(Appeared in CNN iReport)
Today in the news is the shocking story of a young man who was chained in the family basement for months. My son was treated similarly, only his chains were the force of an illness, and the abuser was the State. Instead of protecting my son, the State abused him.
This is how it started: my son entered a hospital after nine months of a mystery illness, and was treated with intentional and arbitrary pain. We were told that he had no physical illness—contradicting what two other doctors had already told us—and that he could be punished into instantaneous remission, if only we all believed.
I had trouble accepting the “belief” part, and trouble accepting the therapeutic value of arbitrary pain.
Under their treatment, my son’s condition worsened rapidly, and he became almost completely paralyzed. I begged that the treatment be done differently; and when that was denied, I asked to have him signed out of the hospital, citing the extensive harm they were doing.
They claimed that by being critical of their methods, I was preventing their success. I had jinxed their hoodoo. Child Protective Services (CPS) was called in to force me to accept their diagnosis and “treatment.” Their claim was that because they were professionals, they were right, and that by claiming that they were hurting my son, I was causing the very damage I complained about; because in doing so, I undermined their authority!
To my great dismay, every person involved—the judge, the court appointed lawyers, CPS—all agreed that objecting to the treatment amounted to abuse of my son. They agreed that by criticizing doctors, I had scotched the hospital’s efforts, and thus was guilty of child abuse—or at least was guilty of “likely putting the minor at risk of severe emotional abuse.”
CPS took custody of my son, and enforced the punishment-as-treatment insisted on by the hospital. That my son failed to respond to their treatment was cited as evidence of the “abuse” I had inflicted on him—by voicing my opposition to their stunningly cruel and unusual treatment. All other medical opinions were forcefully rejected, no matter their expertise and experience. I was told that by even seeking any another medical opinion, I risked losing all rights to my son.
It took 573 days, and over $100,000 to get my son out of the clinging grasp of CPS, and allow him to be seen by a qualified expert. The nationally respected expert confirmed that my son had a physiological illness, and that forcing him to endure physical and psychological suffering was not a legitimate form of treatment. Exactly as I had said from the very beginning.
It took a total of four years before my son was able to use his legs again. The process imposed first by the hospital, and later by CPS, was directly responsible for causing him immense suffering—in addition to permanent physical disability, disfigurement and pain.
Despite the intensity of my son’s trauma, and the extremity of the harm he suffered—or because of it—there was absolutely no accountability on the part of the officials who usurped my duties as parent. No one ever acknowledged harming my son, or ever admitted that causing pain is hardly a standard form of treatment for any illness—psychological or physical.
My attempts to find legal redress through the courts was thoroughly stymied. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice had expired while my son was still in the care of CPS; and CPS, themselves, had the rock-solid excuse that they were relying on the expertise of the hospital. They were supported by a battery of laws that grants them immunity from prosecution.
I have written an account of my experiences, Team Zip It, and the Power of Naught; a True Account of Medical Hubris and State Sponsored Errorism. I want the world to know what was done, and I want to make sure it never happens to another child again. Telling the story is my only redress.