Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We Need Your Vote to Win!

It’s been a rocky ride in the Pepsi Refresh Project, over Christmas we dropped to 3rd place then moved back to 1st place. So this is the final stretch and we need EVERY vote to win $250,000 for our kids who are suffering with mood disorders.

With New Years around the corner, it can be anyone’s win if we don’t keep voting. Please vote and spread the word to family and friends, it’s our time to win this grant and make a difference in our children’s lives. What an incredible way to welcome in the new year!

If for one reason only, please vote for my son, he knows about this grant and is so excited to know that people are voting to help him.

* * *

If this is your first time to vote, check out the details below:

CABF is competing for a $250,000 grant from The Pepsi Refresh Project during the month of November. The winners will be decided by popular vote. CABF needs your three votes EVERY DAY this month!

Voting all three ways; follow the two links below and text from your cell phone.

Vote Online
: Go to http://www.refresheverything.com/CABFhelpsmorekids . This will take you to the CABF Pepsi online voting page. Click "Vote for this Idea". Register once and then you are all set.

Vote on Facebook
http://tiny.cc/cabfhelpsmorekids. The first time you vote via Facebook, you'll be asked for permission to access your information. Click "Allow". This will take you to the Pepsi Refresh Vote & Share application. You will see CABF's project below the search bar. Click "Vote for this Idea". (After you vote, be sure to click "share this idea" to encourage your friends to vote for us on Facebook. Do this every time you vote!) Note: If you don't see our project, search for "CABF".

Text your Vote
: Text 104174 to PEPSI (73774) (Normal text rates apply).

Winning a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant would truly transform CABF's ability to provide support, information and hope to thousands more families. Thank you for your support.

* * *

Overview of how the grant would be used:

Goals:
Expand awareness of depression & bipolar disorder in youth
Educate parents about symptoms and treatments
Enlighten the public about teen suicide
Eliminate the stigma associated with childhood mental illness
Extend hope to families raising children with a mental illness

Youth depression and bipolar is seldom discussed. It affects 7% of all children in the U.S., yet only a small fraction receive treatment. We plan to launch an outreach campaign to inform parents about the symptoms of mood disorders and how to find help. The outreach will be accomplished via:

-Detailed Communication Plan

-Online ads

-Bi-weekly webinars

-Weekly podcasts

-Daily social networking

-150,000 brochures & 3 mailings to psychiatrists

Experienced CABF staff members will coordinate the webinars, podcasts and volunteer training. Our trained volunteer corps of 100+ around the US are ready to assist new families and youth who reach out to us in crisis. CABF has the capacity to refresh the lives of so many more youth!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our Happy Ending

Tonight my son and I watch the movie The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock. About a half and hour into it my son said, “this is such a sad movie.” I looked at him and explained that he needed to finish the movie because lots of good stuff happens in the end.

I explained to him that sometimes life’s hardships bring the sweetest rewards, that a lot of good stuff can happen that wasn’t possible without the bad stuff.

It got me thinking about my son’s life. As much as I worry about all the bad stuff that could someday happen, I know that I have an amazing kid and we’re doing everything possible to help him through his challenges. It dawned on me that we may be walking through our own inspiring story. That my son’s life has a happy ending that’s made more precious because of the challenges he’s overcome.

So tonight I find myself saying that our story isn’t over yet, just like the movie we watched, it only gets better, we just have to be patient to see our happy ending.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

An Amazing Christmas Gift


Last night Ron Artest donated his 2010 NBA Championship ring in an auction, giving all proceeds to support mental health awareness. More than $650,000 were raised in the public auction that ran since October. The money will be distributed to various mental health charities to help children suffering from mental illness. 

Now that is an amazing Christmas gift!

Check it out!


http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/13929/ron-artest-a-man-in-transition

http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/news/story?id=5955651

http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/12/26/ron-artest-auctions-off-championship-ring/

Merry Christmas

It was a wonderful Christmas this year, we had a week filled with parties and family gatherings, then on Christmas day we decided to stay home in our PJs all day. I have to say it was one of our best Christmas days ever. The kids had a great day playing with their new toys and my husband and I got to relax together. It was such a sweet and perfect day.

My son appears to be doing better, I think the Trileptal is starting to reach it’s full affect. He also got an iPod for Christmas and seems to really enjoy escaping into music. We even loaded up relaxing music like ocean waves so he can tune us all out when he’s feeling stressed.

I hope this good feeling sticks around during the coming week when he’s out of school and coming down from all the holiday excitement. But for now, I’m only enjoying the moment and it feels so good.

Merry Christmas my friends!

* * *

Please vote for CABF, we’re currently in 3rd place and need to get into 2nd place to win $250,000 for our kids!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Silent Night... Sleepless Night

’Twas the night before Christmas... eve.
when all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.


I wish our night went a little like that, but last night was a rough night for my son. He had a lot of trouble sleeping, he kept saying, “I have too much energy!”

We tried having him relax with a hot bath, then he tried reading, which didn’t work since he had a hard time focusing. On his own, he even tried doing push ups, but nothing got rid of this energy.

So feeling desperate, he ran into his brothers’ room where they were both sleeping and hit them to wake them up. Now we had two boys crying, frightened by their abrupt attack in the night and still my son had too much energy. So Dad decided to take him for a walk outside to help him relax. He also used this moment to acknowledge that he saw his attack on his brothers as a cry for help and explained that he doesn’t need to do that, that he could come to us anytime he is struggling and we’ll try our best to help him.

After the walk he was feeling calmer, but still had this energy. He even began to cry wishing he had gone to the gym with me that night so he wouldn’t feel so wound up. As I tucked him back into bed, I could feel his toes dancing under the blankets and I could see the dread on his face as he looked like he was suffering from this energy. It was then that I realized how uncomfortable he was, that this energy probably felt like someone who was over caffeinated.

I know that we’ll see his doctor’s next month, but from your own experience, how do you help your kids get to sleep when they have too much energy? How do you manage these sleepless nights?

* * *

Please keep voting for CABF in the Pepsi Challenge, a new competitor has swept in this morning and took 1st place, pushing us to third. Only 1st and 2nd get the $250,000, so please pass the vote on to everyone you know.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our New Therapist


This week we got to meet our new therapist after meeting our new psychiatrist last week. I have to share that I really like him. It’s all based on first impressions, but I think we’re off to a good start.

He was very kind, yet was able to be a little goofy to connect to my son who was hesitant when walking in. As the appointment went on, I could tell that my son was warming up to him and started to be a little silly himself.

I appreciated the fact that he kept my son in the room for the entire appointment and took time to address him specifically. He also agreed that he would start working with my son on learning new skills rather than spending the entire appointment with me, like our last therapist.

I loved how he took the time to explain to my son what he may be going through regarding his mood disorder. He explained it like this:

The brain makes mistakes sometimes. An example of this is a person who can still feel their big toe itch after having their leg amputated. In this case, the brain is making a mistake.

For some people like my son, his brain is making mistakes regarding his moods, making him feel sad when he isn’t, feeling anxiety when he shouldn’t and recently, seeing monsters that aren’t there. The brain is just making lots of mistakes and it isn’t my son’s fault.

My son seemed to really get this. The therapist went on to say that he wants to teach my son skills on how to recognize when his brain is messing up and how to distract himself until the brain is working right again. He also encourage him by pointing out to my son that he’s able to keep it together at school, so already he’s showing that he’s figured out some skills in handling his illness. As the therapist pointed out, we’re halfway there!

He then pointed out that there may be times when he won’t be able to distract himself.

He said that we need to be prepared for more medication in the future, being that most kids with his condition typically take 5 different medications. He also said that we need to be ready for the process of experimentation since kids are highly individual when it comes to side effects and what works.

At the end of the appointment I asked him if he had ever worked with our new psychiatrist and he responded with a smile, oh yeah, everyone knows him. He was the first psychiatrist in the area and started 2 of the programs that exist in the area. He’s known as the “wise man of psychiatry”.

I have to say, I’m feel pretty good. It’s going to be a very, merry, Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SOS!!!


The Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF) has dropped to the number 3 spot, which means that they’re no longer in a position to win $250,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Project. Only the top 2 places win the money, so all we need to do is get our votes in to get us back in the lead by the end of the month to win. Please vote everyday, this organization makes such a huge difference for so many families that are suffering. Also, with the bad economy, many programs once available no longer exist, so this organization is vital to my family and thousands more. Please vote today!


Here are the details:

CABF is competing for a $250,000 grant from The Pepsi Refresh Project during the month of November. The winners will be decided by popular vote. CABF needs your three votes EVERY DAY this month!

Voting all three ways; follow the two links below and text from your cell phone.

Vote Online
: Go to http://www.refresheverything.com/CABFhelpsmorekids . This will take you to the CABF Pepsi online voting page. Click "Vote for this Idea". Register once and then you are all set.

Vote on Facebook
http://tiny.cc/cabfhelpsmorekids. The first time you vote via Facebook, you'll be asked for permission to access your information. Click "Allow". This will take you to the Pepsi Refresh Vote & Share application. You will see CABF's project below the search bar. Click "Vote for this Idea". (After you vote, be sure to click "share this idea" to encourage your friends to vote for us on Facebook. Do this every time you vote!) Note: If you don't see our project, search for "CABF".

Text your Vote
: Text 104174 to PEPSI (73774) (Normal text rates apply).

Winning a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant would truly transform CABF's ability to provide support, information and hope to thousands more families. Thank you for your support.

* * *

Overview of how the grant would be used:

Goals:
Expand awareness of depression & bipolar disorder in youth
Educate parents about symptoms and treatments
Enlighten the public about teen suicide
Eliminate the stigma associated with childhood mental illness
Extend hope to families raising children with a mental illness

Youth depression and bipolar is seldom discussed. It affects 7% of all children in the U.S., yet only a small fraction receive treatment. We plan to launch an outreach campaign to inform parents about the symptoms of mood disorders and how to find help. The outreach will be accomplished via:

-Detailed Communication Plan

-Online ads

-Bi-weekly webinars

-Weekly podcasts

-Daily social networking

-150,000 brochures & 3 mailings to psychiatrists

Experienced CABF staff members will coordinate the webinars, podcasts and volunteer training. Our trained volunteer corps of 100+ around the US are ready to assist new families and youth who reach out to us in crisis. CABF has the capacity to refresh the lives of so many more youth!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Anxiety


Yesterday, we had a fun day with family, we even got to decorate cookies in the dark by candlelight because the power went out in our area. In all the fun, I forgot to give my son his afternoon medication. Other than some hyperness, which I blamed on the fact that we had company over, he seemed fine. That is until bedtime.

Once it was time for bed, my son’s anxiety began to increase, he was afraid the power would go out again and someone would come into his room and kill him. This anxiety kept him up pretty late last night.

This makes me wonder if his anxieties have played a part with his extreme reaction to timeouts. There have been many timeouts where he seems terrified to go into his room, other times he’s mentioned that he feels like someone wants to come in and kill him after his rage. I can see how a few experiences like this can make you extremely opposed to timeouts.

It also makes me wonder if his visions of monsters are coming from intense anxieties, he feels so frightened because his body goes into a state of alarm, making his brain see stuff.

Whatever is going on, I hope we can take some positive steps forward today when we meet our new therapist for the first time today. Our last therapist told us that our son was too young for cognitive therapy, but I really think they can do something. My son is very articulate in expressing himself, he just needs to build up some trust before he can open up.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our New Psychiatrist

Last night, we had our first appointment with our new psychiatrist. I have to say we are pretty happy with him, yet it’s so hard to get a feeling after just one appointment. It seems that there’s never enough time in our appointments to really share all that we want to. I will say that he was kind enough to allow our 1 hour appointment to go 30 minutes longer, so I appreciated that.

I thought he came across very professional, he started out the appointment by talking to our son alone before we gave him input, which I loved since I think it gave him a sense of our son prior to our disclosure. During this time he played catch with him in the office and asked questions and played word games.

Once we met with the doctor, we were able to share videos and go over lists of behaviors and symptoms. he then asked a lot of questions about his development from birth on.

At the end of the appointment, he shared that it was important to stop these episodes of seeing monsters, but he wasn’t sure what was causing it, he did mention that maybe he was having anxiety attacks, but it’s really hard to know.

When I asked him what diagnosis fit my son, he mentioned that this could be bipolar disorder and acknowledged that there was a lot of controversy in the medical field about it occurring in children and that it was also possible he could have a mood disregulation disorder (the new diagnosis that will be released in 2013). Either way, the treatment with medications is the same. He said that it’s really hard to tell in children what’s causing all of this, but what we do know is that there is something wrong and it’s affecting his development as well as our whole family and that we need to treat this with medication and therapy. But in the end, when it came to knowing what my son may have, he said “we just don’t know.”

So I think I need to come to terms with the fact that what we are dealing with is not fully understood by doctors yet. There’s still so much more research needed and a lot of patience on my side, because only time will tell, we just have to wait and see what lays ahead when it comes to looking at his future. In the meantime, he said we need to focus on today and getting him through December. We just treat the symptoms he has and use therapy to help him cope with his illness and feel good about the boy he is.

As for the medication, right now he wants to give the previous dose increase of Trileptal some more time to take full affect and didn’t want to add a new medication right away. Then we’ll meet again in January and see where things are. In the future, he said we could look at adding Risperdal or going a new direction by trying to tackle the anxiety more with an antidepressant. Either way, there’s risks to both, but he mentioned it’s really trial and error, there’s no direct path and it’s different for every kid.

Before the session was over, he made the point to encourage us that in our son’s lifetime, there will be better treatments available.

At the end of the appointment, my son said that he like him and didn’t want to go back to our old doctor. I’m glad that he didn’t rush into any new medications, but wanted to take a little time with us before making that decision. I think we all have a feeling of trust with him and that’s a good place to start.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Traditions


My son continues to have cycling moods. A lot of sadness and irritability. What seems to work is separation from stress. That means that during homework time, all the kids are downstairs and he’s hidden in my office upstairs, away from all the noise. Yesterday after school, we had to enforce a code of silence from everyone in the car (4 other kids) before he was able to get into the car himself. Even then, the slightest hum or wiggle brought tears to his eyes as he tried to hold it together.

Then last night we broke Christmas tradition by having separate “Mommy Christmas” dates. In the past, I would take all my boys on a special Christmas date that included a movie, lunch and a trip to the mall to pick out a favorite Christmas ornament to place on our tree. This ornament is very special to them, each year they hunt for them as they decorate the tree sharing memories of their special Christmas dates.

Last year was the first year that I could tell this was too much for my son. When we stopped at our local clubhouse to see santa, he refused to go into the building since there was over 30 people inside, then once he did, he took off and starting running through the parking lot with a strange energy about him, hiding under bushes until he decided to come back inside to have cookies and cocoa with us. Then at lunch, he sat there with a pained look in his eyes feeling sick to his stomach from all the anxiety he felt from the crowds. He never made it to the movies, instead he begged to go to grandma’s house where it was peaceful.

So this year, being a little wiser and understanding his limits, we planned separate dates. For the brothers we’ll continue on with our tradition, but for my oldest, we’re starting a new tradition, watching a movie together at home while cuddling and enjoying a few yummy treats. It turns out this is a win-win for everyone. Last night the brothers had a great time doing the things they like to do and my oldest is excited about our friday night date with the movie Eclipse.

Last year, I felt so sad for my son because he wasn’t able to enjoy what should’ve been a wonderful day, but I’m learning that he can still have an amazing day, it just looks a lot different than what I imagined.

As for the special Christmas ornament, it all worked out when the brothers picked out a few extra ones for their older brother to pick from. I wasn’t sure how my son was going to take it, but when I heard him say, “Thanks Mom! I’m glad you got me one, it always stressed me out trying to pick one in the store”, I knew we were on the right track.

And thus, a new tradition is born.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree...

Tonight we decorated the Christmas tree with the boys. It was a very good night. My son was in good spirits, even inspired to write a story that he later read to us as we drank hot chocolate around our pretty tree. It was a sweet moment to feel so normal as a family. I could tell that everyone was feeling the good spirits, both of the younger brothers kept commenting on what a wonderful night it was.

This past week, we saw a lot of impulsive behavior and irritability, but tonight, it was just our boy, filled with a calm, happy spirit.

The joy continues as I look forward to next week when we meet with our new Psychiatrist, the one we were praying to get (yay!). We have an appointment with him on Wednesday night, followed by an appointment with a new therapist the following Monday, I’m feeling optimistic about it all.

As for tomorrow, my middle child (8 years old) will be helping to give communion to our church, along the side of our pastor. My son has showed an interested in wanting to be a pastor and start his own church someday. So after meeting with our pastor to learn about what he does day to day in his service to the church, they decided it would be a special experience for our son to help serve communion. I have a feeling that I’m going to need a tissue, because this Mama Bear is going to shed a few proud tears tomorrow morning.

Tis the season to be jolly!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Breaking a Sweat

Last night, I took my son to the gym for the first time. He’s only 10 years old (you have to be 12 years old), but because I teach fitness classes there, my boss allowed my son an early membership to the gym if we got a doctor’s note.

Exercise has always been a challenge for my son. Because my son has social anxieties, team sports have never been appealing. In the past, we tried different forms of exercise with his brothers like soccer at the park, bike rides or even running laps after school, all require good weather. In the summer, we swim a lot, but the pools close down for the winter. We also thought about martial arts, but both the therapist and I agreed that it wouldn’t be a good idea because he might use his trained moves against me during a rage. So that left our colder months with a challenge.

So I have to say, we were both pretty excited about this opportunity. We packed up our ipods and water bottles and headed to the cardio equipment. I taught him how to do the elliptical machine and he did a 30 minute workout. I was so proud of him. I know it isn’t easy for him to try new things, but he did so great. I wish I took a picture, mother and son, working out side-by-side, I’m sure it looked pretty cute.

Afterwards, we did a cool down and stretch while I taught him about endorphins and how they work in your brain. It was so cute to see his pink cheeks and sweaty hair. I could tell he really pushed himself.

Once home, he was starving and at bedtime he was out like a light. This morning he said he had the best sleep ever last night.

I don’t know if he’ll embrace this, but I hope that he can hold on to the glow of happiness he felt after the workout to encourage him to do it again. I know personally how exercise has improved my own life, how it helps me battle the stresses I face everyday. I hope that he too can find this same joy in exercise.

* * *

CABF has slipped to #2 in the Pepsi Refresh Project, please vote everyday in December, we really need every vote to win this.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jane Pauley and Bipolar Disorder




Watch the video clip of former Dateline NBC cohost Jane Pauley who shares her struggle with bipolar disorder in an interview with Today’s Matt Lauer .

In the link below you can read an excerpt from Jane Pauley’s book Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue where she describes her experience of living with bipolar disorder. Just scroll below the video clip to read her own words.

I thought it was much more interesting than the interview above, it gives a detailed view of an adult living with hypomania brought on by her steroid and antidepressant use, both that are known to bring out symptoms of bipolar disorder if taken without a mood stabilizer. And just to clarify, steroids and antidepressants don’t cause bipolar disorder, instead they just bring out the symptoms of the disease that is already present. That’s why it’s so important to get a second opinion when being prescribed an antidepressant. For those with bipolar disorder, this drug taken without a mood stabilizer can bring on intense mood swings, including the crash that follows that can potentially lead to suicidal behavior.

Check out her book excerpt!
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5887567/ns/dateline_nbc-books/from/toolbar

* * *

Video Source:
MSNBC
updated 9/4/2004 12:56:08 AM ET
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5887567/

Monday, December 6, 2010

We Can Win This!



If you haven’t already heard, last month we came in 5th place in the Pepsi Refresh Project. That’s not too shabby being that we came all the way from the 294th place. Because we were so close, we get a second shot at winning $250,000 for the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF). Most previous winners took 2 months to gain the momentum to win the grant.

The great news I share with you today is that we’re starting out the month in the #1 slot! So we really need your help to vote everyday to stay in the lead, there are hundreds of organizations that are working together to bump us out of the winning spot, so every vote counts.

This is our chance to win. We can really do this! Vote everyday in the month of December.

* * *

Here are the details:

CABF is competing for a $250,000 grant from The Pepsi Refresh Project during the month of November. The winners will be decided by popular vote. CABF needs your three votes EVERY DAY this month!

Voting all three ways; follow the two links below and text from your cell phone.

Vote Online
: Go to http://www.refresheverything.com/CABFhelpsmorekids . This will take you to the CABF Pepsi online voting page. Click "Vote for this Idea". Register once and then you are all set.

Vote on Facebook
: http://tiny.cc/cabfhelpsmorekids. The first time you vote via Facebook, you'll be asked for permission to access your information. Click "Allow". This will take you to the Pepsi Refresh Vote & Share application. You will see CABF's project below the search bar. Click "Vote for this Idea". (After you vote, be sure to click "share this idea" to encourage your friends to vote for us on Facebook. Do this every time you vote!) Note: If you don't see our project, search for "CABF".

Text your Vote
: Text 104174 to PEPSI (73774) (Normal text rates apply).

Winning a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant would truly transform CABF's ability to provide support, information and hope to thousands more families. Thank you for your support.

* * *

Overview of how the grant would be used:

Goals:
Expand awareness of depression & bipolar disorder in youth
Educate parents about symptoms and treatments
Enlighten the public about teen suicide
Eliminate the stigma associated with childhood mental illness
Extend hope to families raising children with a mental illness

Youth depression and bipolar is seldom discussed. It affects 7% of all children in the U.S., yet only a small fraction receive treatment. We plan to launch an outreach campaign to inform parents about the symptoms of mood disorders and how to find help. The outreach will be accomplished via:

-Detailed Communication Plan

-Online ads

-Bi-weekly webinars

-Weekly podcasts

-Daily social networking

-150,000 brochures & 3 mailings to psychiatrists

Experienced CABF staff members will coordinate the webinars, podcasts and volunteer training. Our trained volunteer corps of 100+ around the US are ready to assist new families and youth who reach out to us in crisis. CABF has the capacity to refresh the lives of so many more youth!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Goodness on a Roll

Well I’m very excited to share that the Director of Psychiatry called me yesterday and asked specifically what he could do to make things better. I was also impressed that the first thing he said was that he was sorry for what we’ve gone through so far and thanked me for the opportunity to make things right. I have to say, I was very impressed, the last thing I expected from our HMO was customer service.

After a quick conversation, he said that he was pulling together a small team to determine what psychiatrist would be best for our son’s needs and I would get a call from another individual. Believe it or not, several hours later I got that call and was told that they had already found a doctor that they all agreed would be great. It’s a little farther away, but not much that it makes any difference to me. I was then told that they were going to see what they can work out and call me back soon with more info or even an appointment.

I took a peek at this new psychiatrist and was so impressed. He’s the Assistant Chief in the department of Psychiatry for this city. I noticed on his website that he does work with all ages and has a particular interest in mood disorders. (yay!) He has a ton of experience from being on full time faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at a respected university to consulting pediatrics who treat children with serious physical illnesses such as cancer and transplants. He’s run inpatient units for teens with depression and other disorders. He’s worked in private psychiatric hospitals and residential treatment hospitals. He also participates on clinical faculty at a second university as a clinical professor. Prior to working for my HMO, he had his own private practice for 15 years.

I really have a gut feeling that this guy may be what we need. Then I met with my friend who has a bipolar child in her 20’s and she said she has only heard good things about this doctor. So now, I really, really, hope we get to switch to this doctor.

I’m not sure if they need to see if he’s accepting new patients or not, but either way, they did say that they wanted to get us in contact with a new doctor, as soon as possible, so we can make sure that my son’s meds are all set to make him stable so he doesn’t experience another episode of psychosis.

Pray we get this doctor!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Great News, YAY!!!

I’m doing a happy dance! Last night, I went to my church small group and shared with them what my son was going through. Afterwards, a woman in my group offered to help, sharing that her mom works in our HMO and has access to a lot of important individuals. By the end of our gathering, she tells me that she has already gotten in touch with her mom. When I get home (it’s 9:30 pm), I find an email from this woman reporting that her mother has already contacted the Director of Psychiatry in my area and his response was that my son’s introduction of hallucinations absolutely warrants an immediate, in-person consultation with a licensed psychiatrist and that someone should have found a way to see him. He emphasized that it had to be a psychiatrist as psychologists can’t prescribe and adjust medications and that speaking with a nurse and having them as a go-between was unacceptable as our insurance would pay for the visit under those circumstances.

(are you feeling a happy dance coming on???)

Then the director told this woman that psychiatrists that treat and specialize in bipolar disorders in children are uncommon. He also felt that based on my son’s symptoms, he agreed it was at least something of that nature and certainly more than your average teenaged angst, behavioral problems or ADHD. With all that said, he said that he knows of a couple of psychiatrists, but they may have moved out of our area. So he’s going to check for a child bipolar psychiatrist and if they can’t find one within a 50 mile radius of our area, he will contact some of his colleagues in another HMO system for us to see and our HMO will pay for it.

(Woo hooo!! Are we dancing yet!!!)

Then, I just have to share how good God has been in answering our prayers. During this same small group last night, I got a personal call from the top psychiatrist for bipolar disorder in my city. Yeah, I was that desperate, I research doctors winning top awards in our city and found her number. I spoke with the secretary, but it didn’t sound promising that I would get a call back. Well, she called me and though she doesn’t treat kids under 14, she gave me a name of someone to contact who may know a doctor in our system.

Then, I got an email from my son’s kidney specialist and he said he would research doctors in his city (about 2 hours from us) and gave us a name to start with.

As icing on the cake, another woman in my small group who has a bipolar daughter who is in her 20s has arranged to meet with me tonight to help me navigate within my HMO. She too has the same doctor as our son and agrees that this phychiatrist is not a good listener. Through the years, she has had to push her way through this system to get the help her daughter needed. Today her daughter is stable and attending college.

I can’t tell you how happy I am right now. I feel like things are moving in the right direction. My husband and I both agree that if the end result was to start my son on Risperdal, it would be something we would accept because we would finally have a doctor that we felt was qualified and hopefully willing to listen and communicate with us. Communication is vital when it comes to having faith in your doctor’s decisions.

Last night, before I left our small group, my church family surrounded me and lifted my son and my family up in prayer. I felt that all of our needs were so beautifully addressed. At the end of the prayer, I remember our pastor praying that God would show his love for our family by bringing good to us.

Today, I’m really feeling that our prayers have been answered and I feel God’s love being abundantly poured out on us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Searching...

I’m currently looking for new doctors, but the search is hard since I find a lot of people saying they don’t give referrals or our HMO doesn’t allow access to outside professionals. I have calls into Stanford Bipolar Research, The Mind Institute in Davis, local private psychiatrists, NAMI and I’m even writing letters to specialists who helped with our son’s kidney reflux, begging them to refer me to someone within the system who is working with bipolar kids.

I was really upset with my last call to our doctor’s office. The nurse told me that the doctor has recommended Risperdal, that we should research it on our own and once we make a final decision to get back to them. I told her I was very disappointed because I thought such an important decision under his threatening condition would allow us to meet face to face with the doctor. In our last appointment with her, she told us that she would never put her own child on Risperdal. So it makes me mad that we can’t discuss this further before giving him this medication. I would love the opportunity to show her video of what happened (taken by my iphone during his episode) and to discuss all options available.

But the nurse said that she was sorry, that she couldn’t fit us in and that this was the best our HMO could do. She explained that due to insurance companies, we can’t get more access to our doctor. If we wanted to have more appointment followup with a psychiatrist, we would have to pay for it on the outside, but she reminded us that we would never be able to afford the cost of appointments let alone medication. Then she tells me that there are a lot of other families suffering just like us and that programs previously available to help support families and the costs for care are no longer existing due to cutbacks in the bad economy.

(insert sound of me crying over the phone)

I told her that I was feeling frustrated that these decisions were being left up to us, yet they won’t give us a diagnosis. Or even a hint as to what they think my son has. I know that I need to let go of getting a diagnosis and I have for the most part, but this conversation brought this frustration back up.

The nurse said that we didn’t need a diagnosis to treat our son since calling him “Bipolar” doesn’t change their treatment plan. I explained that I knew that was the case, but for ME, it mattered.

Let me explain why:
If a parent brought their child to the doctors for unusual symptoms and the specialists said that they think their child may have cancer and they want to do chemotherapy. The parents would want confirmation of the illness, they would want the doctors to test to see if there was cancer cells present before they would allow their child to go under such dangerous treatment.

Now, I know that bipolar illness can not be tested and proven, I accept that, but I don’t trust that our doctors are evaluating all of my son’s symptoms, yet they’re now prescribing treatment that they wouldn’t even put their own child through. It’s unsettling.

I guess if the psychiatrist looked at my son’s entire case and said that it looks like he might have bipolar disorder, instead of saying, “he’ll probably outgrow this someday, most kids do”, then I can justify the next level of treatment.

But without a close evaluation of his case, I’m left with the nagging thought... what if the medication is making him worse? Then my next thought is, what if his illness is getting worse and we are wasting time by not starting the Risperdal today.

The responsibility of this decision is weighing heavy on my heart.

* * *

Thank you everyone for all your feedback. Your positive experiences with Risperdal is encouraging. I also appreciate all of your opinions and personal stories shared on my last post, it has been very helpful to both my husband and I. Even my husband told me that after reading all of your feedback, he can see why this blog is helpful to me. Thanks!