Archive for the 'bipolar' Category

Living the Bipolar Life

Two words- Tightrope Walking.

Tightrope walking about 100ft in the air (high enough to be scary and deadly, but not so high that you can’t see what is below you). Two dangerous areas underneath. To one side there is a pool of molten rock, beautiful but deadly. To the other a pit of snakes, some poisonous some not, all feeling threatened and ready to strike. The dangers meet in the middle directly beneath the thin cord you are struggling to balance on. A breeze comes. A welcome relief to some hikers watching the lava from a safe distance, but potential death for you as it sets the cord to swaying. Now any movement at all and the swaying is intensified. You hold your breath, hoping that the cord will settle down before the sneeze that is building in response to the pollens blown in comes to fruition. You might be able to compensate for the sneeze when it comes if you know exactly where the cord is and what it is doing beforehand. With it already in motion, though, it’s too hard to predict.

This is what living the bipolar life feels like.


We live in perpetual chaos…that’s our normal.

So it’s Easter already! Wowsers!

Things are still out-of-whack here, but for new and different reasons. I think the only thing that stays the same for any length of time around here is the fact that things are ALWAYS changing! LOL

My kid brother, my first best friend (and my first enemy as well…haha) is officially an honest to goodness DADDY! =) My snowbuddy spent 30hrs in labor before they headed in to the hospital, where they went from being told they would be sent home if she didn’t progress in an hour as she was only dilated to a 2, to being told they would have a baby within the next few min via emergency c-section in literally 10min. My brother had gone downstairs to get her robe out of the car, came back in and found half the hospital staff (or so it seemed) surrounding the bed and the head doc panicking because little bit’s heart rate had dropped too low for too long.

As it turns out, little bit was being strangled with every contraction since the cord was wrapped around his neck twice. It also turns out, that little ‘bit’ is a little ‘bot’. His name is Blayne Owen and his last name starts with a T, making him B.O.T. He’s fine and so is my snowbuddy, thankfully! God was looking after them both last week, and now I have an adorable screacher of a nephew to spoil rotten while waiting to get pregnant again. LOL

Meanwhile… Mike is off work again. Going on 3wks now. This time for a reaction to the medication the docs put him on for his heart procedure back in Feb. He got horrible blisters covering the entire soles of his feet. Both his feet were twice the size of normal and he couldn’t stand to have anything touch the bottoms of his feet, let alone stand on them. The blisters are gone now, but the doc wants him off work till all the peeling has finished apparently. It’s ok. I like having him home. =)

We’ve also started a once a week trip into Dallas for Matthew to see a therapist. It’s not actually the guy I was wanting to get him in with, but this gal works very closely, in the same office, with him…and she costs half as much! Matthew actually really likes her. He looks forward to going and seeing her every week because she plays games with him and doesn’t make him feel like a specimen under a microscope.

I think his pdoc is going to work out ok, too. At least for now. We go in once a month, so we just had our 3rd visit. Saw the nurse practicioner again and she ok’ed our moving the Seroquel back to 200mg in the am and 300mg in the pm. Whew! I’m hoping by the time we go back, we’ll be in a much better place stability wise than we have been since the first visit! This last week was real rough compared to our ‘present normal’ (though NOTHING like a year ago, or even 6mo ago). It seems Matthew is not going to be able to handle missing even one dose of his lithium or getting his sleeping hours delayed by a few hours at all. It just throws his body so badly off-center it’s unreal! I am seriously going to have to keep a dose of his meds in my purse for those times when we end up out later than expected.

As you can imagine, all this excitement has left school hanging kinda in limbo. I’m staying relatively cool about that, but at the same time I want so badly to get school back up and running. I know Matthew still isn’t truly stable enough that he can handle an ‘ordinary’ school-day, but I’d like to see him doing at least a little reading or math each day. Meagan is just not currently motivated enough to pick things up on her own, but she would do the work if I actually gave her a specific list of what to do and then was available for answering questions. Mostly it’s been a case of I’ve been so distracted with other things (whether ER trips, dr appts, work, etc) that I haven’t sat down and mapped out her coursework, so she’s been coasting because of me.

I have gotten a fair amount of work done around the house, but still have a TON to do to get caught up from basically being gone all day every day for so long. Meagan was a huge help this week helping to get things actually accomplished. She cleaned and tidied the entire hall by herself. That probably doesn’t seem like a lot to most people, but our house is a very old one, and the hall is essentially 2 separate rooms right in the center of the house. Both the front hall and back hall contain numerous bookcases, and in the back hall there is also a dresser. All were overflowing with junk and stuff that needed to be put up. All the drawers were hanging out, stuff was piled on the floor in front of everything. Really it was a HUGE mess. One that extended right to the front door and literally made it hard to get in and out of the house. So REALLY, she helped a LOT by getting that massive chore tackled for me!

This is the month we have her unbirthday celebration, and as usual for the past few years, she is wanting to have a big sleepover party. If I actually can rely on her to help clean house properly, not just shove stuff in a closet or under a bed, (and it looks like I can), then I’m pretty sure we can do that this year and not even be ashamed of the house when the girls arrive! I told her tonight that we should schedule it for the weekend after next, so that we would have enough time to go shopping and get everything ready. My little planner is wanting to make pinatas for each girl to take home as part of their party favors, and that’s going to take at least a week in and of itself.

Once the house is in mostly clean condition (I know that no home with kids is ever perfectly clean for more than a nanosecond at a time), I have about a million and one projects to get started on or to complete. Since I started working I’ve had to put all the projects aside due to lack of time…and guilt over not having the housework done. That’s beginning to improve finally. Sure, right at this moment every room BUT the halls, looks like a tornado hit it, but really it’s mild compared to where it has been. The living room is covered in Easter eggs and candy, and the dining room justs needs its desks tidied. One of the kitchen counters was scrubbed down a couple of days ago and now just needs to be tidied back up from the last couple of meals. The laundry situation is lots better than it was a couple of months ago… in part because we’ve gotten rid of 4 trash bags full of clothing/linens. We still have a lot more to go through, too. The Christmas decorations are all put away in the pantry/storeroom which had a thorough going-through and cleaning done about 3-4wks ago, and the yard has had its first whack-job for the year. Its taken $80 to get it that way, but at least it’s done!

Tomorrow, in between church services, I am planning on getting this week’s school goal cards filled out and maybe some more laundry, too. Monday night, we’ll have our last Theology class of the semester and so this week I will need to fit in studying for the final, on top of everything else.

Never dull around here, that’s for sure!

So many changes…

I’m sitting here waiting for some medicine to kick in so I won’t feel so icky. I have a million and one things to do, but right now I don’t feel well enough to do any of them. Since I have neglected this blog for the last 5mo in large part because I haven’t had time to dedicate to it, I thought right now might be a good time to try and do some updating.

Right now our little Chiweenie, Bluebell, is curled up with me in the chair. This is her favorite spot in the whole house…curled up with Mommy. She was supposed to be Matthew’s ‘therapy’ dog, but the ‘newness’ wore off or she started to aggravate him or something, because lately she’s been staying about 3in away from me at all times. That is, unless Matthew is actively playing with her. That’s ok, though, she helps keep my feet warm. LOL

Meagan and Matthew are out with a friend of ours feeding her horse. She started picking them up and taking them with her to go feed about a week and a half ago, and the kids are eating it up. They absolutely love it! Meagan has even gotten to ride Red a little bit. This same friend has kinda taken Meagan under her wing and is having her help babysit a couple of days a week. Meagan thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread. She adores little kids and is really good with them, but I don’t feel she is mature enough to handle babysitting solo yet. This arrangement is perfect for her, though. Not only does she thoroughly enjoy the idea of having a job and a babysitting one (her dream job) at that, but she also has an older girl who is befriending her. She needs that desperately!

Matthew has been tagging along to go see the horse, and he loves visiting with the human babies, too, but he is not ‘working’. lol He’s able to work off a fraction of his energy by helping feed and take care of the horse, though, and he is always in need of ways to work off excess energy. Plus this arrangement also gives me a motivational tool that I can use with both kids. I tell them that they can’t go see Red if they haven’t gotten their school or chores done. =)

So what’s happened in the last 5mo besides the addition of Bluebell and trips to see a horse? A lot! My best friend’s ‘make-a-little-money-in-her-spare-time’ has turned into a full-time job. It pretty quickly became a full-time job for me, as well. Things grew that fast! Keeping up with orders has been tricky, to say the least. In the last month, we’ve been working hard to try and arrange things such that I could work from MY house at least 3 days a week, since Nov-Feb, it’s taken us both working (at her place) 5 days a week to keep up. That was fine for her business, but not so fine for our families. Her little one, my little Sweet-Cheeks had grown to resent her Aunt Chris being there every day when she got home from Kindergarten. Poor little mite just wanted her mama to herself. Oftentimes, we would end up working to about 4pm, which meant that her older kids would come home before I could get out of there, and that meant they felt like they didn’t have an attentive mama, too. Meanwhile, Meagan and Matt were (in a sense) eating it up that Mom was working full-time. To them that meant they could sleep all day, and then play video games and watch TV all night after Mom finally crashed.

I tried to ‘do school’ when I’d get home, but more often than not, I’d be waking the kids up when I got home around 4-5pm. It’d take an hour or more just to get them up and their meds in them, then I’d have to start fixing dinner. Mike would get up around 7-8pm, so it wouldn’t be until after he left for work around 9pm that I could really start any schoolwork. After a couple of hours of trying to figure out where each kid was in their work and trying to referee the complaining and bickering, I would start wearing out. Listening to them read out of their literature books would put me to sleep, of course, and so would waiting for one or the other to finish up the next bit so I could check it or what-not. I’d end up dozing for awhile and then around 2-3am manage to get their meds in them and then I’d go crash in bed, only to wake up around 8am to start all over again. The kids wouldn’t be anywhere close to ready for bed at 2-3am, of course, since they’d slept till 5pm or later, so I simply could not outlast them and that would leave them up watching TV or playing while I slept. Certainly they weren’t working on their schoolwork! LOL

That’s starting to change, though. We’ve been working towards getting things set-up where I can do what I need to for work from my house and only go over to my friend’s maybe once or twice a week to give her an extra pair of hands to help with packaging and shipping. This past week was the first week I was able to work from home, and it helped SO much! I still have massive amounts of catching up to do on housework, and the kids still aren’t fully re-adjusted to being up and doing schoolwork during the day, but I can definitely see a difference, already. We still have some kinks to work out, but this arrangement is going to work out so much better for both our families!!

Matthew’s sleep hours getting switched back to something closer to normal is paramount in managing his “mood disorder” according to his new psychiatrist. I’m not sure yet what to think of this doc. He wants to remove the BP diagnosis, which I do not agree with. On the one hand, I don’t care what you call it as long as it is treated properly, but on the other hand knowing what we’re dealing with is KEY to treating it properly. There’s no doubt in my mind he has BP I. I’ve done enough reading and research, there is simply no question this is what he is dealing with. Knowing that, I hate to lose that descriptor and go back to a vague “mood disorder” diagnosis. This doc on the very first visit without knowing any of Matt’s history, took one look at his med profile and said he was on way too much medicine. Ummmm…. no. While I would dearly love for Matt to not be on so much medicine, the ones he is taking we’ve determined through trial and error he NEEDS to be taking. Same thing for the dosing. The doc immediately (first visit, knowing nothing about Matt personally) decided to switch his Seroquel from 200mg in the am and 300mg in the pm to 400mg all in the pm. We’d tried that set-up before and it hadn’t worked. We’d come to the 2x/day split through trial and error for a reason…he needs it split up. I couldn’t get that through the doc’s head, though, so we switched.

The 4wks between the 1st and 2nd pdoc visit Matt slipped further and further into mania. No surprise, since his Seroquel dosing was messed with and the total dose decreased as well. God is still on the throne, though. We arrived an hour early for his second appt and so the Nurse Practicioner saw us instead of the pdoc. During the 10min or so we were with her, Matthew talked about random things and was talking very quickly (a sign of mania). He also got up out of the chair more than once and I had to physically put him back in the chair. In other words, he was very obviously manic-ky. I told her this was why we had split the Seroquel into 2x/day. So, the NP added the missing 100mg back in…in the am! She also gave us a script for Trazodone to help him get to sleep at a more reasonable hour.

The Trazodone is working well, but we haven’t seen any  improvements otherwise yet. It’s early still, and even though he is back to his full daily dose of the Seroquel, he is still getting only very little of it in the am making it available in his body during the day. Hopefully we’ll start seeing some improvement in the next week or two.

Also, I have found a therapist that I think would be really great for Matt, and I am trying to get an appt set up with him. We’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for him, but if he’s as good as he appears to be, it’ll be well worth it. He is a Christian counselor who works with teenage boys and his biggest focus is on encouraging them. This is exactly what Matt needs! He needs a godly Christian male influence in his life, someone who will encourage him in the Lord and help him with the managing of his emotions God’s way.

As for myself, since I am not pregnant yet, I think I am going to try and make an appointment with my old Lyme doc to get back on treatment. He just came out of retirement last week, and the timing could not be better! In the first few months after I ran out of the meds he had prescribed, I gained 60lb. The last 2-3 mo the babesiosis symptoms have been flaring back up with a vengeance…

It’s going to have to wait another month or two at least, though, since we just received the bill for Mike’s hospital stay back on Valentines. He has a thing for holidays. My first mother’s day (also the day we found out we were pg again) he had a massive heart attack and was Care-flighted to Dallas. He ended up getting two stents put in his heart. This time he went in for a stress test on the 13th because of some arrhythmias and other symptoms that had landed him in the ER the week before. The docs decided they didn’t want him even walking down the hall, let alone getting on the treadmill, so the took him down to the cath lab and he got another stent put in. At least this time things were caught *before* it turned into a heart attack!

Well, the kids are back now and my nose is telling me I need to go find some Benadryl, so I guess I’ll go try to hunt some up.

Fall Is Shapin Up to Be Better

July and August were spent recovering from the ‘toe thing’ of May and June. Matthew spent 10 days in a partial hospitalization program, supposedly to get his meds straightened out. That didn’t work out so well, but the 2 weeks we stayed at the Ronald McDonald House while he was in PHP was like a vacation of sorts. Both of the pdocs that were assigned to him (one replaced the other) turned out to be real duds. The first was focused only on the fact that Matthew “doesn’t like to be called Matthew, he prefers Ryan” (NOT true, a HUGE mistake on her part) and that “he is happy with being a boy” (good, ’cause I wasn’t about to ‘fix’ it if he wasn’t!). The second one flat-out refused to do anything for Matthew, medication or otherwise. This despite Matthew and I both giving him detailed descriptions of the problems (mostly rage) he’d been having and after a middle-of-the-night call (that the on-call doc never responded to!) because his meds were not helping him stay in control. In between we had a horrible week plus while on the Abilify. Made him very physically sick. Our trip to the zoo was spent pushing him around in a wheelchair because he was to weak to stand.

After the 2nd pdoc told me he had no suggestions as to what to do for Matt and that he would not do anything himself, I called the ped from the elevator. I got him an appt within the week and also got the verbal ok to increase his Seroquel dose from the miniscule 50mg/day the pdoc had him on. The dose of 400mg/day was a golden dose, one we worked up to when it was evident the 200mg/day wasn’t working. It was a no-brainer that the 50mg wasn’t doing any good!

After the PHP, where nearly every single one of the therapy team members voiced their opinion on Matt’s dx as being bipolar disorder, I bought some books and started my homework. Researching yet another new health condition. This time one that falls under the mental health umbrella, which I must admit I never would have even considered learning about if it didn’t ‘happen’ in my own family. I used to think that bipolar was just a cop-out dx that people who didn’t care a fig newton about their actions or reactions came up with to get out of having to face the consequences. Boy did I have a lot to learn!

One thing about it, after all the reading I’ve done, there is no doubt in my mind that this IS what Matthew has been dealing with most of his life. I really knew it before I did the ‘heavy’ research, though. I knew it back in the spring when I scanned that first childhood bipolar book. The small, still voice of the Holy Spirit told me back then that I’d finally gotten to the answer He’d been leading me too.

That first appt with the ped after the pdoc fiasco was about a month ago. Since then we’ve seen her twice for med ‘consults’. She asked to borrow one of the books I’d purchased so she could read it, and also said she’d be doing a little research herself. She’s MORE than willing to continue managing Matthew’s meds, which is AMAZING! In her practice of about 2,000 kiddos, she says there are only 3 that she knows have bipolar disorder. Of those, Matthew is the only one she is managing meds for! She has always gone out of her way to research things when something comes up with one of the kids. If she doesn’t know how to treat it, she learns. She’d still like us to find a good pdoc if possible, of course, if nothing else than for a “for-sure” dx, but given our recent history with pdocs and the limited list available under our insurance… not sure that’s gonna happen anytime soon.

Based on our research, we’ve decided to add a mood stabilizer to Matt’s meds. The PHP discontinued his ADHD med, and we’ve left it off. Taking that aways seems to have allowed us to keep the Seroquel dose down to 300mg/day. Then a little over a week ago we started him on Trileptal. He’s currently on 600mg/day, and doing really well. Once we got the Seroquel back up to 200mg/day we started seeing the rage withdraw, once it hit 300mg/day we haven’t had a major rage episode, and very little irritability even! He’s even doing his schoolwork without a fight.

So for Matthew, fall is definitely looking to be a better season than summer. Of course, that means that it’ll be better for everyone!

Meagan has had a personal upswing as well. She dropped a bombshell on us right before school started and told us she wanted to be homeschooled again as the stress (and lack of help/friends) at the school were just too much for her. After looking at her standardized test scores from the first year she was there and this past year, her daddy decided I would teach her through high school. She has been NO END of excited ever since. She’s loved every minute of her school work and is more than eager to get started on the subjects we hadn’t been able to start yet because of waiting for all the materials to come in. She’s super excited about Spanish, especially.

Mike is in the middle of a 2wk vacation, and I think we’ll probably be headed out to Arkansas for 3 or 4 nights of camping tomorrow. He’s actually been taking his antidepressants (well most of the time) for a few weeks now, and I think they are starting to take effect.

I’ve been busy helping my best friend with her cosmetics business. Thankfully I do the behind-the-scenes work… bookkeeping, software/website maintenance, order pulling/packing, etc. My favorite part. =) I’ve always liked doing the behind-the-scenes stuff. I LOVE it! Plus the ‘office’ is her dining room, and my ‘boss’ is…duh, my best friend! haha I keep telling her I would totally do it for free, but she has been insisting on paying me. That means that *I’ve* been able to to tithe and give to missions!! YEA! She purchased all the school curriculum for the kids this year! Most of it was actually for Meagan, since Matthew is still in the middle of 7th grade, but he even got a couple of new courses.

Besides having WAY too many cats (5 adults, and 8 kittens) things are lookin pretty good for Fall. And next spring? We’ll get to welcome a new little one into the family! No, *I’m* not pregnant, but my brother is. Well… not my brother, technically, but still… my kid brother’s gonna be a daddy!!

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