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."

Thanks, Doc.

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.


DutchBitch said...

Wow! You have been thru a lot! I'm so sorry to hear that! Wish I could do something for you! Kisses from The Netherlands!

34quinn said...

wow, and you are such an amazing mom!!!

You keep your head about you so well. I am certain it is absolutely not easy and obviously you wish you/he did not have to deal with such difficulties.
But thank God he has you as his mom.

I love how you are able to deal with the issues with both a level head and humour. You do not sugar coat the truth but you also do not overly stress the down side either.

I know for myself, when I am in a situation it is easy to get caught up in the emotions ( especially when it is my child in pain/problems). Sometimes I over react and make it worse even though that is never the intention.

I love that you have such a bond with your son that you will stay with him at night to comfort his fears.

I also admire how you also educate him on how to handle normal college life based on his individual situation. The way you have done this not only keeps him from feeling left out of "normal" college life but empowers him to be able to experience things with the knowledge to keep him safe as well.

Mostly I am certain that your posting will help other families in similar situations know they are not alone and help them find solutions that work for them.

have a super day

Mr. Fabulous said...

Bless your heart. Thank you for sharing your story with us. My heart goes out to you guys. Hang in there, and if there is anything we can do to help, please let us know.

Me said...

Here's to you and family! Sending you extra strength and hugs.

Marymurtz said...

What everyone else said. You know you've been my hero for years. More so now than ever.

TxGoodie said...

Me too! (What they said.)

Don't forget that "wow" upside down is "mom" and always will be.

Hugs... ((( )))

michele said...

Wow. I wanted to ask what trouble he had in Kindergarten - we're having issues, and possible expulsion and no diagnosis. He may be kept back, but no diagnosis.

carmachu said...

Wow, sorry to hear. Good luck there....


Oh what a strong beautiful mom you are! Lady, for the many months of laughter you have given me, I give you my heart and prayers. My sincere desire for you is that things will get better. Take care of you and your family. I know that they have been a source of joy for me. I wish peace, laughter, hope and joy be restored into your home.

Rhonda said...

This was such an important post. You fill the internet with humor, and people love you for it. But, they'll love you for this, too.

I've always known what an amazing Mom and woman you are and am glad the rest of the world now does too.

Having kids in crisis, especially teenagers, can be such an isolating, lonely experience. I suspect you've made a lot of parents feel less alone today.

Kim Ayres said...

Supportive hugs - in a non-threatening, virtual, bloggy kind of way...

Sven said...

Your son has a good mom.

happykat said...

Good thoughts to you and your boy

Nikki said...

Wishing you and your son relief very soon.

Karen said...

I hope things are going okay. how difficult. poor kid. poor you. poor everyone. breaks my heart. you guys have had a long road. I can't imagine having to go through that with a small child.

very good post though-

Kathy said...

I'm just gonna say ditto to what Rhonda said so eloquently.

I will add however, in case #1 son reads this, that I wish HIM relief from what he has been going through. I'm relieved that he's coming to you and trying to get back on track. I hope he knows how very proud of him you are, and how very much you adore him. My bets are that he does. So, to dear son, I'm sending big healing hugs your way. Hope you all have a great rest of your summer vacation.
I hope the worst is far behind.

Kevin Charnas said...

oh man...I am so so sorry for all of you that you're going through this...I don't really know what else to say, except that I have a heavy heart for you and your family and I will send every good thought I have your way...