Saturday, March 6, 2010
After about 6 months of being on Tenex it became apparent that my son needed more help with his brain’s chemical imbalance. Even though the Tenex helped to reduce his rages, my son became more intense and dangerous during a rage. Instead of focusing on just destroying an object, he became more intent on hurting others. We also noticed that his anxiety was increasing, so much so, that he was leaving his classroom on a regular bases because his stomach was upset. His teacher also pointed out that he was withdrawing socially among his peers. He also was unable to participate in any fun family events that had a gathering of people without feeling overwhelmed. Then the nightmares started to intensify and he began to sleepwalk more. So once the therapist determined that he did indeed have a mood disorder, the doctor that manages his medicine (his psychiatrist) prescribed Seroquel.
Seroquel is a newer antipsychotic drug. This drug is considered to be safer than older antipsychotic drugs with less side effects. Especially the weight gain that is so commonly seen with drugs used in children. However, this is a big step from the Tenex, being that this drug is a lot more powerful. The possible serious side effects were scary. Reading things like suicidal thoughts, enlarged breasts, seizures and facial distortions made my heart race. But it goes back to the basic fact that my son needed help, he couldn't continue on this current path, so we had to trust our doctors.
I will be honest and say that it was a little disturbing to see how quickly my son was sedated by this medication. The first night he was knocked out within 30 minutes of taking it. My son was a little scared as the drug took affect, just feeling the drowsiness sweep in and he couldn’t fight it. But by the second night he liked this affect since it helped him go right to sleep, something that wasn’t always easy for him.
Our first reaction to this medication was joy. We got our old son back, he was restored to his formal self. He woke up in a pleasant and happy mood, no more punches and kicks as he got ready with his family. He was more talkative, excited to share his life and details about school. He also became more sensitive to his brothers, making an effort to share well and even help his little brother throughout the day. Our 7 year old commented, “I’m having a lot of fun playing with my brother now that he is nice again”. Our son said that he didn’t feel anxiety at school anymore and he wasn’t having anymore nightmares. His sleepwalking completely disappeared. But more than all those things, our son actually “looked different”, it looked like a weight had been lifted off him. He had a radiant smile and we were seeing it often. We were overjoyed.
When I asked him how he felt with the new medicine, he said “I use to have to hold my anger in all the time, but now I don’t even feel anger, I feel happiness!”
Our son had such a dramatic turnaround that the psychiatrist decided that we should try removing the first drug by reducing his pills slowly over the next month until he was completely off them. She figured that since Seroquel was so strong, it wasn't necessary to have the Tenex.
So one week into our 1/2 pill reduction we were caught off guard by our son coming home from school very agitated. He had trouble getting through his homework and was mean to his brothers. He even became impulsive at night, running and hiding from us instead of getting ready for bed. Then he ran and bit his younger brother for no reason and I had that gut feeling that something was going wrong with the drug reduction. I could even see it in his eyes. If you are a parent of a child with a mood disorder, you may know what I am talking about. When my son gets in a certain mood, he gets this glazed look in his eyes, like he can’t be reached, no amount of words can bring him back. Instead he is ruled by an impulsive energy. Unfortunately this impulsiveness was a bigger problem than I originally thought.
The following day I got a call from the school principal. My son, who never before had been in trouble at school, was in his office. Apparently my son had written a letter to another student telling him to “die” in several statements. Of course this action is a serious matter in any school. But under the circumstances, since my son was only a 3rd grader, and had been trouble free, he was only required to write an apology letter to the student. If he had been a 4th grader, it would have been an automatic suspension.
When asked him why he did it, he said “I don’t know why, I couldn’t help it. I need my old medicine back!”
So I immediately contacted the therapist and psychiatrist describing the situation and the behaviors I saw the night before and they all agreed that he needed to return to his normal dose of both Tenex and Seroquel. It was easy to see that the Tenex was still playing a role with his impulsiveness, so once removed, it became harder for him to maintain control.
I wish I can say that everything returned to normal, but it hasn’t. Ever since we reduced the Tenex dose, our son hasn’t been well. Even though he is now back on all his regular doses, we haven’t returned to that one magical month where are son was filled with happiness.