I’m back from my three weeks on the road, beginning in New London, CT., where Ryan was attending Mitchell College. As you know from my previous post, he was having problems managing his life. I flew out and he looked terrible – disheveled, irritable, unfocused. It turns out, he was forgetting to take his meds and he wasn’t sleeping well. He also was taking pain medication that a local doctor prescribed for pain in his knee and back.
He stayed at the Radisson with me, and after two days of taking all his meds three times a day and getting sleep, he was back to himself. Still, when we returned to the dean of students after the Columbus Day weekend, Ryan and I decided he should withdraw from school.
It was sad to pack up all the Bed, Bath & Beyond towels and sheets, the shower caddy and desk lamp, the notebooks and desk organizer. But I’ve been through enough now to know this is just one more step in Ryan’s journey. And although it seems like a step back, in many ways it isn’t.
His month at college gave us important information about Ryan’s gaps. He was only 16 when he had his brain injury, so after acute rehab he came home instead of going on to the next level of rehab. He never learned how to manage his life, how to regulate his emotions, how to compensate for his poor short-term memory.
So we are talking with the Centre for Neuro Skills in Bakersfield to see if Ryan is a good fit for their residential program. An evaluator will be meeting with Ryan on Tuesday. Then we’ll go down and tour the place in the next couple weeks.
After Ryan flew home, I went on to Florida for book events. And I did another one last night in Redwood City, where the audience was mostly parents who have children with learning disabilities. The very best part of reading and speaking about my book is meeting all the other people who have walked similar paths.
The journey can feel so isolating some times, as if you’re the only one who can’t figure out your child, as if you’re the only one who feels utterly exhausted and defeated half the time, as if you’re the only one who wonders what happened to the life you thought you’d have.
But there are a lot of us out there – parents with challenging children, parents with injured children.
I hope you’ll share your story and best advice with me on this blog.