By Michelle Bradley, Mother:
After months of physical pain, Luke woke up from getting his gallbladder removed, and he wasn’t the same kid. The physical pain was gone, but in its place was the mental anguish from so many doctors telling him, week-after-week, that he was faking his pain.
Out of the blue, he was imagining things, he wouldn’t walk, he was pulling his hair out, and he was hitting everything, including me! Luke’s hometown therapist told us the only way to get him help was to “lock him up.” Trusting this “expert advice,” we checked Luke into a facility where his room looked like a jail cell, with only a small wooden bed and metal sink inside. Ten days later, we took him home only to find that his behaviors were worse than ever.
That’s when we did our research and found Rogers Behavioral Health in Tampa Bay, Florida. After a three-hour screening process, we were told they could help. The drive there was horrible! Luke was scared. He was pulling our hair from the backseat and fighting with us the whole way there.
When we arrived, we met with Dr. Katie, and it was here that Luke was diagnosed with OCD. After the first week, we knew things were going to get better. Luke was listening to Dr. Katie and the others, and he was working hard on overcoming his anxiety through exposure therapy. It was the beginning of amazing things!
During this process, Doug and I found a rental property to be close to our son. As the primary income earner, it wasn’t easy for Doug to leave his job. He remained employed, but without an income, we had to charge the rent. It was so scary! How were we going to pay for this? Then the treatment team contacted the Foundation, and thanks to a gift made by a generous donor from the Tampa area, we learned we were going to get help with the payments. There were no words! It meant so much to us! When you have a sick child and you are stressed to the limit, it’s wonderful to have help!
After three months, we made the trip home. This time, the drive was calm and enjoyable. We stopped at restaurants just like you’d expect on a typical road trip. It felt “normal”!
Prior to getting sick, Luke made the honor roll and was active in soccer and basketball. Last year, he only attended four weeks of school. This year, he is repeating the 6th grade. Dr. Katie has been working closely with Luke’s new therapist and school to help make a smooth transition. Plus, Rogers taught me how to work with Luke’s anxiety, so I am able to do exposures with him and continue to help him improve.
If this whole experience has taught me one thing, it’s that if you’re sick, you go to Rogers. There is nowhere else like it!
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