Monday, April 14, 2014

Return of the Rage

It’s been over 4 months, but last week my oldest son went into a rage again.

As a result, he now faced our new consequence for the first time:
He lost his bed, all forms of electronics and the privilege of riding in the front seat of the car for the entire week.

My son has been doing exceptionally well lately, like REALLY good, so this came as somewhat of a surprise. But over the years I’ve learned that a person is never cured by their medication, there will always be breakthrough symptoms from time-to-time.

This rage came after two days of increasing intensity in him. He explained it like this to me, “For the past two days I have a feeling inside that I want to fight someone. Yesterday I was getting into an argument with my brothers but Dad resolved it, but I still came back at them, just because I wanted to fight someone.”

I noticed that as his behavior escalated, he was doing everything he could to provoke me. For 45 minutes he attempted to escalate the situation, but I ignored his behavior or I tried to redirect him, but it seemed even then that no matter what I did, he was going to go into a rage.

It’s that Dr. Jeykell, Mr. Hyde syndrome. Mr. Hyde was in the house and he was grinning at me as he tipped furniture over, taunted his brothers and threatened to break things. His opposition was at an all time high, but I wasn’t going to bite his bait. Unfortunately that just encouraged him to up the ante.

The tipping point for me was when he grabbed a glass bottle and was threatening to throw it over the balcony onto the tile floor below. The last thing I needed in this situation was broken glass all over, so I grabbed the bottle from him as I wrestled him to the ground.

Then the battle began.

He swung punches at me, bit me, and scratched my arms up pretty bad as I tried to keep him on the ground.

I really wanted to avoid going here, but as my son later explained, “The rage was going to happen and there was nothing you could do to stop it.”

As we wrestled on the ground, my middle son called an adult friend to come to the house as well as my husband (who works 45 minutes away). I knew that I probably only had 10-15 minutes in me to hold him down, he’s taller than me now and much stronger. Plus I was already bleeding a little a few minutes in, so I knew we needed to get this under control quickly.

At one point he dug his fingernails into my forearm and was grinding them deeper into my skin. It felt like an animal had my arm in it’s teeth and was refusing to let go. I started to cry over him, begging him to let go of my arm, explaining that it was hurting me, but he only dug in deeper.

After a few minutes of trying to hold him down, my middle son came into the room, grabbed his brother’s legs and helped hold him down. As he held him he calmly said, “This is not you right now, this is your illness. Please stop hurting mom.”

Thankfully, as predicted, having my husband’s friend stop by de-escalated the situation quickly.

What followed when my husband got home was the removal of my son’s bed from his room to the garage, signally the beginning of his week long of consequences. This is our effort to teach our son that violence is never acceptable and won’t be tolerated. We explained that he’s managed to learn to “keep it together” at school, he’ll have to learn that skill at home too.

As usual, our son seemed renewed after the rage. The chemicals released in his brain during the rage seemed to “reset” his brain. He was handling his consequence well, even made a makeshift bed in his room and borrowed books since he’ll have a lot more free time without electronics.

The true test will be if he remembers this long week of consequences and chooses therapy steps over a rage the next time he feels like he needs to fight someone.

Only time will tell.

* * *

Today marks the end of the week long consequences. The bed has been returned and life is continuing as usual. I thought it was worth sharing that our son never once complained about his consequences. I find this surprising, in fact, I was prepared for a rough week. But instead, he was great. He seemed to accept his consequences and made a good effort to earn it all back. I’m pretty proud of him.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Praising God

The last time I wrote here I was in a pretty bad place. I was facing a lot of fear regarding the future of my family. We were facing the uncertainty of my husband’s job along with the concern that he had an incurable cancer.

It all started when my husband’s routine blood work came back with markers for a possible blood cancer. As his primary care doctor put it, “I’m concerned about Multiple Myeloma—a cancerous situation.”

Over the past month my husband went through further testing all while we faced the uncertainty about his future employment. This period brought me to my knees to say the least. It felt like my foundation was falling apart, forcing me to lean on my true and only foundation, God.

I prayed through tears, fighting my mind as it imagined the horrible. One day I was so overwhelmed with all we had been through and was angry that we were facing the possibility of so much more that I attacked our kickboxing bag with a vengeance, letting my anger out with intense screams (something I picked up from my boys’ therapy sessions). I have to admit that it felt damn good! The only downfall was the embarrassment I felt when I realized that my neighbor was standing on the side of the house, next to my room and probably heard the entire thing.

I wish I could say that I was strong and was able to put my worries aside, but honestly, I felt like I was holding on for dear life. I was sicker than I’d hoped to be during this period of uncertainty. I think it had been too much stress for too long over the years. In my weakness, I leaned on God.

Then we got the results of another lab test for my husband and our concerns for cancer were heightened. But in God’s faithfulness, we got a call from my husband’s company securing his position the very same day. It was perfect timing, God knew that we were drowning under the weight of it all and He took that concern from us.

Flash forward to the weekend before my husband’s oncologist appointment and our home was filled with dread and anticipation. You could feel the heaviness in the air. Then I got a call from my biggest client telling me that she was quitting her business, thus I’d be losing the work. Follow that with my son’s staph leg infection from the Molluscum Contagious virus he acquired and you end up with my last post “Stop the Pain.”

So tonight I can share that our trip to the oncologist turned out better than expected. After reviewing all the lab results, the doctor was able to determine that my husband did not have cancer. In fact, he’s a pretty healthy guy. It was a false alarm.


Then later that evening I got a call to learn that my former client’s business was being bought out by another person and I would be getting my work back.


So you may be wondering, did I learn anything by going through this expereince?

YES! This experience gave me great perspective. I was able to see first hand how much my family is loved by family and friends. It made me appreciate the simplest things, it clarified the things that I love most. It made me realize how much I depend on my man, how much I need him, how deeply I love him. It also made me realize that I can lose everything in an instant and though I may remain broken in pieces, God is there to help me. He is always by my side.

It also reminded me that even though I’ve been through a lot of challenges over the years, I live a very blessed life.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Stop the Pain!

Today I spent the day in urgent care with my little man. He developed a skin infection from a possible skin virus (still waiting for the final diagnosis.) It was an awful event, I had to hold him down while the doctor stuck a large needle into his infected wound 3 times, then watched her slice the wound open. My son screamed so intensely that his lips cracked and bled. At one point he begged for it to be over, only to hear the doctor say that she was only halfway through.

Sometimes life feels this way. We face so many painful events, begging to have the pain end, only to learn that we are only halfway through.

Life has been rough on us lately. Not because of our boys, in fact they’ve been really great. But life is kicking our a$$ and I’m screaming for the pain to end.

Please pray for us.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Field Trip and Public Meltdowns

This week I attended a school field trip with my youngest to a local science fair. It was a great trip until the end when it was time to leave. As you can imagine, my son went into a crying fit, yelling, “This is the worst day ever!”

Surrounded by his third grade peers, I was able to observe their reactions as they watched him from a far, it was obvious that they didn’t understand why my son was so upset. A few tried to console him, asking why he was crying, but my son barked back, “Get Away From Me!”

I tried numerous times to calm him down. I explained that he was making a big scene and that he may feel embarrassed later. But I don’t know how much he understood that.

He was upset about the usual things, unmet expectations, sensory overload, and the transition of going home. But what caught my attention this time was the impact his behavior was going to have on him socially.

In just a few years, he’ll be in middle school. How will he handle it then? Will he still have these outbursts? Will he be teased, or worse, without friends?

It’s tough. There are things I want to protect him from, but some things are completely out of my control. I can’t change him. I can’t make other kids accept him as he is.

But I can love him.

And that’s just what I did.

I held him close on the bus ride home and let him cry on my knee and reminded him that tomorrow will be a better day.

* * *

This week I saw this very informative video presented by a young man who has Aspergers. He’s part of a team called the Asperger Experts. My child doesn’t have this diagnosis, but I couldn’t help but see my son in everything he talked about. In the video he presents an intelligent perspective of why parents should not teach their kids social skills. If you have a child with sensory issues who is struggling socially, this is a MUST SEE video.

Aspergers’ Sensory Funnel: Watch this video to learn why teaching someone with Aspergers social skills should be one of the LAST things you do, and exactly what to do instead to cause rapid growth in someone with AS.

Link to video:

Then I came across the second video shown below and it was brilliant! You HAVE to watch this!!! It explains the critical mistake parents make with their kids who have sensory issues.

The Critical Mistake that Parents Make:
(If you are viewing this through your email, you’ll need to visit my blog online to view the following video:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Little Man In Trouble

Last week my youngest came home from school with a sad face.

He grumbled, “I got in trouble today.”

When I asked what happened, he said, “I was reading to the second grade class (a younger class he has read to in the past), when two of my classmates came in and told me I had to go back to my classroom.”

“When I got back to my classroom my teacher told me I was in trouble for leaving.”

Sensing a detail missing, I asked him “Did you ask your teacher if you could leave the class to read to the second grade class?”

My youngest adamantly protested, “No! I already got permission from the second grade teacher last week. She told me that I could come back anytime to read to her class.”

And that’s exactly what he did!

Unfortunately, it was without his teacher’s approval and during his own class time.

I can’t help but find the whole situation amusing…

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Feeling Anxious

It’s been a while since my last post. Life is getting very busy and free time is rare these days. In a way it’s been nice, as my kids do better, I can focus on new things, like my home business. Lately its been growing and I enjoy getting back into the work I love. But balancing it all is still something I need to work on. I imagine that moms never get this figured out. (If you do, please send instructions ASAP!)

My oldest is doing really great, just a few spats here and there. He still hasn’t raged since we threatened to take his mattress away if he did. Instead, he’s loving the spring weather, everyday after school he goes to a nearby field to build huts and have adventures in the wild. He seems to come back renewed and glowing. Yesterday when he didn’t respond to the walk-e-talkie check I did, I had to go find him. There he was lying in a bed of spring flowers by a pond—asleep! Yes, he was resting and drifted off to sleep. It’s like his soul finds complete peace in the outdoors. I love that about him.

My youngest on the other hand is drifting towards anxiety. His OCD seems to be increasing a little and he seems stressed most of the time. I’m starting to see his breakdowns over changes in schedule and lately he cries a lot about wanting things to be “perfect”. It seems to torment him endlessly. Just the other night he was up well past his bed time stressed about a school costume he was wearing the next day. It didn’t match the storybook character perfectly and he couldn’t let that go. 

Right now we’re reminding him to breathe through his stress. He also takes baths after school to help himself relax. In addition we’re trying to decrease his electronic time, I admit it’s hard with this little guy since he doesn’t find joy in many other things. But we’re working on that too. His middle brother has jumped in to help by getting him outside to throw balls or skateboard. 

I think our next step is getting him back into therapy. We’re considering a new therapist for him. Not because we dislike our current one, but I think we need to look for someone who specializes in kids like him. Not sure what to call it, but someone who can help a child who has Aspergers traits and a heavy dose of anxiety who needs social training skills along with one-on-one therapy. I’m learning that this can be hard to do without the Autism Spectrum diagnosis. Our first attempt failed so I’m back to the drawing board. What’s disappointing is that our pediatrician said that we may need to seek out more assessments just to get the label we need to give him access to the therapy he needs. Of course all out of pocket! This is why labels matter. Having a child that doesn’t fit a label is very challenging. Without it they are denied the care they need.

Sigh... sometimes I feel like I can’t take another battle. 

I am exhausted and burned out.

Am I allowed to say that?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Podcast and News for Parents Like You!

I’ve got some share-worthy links for you today. First is a podcast that you can listen to by clicking on the link below. It’s about diagnosing bipolar disorder in children and adolescents from Dr. Kenneth Towbin who is the Chief of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Throughout the 27 minute podcast he answers tough questions many of you may have. It’s worth your time!

You’ll hear his perspective on how a lot of kids who have severe mood dysregulation may look bipolar as a child, but grow up to have anxiety or depression and not bipolar disorder as an adult. He digs deeper into the differences of bipolar disorder and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder and how irritability can be part of many types of disorders. He also shares how rages alone don’t indicate bipolar disorder and clarifies how to evaluate responses to medications. He then offers up alternatives to medication for the treatment of mood disorders.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder in Children and Adolescents

* * *

Next, CNN did a story this past month about Gianni Cristini, a young child struggling with mental illness and sucidal thinking since he was 4 years old. This story comes with an insightful video showing the heartbreaking experience, one you may relate to.

Suicidal at 4: Young and mentally ill
By Kyung Lah, CNN
updated 3:06 PM EST, Tue February 11, 2014

* * *

Wishing you all a good week ahead. Hang in there… take it one day at a time, or even one moment at a time. Praying for you all this week.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

He’s Now Anemic

We saw my son’s psychiatrist last week and after looking at his blood results, he’s determined that my oldest son is anemic. After sharing my concerns of him barely eating at dinner every night, the doctor weighed him and confirm that he isn’t gaining the weight that he’s suppose to for his growth in height. So now the question remains, is he anemic because he refuses to eat, or is his appetite decreased because he’s anemic? Our psychiatrist isn’t sure.

I did ask about his medications, but most of them list weight gain as a side effect. Being a naturally skinny kid, he’s never experienced that. At this time the doctor doesn’t think this is related to the medications, especially because he’s been on them for a long time and the decreased appetite seems to be more recent.

So now we’re being referred to his primary care where we’ll begin further testing and see if we can figure out what’s going on. In the meantime, my son complains that it’s hard for him to eat most meals because he doesn’t feel hungry, but he does acknowledge that he feels tired and weak most of the time.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Genesight Testing for Medication Guidance

Recently I attended a support group where I learned about Genesight testing from Assurex Health. This testing uses pharmacogenomic technology to look at your genetic makeup and determine which medications may be the best based on your DNA. It’s easy to administer, just a cheek swab and a few weeks waiting while it’s sent to the lab. The testing specifically looks at medications used to treat behavior health conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I also know of a local doctor that’s testing his autistic patients. Basically the test helps determine what meds to try and what meds to avoid. This sparked my curiosity to say the least.

My friend had her son tested and shared the results with our group. It outlined 3 categories of medications: “green” (use as directed), “yellow” (use with caution) or “red” (use with increased caution). It also was able to determine if folic acid was being metabolized properly. According to my friend’s doctor, folic acid is important for the brain when it comes to utilizing the medications given to the brain. In my friend’s case, they determined that his body wasn’t metabolizing the folic acid effectively, thus explaining why for years the meds weren’t as affective as they should’ve been. The doctor is now able to address the folic acid deficiency with a form of supplemental folic acid that’s already broken down so it can easily be absorbed.

The idea behind this testing is that doctors can receive individual insight into each patient and make better medication decisions, thus minimizing the trial and error method. Wouldn’t that be a blessing! To think we could’ve avoided some of the bad interactions we experienced over the years. This is definitely worth looking into. At this point, I’m not advocating this test, but just wanted to share with you what I found. I’ve requested this testing for both of my boys and look forward to discussing it further with our psychiatrist later this week. I’ll let you know if we pursue it and if we do, I’ll share our results.

If you have experience with this test, please share with us below!

* * *

Gene test can help recommend best psychiatric medications for patients

Monday, February 10, 2014

When They Refuse to Eat

Lately I’ve been challenged with trying to get my oldest son to eat dinner. He’s always been pretty picky, but lately, to my surprise, he’s become even more so. I worry because he’s a growing teenager and he’s eating like a bird at dinner, sometimes only eating 1 or 2 bites. I’m not worried about him starving since he eats breakfast and lunch on most days (mainly carbs), but even then it can be like pulling teeth. Why doesn’t he want to eat? Is it his sensory issues with food? Are the meds affecting his appetite?

It seems that the more we encourage him to eat, the more he pulls back and won’t even try. I think it may be about control, food is something he can control. This concerns me because most eating disorders are about control. I definitely want to avoid that!

Parenting books advise to not feed him “go-to” foods that he’ll eat, because if you wait long enough he’ll get hungry and eventually eat with the family. But when we pursue that direction, his moods become unstable as his blood sugar drops. It just isn’t worth it.

So we decided to back off. I’m not going to encourage him to put something on his plate. Or force him to try things. I’m letting him have all the control and hopefully in time, he’ll decide to eat more.

Have any of you faced this, and if so, what worked?
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