Friday, July 1, 2011

Starting Lithium

We just got home from our appointment with our psychiatrist. I feel pretty good about it. I felt for the first time that our doctor recognized the severity of the situation and even acknowledged that it could be bipolar disorder. In fact, that was the only disorder really discussed. He didn’t feel that this was depression with anxiety, like he mentioned in the past, but recognized that he may be experiencing mixed states. He also acknowledged that all the rages and complaints of “too much energy” was possibly a sign of mania. I was also glad that he was able to weigh in on the rapid mood shifts from crying to laughing, saying that he didn’t think this was caused by his current medication, but instead a symptom of his disorder.

So the next step was obviously adding more medication to treat the symptoms. He made sure we were aware that we needed to get this under control before he gets bigger and risk the possibility of having to live outside of our home or have to change schools where he would be exposed to more troubled kids.

Looking at the next two options of either adding a second mood stabilizer or trying another antipsychotic, he encouraged us to add another mood stabilizer. Since we’ve already tried Depakote, which he had an allergic reaction to, and Lamictal which he had side effects, he suggested we try Lithium. He explained that it was very successful with adults suffering from bipolar disorder and didn’t have the possible side effects of agitated moods that we saw earlier with the antipsychotic. The downfall is the regular blood work that is required to monitor the Lithium levels in the blood. If too low, it becomes ineffective, but if too high, it becomes very dangerous. As the child grows, the levels need to be adjusted and monitored. Of course, like everything else, there is a list of side effects, but we need to move forward because he can’t continue where he is now. Our son is asking for help.

So today we started Lithium and the first blood test is in 5 days. He’ll have a blood test after every increase until we get to the therapeutic dose. Then after that, he’ll get checked a few times every year, unless there is another increase, then yep, more blood work.

I can say I feel pretty good about this next step. What if it works? I’m thrilled to think that my son may get his life back. I thought it was encouraging when my son said, “Maybe I’ll be able to raise my hand again in school, I haven’t done that since the first grade! And maybe I will be able to fit in with the boys at school and I won’t be all alone at the school parties.” Even though I’m nervous about this next step, I think we’re all feeling a little optimistic.

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I want to thank you all for being so supportive and providing me so much feedback. I have read many of your comments several times as I prepared for this appointment and feel so blessed to have you by my side!  
(((Big hugs to you all)))


24 comments:

  1. I hope this helps.
    I have heard that this need a strict follow on blood testing. probably also take care regarding salt, not to much or to little. do remember to tell the dr. about any kidney problems.(hmm, I start to sound like my mom)
    Lithium is a natural metal, once added to 7up !!
    -pg

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  2. I have never been put on Lithium but sometimes wonder why not? I think it is wonderful that your doctor put him on it. I hope it helps. Dear Lord above I hope it is what your son needs to even out.

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  3. Thanks PG! They did mention the salt and the importance of testing. I also read about this in the book, "The Bipolar Child" as soon as I got home, thank goodness I have this book. I also was concerned about the kidneys because my son has a scared kidney due to kidney reflux from when he was a baby. But our pdoc reviewed recent lab results and confirmed the kidney is still functioning well. He also has a kidney specialist that keeps an eye on him too. He also warned us that my son will feel more thirsty.

    I had no idea it was added to 7 up once, interesting...

    Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

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  4. Thanks In the Pink, I was wondering if you ever took this. I’m curious if other parents have tried it with their kids from this blog.

    Anyone??

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  5. My son J was on it for six weeks after reaching the therapeutic dose. In that six weeks, he lost his thyroid function. When GB was on Lithium, I insisted on blood tests every 4 weeks. We ultimately took her off because it did not control the psychosis. Unfortunately, it is not as effective with early onset Bipolar Disorder as it is with adults. The BipolarChild was the first book I read when J was diagnosed. Parenting the Bipolar Child, by Gianni Faedda is also good.

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  6. Wow _ I miss reading your blog for a few days and so much happens. Keeping my fingers crossed for you and your son and sending lots of prayers and positive thoughts your way.

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  7. GB's Mom- Did J have any permanent damage to his thyroid, or was it able to be repaired and now is back to normal? How did you know he lost this function? Was it blood work?

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  8. E- LOL! Things can change fast in our world huh! Thanks for the prayers!

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  9. We tried it with my son and it had no effect at all. Which means NOTHING in your situation because we already know what works for one person may be different for another.

    But I'm happy to hear you are feeling more support and confidence from your pdoc because that is the key. And if the lithium doesn't help (big IF because it absolutely helps many kids) there are still things you haven't tried.

    With you and your husband fighting for him, there is no doubt that your son will experience the happiness and success that he deserves to feel.
    Betsy

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  10. Betsy-Thanks for your supportive words. I think we are definitely aware that this may not be our last stop. I have a feeling that the antipsychotics may be next if this doesn't work.

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  11. My daughter 8 is taking lithium now and doing wonderful with it. I do recomend you get him a medical bracelet or necklace listing all his meds in case something happens and your not around. With the lithium make sure he stays hydrated when playing outside. Good Luck

    Kay

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  12. Kay-That's a good idea. Is there something about Lithium that this bracelet is even more needed? Do you have to worry about what other kids may think if they see it?

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  13. J's thyroid was permenantly damaged and he has had to take synthroid every day since. He got very sluggish and started gaining weight. I demanded blood work and it was already not working. It came back a little and he was able to lower his synthroid dose some, but he will be on it the rest of his life.

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  14. I am so glad your appointment went well. I have been following your blog for awhile, though have never commented. My son is 10 also and there are MANY of your posts that I could have written myself! I hope that this new medication works! Your family is in my prayers daily.

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  15. Good, good, good! The most important thing here is that your doctor is now your partner in this journey. Meds will come and go and work and not work but you need the doctor to be you and your son's partner in this journey, working together to get him some relief. Good job, Mama!!

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  16. Anonymous- Thank you for your prayers and for reading my blog. You mention your son being 10 with a lot of similar experiences. Has your child been diagnosed yet? I hope to hear from you again in the future! Also, if you don't like to make public posts, feel free to reach me by my email address above!

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  17. Meg-Thanks, I hope that now he has taken a role with medication for my son, he'll take more interest in our case.

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  18. I really hope that this can give your son some peace for at least a little while. And I echo what others have said about the pdoc. I have heard success stories with it.

    I wonder if there is a way to have a medical bracelet that could be scanned by medical staff--but not as obvious to peers? (it seems if they can put an ID chip in a pet--they could put something similar in a bracelet--but I don't know if anything like that exists.)

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  19. Heather-maybe you could invent one! That's how people make millions : )

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  20. This all sounds very positive for your son-I so hope the Lithium works for him! And I'm glad your pdoc is finally cooperating and being more open-minded about his illness. Way to go, Mama Bear!

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  21. She started taking lithium at the end of the school year. but on the front is just the medical sign. So it is no different than a child who has diabeties wearing one. With lithium if you become to dehydrated it can cause the Lithium levels to become dangerously high. So her bracelet has her current meds listed on it. So if she ever suffers heat exhaustion or something they will know to check her level.

    Kay

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  22. Thanks Kay! That is good to know.

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  23. Carter has been on lithium for almost a year and it's absolutely the most important med in his cocktail. He remains quite symptomatic but those awful rages and long sleepless nights are few and far between. I hope you have a similar experience!

    I love the idea of a medical alert bracelet with a QR code on it, something easily modified online. Off to see if it's been invented yet...

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  24. Hey Adrienne- I don't know if you'll get this message, but did you ever find out any info on the QR bracelet that can be modified online. At first glance I thought I saw something, but need to investigate more...

    Also, have you seen any side effects with the Lithium in Carter?

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