Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Son is NOT Contagious

I blog because I like to write. I blog as a stress reliever. I blog because I have read so many blogs that have inspired me and helped me through another day. I blog because I have received so many amazing emails and comments from people telling me that many of my posts have inspired them and helped them through another day. I blog because it helps me remember that I'm not alone. While there are a few, the majority of the people who pass through my daily circle, don't understand and can't empathize.

I don't blog because I'm looking for sympathy or pity. I'm not looking for "poor me".  And when I talk about my son, his suicidal thoughts, his issues, my bipolar...I'm not necessarily looking for advice, but I am hoping that maybe my words will find someone else dealing with the same thing and maybe keep them from feeling so alone.

Unfortunately, the recent posts where I mention my son have become "controversial" in the tiny farming town in which I live. I realize that many people who grow up in towns where the cows and corn fields outnumber the residents have major misconceptions about depression, bipolar and most other mental "disabilities". Old fashioned values and beliefs are often more prevalent than modern research and science. I am by no means referring to everyone, but it has recently come to my attention that several fellow parents are offended by what I have written. Apparently, several have requested that their children no longer play with my son. While I only have a handful of facebook "friends" who have children in school with my son, I have a very good idea about who these people are. And quite honestly, they disgust me.

We live in America. It is 2011. Mental illness is not contagious, or any indicator of a child's behavior. His suicidal drawing will not doom their children. I'm sure that they would be amazed to learn that bipolar is not, in fact, caused by angry demons. It is caused by chemicals in the brain. It is not possible "to snap out of". More often than not, it will need to be treated with medication. It is not curable, but is most certainly controllable.

From   "Suresh Sureddi, MD,(is) an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a director of Lifepath Systems, a community mental health clinic in Plano, Texas. Dr. Sureddi explains that it helps to remember that bipolar disorder is a chronic illness, like congestive heart failure or diabetes, which sometimes results in patients having to be hospitalized and needing ongoing treatment."

Bipolar is an illness and it absolutely does not define who you are. Misconceptions abound about about bipolar, and these misconceptions are far more harmful than people think. While they remain secure in their ignorance, they may be missing signs in their own children, or filling their children with hate and fear for those who think differently. Bipolar children and adults in general, are more creative and intelligent.

"I must admit that one of the reasons why I have specialized in bipolar disorder is because it seems like nearly every single person with bipolar disorder I see is unusually creative or intelligent or charismatic or something. Quite a few have been really profoundly intelligent to the point where I have trouble keeping up with their minds," Jim Phelps, M.D. Per

The point? Read a book, do some research, know what you're talking about before you feel the need to judge.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

“You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

Granny has not improved. I brought the kids to see her Sunday and they each went over to hug her, she touched Delaney’s face and Sam lay down on the bed next to her for a few moments and let her hold him. She cries, she smiles, she laughs…whether out of frustration or humor, I’m not sure. I bent over the bed and told her I loved her. Saturday night she responded with an “I love you.” This time she looked at me like she didn’t understand. I made the sign for I love you with my hands. She managed to get her fingers in the same sign and very carefully pressed our fingers together. I tried not to cry.  

Medicare only covers 4 days in the hospital, dying or not. They’d rather pull the oxygen right out of your nose and rip the IV from your skin and push you down the stairs before they would work with you. So they have to move her elsewhere, meanwhile the speech therapist is trying to explain to her that she is going to have to move, but no, she’s not going home, like she thinks. She will probably never go home. Her little dog will continue to race around her apartment looking for her.  

Sometimes you have to stand back and say, “Seriously? Seriously? Is this some kind of fucking joke? Really? REALLY?”

I took Sam and Delaney to the doctor for wellness checks yesterday, and Sam has a lump in his testical. The doctor said it was most likely a hernia but he referred us to Children’s Hospital for an evaluation.

Have I mentioned that our house is in foreclosure? The auction date is the 23rd of this month, if anyone would like to come and bid. I figure that’s one way to get rid of all our junk. Let them throw it the front yard and let the neighborhood scavengers dig through it. At least I wouldn’t have to clean the house again. Let the bank deal with the missing chunks of linoleum, where I ripped them up in a frantic, manic state. They can deal with the broken kitchen cabinet that I punched or the closet door that I kicked. I’m “working” with Wells Fargo to get a loan modification and have been for the last 5 months, with no result. They continually ask for the same paperwork, over and over and over again. The first “specialist” we had never returned phone calls.  Yesterday, our new one called to say that our paperwork EXPIRED THURSDAY. And I have to send it all in again, with current information. Unfortunately, we don’t have another 5 months to wait. Wells Fargo sucks.

“You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

Friday, November 4, 2011

Room B467

“If I didn’t take care of myself, take my pills, I’d be in a psych ward,” The man in to room next door is loudly explaining to his nurse.  “I’m 65,” he says. “I’m not going to live that much longer.”

I’m sitting in the corner of an uncomfortably cool hospital room, in an uncomfortable leather chair. The heart monitor beeps somewhere is in the hallway. I sit, waiting for the nurses to bring my grandma back to the room. Echocardiograms, CAT Scans. She’s being submitted to those and every other kind of imaginable scan and grams that they can conjure. They’re trying their hardest to make her uncomfortable. Good intentions that are seriously annoying  the 89 year old woman that I call Granny. She can’t speak. The stroke earlier today has stolen that from her. It’s taken her ability to comprehend what people are saying. It’s taken her ability to say “yes” or “no”.  She struggles to say something, moving her mouth and lips to make words, but is unable to make them materialize as sound. She gives up, putting her head back down on the pillow with a hand over her eyes.  She cries, but can’t wipe her nose because of the lines streaming oxygen into her veins. She shakes her head, shrugging her shoulders, surrendering to another battery of tests.

Mom called earlier, saying that she had called Granny and she was completely incoherent and then she hung up. Mom babysits my nephew 5 days a week, so I packed up Sam and Delaney and headed to my brother’s house to watch the baby while my mom went to be with Granny.  By then the ambulance had taken her to the hospital emergency room.  She was unable to recognize anyone, even my mom and dad. She couldn’t function, or even follow simple directions. When she was able to produce her full name, she beamed, her face transformed into that of a child, so proud she was.

As soon as I was able, I got myself to the emergency room. She recognized me immediately as I reached the side of her bed. I grasped her hand, and even in the ER she was classy, a giant moonstone ring on her left hand, a blue-stoned silver ring on the other. A little red lipstick.  I held her hands tight and leaned down to hug her. I kissed her cotton-candy hair trying not to cry, trying not to be tangled in the wires and tubes that encased her like a strait jacket.  I held her against my chest like a child, she held me back, and we sat there for a while in silence. She looked at me, forming her lips into shapes, moving her mouth to speak, but was unable to say whatever she wanted to say. The look in her eye flashed from hope, to frustration, to fear. She covered her face with her hands and buried her face in the sheets, her shoulders shaking as she tried to hold back tears. I held her, and cried, too.  I looked at her tender pink scalp peeking through her thinning white hair, the age spots on her face, neck and hands. I imagined it was me standing at that brink…knowing that I’m 89 years old. I’ve already lived long past my life expectancy and suddenly I’m facing death.  Do you want to let go? Do you want to stay? The oxygen tubes are half lost in the crepe paper skin around her neck. She looks at me, her giant blue eyes rimmed with red.

“I…don’t…know, “  she stuttered. “I…don’t…know.”  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

HUGE Emotions

The evening I found Nick's note and drawings I panicked, obviously. I called his therapist, after hours, hoping that by some off chance she'd answer the phone. And thank god she did. If she hadn't, I think I would have been a blubbering mess all night. She moved his appointment up so she could see him sooner and gave me suggestions on how to deal with it right then. Ask about the drawing, she said, tell him that I am proud that he is able to express himself so well on paper, ask why he chose that particular topic. His first answer was because I wouldn't play chess with him, and that was indeed what set him to his room that afternoon. He blew up at me and went to his room. But obviously, it's about more than chess.

I loved how Michelle, his therapist put it. "Some people are born with HUGE emotions, while others are born will smaller (more manageable) emotions." We just have to learn how to handle them. Nick has often commented to me about the echo in his head. Sometimes it will take him and extra long time to finish his sentences because he waits for the echo to stop before he starts talking again. They've been digging into that one a little bit. Apparently Nick told her that it's not his voice, but it is a voice She says that Nick is a candidate for their "intensive out-patient" program. She said it's in its beginning stages, but right now gives the kids priority access to all the therapists and doctors, at any time. There are also other groups that they can join for extra support and different techniques on how to deal with their emotions, etc. Sounds like a class I need to take...It might also involve more hours of therapy. "Therapy" sounds so...harsh, but in reality, he has a lot of fun. They paint, play games, go outside and play. She says she picks up "nuggets" while they play and he talks. Unfortunately, she is moving to Hawaii and yesterday was his last session with her. But she paired him with someone she thinks would work. We meet him next time. He mainly uses art therapy, which I actually have a lot of faith in. It's an excellent outlet for all those "HUGE" emotions. I guess time will tell. And I'm hoping it tells us good things.

How we covered Nick's writing on the wall about how hard of a world it is for him. With a little bit of everything.


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