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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.

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ADHD October 7, 2008

Posted by linnic in Diagnosis.
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Here is a great blog post about ADHD, and much of it can be related to bipolar as well.  It is posted by Cool Cat Teacher and is her take on a presentation by Dr. Shepard.  Please go read “Get out of that wheelchair and run“!

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!!

The Car May 31, 2008

Posted by linnic in behavior, Uncategorized.
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My son has two of the little powerwheels vehicles: a mustang and a hummer. He absolutely loves them and every day drives each until the battery is dead. Well today I was inside getting my youngest to stay in bed while my middle son was outside with dad. Dad was mowing in the back, and son was playing in the front. My hubby comes in to tell me that our son had spray painted his mustang. He found an old can of spray paint and decorate it to “make it look cooler for his sister since he was giving it to her for her birthday. Nice gesture, but geez!!! I made him scrub all the paint off, and luckily most came off. The scrubbing process took over an hour. I’m not sure if it will prevent another occurrence or not, but hopefully!!! I am including a picture of one side of the car. The joys of parenthood!!

Newsweek Article May 30, 2008

Posted by linnic in Diagnosis.
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Newsweek had a very interesting article this week about bipolar in kids. Several times while reading the story, I was not sure if I was reading a magazine or my own diary. I could relate to SO many of the events in Max’s life. Of you have a child with bipolar, or know someone who does, I HIGHLY recommend reading this article!

One quote that really “got me”: “There was one good thing about this strange diagnosis, she thought: at least it meant she wasn’t a bad mother.”

While the mother in the article had moved past this point of view, I think I am still partially here. I think that at times I use the diagnosis to “prove” that I’m not a bad parent. I feel for the family in this story, but can relate on so many levels!

Shoes May 25, 2008

Posted by linnic in behavior.
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My son has this obsession with shoes (yes, the 5 yr old!!)  He wants a new pair every week.  My mom has always been the one to buy shoes for the kids, no reason really she just always has.  Last week he starts begging grandma and grandpa for a new pair.  The last pair was purchased a month ago and in that time he cut his shoe laces so he wouldn’t have to tie them.  Well Friday I discovered his latest shoe alteration, he had cut the tongue of the shoe off, but only on one side.  When approached about it, he claimed he was having a hard time kicking a football and this helped.  Ok, MAYBE a plausible explanation IF he had a football!!  Grandpa was certainly NOT at all happy about this.  So now if my son wants new shoes, he is working for them.  He is going to my dad’s house and doing chores, getting paid a dollar per chore.  My mom is having a really hard time with this, she wants him to be able to earn the money quickly.  My dad and I on the other hand think it needs to be something he actually has to work for.  Today begins the first round of chores, can’t wait to hear what he earns!

Baby Steps May 22, 2008

Posted by linnic in behavior.
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My son has made to giant baby steps this week.  YEA!!!  First one happen about a week ago.  He and his older sister were in our backyard playing.  They began arguing.  I could see the whole series of events from inside, but was trying to let them work it out.  He raised a fist (here we go again, I thought).  Then he turns and runs inside.  He didn’t hit her!  Now that may not seem like a big deal, but it was HUGE!!!  When he came inside, we didn’t even have a complete meltdown (it was close for a minute though).

Tonight, we were sitting at the table eating dinner.  The TV was still on, playing a HIGHLY preferred movie.  We usually turn it off but forgot to.  My husband was sitting in direct line of my son’s view of the TV.  Instead of screaming, demanding that my husband move,  and having a meltdown, he said “could you please move so that I can see better?”  My jaw fell open.  Don’t get me wrong, my son is a very polite little guy, but for him to say it without any hint of getting upset, that was a big step.  Usually the anticipation of a no will cause a meltdown before the question is even asked.

This whole journey will be two steps forward, three steps back, I know that.  I have challenged myself though to focus on the positives.  I guess I am taking a step forward too.

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.”

Chalk April 28, 2008

Posted by linnic in behavior.
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Well, my lovely son has just decided to color our carpet with chalk!!  Now, we don’t have the nicest home in the world, nor the nicest carpet.  In fact, the carpet is in dire need of being replaced, but we are trying to make it last as long as possible.  He found a piece of yellow sidewalk chalk and went to town.  One of the spots came out with just the vacuum.  The other one, well is doesn’t look like it is coming out until we replace the carpet.

Now, I realize that it could be worse…he could have used pink or red, but GRRR!!!  I hate that my house can never stay nice.  We moved to this house in October and he has put 3 holes in walls, helped his sister destroy the bathroom in a flood, and pulled up various patches of grass/ plants.  Give me a break already!!

It probably sounds like he just needs more supervision, but I swear the only time he isn’t supervised is when we blink or use the bathroom.  Tonight I was helping my daughter gather her supplies for a project and take them to her room, he was less than 10 feet away, but my back was turned!

PLEASE tell me that we will outgrow this destructive phase….PLEASE….even if you have to lie!!!

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.