The Pica Kid

There was this kid that came in once a long time ago when I first started this job. In my whole 2 years of working here I don’t think I have ever heard such a sad story as this one. I will call him Jacob. The first time I saw Jacob I felt like I wanted to cry. He was the tiniest, malnourished 18 year old I had ever seen. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought he was 12 years old, his body was emaciated, his skin extremely pale, his teeth mostly rotted from years of taking meth. He looked like he had been malnourished for years and he had lost his sight in his left eye. Since he was 18 we had to put him on the Adult Unit but we were worried about him, not knowing if he would be able to handle it.

Jacob had an extremely traumatic background, he was born into a family of two drug addicts. While Jacob was still in his mothers womb she used Meth and then when he was born she gave him Meth for years and years, up until he was 9 years old. She would also inject Lysol into his arm. On top of this both of his parents sexually abused him for the first 9 years of his life as well as trade him for sex to drug dealers. When Jacob was 9 years old the school nurse saw how abused he was and he was soon taken out of his parents care and put up for adoption. He was immediately adopted into a loving family and for the last 9 years had been living with them. Even though he had been given a safe loving environment the abuse had left too big of a scar on him. He suffered with Pica, a disorder where he eats random objects in hopes of ending his life.

When I walked him onto the Unit I sat him down and went to get him so food. I brought him some yogurt and cheese strings and pudding. I watched as he ate the food quickly, enjoying every bite. The pudding made it all over his face and when I asked him a question I could tell that he was too scared to make eye contact, I supposed something that had lingered from years of abuse. I couldn’t leave him because we were afraid he would try eating the plastic spork that he was eating with. They had told us that he would take off his t-shirt, rip it up and eat it. He would also drink Drano and eat his own feces in hopes of killing himself. So we were pretty worried when he first got to us.

Jacob was with us for a couple weeks and he never once tried to eat anything that wasn’t food. He was always hungry and asking for extra food and we gladly gave him anything he wanted. He was however extremely messy and had no concept of hygiene. We also found him in his room masturbating constantly, another effect from years of sexual abuse.

He was always so sorry for these things though. Always apologizing and wanting to be better. I remember one time he said to me, ” I feel shame and guilt for the things I’ve done wrong.” He then told me how he had murdered his families two pet dogs by stabbing them to death.

I could tell that he sincerely was sorry and just couldn’t cope with all of the abuse. He was masturbating, killing animals, eating objects. The reason he had come to us initially was because he had laid down in a river in the middle of the winter hoping to freeze to death. He wanted to die more than anything. He had no hope to live, no reason, no happiness.

When it was time to leave his adoptive parents didn’t want to take him back, they felt that he was affecting their other children too much in a negative way but in the end they decided to take him back. When he left we all thought he wasn’t going to make it, that he would only end up in a worse situation.

A year later I was out with my patients on smoke break in the courtyard and I noticed one of the other patients from a different Unit. He looked familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Towards the end he walked up to me and said, ” Do you remember me?” When I heard his voice I said, ” Jacob?!” I had never forgotten his voice because it was the only child-like thing about him, the only thing that hadn’t be tainted by his abuse.  He was taller and filled out, he no longer appeared emaciated or sickly. He held himself with more confidence and joined into conversation with the other adult patients. When he had been here the year before he had never spoke to the other patients, he had played video games all the time.  I didn’t ask him why he was here this time but just told him that it was good to see him. That was the last time I saw him but I was so glad that I had seen him. I was glad that he was alive and doing even a little bit better. The fact that he was not on my Unit was a good sign because my unit meant you were doing very badly. Jacob was a very sweet boy and I really do wish him the best.


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