23 Sep Trepidation Terminated
We arrived in Utah Thursday a little after 4:00 pm Mountain time. We had originally planned to drive right to Heritage for a therapy appointment, thinking we were landing at 3:00 and could be there at 4:00. However, I misinterpreted the itinerary and didn’t include the 1 hour time change. Thus, it was too late to do our planned therapy and didn’t get to see Jonathan.
After we landed on the flight, seated almost all the way in the back of the plane, we waited until most of the plane was cleared before getting off. While waiting, we struck up a conversation with a lady we shared a row with. She was engrossed in a book during the flight, and we did the same. We discovered she was traveling to Heritage for the Parent Conference as well! The flight was packed, and I’m not sure the chances we would sit next to another Heritage parent was very high.
After the evening session, we joined the other parents in the cafeteria for a time of snacks and networking. Lo and behold, we met another couple there for the first time from our city as well. It was so interesting to swap stories. The support group we have joined near home for parents with kids at residential treatment centers has a mantra – “We have the same kid!” Even though circumstances are so different and diagnoses are varied, there are such similar struggles we’ve endured!
I really dragged out our time in the cafeteria in the hopes that maybe Jonathan’s unit would be brought by and we would get to see him, but it was to no avail! My anticipation bubble was burst!
After a restless night of sleep for both of us, we finally got to reunite at 8:30 this morning. It was a tremendous feeling to be with Jonathan after not seeing him for 4 months! He looks great physically, having lost 36 pounds since we last saw him. He had gained quite a bit of weight from being on Lithium as a mood stabilizing medication. We had him weaned off of it after coming to Heritage since he is in a safe place to do so with very close supervision and monitoring.
We don’t know what the long term holds, but he has handled it very well so far. Being off of the Lithium has resulted in his weight coming down significantly. We really enjoyed our breakfast together and had some really good initial conversation on what it felt like to be together again and what the weekend might look like.
The rest of the morning was spent with Jonathan’s unit of students and their parents working through two therapeutic recreation activities. They’re meant to give us a feel for what the students experience and also serve as an activity for us to actually participate in recreational therapy as a family. The picture of me and Jonathan here with head bands on was during a game we played having to do with identity. Won’t bore you with the details.
After lunch with our therapist, who helped us strategize how we would communicate the weekend visit boundaries to Jonathan, we got to meet with all of Jonathan’s school teachers, nursing managers and his residential staff. He’s doing amazing in school, currently carrying a 4.0 GPA and has been on the Honor Roll each term here so far!
Every one of his teachers went on and on about how pleased they were to have Jonathan in their class, how helpful and respectful he has been. Our hearts could not have been any more glad!
His residential staff is also pleased with his progress and of course, since they work with him for most of the time in any given day, they are able to see some of his social weaknesses that need strengthening. They really seem to know what they’re doing here in their work with these students. We again just feel that Jonathan is in the BEST place he could be!
After a workshop on Building Relationships With Your Teens Using The Gottman Approach, we spent some time with Jonathan explaining the boundaries we wanted to set for our visits. While he is eligible for off-campus visits, we had initially decided we would do today’s visit ON campus. We were quite uncertain about what our interactions would be like and wanted to go slow on metering out our trust that he wouldn’t cause any problems in coming back in the evening.
Due to the very positive ways we had interacted throughout the day, how well he has done since here and how well he handled the discussion about our visit boundaries, we decided to go ahead and take him off-campus for dinner. We very much enjoyed a dinner at Texas Roadhouse Grill, where this picture was taken.
Afterward, we spent some time at Barnes & Noble and had some good, healthy conversation about a few issues. Not all heavy issues, but just some healthy disagreement and discussion. It was very good dialogue and I was pleased with how he handled it by and large.
We are looking forward to the rest of the weekend. Tomorrow holds an assembly with all the parents and students featuring inspirational guest speaker Chad Hymas, two work shops and a support group. In the evening, we’ll have another visit with Jonathan. We haven’t fully committed to off-campus, but have let him know it all depends on how he handles the interactions throughout the day. We’ll check in again with another post in the evening!