Friday, May 30, 2008

Overwhelmed and depressed!

I'm kind of depressed today. No, more than kind of. I am depressed today. Part of it is because I feel we are in a holding pattern. Waiting for court, waiting for appointments, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's been twelve days since she last ran. Eleven days since we got her home.
This is when I struggle the most, I think. It's hard to take action and get her help when she seems so "normal".
I'm struggling with being overwhelmed too. Next week we have two appointments, summer school for Cassie, Chris is at camp, the small group which I lead (and need because it keeps me connected spiritually with other Christians), three graduation parties, worship team practice, and a "date night" blessing which fell into our laps. On top of that I work my normal 21 hours plus I'm being asked to go over and work at the paper in Waseca from 9-4 on Monday (instead of my normal 8-1:30 in St Peter) and also to go over on Wednesday and/or Friday. And coming up at the end of June/beginning of July are two weeks in a row where I'm supposed to work 8-5 every day due to others being on vacation.
Yup, that's me screaming in type. It's what I want to do physically. I am so overwhelmed! My heart always has been, and remains today, in my home. My heart's desire has always been to be a full time wife and mom. Why can't I have my heart's desire? I feel like we live on nothing as it is, and I can't figure out how to cut our budget any further, but we'd have to cut it a loooong way for me to stay home. I can barely handle the 20 hours/week I've worked for the past several years, let alone 40 a week for two weeks in a row and the other times I have to work longer hours. I want more than anything to be a good mom, a good wife, a good housekeeper. Those are my values. Those things are where my heart is. To have a clean, organized home. To be there for my kids when they need me. To have energy for my husband when he needs me. To have time to pray and read my Bible daily. To be there for my siblings and mom when they need me. And I don't feel like I'm doing any of it well. I feel like everyone is getting the short straw, including myself. Days like this I just want to run away, or crawl into a hole and die, or just curl up in a ball and forget everything. If I can't do it all right, I don't want to do any of it. I don't know what to give up. I don't know what to say "no" to so that I can handle the rest of it. I just know that I can't handle everything that's on my shoulders right now.
I have a Children's Mental Health Worker coming to my home on Monday at 5 and my home is a mess...really, a mess. Stuff everywhere...our own messes plus Mom and Kate's stuff from when they left, the floors need sweeping and scrubbing, the papers need filing, the dishes need doing the clothes need washing, the bathrooms need cleaning (really, really need cleaning!). The rugs need vacuuming. The bedrooms are a disaster. And yes, I should be doing that right now instead of typing on the computer, but I needed to let this emotion out before I just shut down. I've been cleaning for three hours and I still would DIE of embarassment if the county walked in right now.
Please, please pray for me. I need solutions. I need some of this load to lighten because I can't carry it all. I'm not trying to limit God, or put Him in a box, but short of a miracle in our lives, I don't see how I'm going to make it through the next month.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Monday and Tuesday, May 19-20th

I've written down all I can remember of the events of those two days. Partly for my own sanity, partly because we're not sure where all of this will lead legally, and felt the need to have it in writing "just in case". So, if you're interested, I'll type out all the details. If you're not, don't worry...just hit your back button and it'll all be gone from your screen. Unfortunately, our life doesn't have a "back button", or I'd have hit it long ago!
From early May on, Cassie spoke to John on her cell phone daily. He told her he was 17 years old. She had met a John about a year earlier who she thought she was talking to. They talked for hours every night.
Monday, May 19th, 2008
Cassie went to school and after-hours (equals 3 detentions). At some point in the day, she told her friend Becky that she had taken 12 cold/flu tablets.
Also at some point in the day she says she received 2 small red pills from a friend for a headache.
After she left school, she ended up at Andy’s. (Andy is my brother-in-law’s brother who has his own issues and we’ve tried to keep these two apart) She was in the garage and saw Kate and I pull up (we were dropping off Dominic to be babysat by his grandma…Andy’s/Tony’s mom). She hid from us and says at the time she felt very dizzy.
Somehow she got from there to John’s in North Mankato. She doesn’t remember how she got there, but somehow she did.
Dar called John’s number (we got it from her cell phone, which we had taken from her on Sunday because she was pushing us over on minutes). He asked if Cassie was with him, John said he hadn’t seen her.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Early afternoon we reported her as a runaway because she’d been missing almost 24 hours.
We called John’s phone number again and this time got his voicemail. On it were three names…John Adams, Nate Becker and Adam Ritchison. Kate recognized the names and checked with a friend who confirmed who the guys were.
Kate’s friend told us that John is a 30+ year old who recently got out of jail for statutory rape. We have not confirmed the jail/rape part as of yet.
About the same time we finally got a diagnosis from Dr Serdy’s office at Riverview Clinic. Dr Serdy’s associate looked at the records and informed us that Cassie is Bipolar.
We went to the Saint Peter Police Department and gave them the information we knew about John. The officer looked up all the John Adams in the Mankato area and Kate identified the one she knew. He is 33 years old.
The St Peter Police got the address for John Adams, (518 Nicollet Ave in North Mankato) and the North Mankato police went to the house and knocked on the front door. No one answered. The police had an officer drive around the area and keep watch on the home.
Dar, Kate and I drove to the house and Kate knocked on the front door. Since she knew John, she was simply going to ask if he was home. No one answered the door.
My future sister in law went to the home an hour or so later. She talked to the neighbors and told them what was happening and they watched her knock on first the front, then the back door. A man answered the back door. She asked for Cassie. He told her that he had heard of her, but hadn’t seen her. He went back in to see if she was there.
Another man came out the front door. Nicole asked if he was John. He said he was, then said he wasn’t, that his name was Joe. Nicole told him she was looking for her 14 year old niece and she reports that John/Joe’s eyes got big. He said she wasn’t there.
I called the St Peter police and gave them the information from Nicole and suggested that the N Mankato police go back to the home and knock on the back door.
Nicole, meanwhile, made copies of Cassie’s school photo and wrote Cassie’s name, age, the fact that she was missing, and to call 911 if anyone saw her. She handed these out in the neighborhood as well as businesses in the area.
Two of Cassie’s friends called us and said they had some information for us. These are TRUE friends of Cassie’s, who we know and trust. Dar and I went to talk to them about 9pm. There was a note from Cassie stating that she was going to run to Mexico with John and inviting Felecia to go along with her boyfriend. Becky also told us that earlier in the day she’d taken cold/flu tablets from Cassie after Cassie told her she’d taken 12 of them.
Dar, Becky, Felecia and I went to the St Peter police with the note, and the pills. Felecia told the police that Cassie had called her FROM JOHN’S PHONE NUMBER (which is an internet phone number, not a cell phone), at about 4:30 that afternoon.
N Mankato police went back to the home around 10pm and knocked on the back door. A man came out and said that John and Cassie were upstairs in John’s bedroom.
John came downstairs and said that Cassie wasn’t there, that it was his girlfriend named Rachel. The police officer determined that he could not enter the residence, so he went out to his car and shined his spotlight on the house and waited.
John went back upstairs, woke Cassie up and told her she had to leave because the police were there. He was upset and insistent that she leave immediately.
They both came out of the home and Cassie took off one direction while John went another. The police got John and supposedly arrested him for being intoxicated.
The police called us and asked us to come to North Mankato to help look
for Cassie as she was on foot. Mike and Kim and Nicole immediately went
down there to look for her as well.
2 girls were bar-hopping in the lower North Mankato area. One was the assistant manager of a bar that Nicole had stopped at, so she’d seen the flyer and talked to Nicole. They saw Cassie at a gas station, so they went and talked to her and detained her until the police could come and get her.
The police called us as we were on our way to North Mankato and said they had a girl fitting Cassie’s description, but she said her name was Rachel. We met them at the Happy Chef parking lot on Hwy 169 and they turned her over to us.
At this point, Cassie was confused, her pupils were HUGE (dilated), and she was very out of it. She stated that she didn’t remember anything except John waking her up and telling her to leave.
The officer said that he’d gone into the house after John came out. The owner of the home invited him in. John was renting a room from the guy, so the police officer couldn’t go into his room, but he looked through the door. He told us he had seen condoms and wrappers on the floor.
We, and my brother, asked what we should do. He said that because he couldn’t go into the room, and John and Cassie had not been seen "together", we couldn’t press charges of statutory rape or sexual assault. He advised that we take out a restraining order on John at the courthouse the next day. He said there was nothing else he could do for us.
We took Cassie to the Mankato ER, but it was wall to wall people. We decided to take her to the St Peter ER since we live there and it would probably be quieter.
We got right in at the St Peter ER. We told them what had happened, that we wanted a rape kit and a drug test done. The doctor came in. He was the same doctor who had done a drug test on Cassie the last time she’d run away. He told us that it would be nearly impossible to prove a sexual assault even if semen were found. He did an exam on her and told us that there were no cuts or bruising found, so a violent sexual assault had not occurred. (Duh, as doped up as Cassie was, there would have been no resistance anyway!)
They had Cassie do a urine and blood test for the drug screen. . The nurse told us it was the nastiest urine she’d ever seen and that she guessed there was an infection there. The drug test showed marijuana in her system but nothing else. The doctor told us that some date rape drugs don’t show up on tox screens.
They sent us home. (Side point. 4 days later, on Saturday, we received a letter from the hospital stating that she had a urinary tract infection and we should schedule an appointment with her regular doctor for treatment. By Sunday she was absolutely miserable and we ended up taking her into the ER in MANKATO where they tested her and said she had a "whopper of a UTI" Had the St Peter ER told us that night, we could’ve had her on medication for that by Wednesday morning and saved my daughter five days of misery from the infection)
We went home from the ER at about 2:30am, had her shower, put her to bed, and set the alarm on her door.
Wednesday, May 21st
We called to make an appointment with her Probation Officer, but she couldn’t get us in until Friday at 8am.
We called to try and get her medication from Riverview Clinic. That’s when we found out that meds can only come from a psychiatrist or a medical doctor. Dr. Serdy was out of town that day and couldn’t make any recommendations to us.
We tried getting Cassie into her regular doctor, but he’d just returned from vacation and was booked solid. They called us back at 5pm and said they wouldn’t be able to see her that day (gee, do you think?).
Then we tried getting her into Dar’s doctor, who said that with a recommendation from Dr. Serdy, he would prescribe some meds for Cassie. We drove over to Riverview Clinic and signed a release form so Dr. Serdy could fax over his recommendation to Dr Ackland on Thursday morning.
Thursday, May 22nd
I got an email from my friend Kerry, who is a licensed social worker. She suggested that we try to get a Children’t Mental Health Worker from the county. They provide support to the client and the family. We need to try and stay ahead of the battles with Cassie.
She suggested a program through Lutheran Social Services called "On My Own". It’s for 15-21 year old girls who are having problems. She also suggested a few psychologists for Cassie to meet with.
Her last suggestion was that we talk to Nicollet county about getting Cassie into an in-patient treatment for a complete workup and diagnosis. There are no adolescent treatment centers in Mankato, but a bunch in the Cities, one in Willmar and one in Rochester.
Dr. Serdy decided they wouldn’t do a recommendation for meds for Cassie. They told us to take her into the Mankato ER and have them put her on a 48 hour watch to determine what medication she should be on.
So, about 10pm, after worship practice and finishing the packing we were doing for mom, we took Cassie over to the Mankato ER.
They were confused by what Dr. Serdy had told us. They don’t take pediatric mental health patients in Mankato. They also explained that an ER doctor would be unwilling to prescribe medication because it’s called "chronic medication", meaning something she’ll be on for quite some time, and would take some experimenting and adjusting of medication before we get the right mix and dosage.
They called in an Access nurse for us. This is a behavioral health nurse on call for the ER. Her name was Rebecca and she was WONDERFUL! She listened to us and understood what we were going through, explained some things to us.
She said there are a lot of layers of issues with our case. (you think? Lol) She began with the sexual assault committed by this 33 year old man on our 14 year old daughter. She explained that in order to perform a "rape kit", one has to be certified because there is a certain protocol to be followed, and exact way of collecting evidence to be used in court. St. Peter is NOT certified and ALWAYS refers patients to the Mankato ER when one is requested. Hmm…nothing was said to us that night about this.
They also should have immediately called in an advocate for us, which was not done. As well, John should be IN JAIL, but because of the way the police handled the case, and because of the St Peter doc, it is highly unlikely that he would ever be convicted of the crime he committed.
As for Cassie, she said that most important is to get her into therapy and she gave us some names of recommended psychologists. She suggested that we watch Cassie 24/7 because, in her words, "Cassie is clearly unable to keep herself safe."
She told us that mental illness, she thinks, is covered under the Family Medical Leave Act, and suggested that I perhaps take the summer off to be with Cassie until we can get her on medication. (We have since found out that it IS covered under the FMLA, but we simply cannot afford for me to not work)
Rebecca also suggested that we call Children’s Mental Health Services through Nicollet County to get her and us some support. We need to tel them about the Tues ER visit as well as the Thurs ER visit and get them the records from both visits. She had heard of the On My Own program mentioned by Kerry. She said it costs money, but they do have some scholarships available. We need to look into that.
The last item was that she was going to contact Crime Victims Services and have someone from there contact us.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Cassie and I met with her probation officer, Ashley. She recommended that we take Cassie off the diversionary program. The diversionary program is intended for first time offenders who simply need a fresh start and some accountability to make better decisions. Cassie’s issues are far more complicated than the program is designed for. By taking her off the program, we will need to go to court, get a social worker, access to the resources we need, and more structured supervision by a different probation officer.
I called Children’s Mental Health Services and spoke with Marna, the person in charge of that program. She readily agreed that with the bipolar diagnosis, we qualify and someone would call us Tues or Wed.
Jessica at Crime Victim Services called me. She believes "our great law enforcement that we have" had let us down on Tuesday night. She was going to check and see if we could still press charges. She also wants to meet with Cassie for some after-crime counseling.
I spoke at length with Kelly Jensen, the school social worker. She had called and talked to Marna from Children’s Mental Health Services on Wednesday and that was probably a big part of why she had our info so handy and was so quick to agree to put us on the program.
Kelly said that if we didn’t want to send Cassie back to school for the last week of the year, they would work with us. This summer we can contact her via email and she’ll call us.
She suggested that we get Cassie’s records from Riverview Clinic. She’s never been very impressed with them. She doesn’t believe Cassie should have been diagnosed as bipolar after only six hours of testing. She believes we need a second opinion and gave us several names of psyhologists who can assist with that.
Jessica with Crime Victim Services called back and left a message that we could see Cassie’s primary doctor for further testing for STD’s and medicine to help prevent that. She reiterated that she’d like to meet with Cassie and gave us the Crisis hotline in case we needed it over the weekend.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
We got a letter from the Saint Peter ER stating that she had a urinary tract infection and should follow up with her regular doctor for treatment. Really? Do you think so? Let’s see…if they had told us this on Tuesday night, Cassie would’ve been on medication already and it would have been GONE!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
We brought Cassie into the ER for her UTI. She was in severe pain, couldn’t sit through church, and had blood in her urine. Again, had St. Peter been on top of things and even CALLED instead of sending a letter, or better yet, telling us on Tuesday night, this THIRD trip to the ER (which took about 3 hours!) could have been avoided, not to mention the pain my daughter was in. The ER doc here said she had a "whopping UTI".

So there you have it...all the wonderful events of last week. Typing it all in now, it's hard to believe so much happened in such a short amount of time. We spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone. In fact, we went over on our cell phone minutes by almost 400! We upped our plan accordingly. LOL

In addition to all of this with Cassie, I still had Katie and Dominic staying at my house, we were trying to pack up Mom as she has to be out of her apartment by May 31st, but she, Katie and Dominic were leaving on Saturday, May 24th at 7am on a flight back to North Carolina. Plus, I we are still parents to Christopher, who is so quiet (most of the time) that it's easy to allow him to fall through the cracks. The Access Nurse, Rebecca, told Cassie not to misbehave or next visit to the ER would be ME being admitted into the psych ward! LOL. Won't happen because I have GOD and the support system He's given me to handle all of this. He is SO awesome...He's been there every step of the way through this entire crisis. Thank You Jesus for always being faithful!

If you stuck with me through this super long post...thank you. Your support and prayers are much appreciated. Love you all...


I spent a couple of hours on the phone yesterday. I tell you, trying to get some of these organizations to return a phone call is a frustrating experience! I have been calling Nicollet County Children's Mental Health Services since Friday. They said someone would call me on Tuesday or Wednesday. I gave them Tuesday to call me and when they didn't, I called them on Wednesday, and again yesterday morning. At 4:50pm, I called yet another time and finally got the person in charge. We've been assigned a case manager, and she sounded surprised that the case manager hadn't called me yet. Was I surprised? Absolutely not. This seems to be the name of this game they play. So I got our case manager's number and called her immediately. Of course, I got her voicemail. I left a message and she actually called me today! We have an appointment on Monday at 5pm. Whew! One down, 8 gazillion to go. 

Our other surprise was a sheriff knocking on our door yesterday afternoon. As Nicole put it, we thought "Wait, she's in our living room, why are the police here?" LOL. Sorry...we're just used to dealing with police when she's missing. Anyway, he was there to serve papers on our court date for Cassie. I was caught off guard and a bit frazzled to say the least. I thought we would just receive papers in the mail. Guess not. Another piece of knowledge I've now picked up on this journey we are on. I'm learning so much! 

God is certainly using this experience to stretch me. I'm learning to be assertive, to take charge and to get into action immediately instead of waiting. These are not qualities I've possessed before, so I'm rather excited to see myself growing! 

So things are starting to happen. Still not fast enough for me, but at least they're moving. 

Here's the recap:
June 2...appt with county children's mental health worker
June 10...court
August 4...appt with psychiatrist for medication
August 6...appt with psychologist for therapy

I will admit I am nervous about the court date. I have been asked a couple of times if she's ever been removed from the home. Of course not! I pray that they DON'T remove her! I love my daughter and will fight to the finish for her. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING can ever change that. No matter what issues she is dealing with, no matter how disrespectful, no matter the outcome of any of this, she is my daughter and I love her and I will fight for her safety, her mental health, her emotional protection, and her spiritual growth. 

Specific prayer requests:
* That the psychiatrist AND the psychologist can get us in sooner than the August dates (we are on their cancellation lists so this is a possibility if God wills!)
* That the court date goes smoothly...that the outcome are those things that God has willed for her - and our - life
* For financial blessings...we have missed work and are facing fines/fees/expenses through all of this that we were unaware of.
* That God continues to make His presence known in this situation. 
* That God would move in Cassie's heart and use this to draw her unto Himself. She has gone beyond questioning her faith to stating that she doesn't believe in Him at all and her disrespectful attitude is extending unto her Creator. Pray that she is unable/unwilling to voice this unbelief and disrespect. Pray that instead, she would begin to seek out the One who is able to hold her and keep her through whatever happens.
*Pray for Christopher as he watches all of this. He has a very tender heart and it gets broken easily. He worries a lot and needs his heart protected.
*For our marriage, that the stress of the situation would not take it's toll on our bond. We need to bond together during this time and stand strong with Christ as our center.

So that's where we are at for the moment. I'm leaning on God, taking life one minute at a time and trusting Him to lead us the very next step down the path. He is good, faithful, and trustworthy and I know He's got everything in the palm of His hand. We appreciate all of your support and prayers and words of encouragement. I told the social worker at the school that if this HAD to happen to someone, then I'm glad it's us. She was shocked that I said that until I explained. We have a very strong support system. We have family who stand beside us and walk through this with us. We have friends who are able to help us navigate through this system. We have GOD Who helps us every step, every minute of every day. This is not fun and if I had to choose, I would not walk this path. BUT, we are able to walk through this valley because God has set up support in our lives and especially Him to get us through. Other families do not have this kind of support and it might destroy them.  So again, thank You God, and thank you to all our family and friends. We couldn't do it without you. We love you all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Constant State of Crisis

I feel as if I'm living in a constant state of crisis.

It's completely exhausting.

Dar woke me up this morning at 5:30 with the words, "Our daughter is missing".

Oh, how I hate those words and the worry that follows them!

I went into her room to check, hoping he was wrong. He wasn't. Her bed was empty, her cell phone gone, the door downstairs unlocked.

At least this time my first reaction was to turn to Jesus. I prayed...please, let her come home. Have her answer our calls and texts. He answered. She answered almost immediately after I prayed. She'd woken up from a nightmare about her experience last week, and couldn't go back to sleep. So she got up and went for a walk.

We told her, please, next time, wake us up! It's a lot more disturbing to wake up to an empty room than it is to an upset daughter.

This morning we both have to work, so she's home alone. We're calling every half hour or so, to make sure she's there. Don't know what else to do! The wheels of mental health services turn SO slowly, and so we wait...for a psychologist for her to talk to, for a psychiatrist to get her on medication, for the county to tell us what resources are out there for us.

The little bit of reading I've done on Bipolar Disorder paints a grim picture, a long, hard road full of worry, trying anything one can think of, lots of pain and tears and frustration. I've read that at least one third of people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder DIE from suicide, accidents, drug overdose, etc. And it may be closer to two thirds.

Please, please, please, keep us in your prayers. I pray that the diagnosis is incorrect. I pray that our road won't be as hard as it seems it will be. I pray her life doesn't end in suicide or accidental death or drug overdose. I pray for peace in our hearts, discernment and guidance for our steps, and understanding from employers, family, and friends.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Walking with Jesus

I went for a walk tonight. A very long walk. Part of it was function (had to drop off a deposit in the night box at the bank and return a couple of movies to Redbox), part of it was for exercise, and part of it was for mental rejuvination. I'd say all three were accomplished, to some extent.

Along the way I asked God to show Himself, to walk with me, hold me by my right hand, wrap His mighty arms around me and show me that He has me, my family, and our situation, all in the palm of His hand. He reminded me that "when you walk through the waters, I will be there", and that "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age", and that "you will seek Me, and you will find Me, when you seek Me with all of your heart". I can't tell you exact book & verse of any of those Scriptures, but they are in my heart, where they belong, and He brought them to mind when I needed to hear them. He's so good that way.

I was walking along, looking at the ground, scanning the trash there (you never know when you'll find something of value!) and He whispered into my heart that if I sought Him that way, checked out everything, hoping it might be something of Him, that I'd find more of Him. So I began to look up. I saw a tree...obviously of God; He created it. lol. I heard the birds singing; again, obviously of God. Another walker passed me and greeted me with friendly words and a smile; I believe that's of God too...all good gifts come from the Father above. :-) I saw a street sign with the word "live" in it. It brought to mind a song..."He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me, along life's narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart."

Hmmm...some might say that's a stretch (a street sign? from God?) But...the song perfectly fit my request and my actions of the moment, so yes, I believe it's from Him. To doubt that would be to put God in a box, saying He can only speak through the profound, the beautiful, and not the ordinary, everyday things. He's too big to put in a box.

It was a rough day today. Work was stressful with added responsibilities and a lack of energy (still catching up from three weeks with a newborn in the house!). My daughter is, and possibly always will be, challenging every word, every thought, every moment of our is exhausting. I worry, about how to handle this new diagnosis of mental illness, how to keep her safe, how to handle the crisis of last week, how to handle the upcoming summer with it's lack of structure yet busyness of schedules. I find so many, many things to worry about. Life is hard right now. I'm not even trying to put on the "happy, Super-Christian" face. I just don't have the physical, spiritual, or emotional energy to do so. So this is what I am, this is how I feel, and that's just the way it is right now.

And yet, through it all, God is good. God is present. He is my ever present help in time of need. And He speaks to me (and to you). He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Look up, listen, He is whispering to all of us, loving us, holding us through our trials. Try to keep your eyes on Him, I know I'll be trying to do the same.

Monday, May 26, 2008

In the beginning

Ok, so it's only the beginning of my blog. I've never done this before, but feel the need to have an outlet for my thoughts other than my handwritten journal. We'll see how this goes. Also, it seems there's so much drama in our lives right now and I'm telling the story over and over again. I do appear to be horrible at calling and updating everyone, so if I can keep this up to date, then all you have to do is come read all about our crazy life!