My now teenage son, E, has had sleep problems since he was 3 years old. Due to his sensory issues, he has never easily been able to calm himself down in order to fall asleep by himself. Left to his own devices, he would be bouncing off the walls until 11:30pm every single night. This is not a good bedtime for a 3 year old. We started giving him Melatonin at age 3. This worked initially, but due to his vestibular sensory dysfunction, he would quickly habituate to any and every medication so that we had to continually increase the dosage to an alarming amount.
We took him for his first sleep study at age 5. We wanted to make sure that he was, in fact, getting enough REM sleep. Because he was a minor, a parent was required to stay with him all night, sleeping in an adjacent room. That would be me, in this case, since the sleep study facility was in some God forsaken suburb in DuPage County and my husband doesn't drive. I am a city girl, through and through and really hate going to the suburbs.
I was really tired after our long drive and was expecting to get a wonderful night's sleep. Wouldn't you expect a sleep study facility to have the most comfortable beds in the world? Not. The pillows were as flat as pancakes, the mattress was uncomfortable and there was one very thin blanket. I spent a miserable night, shivering, but my son managed to sleep well enough for them to collect enough data and reach a conclusion. Apparently, he got enough REM sleep. Yet, he always seemed so sleep deprived.
We went on like this for another 5 years; giving him a cocktail of different sleep aids. It was a mixture of a prescription drug, Valerian root, Melatonin, Magnesium fizz, eventually 5HTP and he still didn't stay asleep. We went through periods where he would sleep until 4am and then wake up, and of course, wake us up. We were walking zombies for years.
At age 10, I decided to try another sleep study. We took him to see a highly renowned child psychologist and sleep expert. His office, with the sleep facility, was located very close to our home, so there was no long drive involved. At our initial appointment, he thought E had hypoxia and that he wasn't getting enough oxygen to his brain due to the height of his palate. Apparently, that was easy to fix with a minor surgical procedure. E had the sleep study and it was my husband's turn to stay with him since the office was close to home. Everything went well.
We returned for a follow up visit, post sleep study. It was a doomed situation from the get go. E had been up since 5am and it was now 3:30pm and he was very tired and cranky. The doctor kept us waiting for 30 minutes, so E was very agitated by the time we went into the doctor's office. Whereas, the doctor was friendly and engaging at the first appointment, he was distracted and distant at this one. He kept us sitting there for several minutes as he talked on his cellphone to other patients and wrote patient notes. It was just weird.
Then, he opened up E's file and told us the following: E did not have hypoxia, but instead "had a bad brain and needed to be institutionalized". We just looked at each other in disbelief. All this time, E was lying on the doctor's Corinthian black leather couch. This was the 2nd psychiatrist we had encountered with a black leather couch who seemed to care more about it than his patients. Why would a doctor who sees kids have such a couch, we wondered? To give E credit, he was lying sort of on one side, with the tops of his shoes hanging off the end of couch. All of a sudden, the doctor yelled at E to "get your feet off the couch". E ignored him. E REALLY hates to be yelled at and it seemed like such an inappropriate response from the doctor. The doctor yelled at him again. E sat up and threw a pillow at the doctor. In a flash, the doctor was on the couch WITH HIS HANDS AROUND MY CHILD'S NECK, CHOKING HIM and screaming "get out of my office". E managed to free himself and ran out of the office but left a trail of destruction on the way; he wrenched the doctor's nameplate off the front of the door. Then he went into the hallway and slammed the door so hard that the doorknob punched a hole in the wall. We bundled him into the elevator and went home.
We were all shell shocked. We went on with our lives. Then, I received a bill in the mail from said doctor. There was no way in hell I was going to pay it. I immediately called my insurance company and spent a lot of hours talking to different people in an attempt to file a complaint and have him removed from their list of providers. I told them I was not going to pay the bill and asked for help in resolving the billing situation. This dragged on and on with no resolution. I should have called the police, but didn't have the stomach for it. I continued to receive bills from the doctor until my account was sent to collections.
I finally called the doctor's office manager. When I told her the story, she actually started screaming. She claimed that what I told her was not possible. The doctor wouldn't do something like that. I must be mistaken. I told her I was not mistaken and I wasn't paying the bill. She told me she would talk to the doctor and get back to me. The next day I received a call from her. The doctor told her that there was a "misunderstanding" and that he was merely "trying to keep E safe". Yeah. Right. She told me that I would not be responsible for the bill; that their computer system automatically generated the bill. That was the last time we heard from the doctor and the last doctor we ever saw.
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