the hospital at 2:00 AM one night after most of the family got no sleep whatsoever. Very painful to look into the face of a young man who looks so much like me, eyes just like his mom’s and have no idea what I am seeing.

Sackville hospital wasn’t very busy at that time of the morning so we were able to have him looked at quickly. We did our best to try to keep him calm. The doctor on duty was pleased to see that he responded positively to both Francine and myself. He did recommend transferring him to Moncton General via ambulance with a police officer escorting him in case things escalated.

Francine and I followed and then spent most of the morning sleeping in our chairs in the hospital waiting room. After taking to the doctors and psychiatrist, Sheldon was transferred to the psychiatric care unit and we were told to go home and get some sleep.

Sheldon spent the better part of two weeks there. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia. We answered a lot of questions from the psychiatrist and still this doesn’t make a lot of sense as to the question why? It’s often hereditary yet neither Francine nor myself can think of any family members on either side who’ve suffered schizophrenia. It can be caused by head trauma. We don’t remember him ever having a head injury of any kind.

No use worrying about how this came to be. We’ll probably never know. The good news is that Sheldon has responded well to the medication. There are many people who have suffered from schizophrenia and have led “normal” and successful lives.

Sheldon does worry about being accepted especially after befriending a fellow sufferer in the hospital who was abandoned by his family over it. He knows he has our support and I’m confident my extended family won’t make him feel like an alien. There are programs available to help him and we are doing our level best to take advantage of them. Government agencies here have been surprisingly receptive to making it all possible even thought bureaucracy moves slowly at the best of times.

Sheldon is not sure what he wants to do with himself. He has written several manuscripts for books. At a glance he has talent (psychiatrist advised us that he was highly intelligent) but his work needs some first class editing work done. We are thinking to have him put together an author’s blog with our help. Currently he can’t sit for very long in front of a computer. I’ve told him that he needs to take it at his own pace. The people running the local mental health programs are excited to help in that regard. We’ll see what happens.

There are collateral issues going on for us as a family. With the unending increase in the cost of food and gasoline, I can no longer afford to drive to Moncton to work. Gas and repairs for the family van is just killing us. I am not saying this to ask financial help from anyone. I qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. We may also be eligible for an additional supplement from the government. We just have to survive until all the paperwork gets done on that.

I have no doubt that I’ll find local employment soon enough. I may even get enough help from government programs to get my own business off the ground. That’s what we moved out here for in the first place. This whole ordeal might end up being a huge blessing. It just doesn’t feel like it right now.