Two hours after I had intended to leave the office, as I prepared to finish the last document I had to complete before I left for the day, a call came over the intercom: the hospital unit needed all the staff assistance they could get. This meant one thing: the kids were out of control.
As I headed to the unit, I saw kids running back and forth, one child bolt out of his bedroom in his underwear, and staff working hard to calm and separate the kids. Straight ahead, I saw one of the older girls sitting in a chair, clients and staff surrounding her, and she had that look in her eyes that told me she was barely holding it together. She's a big kid and, when she loses control, others get hurt. She's also one of my favorite kids.
Her story is one that makes me smile... When she arrived on our unit last year, she was so depressed and angry, that I litterally didn't see her face until weeks after her admission. She isolated a lot, and when she out and about, her head was always hung, her hair in her face, and the only time she lifted it was to swear at, threaten, or spit on you. Any attempts to speak to her instantly resulted in one, if not more, of these responses.
Because of her size and assaultiveness, staff were sincerely afraid of her. When she wanted something, her way of telling you was to start swinging her fists. She was assaultive towards other kids, and she was assaultive towards staff.
She was one of Ross' many success stories. She is the child who he sat and guarded, when everyone else was afraid to approach her. She was guarded and slow to warm up to him, but Ross taught her one thing that she didn't have with humans: trust.
Over the months, she has made incredible improvements in her treatment. She walks tall now, and I can always see her face, often smiling. She approaches me on her own, and always asks eagerly about the dogs. Her aggression and depression have decreased significantly, she has built positive relationships with family members, and she works hard to make good decisions.
Today, she transitioned to a lower level of care, a positive outcome of her treatment progress. Today was a landmark in her life. And I saw it getting ready to crumble as she was pulled in by the negativity around her.
I checked in with staff to see how she was doing, and upon hearing that she was doing pretty well not feeding into the chaos, I asked her if she wanted to go visit Jazz. She jumped up instantly, exclaiming "yes!" (Actually, I asked her if she wanted to go visit Ross (I accidentally call Jazz "Ross" all the time), and after exclaiming, she flatly told me that she can't go visit Ross because he's at his new home, but she wanted to visit Jazz. Did I mention that she has also developed a sense of humor?)
We headed back to my office, where Jazz was laying down. His ears perked as he heard us approaching, and he bounced up in excitement when he saw her. She spent the next half hour playing with him in my office, talking the entire time, and laughing at his antics. She had a million questions about the Guide Dog puppies. I couldn't get any work done, while answering all of her questions, but I was so proud of this child who hardly used to speak, and had no one who was excited to see her.