letting each other go

Second Visit, a Letter, and Inadequate Care

Posted by Leo G on July 1, 2008

It’s been quite a week. I went back to visit him again on Sunday. He was calm, able to listen and accept some responsibility, and generally the Bup I know and love. He’s still 17 and we still disagree on some things, but he wasn’t just rage incarnate. And he apologized more genuinely for a number of things.

He has also charmed the staff, as he always does. He’s made a point of learning their names and being nice to them. In return, he’s begun to get a few favors. They let him finish his online driver’s education class. They let him choose the movies they watch. And they clearly like him.

He’s been reading the Bible during all the free time. Which leads to the next topic: I got the ten page letter he’s been working on ever since he walked out on me during the first visit. He quotes a lot of scripture, which is kind of funny to me. I guess he thinks it has a kind of authority. He quotes it both to admonish me and to praise me, which is interesting. And he offers a pretty sophisticated analysis of the whole situation. Of course, in some ways, that analysis amounts to “I’m a free spirit and you’re just going to make me mad by trying to control me.” True, but not quite a full reckoning of the situation. For instance, it doesn’t take into account that self-control is necessary for even the free-spirited. But it’s a starting point.

Then I got a phone call. It seems they moved him from detention to Observation and Assessment yesterday. Today’s call was from the nurse. Bup’s hand is severely infected and they were calling to get insurance information. After lots of calls to figure out what to do, (all of his insurance coverage changed today) he ended up back at the Emergency Room that treated him ten days ago.

It turns out that when he left that night, they gave him instructions to return to the ER in two days for follow-up wound care. That’s why they gave him a prescription for only two days of antibiotics. But the State of Utah Juvenile Justice system didn’t follow up. He got zero follow up care. When I saw him on Sunday, I saw his hand was swollen and told him to ask for medical care. He did, but got no response. Last night–his first night in O & A–he developed a high fever and could not sleep because he was shivering so badly. His hand is swollen to twice its normal size and red to the wrist. As soon as she saw him, the nurse knew he needed care.

She was right. At the hospital, they gave him immediate intravenous antibiotics and will repeat them for at least two more days. He’s in a lot of pain. I know because he kept saying how much it hurt. This is the kid I couldn’t get to stop playing basketball on his broken foot. He told me he thought he was going to die last night.

I’m tempted to sue the hell out of the State of Utah. Had he not been transferred to O & A, where there is a caring nurse who is appropriately angry at the whole situation, he may not have gotten care even now. What if the infection got into his bloodstream? What if it killed him? How can they just ignore these kids? He had been given specific instructions and I know they saw them, because they called me to tell me that he’d gotten stitches and needed a prescription for antibiotics filled. But they did nothing to make sure he got the care he needed. They didn’t call me and ask me to follow up. They didn’t follow up themselves. They didn’t contact his probation officer. Nothing. They just let him get very very sick.


2 Responses to “Second Visit, a Letter, and Inadequate Care”

  1. Meg said

    I’m so sorry that Bup got so sick, but I’m glad that he’s getting the treatment that he needs. The IV of antibiotics should make him feel better in no time.

    The sudden (is it sudden?) interest in religion is interesting. My nephew is so much like Bup in every way, but the religion thing is something that JP has never shown.


  2. jules said

    I was horrified at the lack of care my son received in our state’s facility for juvenile offenders. (he’s an insulin-dependent diabetic) It was an awful spot, because we were afraid to let him come home (I was the only one who could post bail, and I refused), we were desperately waiting for a psych evaluation, and I was scared to death every day he’d end up hospitalized for out-of-control blood sugars.


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