Thursday, June 08, 2006
A Reality RX
Most of my posts have been written with the intent to be fun, funny, and indignant about public issues with some personal anecdotes thrown into the mix.
I didn't plan on ever posting about the following until I recently talked to a couple of other parents who are/have been in the same position.
If you're looking for fun or funny, this isn't the post for you. And it's a bit long.
I've posted a little bit about my oldest son, who just completed his first year of college. I've been allowed to mention the fact that he suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, only because the TV show Monk has made it sort of "cool".
I've tried to respect his privacy by not mentioning any of the other additional problems he has.
Please don't send me information on herbal remedies, or noni juices, or Christ-based-whip-him-with-a-switch cures. I'm completely and utterly uninterested. And I'd be offended that you'd think I was so ignorant.
Been there, done that (except for the whipping). I got the damn T-shirt already.
I wasted the first 6 months of Number One Son's life after he was diagnosed in Kindergarten (and no, not by a family practitioner, but by a team at a nationally-recognized developmental disability center attached to our Children's Hospital) by resisting any kind of pharmaceutical help.
I was an idiot, and I regret the wasted time.
He was on the barest minimum of meds for school until he reached puberty, and did very well.
Then he started scrubbing his hands until they were bleeding, and thought he heard us laughing at him through the walls, and plotting against him.
Turned out that the last was a reaction to the meds he had been taking, which were no longer effective. It took a while, with the help of a neuropsych, to find a new combination that worked for him.
Fast forward to this past year.
He was nervous about college, but excited and confident in himself.
Hubby and I are both realists, and we've both been to college.
Parties happen. All over the damn place.
We could say: "Don't EVER drink!!!" "Don't EVER try drugs!!"
Yeah. Sure. On our parental planet, maybe. At least we got him the industrial-size box of condoms.
We see it in the news---drinking, drugs, overdoses of alcohol, etc, on campuses everywhere.
We tried to enlist our family doctor, who would only say, "You're underage. It's against the law to drink. Drugs are bad. Go to church."
So we tried to be responsible and prepare him. We went over every med that he takes, with him.
When you're on meds, having one beer is like having three. Moderate yourself, and stay away from the hard stuff. If you plan on drinking, it might be a good idea NOT to take your night meds (Which aren't like Wellbutrin which has a cumulative effect. It wouldn't hurt him to skip one night's dose). Don't drive with anyone who's been drinking. We put extra money in your account for cab fare.
Had a friend who works for the pharmaceutical industry explain to son that with the combination of meds he takes, even trying Ecstasy might kill him. Thank heavens we had an "expert" tell him, since his dad and I are such relics that we can't be trusted to wipe our own butts even with a compass pointing the way.
Last month, I made a post about son's calling wondering if he had scalp cancer. With his OCD, it's not unusual for him to wonder/obsess about strange and unusual medical symptoms he reads up on when surfing the web. I put it down to stress from finals. And thought it was a bit humorous.
Then he called and wondered if he might have asthma. He was having trouble breathing.
He called and complained about a bump on his head.
Next he called wondering if he might have early-onset Parkinson's disease at 19, because he was having "happy feet".
I said, "write it all down, you've only got a week left, and we'll see the doc when you get home."
He got home and had a total mental breakdown. Complete with the screaming meemies.
He came bolting out of the shower because he was convinced that the bump on his head was a brain tumor that he could feel boring into his skull.
Panic attacks, paranoia... Pounding heart, trouble breathing, cold sweats....
As it turns out, this last semester, son "decided" that his meds exacerbated his normal shyness, and tried to wean himself off of them to feel more social.
Of course, home at spring break, he took his meds faithfully under the eye of his watchful mom. Then when he went back to school, he stopped taking them.
When he got home for summer vacation, he started taking them again, and completely freaked out.
So...on, then off, then on, then off, then on. It messed up his brain chemistry.
It's been a hard month for all of us. I've had to sleep on the living room floor next to him because he's afraid that he might die and be all alone.
We've had to have almost every test known to man performed, because he's convinced that he has cancer/a heart blockage/cystic fibrosis/an aneuryism/leukemia/an intestinal blockage/tumors/ulcers/absesses---everything except anal warts.
He's off the meds that have been beneficial for so many years.
Now he's only on an anti-anxiety med and an anti-psychotic. Had the bump on his head surgically removed yesterday (it was a sebaceous cyst), and had it dissected and analyzed to prove that it wasn't cancerous.
I thought we were alone in this (although I've had tremendous support from some of my friends). After hearing that this has happened to other students/parents, I felt I had to write something.
If your kid is in college, and responsible for taking his/her own meds for the first time, this scenario is really something that should be discussed. Just wanted to share and give you a head's up.
I'm only keeping this up for a limited time. If anyone wants to discuss this further, feel free to email me.
This is part of the reason why I've been taking a break.
I'm simply wiped out.