Archive for the 'Matthew' Category

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.

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We’re still learning…

It’s not quite the end of October, so fall has only just begun, so really I shouldn’t feel so defeated when I look back at my last post and realize that since then things have only gone downhill. I know this thing we call life is a marathon and not a sprint, I know that the goodness of the seasons both of the harvest and of life are not determined within the first trembling weeks. Still I can’t help but wonder just how long before the “lookin’ up” mentality takes back over my attitude. Oh sure, I put up a good front for everyone else, telling them that it WILL get better, we just have to trust God and be patient, but the reality is I wonder if all I’m saying is just empty words.

I don’t guess things are really THAT bad, certainly not as bad as they’ve been in the past. Actually things were much, much worse even just this past summer. Maybe I’m just now settling back into ‘normal’ rather than ‘crisis’ mode, and so the adrenaline let-down is clouding my senses.

We did go camping and we had a great time, despite Matthew having a couple of very emotional days. He went through the whole rainbow of emotions within hours (more than once) and that did dampen the fun somewhat, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. The first week we were back home was way worse. The rage came back with a vengeance. There was a lot of destruction of property that week. We followed that with a trip to the ped and an increase in both of his bipolar meds. The next week was better, and the rage has not come back to the extent it had been, but neither is he the ‘sweet, golden, little boy’ he was for those 2-3 wks of May when he was taking the same amt of Seroquel. THAT is the part that’s dragging me down, I really think. I had so hoped we’d see that level of ‘good’ again. =(  I’m trying so hard not to lose hope, though. I know that the mood stabilizer needs a good 8wks at therapuetic level (which he just hit this last week) to reach its full potential, and I know that the last week he hasn’t been feeling all that great physically as his asthma has been acting up. I’m REALLY trying to hang on to the hope that as he gets well physically, the emotional/mental will ‘catch up’ as well.

Meanwhile, our school experience has been VERY relaxed. In years past this would have had me in an absolute frenzy of guilt and even anger at the kids (and myself!) for being so far ‘behind’. The title of this post explains my feelings on this situation now, though. True the kids have not completed vast amounts of written work each day. True if you go by the recommended schedule given for each course, they are quite behind, but no it’s not the end of the world. For one, they ARE still progressing in everything, just not at the ‘recommended’ pace. For another, it’s finally beginning to hit home that neither one of my children are destined for the great academia life that I’d always secretly hoped (and pushed) for them. Oh, they’re both highly intelligent, no doubt, but the academic ‘way-of-life’ is not a strong suit for either one of them… for different reasons.

I’ve always known that academics was a good fit for some people and not others. For instance, a child born with Downs Syndrome absolutely CAN and will learn, but would not be expected to be able to soar through standard schooling and college with As in every subject no matter how difficult those subjects may be. A child born with legs that will never be able to hold their weight wouldn’t be expected to win all the events at a track meet. A child who loses their sight due to illness would never be expected to ‘find Waldo’ or excel at ‘I Spy’, nor would they be thought less of because they were not suited to those kinds of activities. Each person is born with different abilities and God has a different plan and will for everyone. We’re not all supposed to be neuro-surgeons, or chemical engineers. We’re not all meant to be athletes. We’re not all meant to mechanics. Some people have natural affinities for these things… others do not.

I’ve always thought it simply cruel for parents to expect their children to excel in athletics simply because they did themselves in school, regardless of whether the children were physically CAPABLE to or not. I’ve certainly seen that exact scenario often enough! “How selfish and simply ridiculus of those parents to just assume that the child would be great at something just because they wished it so. Don’t they realize that some kids just aren’t CAPABLE and if not they should not be punished or denigrated for it? They can’t help the way God made them.”, I would think to myself. Some kids have athletic ability, some do not…and that doesn’t even take into consideration the possible physical limitations the child might have.

It humbles me to say so, but I was guilty of doing just exactly the same thing! =(  Just because I managed to sail through school and always wanted to learn more, wanted to study more advanced subjects, wanted to soak up the academic lifestyle does NOT mean my kids will want or be capable of the same thing. Yes, both kids have high IQs and for a long time it was that and that alone that I looked at as a factor for whether or not they were achieving what they should be academically. The Lord’s been working on me about that, though. Especially the last couple of years. When I’m honest with myself and with God, my first priority as their mother is to teach them to fear and love the Lord. After that it is their physical, mental, and emotional health that I am to attend to. ONLY after those things have been taken care of am I to worry about teaching them the ‘academics’. Yes, learning to read, write, and do basic math is important. Yes, I am to train them and teach them to take care of themselves and live as a member of society, so yes school is important. It’s NOT, however, the be-all, end-all that I used to think it was. So what if they don’t study calculus and make straight As doing it? So what if they don’t graduate from college at the top of their class (or at all, for that matter)? A person is so much more than just their school grades. LIFE is so much more than just the next A or getting better test scores than everyone else.

Yes, it’s a pride thing. I admit it. I never took the SATs because I couldn’t stand the thought of getting a less-than-perfect score like my cousin. It would be open knowledge to the whole extended family that I was not as ‘smart’ as he is, then. (As if they couldn’t tell without that precious test score! HA!) I set out to homeschool the kids so that I could ensure they got the absolute highest level of academics possible. By that I meant that they would be the smartest, the brightest, the most advanced students in the family. Maybe not in the world, I mean I didn’t expect them to be graduating university by 8 or 9, but certainly faster and with better grades than anyone else in the family.

It’s been tough, I admit, but I’m learning that high grades in the most advanced courses at the tenderst ages are NOT what God had/has planned for these two precious children He’s entrusted to my care and rearing. It bruises my pride to think that my kids aren’t ‘the smartest’, honestly. That’s MY problem, though, not theirs. I’ve pushed them too hard for too long in this one area.

So… the schooling has become much more relaxed. Neither kiddo is behind by any means, not even compared to the ‘typical’ student their age. If they were, though, so what? I wouldn’t think ill of another child (or their parents) with mental or even physical (say months of chemo treatments, for example) limitations being ‘behind’ their age-mates. The important thing is not what honors course they take at age 12yo, but how well they are being prepared to be an adult… a Christian… a husband/wife… a father/mother… even an employee and citizen. All kids, the A students and the F students, the ones that skipped a grade or two and the ones held back a year or two, have the same ultimate educational need… to be prepared to live on their own and support and care for themselves and their families.

To that end, regardless of what limitations and difficulties Meagan and Matthew have in any aspect of life, I’ve been far too rigid in the way I’ve approached school with them…certainly with what I’ve expected of them. I’ve told them for years that I only expect them to do their best, but the truth is I’ve been expecting them not to do their best, but to do the best compared to all other kids their age…at least in SOMETHING. I’ve allowed that Meg is weak in spelling, “but she is a math genius”, I’ve thought. And Matthew? Well ok, so he isn’t the top math student, but he is THE best speller and SO intellectually mature. “He’s my language kid”, I’ve always said.

I’m learning that academics are not ALL that’s important in a child’s life. I don’t believe either of my children are destined to excel in academics. They are solid A, B students, yes, and do indeed have ‘genius-level’ IQs, but that does not mean they are meant to (or SHOULD) study college-level courses in their early teens, as I’ve been wanting them to for so many years. Truth be told, they may never study college-level courses, and not because they simply don’t *want* to, but possibly because they won’t be *capable*. How can that be if they have such high-IQs?? I used to hang everything on those high IQs, but the truth is they are so much more than that!!

Meagan has severe social struggles. Right now she needs more practice in learning self-hygiene, and good conversational skills than in sentence diagramming. Matthew has severe emotional struggles. Right now he needs more practice in learning to deal with his extreme emotions properly than in finding the square roots of 4 digit numbers. If I focus on the academics, they are in danger of becoming adults who still don’t understand how to act around other people or how to live peaceably with others. When all is said and done those skills are more important than being able to list all the countries in Africa or describe in detail the structure of a plant cell.

I haven’t completely abandoned academics, though. No! To swing that far from the wrong thinking I had, would *also* be wrong. Instead, I’ve relaxed my expectations, especially in regards to the *timetable* I’ve been expecting them to progress by. Meagan is still taking high school courses, some of which *are* advanced compared to the public school system, and I do still expect her to complete them. I don’t, however, expect her to complete them by a set date. If she needs to move more slowly (and in a lot of areas, she definitely does as her reading comprehension isn’t strong), then so be it. So what if she’s 19 before she graduates high school? Is that really any *worse* than if she graduated at 16? The same is true of Matthew. I haven’t given up academics altogether, I’m just not harping on them so much. His emotional (and lately physical as well) health has really made it difficult for him to focus on and do well with school, so he hasn’t gotten as much done each day as I would’ve demanded a year ago, but he IS still learning. So maybe he’s focusing more on learning how to deal with emotions this month instead of learning algebra, he’s still learning. And the math is still there, waiting for his brain to become more settled and able to focus without the frustration he currently experiences.

So the kids are still learning, and I’m still learning. It’s been a hard lesson for me to learn, I must say. It’s very humbling to accept that my children aren’t ‘cut out for academia’. I don’t really know why academics have been of such huge importance to me, I just know they have been, and they shouldn’t have been. Had the Lord blessed me with a child born with Down’s Syndrome I wouldn’t have expected *that* child to excel academically, and I shouldn’t expect Meagan or Matthew to, either. Both of them have ‘special needs’ and are ‘differently abled’ than they ‘typical, normal’ child, so it’s not fair to them or to me to expect of them more than they are capable. Even if they don’t have the ‘special needs’ or ‘different abilities’ I would have picked to deal with or live with. It’s true I would have always absolutely adopted a child who I knew had Down’s Syndrome or Cystic Fibrosis or half a dozen other limitations… in a heartbeat. I’d have PICKED those special needs, but I never would have picked the special needs these kids have. Bipolar? No way. Not touching that with a twenty-foot pole. Socially awkward and immature? Nope. Also not ‘glamorous’ enough for me.

I’m learning that it’s not up to me to pick and choose what kind of kid (or what abilities that kid has) for me to train up for the Lord. It’s the Lord’s choice, not mine. He knows best, even when I think He doesn’t.

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!!

My Matthew and Me

I live with an amazing little man named Matthew. He happens to be my son. He also happens to be an extremely complex little guy. He wouldn’t like me calling him ‘little’, by the way. The thing is, though, he IS little. Compared to this great, big, scary world we live in he is tiny. Even compared to other boys his age he is small (physically). He will always be my little boy, my little man.

There’s a specialness to the relationship between a boy and his mother. I really believe that. In many ways, I think my relationship with Matthew is even *more* unique because of his challenges. Oh he certainly has no shortage of those! He’s only 12, just a baby in the scheme of things, and yet he has a list of medical issues longer than his name. He takes many pills every day, though thankfully not as many as he was taking a year ago! He knows how to set up and use a nebulizer, how reconstitute injectable meds and prepare a subcutaneous injection, he knows how to use inhalers of various kinds, and how to use the emergency injection device that could save his life if he comes into contact with almonds or peanuts. He knows first-hand what a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction is (and hates them, of course). He is very familiar with the deep, dark depths of despair, and no that is not an exaggeration unfortunely. He doesn’t need to read Jekyll and Hyde… he lives it daily.

He rides a major roller coaster of emotions and energy, with sometimes dozens of highs and lows both in a single day. His bipolar disorder alone would cause this, but to add to the complexity, so would his systemic Lyme disease and bartonella infections. He starts each day with a handful of pills and an inhaler. He ends each day with another handful of pills, an inhaler, a nasal spray, and an injection. Often he spends the time in between using the nebulizer every couple of hours.

This roller coater of emotions and energy levels combined with the difficulties breathing, the hayfever symptoms, and often physical aches and pains all adds up to one very troubled little boy. My heart aches for him over all the struggles he has in his life, knowing there will be even more in the years ahead. I only wish I knew more how to help him. I know he feels all alone because he tells me that no one knows what it’s like to have all these problems. I really wish he could meet a strong Christian boy or man that has dealt with bipolar and maybe some other medical issues as well that he could talk to. Mom’s ok, but sometimes a little guy like mine needs something more.

I don’t know but what his extremely high intelligence makes things even worse for him. He understands so much more intellectually than most kids his age. He’s also got a strong independant streak in him that if controlled and funneled correctly could make him a very great leader. Especially since he is also full of strong compassion for others. He just feels and does EVERYTHING so much more intensely than most everyone I know. I guess that’s to be expected with bipolar disorder, but goodness! I don’t know how to help him control and direct those strong passionate feelings in constructive ways. I really think his heart just tears in two sometimes thinking about others lost soul’s, and then other times it seems like his heart is just exploding with anger at the world and everyone in it.

You would think that being bipolar myself I’d be able to help him more, but that’s just not the case. I *feel* for him. I *understand* him. I *think* the way he thinks (really, it’s uncanny how alike we are), but for the life of me I don’t know how to teach him to DEAL with this disorder. I know for myself I pretty much just ‘go with the flow’ and that’s ok for me. That works because I don’t get the super intense rage and anger nearly as often as he does. For me, my emotions/moods are *almost* ‘normal’ or ‘stable’ the last couple of years at least because of my being able to decrease drastically my bacterial load (which was only aggravating the mood disorder) and also taking an antidepressant.

For a lot of people with bipolar an antidepressant alone is a big BAD idea, as it throws their moods even more to the ‘high’ side. On the high side it isn’t all peaches and cream and rose-tinted glasses. Not even close. Being too ‘high’ can bring the major rage problems, extreme insomnia, complete lack of impulse control, and sometimes even a loss of a sense of reality. Every person with bipolar is different, of course, and so the ‘high’ look different for every person. For Matthew, he has all the above along with super irritability and a super-inflated sense of self (he’s the best _____, the most _____, etc). For me, my highs for the most part bring increased ‘projects’. I tend to get more done when I’m in a high period. I have more energy, I am more excited about things, I get antsy to start new projects, and so forth. Even my highs aren’t all good, though. I also tend to not be able to sleep (extreme! insomnia) and I also tend to start more projects than I can possibly finish or even juggle! I also tend to spend more $$ than I should. I take on more responsibilities than I should, I make more promises to more people than I should. Put simply I overextend myself in nearly every way possible. When I was at my sickest physically with the Lyme disease, this would mean I’d also make myself even more sick when in a high period, because I’d ‘overdo’ it and my body would need several days to recover. My highs tend to last for several days at a time. Matthew’s tend to last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

For me, *my* bipolar disorder has more distressing (in terms of the effects being a *problem* rather than a good thing) lows. When I’m in a low period (and these used to last for weeks or months at a time) I’d have no energy, no interest in anything. I get super paranoid about everything, and I feel completely worthless and horribly guilty… about everything. I feel guilty doing anything for myself, I feel guilty for not doing more for others, I feel guilty for feeling guilty! I’ve been down so deep I literally hoped I would die and tried to passively commit suicide many times. Thankfully, for *me*, taking an antidepressant by itself has not thrown my highs into overdrive. Instead it has limited (by a LOT) the lows. Not only the depth of the lows, but also the frequency, and the length of them. Nowadays I’ll feel blue or a little down on myself for a few days maybe, but I haven’t hit rock bottom since starting the meds, nor do these lows last anywhere as long as they used to.

For Matthew, he was put on an antidepressant as well, and it *did* increase the highs… or at least the problematic symptoms of them. Or maybe it didn’t actually increase them, but it let them be noticed more, as the lows were better. He has ADHD on top of everything else, and so the lack of impulse control and ability to pay attention to his school work meant we added a med for ADHD. The impulse control has definitely been helped, but it’s not perfect by any means. He’s currently off the antidepressant and we’ve increased his bipolar meds, but he’s still not stable. Plus the increased dosage has caused another problem… extreme sleepiness.

The poor kid can’t seem to win for losing! I love both my kids so very much, but there is a very distinct difference in parenting them. I know all kids are different and therefore parenting is different for every kid. I get that, I do. But my goodness parenting these two is even more extreme than night and day! Meagan is a pretty easy kid to parent, even with her discipline difficulties and she does have some as all kids do. Matthew on the other hand… NO parenting technique in terms of discipline seems to work with him. We’ve tried everything we know to try and the kid still seems to be floundering in the giant sea of life. It’s like he’s never been able to even learn to tread water, let alone float, or swim. Meagan might tire out sometimes, or get lazy with her swimming or whatever, but all in all she keeps her head above water, and is at least heading in the right general direction.

I just pray Matthew will keep trying to hang on to whatever life raft he can reach and keep trying to figure out the whole swimming/floating/treading water thing. Sometimes he seems so discouraged and tired of trying hang on, that I worry he’s going to just let go one of these days and sink.

Jan-May and then… VACATION!

Jan – SICK

Feb – SICK

Mar – started Mepron, Cipro, and Zithromax, quit rifampin. SICK

Apr- hmm, feeling not so tired, still HURT. Added Plaquenil.

May- hmm, now not very achy, but TIRED.

June- vacation in Arkansas. 9 days/8 nights in Hot Springs, 4  days/3 nights in Ft. Smith… surprisingly FEEL PRETTY DECENT other than the amusement park day.

Now it’s July and I’m still feeling pretty good.  I did have to take a week to recover after vacation, but it wasn’t a hard recovery. I am SO much better than I was 2yr ago!

I can remember being out in the sun for 2hr, just long enough to have a teensy un-birthday party for Meagan in May of 2008 and I literally couldn’t MOVE to get out of bed for almost 2 full days. It was on a Friday, and I was barely creeping around Sunday evening.

Granted this was technically JUNE, but we left on the 6th, so it was real close to right at 2yr later. We drove to Hot Springs, which alone would have done me in 2yr ago. Then most days we were out and about all day. We spent a day walking around Little Rock. We played mini-golf (yes in the sun!). We spent a day and a half walking around Hot Springs. We spent a full day at a science museum, and another at an amusement park (again with the sun!), and then at the END we camped for 3 days and 2 nights!! In between there were lots of smaller museums, lots of shops/shopping, lots of swimming, and all kinds of other stuff!

We got back on a Thursday afternoon. Friday I went to Mom’s and spent the day there. I was in church Sunday AM and PM both!! (First AM service I’ve made it to in about 6mo!) I did, however, spend the next week (which happened to be VBS…no I did NOT volunteer this year) sitting in my recliner, “recuperating”. =)

Aside from being VERY exhausted and moderately swollen after the amusement park (no sunburn, as I wore a big floppy hat), and the HORRID night I had with my eyes protesting the WAY too chlorinated pool at the hotel, I came through that vacation unscathed!

There is absolutely NO WAY I could have done any of that 2 yr ago. Truth be told, when Mike and I first started talking about maybe doing a vacation this year back in Feb, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do anything at all besides stay in the bed at the hotel. We decided from the get-go to take Dad’s old wheelchair with us so that I could maybe at least do a museum or two. Ended up the only time it was used was as extra seating when we were camping!

I thank and praise God for that vacation and the memories we were able to make with the kids. We didn’t end up with very many GOOD pictures, but we sure did have a lot of fun. The kids got to go to a water park for the first time, and they both rode a roller coaster for the first time. Actually they rode ALL the coasters… some more than once! I didn’t ride anything except the mini-cars and the log flume; mostly I was the pack mule (the kids got souvenir cups, and then after several, several dollars spent on a game on the midway they each got a stuffed animal with a Magic Springs t-shirt on it), but that was ok, because I didn’t care to ride anything. I just wanted my kiddos to have fun and be ‘regular kids’ for awhile.

I must admit, I did spoil them rotten while we were on vacation, though. Hey! Who says you can’t spoil your own kids for short intervals of time? *wink*

They got little souvenirs nearly every place we went. I spent more $ on things that I would normally never have spent so much on. I bought things I would never have bought at all. Each kiddo had almost $50 in spending money to start with (mostly from helping a neighbor down the street, but they each got a 10 spot from me for helping clean the house before we went), and even after they went through all of that, I still kept buying them stuff. LOL

I know as a kid we never had that kind of spending $, and whatever $ we DID have, any and ALL souvenirs came out of that. Once it was gone, it was gone. Looking back I don’t mind so much, but I know at the time I thought it was  a rotten deal, and it made me feel all the more poor and made me worry all the more about our financial situation at home.

I spent so much partly because of that, and partly just because I LOVE  The spending $ on kids. In the 2-3 weeks before we left Mike kept expressing his concern that we would have enough money to even GO on vacation, let alone do anything once we were there.

The kids are so different! Meagan was never bothered. She just trusted we would go and we’d have fun. Really she was only interested in a pool and coasters anyway. We didn’t tell either kid what we were going to do, but she knew I’d promised one night in a hotel with a pool, so she was happy. She wasn’t even all that concerned with having spending $, though she certainly would have changed her tune had we gone and Matthew had $, but she did not!

Matthew on the other hand… he’s so much more mature intellectually that he was near panicked by the end of the last week before we left. He was in tears many times, worried about whether we would even get to go. Right up until the day before we left he wasn’t *really* sure we were going on vacation, despite my assuring him over and over that yes, we had the $, and yes we would get to go. I couldn’t get Mike to keep his concerns out of eyesight or earshot of the boy, so it didn’t really become real to him until  we were there at the hotel. Poor kid!

We did have a bit of behavior problems with Matt a time or two. Mostly because he was SO excited to be able to swim in a pool that he didn’t want to go do anything else. He wanted to be in the pool all day every day and sometimes got upset when we said no to swimming because we were going to go somewhere.

The kids did most of the ‘doing’, but then that’s because momma has been pretty well an invalid for the last 3yr and daddy is such an old geezer. LOL They got to do some unique stuff, though. We let them ride up to the tip top of a mountain tower on Hot Springs Mountain by themselves. They rode all the coasters by themselves, of course, too. They even “virtually” rode a coaster in outer space! In one of the shops, the got to ‘mine’ for gemstones and keep what they found. They shopped all on their own lots of places, and Mike and I pretty much followed them around the science museum where all the exhibits were interactive. They rode bumper cars several times, and played a bunch of different video and midway games. They also got to ride go-carts. Matt wasn’t quite tall enough to drive (so the guys had a cart together), but Meg was.

They came home with so much loot! Gemstones and games, and toys, and trinkets, and even t-shirts from the science museum. And jewelry! Oh the jewelry! Granted Matt didn’t care much for this aspect of the trip, but even he got a few pieces. These new-fangled “silly bands” things? I bought a pack from an overpriced toy store for them to split. Even had some glow-in-the-dark ones. (They also got an overpriced Travel book of games there.)

For Meagan and I, probably the highlight of the trip (ok, for Meg it was prob the pool and the coasters, but this was definitely 3rd!) was a jewelry store called Charmed! in Hot Springs.

I first saw it because it was next to a Cato store which I wanted to stop in and look around in having never been to a Cato store before, and having some spending $ of my own. (I made up about 10 pairs of culottes for my best friend’s oldest girls just before we left.) I saw the sign and thought “oh boy, keep Meg outta there! I’m sure everything in there is outrageous!”

We went to Cato and I tried on several skirts. I settled on a beautiful white linen skirt (size 10!!) and a very pretty hot pink plaid belted shirt. Under $30! Not too shabby! When we came out, Meg begged to go to the jewelry store. I started walking that way ONLY because past the jewelry shop was an ice cream parlor and I thought we might get ice cream.

As we got close to the door, though, I noticed a sign in the window that said “all jewelry $1”! My next thought was they were either going out of business or else it was a junk 99cent kind of store.

Wrong on both counts! They had the CUTEST stuff! All kinds of different styles, and a fair amount was completely metal-free! I ended up buying several pieces for Mom, a couple for Meg and I, and Matthew bought each of my best friend’s 3 girls (he has a crush on the middle one, ).

They also had grab bags for a dollar that had either 2 or 3 pieces of the $1 jewelry in them. A LOT of the pieces were actually SETS, too. Not just in the grab bags, but throughout the store. Like a necklace and earrings, or 2 bracelets, or earrings and bracelet, etc. Meg and I were hooked. We went back I think 3 more times and in the end we bought several pieces for each of us and Mom, as well as a couple of pieces each for my best friend, her sister, their mom, and their 5 girls. Oh, and about 25 grab bags all together! LOL

From the grab bags, we picked what we wanted and then once we got back and handed stuff out, we let my friends got through and pick out what they liked for themselves and the older two girls.

All in all we had a blast, and Mike has even said that he thinks we ought to go camping for a night or two at a time more often throughout the summer.

Like I said before, the first week back the kids had VBS from 7pm-9pm. They spent most of the next week at Mom’s, and stayed at a friend’s one night. Then Monday am (it’s Wed night now), they left for summer camp up in Oklahoma. They’ll be back Friday afternoon sometime. Busy summer for them so far!

The only bad news since Jan is that my Lyme doctor is retiring at the end of this month (July). This is a very scary proposition, since the next closest specialist is WAY out-of-state. I may be doing a lot better, but my symptoms are by no means completely gone. I am not well enough to stop antibiotic treatment, and yet I may not have a choice once I run out of the prescriptions I currently have. I pray that I don’t relapse much or very quickly once that happens. Relapsing is inevitable, but hopefully I won’t be as bad as I was 2yr ago for a long, long time. Regardless, I thank the Lord for the last couple of months of feeling mostly ‘back to normal’. I’m so glad, too, that we were able to go on vacation during this period of relatively good health.

Sick of Failing at, and Being a ‘Single’ Mom

It’s 11pm and guess what. Both kida are still up. I’m so frustrated it’s not even funny. I am SO sick of practically raising these kids by myself. It’d be one thing if I really WAS a single mom… as in I was the only parent responsible for raising them and the only one around to do it.

That’s not the case, though. I have a husband. A good man who works hard to provide financial support for us. Unfortunely that’s just about the only kind of support he gives us. He accepts the fact that I’m sick, have been for a long time, and looks like I will be, and he supports me in that regard in so much as he understands why I can’t keep the house clean and rarely feel like cooking dinner.

So why, WHY???!!!!! can he not see I can’t raise these kids by myself and HELP? The kids are almost 12 and 11 and for 12 years now I’ve been not just the primary caregiver, I’ve been the ONLY caregiver. I can count on 3 fingers the times in the last 12 years that Mike has taken charge of ‘bedtime patrol’ and made sure the kids get ready for bed and get in bed. Even fewer are the times he’s done so and make sure they went to bed with all their chores done and all their medicines taken.

Every single solitary day, if *I* don’t make sure they take all their medicines, Matthew flat-out refises to do as he know he’s supposed and will lie to us that he’s taken his meds.

Now, even WITH his meds, Matthew is an extrememly rebellious, disrespectful, disobedient, rude, mouthy, selfish, proud kid. If he doesn’t take his meds it is easily 100x worse.

So make sure he takes his meds, you say. That’s fine, I do try. However there are times when I just crash. My body is fighting all these infections and even with all the help it gets from multiple high-dose antibiotics, it still wears me out. And of course, extremem fatigue is one of the lovely features of these infections I’m fighting.

So it happens that some days, I’m so exhausted I don’t even hear the TWO alarms I set each night. On the days that Mike is off, or he knows the kids do not have school, he will turn the alarms off and just let me sleep. That’s wonderful and so sweet of him, you say. Sure, but if he’s not going to make sure Matt gets his meds and then go to bed without even saying he’s going to bed, just disappear all of a sudden right when Matthew’s lack of meds REALLY starts kicking in, leaving me to deal with all the hate, filth, disrespect, threats, and disobedience he spews at full force by myself, then I would much, MUCH rather he wake me up!

I’m so sick and tired of being the only one who even attempts to get the kids to take care of their chores, school/homework, medicines, etc. The only one who even attempts to discipline them.

Maybe if he weren’t here effectively being a bump on a log, my attempts at disciplining, instructing, and so forth, would be more successful. Or maybe not. Either way at least then I wouldn’t have the frustration of having to deal with it all myself while their father, just as responsible for them as I am, plays his video games, reads his book, or sleeps through all the nonsense.

At least then I wouldn’t have the frustration and heartbreak of watching my husband, supposedly my best friend, my leader, and my protector stand by and do nothing at all about his son calling me horrible names, threatening to kill me, throwing things at me, hitting, biting, or kicking me.

I’ve alwys had this picture in my mind of the way a husband/father stands up for his wife, and disciplines the disrespectful child for not saying “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am” to her. As much as I know in my head that there are fathers out there who would do that very thing because it’s what it right and how God intended for fathers to be towards their wives and children, I just can’t make my heart really believe it. It’s like make-believe, pure fantasy.

I love my family so much. Even the selfish, proud, rebellious, hateful son I have.Even the thoughtless, selfish, lazy husband I have. Meagan has moments when she doesn’t thrill me as well, but I sto;; love her, too. I love them all. I’m just so very disappointed in the way a couple of them are turning out. It breaks my heart in so many, many ways.

I hate that I’ve failed to turn out two good kids. I know one is a good deal, but it’s not enough. I want ALL my kids to turn out good. I hate that I’ve failed, and I hate that their father has failed. I know Jesus can make things like this turn around 180 degrees, but I’ll tell you the truth, it sure doesn’t seem very likely for us. I have prayed for so many years, and while we did see a little progress once we were able to get Matt the medicine he needs, it’s been pretty sparse.

I’ve heard our pastor say many times that all our failures are prayer failures, so I guess that means I’m not doing such a great job at that either.

Oh I’m not going to quit trying, so I won’t say I’m a failure, but I have failed, and I don’t know anything new to try or to change to NOT fail again. Most days my son’s future looks very. very dark . 

I’m just so frustrated and tired of fighting what appears to be a losing battle, and doing so on my own. I am sure lots of truly single moms feel the same way, amd I understand that it is different for them. I understand that I can’t understand completely how difficult it is for them, since they are having to be a single parent AND a single provider at the same time. But I also don’t think it’s a stretch in the least to call myself a ‘single’ mom. I feel a closeness to single moms, I suppose you could say. I feel for them, because I have at least a small idea of what they have to deal with and face as a single parent.

I just wish that American fathers would start acting like true fathers. Get saved if they’re not, make sure they are if they are, and thenpick up a bible and find out how they are supposed to act and then listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and BE the kind of father God wants him to be. Maybe then us single and ‘single’ moms wouldn’t have to carry so much on ourselves.

It’d be really great if they would also learn what God expects of them as husbands, too.

Melted Plastic for dinner, anyone?

Ever had one of those weeks?

I found a good deal on ground beef last week. $1.25/lb. I bought 20lb. This afternoon, Mike and I divided it up into 1 1/4 lb packages and put all but 2 in the freezer. Those two were destined for hamburgers for dinner!

I peeled and cut up a bunch of potatoes, while fighting off our youngest kitty, Freckles. He absolutely loves standing up, peering into the trash can, and pulling out the potato peels. He eats them, but never eats as many as he pulls out. Typical kid, eyes bigger than the stomach.

I set out to fry the french fries in the fry daddy, while the burgers were frying in the skillet on the stove. In between checking on each, I was chopping up and freezing some bell peppers and roma tomatoes I’d bought on sale a couple of weeks ago. (3 for $1 on the bell peppers, and 68 cents/lb on the maters)

I had the last batch of fries in the fryer, and the burgers were just about done. I finished chopping the pepper I was working on and went to check on the fries. They looked funny. My first thought was the fry daddy had finally given up the ghost and the bottom or lining or something had come off and was fryin along with the fries. Then I realized the plastic coffee can lid to the grease ‘can’ was missing. Apparently it stuck to the bottom of the fry daddy lid when I set it down and didn’t unstuck until I’d covered the fryer back up. Then it went splooshing into the grease and french fries.

Guess that means I need to add cooking oil to the shopping list. I don’t much think I want to cook anything else in the oil in there now!

Other highlights of this week: major explosions of rage and destruction, the news that Mike will get to work 1 or 2 of the Thanksgiving holidays after all, a trip to the dollar store on Veterans Day where I got 10% my whole purchase ’cause my daddy’s a vet, an allergy shot fot Matt, and the terrifying wait to see whether or not Matthew was going to be killed by the bite of peanut cookie he ate at Masters Club Sunday. (Thank the Lord he only suffered stomachache and nausea, no throat swelling, lack of consciousness, etc! I kept him doped up REAL good on Benadryl for several hours while we waited to see whether we’d have to use the Epi and call 911.)

Tomorrow Matthew is scheduled for another allergy shot, and Mom is expecting us over for Game Night again. Who knows if we’ll be able to go. The way this week has been going it could go either way. We’ve had a good mix of good/bad things happen, so I can’t possibly guess. lol I do know the kids need to get all the dishes caught up and their room clean before we go. That may be the deciding factor.


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