Monday, June 11, 2007

Quick! Call the Waambulance!

Be warned. You've entered the whine zone.

I can't do it. I simply can't do it.

I thought that taking a class or two during the summer semester would be enjoyable and a breeze if I didn't have Big Kid and his assignments to worry about. But now I've decided to withdraw and to take the summer off. I can get my money back, and it won't effect my grade point average. I've got the newest textbook, so I can retake it in the fall.

Making this decision is like lifting a huge weight off my back. Unbelievable!

A month or so ago, I wrote about how our doc took Big Kid off the stimulant meds because although they enabled him to focus for his ADHD, they exacerbated the manic part of his bi-polar disorder. Anybody new coming in, click on the tag at the bottom to catch up. Since the spring semester is over, we've tried different doses of Strattera (a non-stimulant treatment for ADHD) and it simply doesn't work.

It's been one long, hard year since he came home from college with the screaming meemies, and lately I've been called upon to perform duties that are well, frankly, pretty damn distasteful. Not butt-spelunking distasteful, but yucky on a different level.

The kid has little or no impulse control without the meds. He wants things, but in his world they should be delivered upon demand, before he does any actual work to earn them.

We go around and round and round on this issue. He really really doesn't seem to get the concept. I think he believes he has a shot of converting me to his world-view if he keeps at me long enough, and so the cycle is relentless.

Then again, he has some friends whose parents pay them to simply stay away, so I guess there is some basis for his belief.

When he's on meds for attention and impulse control, you can reason with him intellectually. When he's off, well---it's a crapshoot. The worst part is that it's difficult to tell how much of it is his illness, and how much of it is manipulation.

Seriously, if you haven't been there, you wouldn't believe it. Trying to put it into words is like trying to recite the Bill of Rights backwards. People like my mom, or Big Kid's granddad or his other dad truly believe that if I just said "no" that would nip this in the bud.

Ha. Saying "no" is just the beginning.

There is an endless song and dance that must be performed, and I could do it in my sleep. I could take it on the road to Branson, but my younger brother caught the show when he was here installing the bathroom, and he said it wasn't very entertaining.

Big Kid sees Little Guy getting new stuff and feels that life is unfair. Yet he selectively chooses to ignore the fact that Little Guy works his butt off. LG does extra things beyond his assigned chores----takes out the trash, weeds the garden, feeds the dogs, empties the dishwasher, etc to earn money for the things he wants. Just like in the real world. Big Guy thinks we're favoring Little Guy, and resents it.

So I've had to become the money monitor. I have to make sure there is no visible cash any where in the house, even in my bedroom. If I don't, it will be gone faster than I can say "I don't like Green Eggs and Ham."

He isn't even very smart about it---so it's difficult to tell if he's trying to get caught because he's bored and wants to stir the shit-pot or not.

If Hubby's money clip (which was left on the counter) only has a 20 and a 5 in it, think Hubby isn't going to notice that the 20 is suddenly missing? The kid doesn't go rooting around in my purse or drawers or anything, but if cash is visible, and nobody is around, he feels the impulse to put it in his pocket. When he gets caught he says "I found it."

As if our dining room table is a street corner and some stranger accidentally dropped a bill there next to the invoice for newspaper delivery. heh.

I've also had to become the cigarette police. If the kid has a pack, he will compulsively smoke one after another until they're gone. Then he'll complain of breathing problems, work himself into a panic attack, and REALLY have chest pains. I'll rush him down to the doc, who will point out the evils of smoking and tell me that if I can't get him to quit, I'll have to dole them out to him. WTF?

I've been thrust into the role of cupcake monitor as well. There are 8 cupcakes to a family pack. Kid says, "Can I have a cupcake?" I go to let the dogs in, come back and there are 3 left in the box. I buy a pre-made angel food cake (no fat) to make strawberry shortcake the next day, and when I wake up in the morning 7/8ths of it is gone. He so thoughtfully left one piece for someone else to enjoy.

I realize the other meds he takes make him crave sugar and carbs. He's packed on the weight since he came home last year, which makes him more depressed. His back hurts from carrying all the extra weight, and he doesn't feel like exercising. On the good side, I buy a lot of salad stuff and fruit, and he'll eat it if I put it in front of him. It's at night or early mornings when everyone else is asleep that he'll get up and consume everything and anything with sugar in the kitchen. What am I supposed to do? Put a padlock on the fridge when I go to bed?

He sees the commercials for Trim-spa, and actually thinks if he takes a pill he will wake up slim with no effort on his part (look what it did for Anna Nicole). He sees the commercial for NutraSystem (where Dan Marino basically says he couldn't see his own dick until he lost 30 lbs), and is convinced that if only we would plunk down 300 dollars for that tasty "special food", he will lose weight the quick and easy way. He'll eat two boxes of macaroni and cheese and chase it with a Slimfast shake and wonder why the Slimfast isn't working.

Point out that 2 boxes of mac and cheese are about 10 servings, and he thinks we're insane. Portion control? What's that?

So last week, we went to the doc's to let him know that the Strattera hasn't had the effect we'd hoped. I mention to the doc that the boys are leaving in 2 weeks to go visit their other dad, and he says, "Ok, we'll just keep things as they are and start back when he returns."

What??? Are you kidding me? The kid is actually scheduled to have a job and work out at his dad's this summer.

On one hand, I see the doc's point. The kid is stable (no more screaming in the front yard wearing nothing but his shorts), but I was hoping that he would be beyond simply stable at this point. He did well last semester in school on the stimulant meds, and we stopped because they made him a little more irritable at the end of the day. If he isn't here to be monitored, the doc doesn't want to prescribe anything that could de-stabilize him.

The Kid was disappointed. He hates struggling to maintain attention, and has been looking forward to getting a chance at earning his own money and having a taste of independence. I was disappointed, and had trouble containing tears.

But what can you do?

Near the end of the month, the guys are going out to the coast to visit their other dad. Hubby and I desperately need some time alone to rest and recharge and be a couple, and I can't tell you how much we're looking forward to this.

Little Guy will come home after 2 weeks. This has been a rough year for him too, and he deserves to have our undivided attention. Big Kid will come back after another month, hopefully ready to start back with driving school before the fall semester.

And me? I just won't know what to do with myself. But I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Sorry for the whine-fest. Hoping you'll find a much more relaxed Attila in another month. :-)


phlegmfatale said...

You know what? I think taking the time off from school for yourself for two glorious weeks (all too brief!) is the least you can do for yourself. Gee whiz. And good for you all that you'll get a month alone with LG. Perhaps 6 weeks of working with his father will help the older boy re-wire himself? It's no easy task.

And yeah, although things are far from ideal, not screaming in the yard in his shorts is an improvement-- baby steps.

Sending warm thoughts your way. Good luck with all this!

Brenda said...

Zach is only 10 and although we've struggled with every ADHD symptom on the list since before kindergarten, we fought the meds until this past fall. The constant struggle to keep him focused just to do homework would end up in both of us crying, every, single, day, and it just wasn't a good thing for either of us. You've put into words so many of my feelings, I just couldn't find words to describe the miseries.
Thank you ATM!!

Blogarita said...

"The worst part is that it's difficult to tell how much of it is his illness, and how much of it is manipulation."

This is an assessment I try...and usually make with almost everything Artsy Girl says or does. I definitely understand (at least a little) what you're going through.

Hang in there and try to make the most of your upcoming time alone with your hubby!

krishanna said...

I have no wise words for you here except to remind you to remember to take care of yourself, which I don't need to do. You are doing a good job of that! Sending good thoughts and giggles your way.

Ashley's Mom said...

If you figure out how to stabilize everything AND keep your sanity in the process, please, please let me know. I have a 14 year old that is very similar to your Big Kid. I'm a single mom and can't get away from the fracas much.

There are two summer camps scheduled for my wild child this year, and that will be a wonderful break for the rest of the family. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that he isn't sent home early :(

Beth said...

I'm glad you did a whine-fest. That's one of the things blogs are for. You just can't hold it it all the time.
I'm also glad you took the summer off from school - sounds like you have too much on your plate right now.
God bless - and take care. (Of yourself, too...)

Big Pissy said...

Girl, if anybody needed to unload, it was you!

Good grief! I can't imagine living with someone like that.

You are a saint.

Enjoy your rest. :)

Em said...

Never apologize for the whine! We don't mind. And I totally "get it". We've been there with straterra (which did not do what they said it would do!) and we've been there with the struggle to determine manipulation vs disability. There are no easy answers. But a class in the summer surely would not help. Take the! LOL

TxGoodie said...

Other than the fact that I'm WAAAAY older than you....I wish you'd of been MY mom! Well, okay, I also wanted Dale Evans to be my mom, but, hey, it's all dreaming with open eyes anyway!

Hang in there! They'd probably all kill one other without you!


Queen of the Mayhem said...

I am so glad to hear that you are finally going to get some rest! I swear, if I had to deal with even half of that....I would go crazy!

Finding the right "cocktail" can be so difficult! I have seen it so many times!

I hope you and he find some peace soon!

Samantha said...

Can't the doctor prescribe you one of those tranc guns, like you get for escaped zoo animals?

golfwidow said...

I'm sorry - did I miss some sort of law that said you have to be up and perky all the time?

'Cos if I did, then don't feel bad, I'll save you a seat at dinner in whatever jail they send us to.

Anonymous said...

Youre entitled to a vent!!! Venting is good for the soul!! And hey it's your blog so your more than entitled to vent!!!

Hang in there... and remember doctors only practice medicine... perhaps you should go back and explain again.. or see another doc??

Good luck!!

Ramblin Rose

Mary said...

Dude, I'm anxious for you to have your time alone. You need it more than anyone I've ever known, even more than myself. And that's saying something.

Rhonda said...

I know exactly where you're coming from.

I think taking the summer off was an excellent plan. I'm having enough trouble here keeping my Big Kid IN summer school.

Anonymous said...

Relax and enjoy, who knows when you will get a better chance!

carmachu said...

Hey you do what you gotta do to keep your sanity in check.

Sounds like you have a full time already there...impulse control. Holy cow.

Good luck, and enjoy the summer. And definately enjoy the alone time...

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who has a sister, who is manic depressive, and bipolar, along with ADHD. I think a lot of her problems ARE manipulation though, ATM. I think she uses her illness as an excuse, and it's starting to show. When I read about Big Kid, I don't think he is anything like her at all. I think you're right--Some of it for him, might be boredom, or manipulation, but majority of it, is probably genuine, in my opinion. And as someone said--Baby steps, my friend, baby steps :] Enjoy your "vacation"...You SO deserve it, hon.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

DAMN!!!!!! You ARE a saint. You know, I bitch about my kids, but none of them have these kinds of issues.

I really hope you enjoy a little time to be an ADULT that's only responsible for you.

*shakes head* Why do doctors always think "we" can get another person to "quit" something?
*rolls eyes*

ENJOY! And please take care of yourself.

Rootietoot said...

Bipolar's tough on the people who live around it, I know my family has a hard time with me. I'm glad you're taking the break. WHY can't you just give them a PILL and have it WORK?? NOTHING is ever as simple as it ought to be!

Litzi said...

Hi Attila,
So, what else have you been doing in your spare time this summer? Yikes! You’ve got a full plate and then some on your hands. My Grandfather use to say “the first 100 years are the hardest”; you and your husband are living proof of this right now. Hang in there…..

Anonymous said...

You're amazing - don't know how you do it. I wish I could send you and hubby a recharge but instead I put I pull my forelock in your direction and send best.

Anonymous said...

Sending lots of big hugs your way. That trip to Vegas is sounding better and better. I don't think your whining at all, you need to vent and that is what we are here for. Lord knows I do enough of it on my blog. Living with a teen with Bi Polar and its ripple effects on the family is devestating. Deciding if it if manipulation vs. true meltdowns is a constant struggle. Relatives and friends and even school staff who think we spoil them or need to be tougher are truly clueless and have no idea how we wish it were that easy...the different meds, side effects, food cravings, weight gains, it is all happening here too and it is so difficult. I am so glad you are getting a break this summer because you have to take care of yourself. You have to put yourself first. I know funny concept, but so true. Anyway, thinking of you. XOXO

Unknown said...

Tough job you have there. As an aside, I have no particular fondness for Strattera. There are one or two it works well for but the rest. . .
Hope you find a solution for your big kid.
Haven't been by lately. Too busy I guess.
Take care.