Apparently my last post left a few people hanging. One friend told me, “I was waiting for the final line. You usually say something pithy.” I replied with, “I wasn’t feeling very pithy that day. I was feeling something that sounds like pithy, though.” So I thought I’d better get down to it and write something with a little more substance. I would, however, like to point out to all the parents out there that having one of “those” days is perfectly normal and to never be ashamed to just admit it. It may help you feel better if you admit it and if it doesn’t, at least everyone within earshot has been forewarned.
Today, even though it’s a Monday, has been a pretty good day. I had my second Neruofeedback Therapy (see video below) session today, maybe that’s helped. The kids were both good getting ready for school this morning, that definitely helped and I went for a nice 45-minute walk with my friend Gaby this morning. All good ways to start the week. As I was settling in to write this evening I thought I should revisit some of my previous posts and provide a little follow up to some of the stories I’ve shared with you previously.
My daughter attended the Autism Screening Clinic at CRPI a couple of months ago. The testing was held in the bowels of the Crombie building on the CPRI campus. The woman who conducted the interview led us through labyrinthine corridors to a room that was split in two. One half held a sofa, a couple of chairs, a loveseat and a coffee table, all very suave. The other half was an observation room behind two-way glass. Rian was very curious about this room as she had never seen two-glass before other than on TV and she was fascinated by it. I reluctantly allowed her to check it out during break. O.K., I must admit it, I was very curious too. There were a few chairs and a table in that room. It was very utilitarian, but the two-way glass was pretty cool.
The testing took a few hours and consisted of question after question. It was draining. I was impressed my ADHD kid could sit through it without bouncing off the walls. I, on the other hand, am please to say I managed to stay awake, barely. After the interview was completed the interviewer retired to her office to write up her report. When she returned she went over the report in detail for me. Basically it said that although Rian has many difficulties, both emotionally and socially, she did not see where any of Rian’s behaviours/symptoms fell on the ASD scale. What that means for us is Rian does not have Asperger Syndrome. Woo-hoo! Now, what do we do about the problems she does have? Well, no answers that day, but we’re still working on it.
Rian also had the the hearing and Central Auditory Processing (CAP) testing done. Her hearing is average and above average for her age group. She passed the CAP testing with flying colours. This is good news too. This means there is nothing wrong with the way her brain and her mind are communicating. So far, so good.
The next step was a follow-up visit to the psychiatrist. Rian sees a doctor at CPRI once every four to eight weeks. The doctor assigned to Rian is very patient with her and quite understanding. Rian really likes her, which is great. Getting the right medical team around your child is crucial to positive progress. The last few months thought I have seen a steady decline in Rian’s behaviour. She was becoming increasingly aggressive, irritable, easily frustrated, obstinate and moody. I wasn’t sure whether it was a mental health issue or DTS (Dumbass Teenager Syndrome as my friend Shawn calls it). This visit was the perfect opportunity to figure out whether this behaviour was caused by her mental health or if it was, in fact, DTS.
Rian has been taking 54 mg of Concerta daily for about a year now and I’ve been doubting its affect. At this visit the psychiatrist asked me about Rian’s behaviour. With the support of our Intensive Social Worker, who attended the appointment with us, I was able to reinforce my belief that the Concerta hasn’t been doing the trick. I believed either the dosage needed to be changed or we needed to try a new medication. Both the doctor and the social worker agreed and Rian has been taking 20 mg of Adderall for the last two weeks. It’s been a wonderful change. I have seen the reemergence of my daughter, with few(er) signs of DTS (she will be 14 in a couple of months, it’s inevitable that she will come down with DTS, please feel free to pray for me).
My son has been doing better too. He saw the pediatrician last week and it was all good news. He’s grown, which I knew because half his pants are two inches too short. The kid walks around looking like he’s waiting for a flood (I try to take the too-short pants away, but they’re his “favourite” pair and mysteriously keep ending up back on his body). The wonderful news was that Alexi has gained seven pounds since July!! Woo-hoo!! He now weighs a whooping 76 pounds. His weight has been a big concern for quite some time now so this weight gain is very exciting news.
Also, he’s having less stomach pain. Hopefully that means the ulcers have stopped developing. He’s been having regular, ummm, bathroom visits (I’m trying to word that as delicately as possible) so that’s all good. His biggest complaint was some of the bullying he was being subjected to at school. This year there is a new principal at Alexi’s school and you can tell. I sent an e-mail to Alexi’s teacher explaining about the bullying.The teacher hadn’t witnessed it. After all, no good bully picks on his victim when the teacher’s around. And Alexi won’t talk to the teachers because he doesn’t trust that they will help him. Until he learns to advocate for himself, which he’s going to have to do soon, I continue to advocate for him.
The boy who was harassing Alexi has been picking on him for years both at school and in the neighbourhood. The school responded so quickly it was like they were putting out a fire. Both the VP and the Learning Support Teacher spoke with the bully. Alexi’s teacher designed a special presentation for the class about the effects of bullying and Alexi has felt very supported. It’s been awesome!! When Alexi reported one other case of bullying by the same boy it was dealt with immediately. He hasn’t reported any incidences in over week so I am a happy mom.
I thought I better take a few sentences to bring you up to speed on where I am with my health. I am still off work and this has been approved by both my doctor and place of employment. They don’t want me to come back to work until I’m 100%, or as close to as possible, and I’m good with that. Although I enjoy my job it can be stressful and the more stress I’m under the worse the headaches and the vertigo get. It’s a nasty cycle because then my stress level increases and the headaches and vertigo get worse and my stress level increases…you get the picture.
My stress level had been steadily increasing over the past several weeks as the kids’ father had been contacting me regarding his request about the support payments. I was making myself ill trying to figure out to how to fix this. I’ve been separated for more than four years, divorced for two and that man can still make my head spin. I guess twelve years of conditioning doesn’t go away overnight. At the urging of my Wraparound team I made a call to the agency that governs support payments in my province. I informed them of his harassing contact and the agent told me they can’t do anything about him contacting me but I still wanted them to have record of it. The agent also told me the case is under review for a default hearing. In Ontario if you default on your support payments(within a certain time frame) you will face heavy consequences beginning with the revocation of your driver’s license and ending in jail time. Since my ex-husband does not have a license this means his instructions from the court will sound like this – “Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.” What this means for me is that this is not about me at all. He wants me to help him avoid the natural consequences of his actions, or inaction in this case.
This knowledge has helped me greatly. I have been able to let go of the responsibility I was feeling about the support issue. A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m working on getting healthy, not only for myself but also for the kids. They depend on me to take care of them and that is a responsibility I have taken on happily with love. That being said, I have been to my family doctor and it has been decided, since they can’t find any physical reason for the vertigo, that my best course of action is to pursue psychological therapy with the belief that perhaps the vertigo is psychosomatic. About a month ago I began seeing a Psychotherapist in London who specializes in Neurofeedback Therapy. It’s a form of therapy that retrains the brain to function within normal parameters using Electroencephalography or EEG scanning. Here’s a video that explains it much better than I could.
She believes that because of childhood trauma and the car accident my brain may constantly be functioning in Hyperarousal. This can cause a person to be extremely fatigued and feel constantly burnt out as well as cause headaches and, you guessed it, vertigo. I’ve only had two sessions so it’s a little too early to say if it’s helping or not, but I do feel more relaxed during and immediately following the sessions. I feel very positive about this therapy and will keep you posted on the progress.
I’ve been told by those in my immediate circle that I’m not presenting as well (see But You Present So Well). There are dark circles under my eyes, my colour’s off and I’ve gained weight. I’m not happy about any of it, but at least the colour issues I can cover up with make up. I’m really not happy about the weight gain but as Gaby pointed out to me I can get away with carrying a few extra pounds because of my height, I’m around 5’10”. I guess that’s true, but I still don’t like it. Gaby and I started a walking regime today which should benefit both my mental health and physical health, so hopefully I can lose those extra few pounds by Christmas. Just in time to put them back on again!
So, despite my rant from a couple days ago, things really are getting better in the Madhouse. Rian’s moods are more stable. Alexi’s not being bullied and he brought home an A+ on his first math test of the year (another Woo-hoo is required here). I’m doing better and have some hope for my little family. By this time next year maybe we’ll all be cured!! Wouldn’t that be exciting? No, wait, that can’t happen….what would I write about?
P.S. – I have to share this bullying story about my son – Last year one of the boys in his class harassed Alexi endlessly by calling him and his best friend “gay”. After months of this Alexi finally asked me, “What is gay anyway?” I chose my words carefully wanting to give him the simplest, most truthful answer I could. I told him, “Gay is when someone is attracted to a member of the same sex. So, a man is attracted to a man and a woman is attracted to a woman.” Alexi thought about this for a moment and proclaimed, “I am soooo not gay.” I laughed. “I didn’t think you were, ” I told him, “Not that it would have mattered anyway.”