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Update December 17, 2012

Posted by linnic in behavior, Diagnosis, Education, Medication.
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Over the past 5 months, things have improved for the most part.  During my son’s last hospitalization, we had a complete med overhaul and that seemed to have put us on a better path.   His current medications include Zyprexa, Kapvay, Depakote, Wellbutrin, as well as melatonin.  He is also taking thyroid medication.  He had not shown any problems with his thyroid until we did a trial of Lithium just prior to his last hospitalization.  He was diagnosed upon dismissal with Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD.

At home, he is doing very well.  For the first time in at least 4 years, we have been able to do fun things as a family.  We have been able to go to museums, restaurants, and to the movies.  These may seem like small things, but we were literally homebound much of the time because we didn’t want to risk him having a rage in an uncontrolled environment.  I feel like our whole family is beginning a healing process that will no doubt take quite sometime, but at least we are at a point where healing is an option.

School has not been as successful.  Last year we had to move him to a school that specializes in educating students who can’t make it in a regular school.  I was not excited by the move.  We had AMAZING teachers and paras at the elementary school, and after 5 years, they really knew how best to work with him.  Unfortunately, things had escalated to a point where the other students weren’t safe due to his rages.  He did fairly well at the school until October of this year.  About 6 weeks ago, I received a call that he was being escorted to our local crisis center by the police and his principal.  While there they were able to calm him down and get us an immediate appt with his doctor so that we would not have to hospitalize again.  About a week and a half later, I got a call that he was being placed under arrest for assault and disorderly conduct.  He was released to our custody with an agreement to take him to our juvenile center for processing.

My biggest fear was always that he would hurt someone and get arrested.  I’ve always been told, “oh he’s little yet, he’ll grow out of it, don’t worry…”  Thankfully no one was seriously injured, but all I can think about is that my fears are slowly becoming reality.  I have not given up hope, of course, but it is daunting.

 

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Medications December 5, 2008

Posted by linnic in Medication.
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A question was posted on one of my pages that I thought I would address as a post rather than just a reply since I am sure others have the same question.

“The only thing that worries me is that my son is now on four different medications and I am just not sure if that is healthy for him. We have tried so many medications and these are the only ones that seem to work. I was just wondering if you have the same problem and how much medication your child was on?”

My son is currently on 4 medications- Seroquel (250 mg), Benedryl (25 mg), Concerta (27 mg), and Celexa (10 mg).  We have tried others- Risperdal, Abilify, Depakote, Ritalin, Metadate, and Focilin.  We have been on the medication rollercoaster since he was 3 1/2 and are just now getting to a point were we are seeing improvement (at 6 1/2).

Medication is a difficult issue.  No parent WANTS to medicate their child for any reason, but some children need medication to function.   No parent would deny a diabetic child the insulin they need to function.   Likewise, I can’t deny my child the medication he needs to function.  I have hopes that as he ages, and is able to process his actions better, that we will be able to go down on the medication, but at this point he needs it.

My child unmedicated would not be able to attend school and would endanger those in my family.  I am not convinced that we have reached the right combination of medicine yet, but I feel like we are on the right track.

I have had a few negative and extremely hurtful comments left on this blog about medicating children, and my child’s behavior- I moderate them so they were never publicly posted.  I work in the field of education, I have seen medicine over used, underused, and everything in between.  I have heard parents swear by medicine, and swear against meds.  I have heard so many people attack my choice in giving my child medication, but the bottom line is that this is what MY child needs to be able to function in daily life.

For all parents out there with a bipolar child, it is a tough and very long road.   You  have to make HARD decisions, life altering decisions- to medicate or not, to hospitalize or not, to institutionalize or not.  None of these decisions are taken lightly by any parent.  In the end though, you have to do what is best for your family and for your child.  Surround yourself with as many professional opinions that you can, and then make an informed choice.  I feel for each of you, I personally know how heart wrenching having a bipolar child can be.  My child is a blessing, but he often brings me to the point of pulling out all of my hair or moving to a foreign country.  I love him, as I love all three of my children, more than life itself.  I would do anything to take this disorder from him, but unfortunately I can’t.  What I can do is provide him with every possible tool to make it through life successfully.

Not Improving July 15, 2008

Posted by linnic in behavior, Medication.
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Our summer started out rough, very rough.  I really thought that by now, things would have improved, but they have not.  We are having multiple rages a day, many requiring restraint, some requiring additional meds to get him to calm down.

He had a big rage at the park the other day because he was hungry.  We live 15 minutes from the park, and would eat when we came home, but that didn’t matter.  I had to sit in the backseat holding holding his arms so that he would not take off his seatbelt and attack his brother and sister.  It seems like we are always dealing with a rage, preventing one, or recovering from one.  I am truly exhausted!

We had a med change; an increase in his Concerta from 27 mg to 36 mg.  This does not seem to have helped at all, in fact, I dare say things are slightly worse.  One of the things I hate about med changes is going back in to the Dr.  “So, did the medicine help?” How hard it is to answer!  Sometimes I feel like I literally have to split hairs.  Well our intensity is down slightly, but our frequency and duration are up.  So is that an improvement??

I have been reading some other blogs and support group postings about bipolar kids and see these parents whose child is now 10 or 12 and I just don’t how we are going to make it that long.  My son is getting bigger and much stronger.  Restraining him is increasingly difficult.  His aggression is more serious.  I’m truly at a loss as to what to do.  If we don’t restrain, people get hurt, but we are close to the point where restraint won’t be an option.  Then what?  What can I do to keep everyone safe?  I would love to hear some comments of what parents do.

I must say I truly appreciate all of the comments that I have received.  WordPress does not allow me to respond to individual comments, but please know that I do read them.   It is nice to know that I am not alone in this struggle and that there are parents out there who completely understand!!

Concerta June 3, 2008

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We have decided to try concerta on my son.  He had been on Metadate with a booster of methylphenadate in the afternoon.  Even with the booster, we were not making it to bedtime with out meltdowns.  Our Dr felt Concerta would offer a more stable dosage of medication.  We shall see.  We began the medicine this morning.  There is always a level of anxiety for me every time we make a med change.  Will things get better?  Worse? or stay the same?  Time will tell.

Just needs a little discipline May 13, 2008

Posted by linnic in behavior, Medication.
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I am so tired of hearing this phrase.  “He just needs some discipline.”  Granted, this is mostly coming from my ex who is largely uninvolved.  It is a phrase though that I hear in reference to my child, but also to many others.  I wish that people would understand that yes, discipline is a VERY important part to dealing with any child, but when there are biological issues that the child is dealing with, discipline can only go so far.  I have no doubt that I could beat my child black and blue and his behavior would not change. (I would NEVER in a million years try this!!)

I also get tired of hearing “he shouldn’t be on meds.”  Really?  And where is your medical degree from??  I know that kids tend to be over medicated, and that other things should be tried first, or at least in conjunction with it.  My son was in anger management/ therapy by the age of 3 and started meds shortly after turning 4.  Do I like medicating him??  Heck no!!  But, my other children deserve to live free from fear that he will hurt them.

Let’s see….other phrases I can’t stand (now I’m on my soapbox)…

  • “If he were my kid…”  Well, he’s not, thank goodness.
  • “Just spank him.”  Back to the beating comment earlier.
  • “Have you tried…?”  Yep, I probably have.
  • “There is this new….” Sorry not into accupuncture, accupressure, chiropractic, or other nontraditional methods.  Not to say they don’t work, but I am leary.
  • “He doesn’t act that way with me”  You aren’t around him everyday like we are.  Plus he is getting one-on-one attention, and everything he wants- who wouldn’t act pretty good given that??
  • “When my kids throw a tantrum, I just…”  Does your child’s tantrum involve bruising others, biting others, putting holes in the wall, throwing dangerous objects, and darting into traffic?  He can’t be left alone in his room, without causing major damage- some of which is dangerous to himself or others.

We all say things similar to these, I have even found myself uttering “well my kids…”  The point of all of this is that when you aren’t the parent and don’t know the whole situation, it is easy to judge.  It is easy to glare at a parent in the store because their kid is screaming and they “aren’t doing anything about it, but did you ever consider that maybe the child fell and got hurt?  Or the parent has already punished her?  Or that maybe the parent is at their witt’s end and is just surviving the trip??  I am trying to make a conscious effort to instead of glaring, make a positive, supportive statement to the parent.   Then I say a little prayer… “Thank you God, that it isn’t my child THIS time.”

To hospitalize or not? April 26, 2008

Posted by linnic in behavior, Diagnosis, Medication.
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My son had to be hospitalized for the first (God willing the last) time this past October.  I mentioned this in a previous post, but did not go into much detail.

Last October we moved, this was a tough time for every but especially for my son.  His behavior at home and school was at an all time low.  We were restraining multiple times a day.  His episodes would last anywhere from 30 min to over 2-3 hours.  We would be in a restraint for 15 minutes, out for 10, then back into another one.  We were under the care of a psychiatrist and a social worker, but nothing seemed to be helping.

In early October, he was having horrible problems at school.  I am a teacher at the school he was attending and was having to leave my class to help with him.  That afternoon we had him in the principal’s office and were in the 3rd restraint of the day.  He was completely out of control and trying to knock over and throw furniture, hit, kick, and bite the 4 adults in the room.  It reminded me of caged animal.  We were 30 minutes into a restraint and he was only becoming more aggressive.  Our school counselor worked at a crisis center on the weekends and suggested it.   I knew the time had come to seek hospitalization.  What I didn’t know was that the only psychiatric hospital in town did not accept kids under the age of 12.  The closest place that did was 3 1/2 hours away.

We called in a police officer to help us transport him to the crisis center.  He finally calmed when the officer walked into the room.  By the time we were at the crisis center he was calm, but not back to normal.  His speech and thought processing was significantly delayed.  The crisis center set up an appointment with the hospital to admit him, and my father and I drove with him for the 3 1/2 hour trip to the hospital.

Having never admitted someone to a psychiatric hospital, I did not know what it entailed.  We arrived around midnight and they gave us some paperwork to fill out.  Soon, a nurse came down to get him.  We said our goodbyes to him, gave him a hug and kiss and he left.  I did not know that it would be 2 days before I would see him again.

Apparently many parents drop off their child and head home, but there was no way I could leave him in a city 3 1/2 hours away.  We found a hotel and stayed the night.  The next day, my father and I wanted to return to the hospital but were discouraged to do so.  They wanted time to evaluate him and get a handle on the situation.  We set out to find an affordable place to stay for the week they were projecting he would be there.

The week ended up being 5 days, but it was the longest 5 days.  During that time I saw him on 3 different days each time for only 1 hour.  This was my little baby.  he was only 5 years old and I felt that I had sent him to jail.  There were tears every time he went back into the facility.

The hospitalization put everyone through hell.  My son, dad, myself, but also those left back at home…his grandma, sister, brother, and stepdad.  We left there with new medications, a new diagnosis- bipolar mood disorder, and a new appreciation for family.

Was it the right decision to hospitalize him?  I will never know.  It did qualify us for some intensive services through our county’s mental health agency- free services.  His medication, therapy sessions, and even attendant care (someone to sit with him in school or at home to help him control himself) are all paid for.  We now have access to services that we could not have provided for him.  We finally have a doctor with a lot of experience dealing with kids like my son.

I certainly hope that no one reading this will ever have to go through what we went through last October.  I have never felt more alone and like a terrible parent as I did during those 5 days.  I do believe it helped us, even if indirectly.  Things have significantly improved since that time.  Things are far from perfect, but they are better.

Med changes April 3, 2008

Posted by linnic in Medication.
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I called this blog “Roller Coaster Kid” because I feel like my son is a constant roller coaster ride. He has his ups, then comes crashing down; throw in a couple of loops and it is the makings of a fantastic ride. We had leveled out a bit, and then we had a med change. Boy oh boy, we are headed down a steep hill right now. Our Dr. cut B’s Celexa in half and his moods have been swinging every since. I will be calling tomorrow to see about increasing it back to where it was.

Medicine March 31, 2008

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Giving medication has become very routine in our house. My son is on many medications.

In the morning he takes Riperdal, Celexa, and Metadate. In the afternoon he takes Methalyn, and at night we end things with an additional dose of Risperdal and Benedryl. He is also on a PRN for a Risperdal/Benedryl combo.

My son is 5. I have taken a lot of heat for all of this medication, and I don’t really like giving it to him, but he can’t function without it. Prior to being medicated, he could not go an entire hour without a MAJOR meltdown. His meltdowns rendered him virtually mute, he was highly aggressive and almost animalistic. With medication, we can make it through the day. Are days perfect? Far from it. I don’t think we have had a day in the past 3 years where we haven’t felt like we were walking on eggshells, just waiting for the next meltdown.

B was only 3 when I began considering medication, and just after his 4th birthday we began with our first meds. Since then, meds have been changed, added to, and discontinued. Ups and downs always accompany every med change. Even after a year and a half, we still haven’t found the right combination.

As I said, I have taken a lot of heat, but this is what we have to do for my son to survive and thrive. If my child had diabetes, no one would question his need for insulin to survive. My son is no different. I know that not every child should be on medication, and I do agree that there are many kids who do not need medication, but are on it anyway. There are kids out there that do need it. Any thoughts on medications?

The Beginning October 24, 2007

Posted by linnic in Diagnosis, IEP, Medication.
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My son was born 5 years ago and from the beginning, had more energy than his body could handle. By 5 months, he was doing “tummy scrunches”. He would lift his head and feet up off the floor while lying on his back. He did this so much, his little tummy looked bloated!

Later we hit the terrible twos. He wasn’t much different from any other toddler. He had way more energy than mom and we were forever chasing him. He had temper tantrums like any other boy his age. Unlike many boys his age, these tantrums never improved.

When he was 3 he started preschool. Within 6 months he was being sent home for hurting others. We sought counseling. Things kept getting worse. His tantrums became unmanageable and we had to physically restrain him. I have a background in special education and had been trained to deal with severe behaviors that required physical restraint. Soon we were restraining daily. We sought out a psychiatrist to begin medication. Soon, things at school were not good and he was asked not to return. We sought testing for special education placement. So far we were told this was ADHD (a severe case) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.

Testing showed he was gifted in math. No surprise there. At 2 years he was able to add and subtract in his head, although he had no idea what math symbols were. He was placed on an IEP and into a special education Pre-K. With med adjustments occurring monthly, things still weren’t right. He completed the program and we had a nice summer. That brings us to the present.

This year my son started kindergarten. His first few days were great. We were in the process of finding a new house, and moved about a month ago. This set us into a downward spiral that we are still in the middle of. At the beginning of October, he had an episode at school in which he was restrained for over an hour, the decision was made (by me and the school personnel) to call in a community police officer to help transport him to a crisis center. A hospitalization at a pediatric psychiatric hospital followed. That had to have been the worst 5 days of my life! Since we have had med changes, and finally, what I consider an accurate diagnosis. The diagnosis of Pediatric Onset Bipolar Disorder was given last week. Since then I have done a TON of research and things are finally making sense. I see the mood swings that he is cycling through at the incredible rate of manic to depressive within minutes.

I decided to begin this blog as an outlet for myself and hopefully as a resource to others. I have not yet found a support group, but am looking for one. Until then, and even after, I plan to use this blog to post my thoughts, research and insight.