I am still recovering from my weekend.
J. is too.
We’re being nice to ourselves today so that we can get back to normal. Our “normal” isn’t very “normal,” but our “not-normal” is even worse. I am getting little things done round the house, treating myself to things like a long shower, brownies, and TV during the day. J. isn’t doing any academic stuff today unless he wants to, and he’s having a grand old time banging nails. Later, we’re going to do art with friends. Easy. Nice.
Earlier this week things were anything but easy and nice.
My in-laws visited. That in itself is not a bad thing. We love Grandma and Grandpa B! But their presence here is something out-of-the-ordinary, and J. doesn’t do that well with out-of-the ordinary. It ramps him up. So here’s the setting: J is ramped up, my workaholic husband is working working working every second he can (i.e. when not “having fun” with his parents), in-laws are here, and I take J. to a new child psychiatrist for a re-evaluation.
I took him to the re-eval because while I’ve felt like his current treatment, medications, and therapies are helping, I also have noticed that the older J. gets the more frustrated and worked up he gets. He is on edge a lot of the time. When he’s on edge he can’t think straight and is more reactive. I wanted to see if there’s something that can be done about that. He’s also been very mean to me recently, and I worry that this will only get worse. I feel like attachment issues are rearing their ugly head, and while of course I’m willing to work on this in therapy I also want to see if there’s anything medically that can be done. A chill pill, if you want. Something that can get him to relax for a minute or two.
Add that to the recommendation by the FAS clinic that we start neurofeedback and our desire that he be in the best place possible for that to work for him and you see why I thought a re-evaluation was important.
So we see this new doctor. Who is, of course, 30 minutes late to the appointment. Then, once she’s there she doesn’t know why she’s there (the re-evaluation) so she needs to leave for 15 minutes to review J’s file, and when she comes back suggests a radical change in medication.
She’s a medication minimalist, she says. She seems shocked at my son’s prescriptions and although I tell her about the various trials he’s had before of different medications and his (lack of) response, she says that was then, this is now, he’s grown, and maybe things will be different this time around. She suggests he come off everything he’s on, and start a medication in a couple of weeks, once his system is clean. A medication he took a couple of years ago and which I told her had made him grumpy.
She also tells me he should be hospitalized for the transition, at which point I burst into tears and say NO WAY. He’s a baby. But she says that he would be the oldest child in the psych ward, which frankly horrifies me. She can’t believe he’s never been in the psych ward before, from what she’s read in his file.
She also tells me I need to lock up my knives. This makes me sob out loud.
She thinks that we’ve taken the entirely wrong course with him re: meds and his behavior is only going to get worse. She also says we need intensive in-home therapy (which I later discover that our insurance will not cover and since we have insurance our local mental health agency won’t cover, either). She insinuates that the reason J. responded poorly to counselors in the past is because those counselors haven’t been very good. I tell her how he always shuts down or acts out when asked to talk about himself and she says “good” counselors know how to deal with it.
I feel like I’ve been a crappy mom to not have found a “good” counselor for my child so far. All in all I’m listening to this doctor and feeling very fragile. My child has been mean, almost abusive (if you can say that about a 9-year-old) for weeks. My husband has been working round the clock. My in-laws are here, which is stressful. I haven’t been doing great at the self-care that is so crucial to people parenting special needs children. I’ve been told to lock up my knives and admit my child to the psych ward.
So my gut is off. My gut should have told me to reschedule the appointment the minute I found out the doctor didn’t know what I was there, hadn’t talked to my son’s regular P.A. or the other psychiatrist in the office, and maybe didn’t know a thing about fetal alcohol exposure.
My gut should have also told me to wait to try this meds change until AFTER the in-laws left.
But my gut wasn’t speaking to me that day, and J. and I go home and I take him off his stimulant medication that has been keeping him pretty well regulated for over 5 years now.
And all hell breaks loose.
By that night my father-in-law, who never raised his voice the whole time my husband was growing up, has yelled at J. I have been crying in the bathroom twice, and have developed an enormous migraine. My mother-in-law is hiding from J. in our spare room. The next morning was even worse. J. bit me 3 times, used every swear word in the book, threw things at me, pushed over his 72-year-old grandma, and essentially acted like a wild little animal. This went on and on and on until yesterday, 48 hours after the dr. told me to take him off his medication, I put him back on.
The gut spoke, and I listened. And our lives are finally, finally, finally back to normal. Whatever that means. But better than yesterday, that’s for sure. And we have a new appointment with our OLD doctor. Who called me at home, on her day off, and reassured me that we are all doing the very best thing possible for my child. Especially me.
Thank you, gut. Only wish you’d spoken up sooner.