Thursday, December 30, 2010

Quick Catch Up

What a roller coaster ride we are all on.  It seems like that in so many ways, doesn't it?
Jacob, as well as the whole family has hit our share of ups and downs just like the rest of you.  I wish I could report that we have found the right meds and are doing great, but that simply is not the case.  We have good days and bad days.  We have Really good days and Really bad days.

We have him in therapy once a week and when his therapist's schedule allows my husband and I have our own time also to try and learn techniques that would help us parent Jacob through this journey.
Christmas has come and gone.  It was bitter sweet.  Family is so far away and this year I was sick through the most of it. The days I had to spend home trying to rest were mostly spent "dealing" with my boy and his constant need for attention and self-gratification.  I am learning though, over all I think we managed better than fine.

Jacob seems to do really well with technical things so most of his gifts were either technical related or physical endurance type things.  For instance, he got a punching bag with gloves to help him take his  anger out on something positive.  He got an ab roller which he thinks is fun. (Gotta love those youngin's able to get on the floor on their backs - hurts mine just thinking about it.)  Chris and I took our Christmas money and splurged on an iTouch for him.  Man, we might as well of given him a million dollars.  He can play games, listen to music (parent approved, of course) and so many other things.  We also invested in family games as well as therapeutic games.  They seem to really bring him down when he is over-the-top upset.

With the new year will bring a lot of new challenges.  We have already told him that he can no longer stay at home.  He needs to be at school for the structured learning and also to hopefully make friends.  With that comes a lot of anxiety on all of our parts. Just the thought of any of this repeating is almost more than any of us can bare.  We are trusting God to lead us to the right place.
There are a lot of medical tests that he needs to complete also.  His doctor just ordered allergy testing, blood sugar testing, pulmonary function tests and so many more.  All to hopefully bring us to a accurate diagnosis of what really is troubling our child.

Thank you for your prayers and your words of encouragement, they mean the world to us all.
So for now, here is to a bright and healthy New Year to you all.  Happy 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

On a time out

Recent events have been so upsetting, that I have not really been able to sit and write them out.  The morning of my last post, I found stab marks from both a knife and a flat head screwdriver in my pantry door and the garage door.  My husband and I decided best to speak with Jake about this in counseling that evening.  Jake did admit to the stabbing of the pantry door but freaked out about the garage door.  He could not remember why he had stabbed the pantry door or stabbing the garage door at all.  **I am freaking out inside here, k***
Then Jake's counselor looks at me and says he feels Jake is having seizures.  WHAT?  He asked me if I knew what they were and turns out I only know of extreme seizures requiring a wallet in the mouth.  He explained that they can be small and hardly noticeable.  Things can happen that the person can not remember such as with the doors.
REALLY?  **My guts were turned upside down at this point**  Reality has hit and I don't know what the heck to do with it.
Immediately following that appt, we were supposed to go to Jake's psych but our son freaked out in a full blown panic attack about seeing that Dr.  So I had to call them and tell them.  They understood and encouraged us to reschedule.  I have to at least for the medicine but Jake's counselor is going to have to help him realize that the Dr. is not the only one responsible for him having to go to the hospital back in October, thus the reason Jake is refusing to see him.
I am skipping all over the place sorry, trying to get it all out.
With in the last few days I have noticed a new pattern.  Jake is beginning to sleep for days in a row.  I have not seen the awake part too much yet.
School, normalcy, socialization, responsibility, education, understanding...I hunger for them all for Jake.  I feel like my husband and I are stuck and in too much shock to get out of this rut.  We find comfort in our day-to-day work, but will ultimately have to stop and either put Jake back into a public school setting (God help us all) or I can't even type the "or".
Some days I feel like I can't even lift my arm to reach up for hope.  It has to come down to me.  Today is one of those days.  Just keep going with the motions.  Something is bound to turn-around.  Right?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jumping Ahead

I titled the first post "Jump Start" for several reasons the first of which is to get it all out once and for all.  Secondly, to answer some questions friends and family had resulting from my requests for prayer on Facebook. Also, to hopefully bring conversation to the topic of childhood bullies and the potential trauma that it causes. 
I would like to engage the community, especially those who work in public schools; to participate in conversation that generate ideas of how to effectively move us forward to a resolution. 
Jacob has been home since the events of October 5, 2010.  His father and I are scared to death to put him back in the school district where all of this took place.  The mentality of the district (supposedly the best in town) is not helpful or productive in the resolution I mentioned above.  We tried an online public school format, however Jacob's admission request was denied due to his expulsion.  That led us to try the homeschooling format.  We have enrolled him and paid the first installment but now feel that staying home alone to try and do his studies is beyond his abilities and once again will be looking for other alternatives. Suggestions are most welcome and appreciated.
Over the summer, Jacob had developed a desire to stay in the house at all times.  He no longer enjoyed trips out whether it be to the store or a drive.  Nothing seemed to lure him to social activities anymore.  Once school started however,  he soon realized he liked the new school we had placed him in.  His father insisted that we sign him up for football despite his adamant objections.  Sure enough, he loved football and the positive attention it brought him. Jacob noticed how the exercise of football helped him shed some of those pounds that caused a lot of his torment from other children.  That awareness of his body helped reinforce better eating habits and he began working out after practice pretty regularly.  He developed friendships with boys his age that he really liked not to mention one girl who thought he was "dreamy".  Those appeared on the surface to be what I refer to as the "Good Ole Days".
Unfortunately, since he has been home from the hospital...that old mentality has reared it's ugly head once again.  He no longer wants to leave the house.  The medicine causes his appetite to go through the roof.  The meds are also making him sleep almost all day and stay awake through the night.  This then causes him to eat, or sneak eat I should say at night when Chris and I are sleeping.  I do not allow him to snack eat when I am awake despite his most outrageous pleas that he is REALLY hungry.  I have tried to explain that it is just the medicine and to trick his brain by drinking a glass of water or eating an apple.  You can imagine how well that has gone over.
There are times when I do not recognize my son.  I am not completely aware of what is happening in his brain, but there are times when I don't see him even looking directly at him.  This has been a devastating feeling as a mom.  I worry that we do not have him in the right "program" or the right doctor.  I worry that this event in his life has forever destroyed the possibility for him to have a productive and rewarding life as an adult. 
He has taken extra pills in his sleep (those meds are no longer accessible to him by-the-way) which has caused me to fear finding him dead on the couch one day.  When he has panic attacks, he often grabs his chest and falls to the ground (sometimes this is for dramatic effect, but I can tell when it's real).  I worry that because of his weight and stress added to that, that he may develop heart issues.  I often check his blood pressure since he has already had problems with that just to make sure that he is really ok.
I know I am jumping ahead and all over for that matter and I apologize for that.  I try to write so my words and thoughts will flow, but keep in mind... I am processing.
I mentioned panic attacks earlier.  One thing that started in an extreme way after his release from the hospital was panic attacks.  Looking back, I realize that he has had them for a while but since he has been home from the hospital they have become more scary. 
One in particular happened at 11pm on a Sunday night.  My immediate thoughts were that this could not be happening.  I mean couldn't he do this in the afternoon when I don't have to be in bed sleeping because I have to go to work the next morning?  Hello?  I mean really.  I know that was selfish, but as an adult with responsibilities that it where I went first.  I have to take care of him and after all, this can effect my job.
Thank God, I work at the best place in the world.  A place where family comes first and I knew that in my heart, I just had to get the connection to my head.  Once I did, I was able to focus on Jacob.  I looked at him and acknowledged his fear, I explained that it was not possible for those thoughts to happen in reality and it was just his brain playing tricks on him.  The sobs and panicked breathing kept coming and then I made the biggest mistake of the night.  I being very scared and worried about possibly of having to load him up for a trip to the ER (both the reality of it and the financial impact, stupid me) voiced that and said "Do I need to take you to the hospital?"  It was like I just released a bomb right there in his room full of human, boy-eating spiders.  He was now even more  uncontrollable.  I said "hospital" he registered that as the place where he was just been discharged from which is really a detention center and not a hospital.  ***May I just spew?***A hospital is where you go if you are sick and they help you get better, where he went made him worse.  I don't consider that a hospital.  **Ok spew moment over.**

When I think about it, it's like he goes through foggy patches as if driving across country.  You are bound to hit bad weather along the way at some point.  In his case some of those patches are longer and more severe than others.
Anyway I learned a lot that night about my communication with him.  I learned that he is going to have times like these that I can not control (little miss control freak) and I am going to have to drop what it is that I have to do to help him.  That is ultimately my job as a parent.  No matter what, I love my son unconditionally and I will do what ever it takes, in spite of the circumstances; to provide the best for him. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jump Start

My first post ever!  I decided to start blogging as a form of therapy.  My intentions of this blog are to share what I am going through in order to better manage my thoughts and feelings and also hopefully inspire others that there is hope.
Right out of the door, I decided to call this blog "Reaching Up for Hope" because that is what I am doing.  I am reaching "UP" to God to help me through this journey.  I know He is the only way through every storm that life will toss my way.
I am not a writer.  I think I am a pretty good speller, but writing skillz...I can not boast.  Hang in there with me though because I believe there will be some really good nuggets of information now and then.
On to what I am really writing about.  I am married to a wonderful man whom I love with all of my heart.  We have been blessed with one child.  A boy!  He is 12 and his name is Jacob.  Jacob was a honeymoon baby and took us by surprise.  We were excited though, however scared to death.
Jacob, being an only child, has always been around adults for the most part.  He is a warm-hearted boy with many wonderful attributes.  He has never known a stranger and is kind and giving to everyone.  That is not to say at 12, he is not going through some selfish areas, but overall he is kind and giving.
We moved to Colorado from Arizona in 2006.  Since that time, Jacob has gone through torture at school with bullies.  It started in 4th grade and has become increasingly worse each passing year.  It seemed as though no one liked him.  In fifth grade, I made out 19 invitations to his birthday and not one kid showed up.  Talk about trauma.  There was a boy that made his life absolute hell.  (only word strong enough, sorry)  He begged us not to send him to the same middle school as that boy and we agreed to put him in a school outside of our area.  Things just got worse there, this time teachers joined in the gang.  Jacob had two teachers who would call him out in front of the whole class to announce that he would be the only one who would not receive an "A" for what ever reason, and there were a few.
The counselor noticed this about the teachers and advised my husband and I to go to the principal, but at the end of the day word back was that he "supports his teachers".  Isn't that nice?
Then there was the day that Jacob stood up to a bully who decided to pick on a disabled kid.  Things got heated and Jacob defended himself only to find that if you stand up to a bully, you will serve the same punishment they do.  Wow!, what a deal.  You can't tell an adult because they "have to see it" and if you defend yourself, you are just as guilty as they are.  What's our options here folks?  Really?  Try telling that to an adult walking to their car in a parking lot and is suddenly mugged.  Sorry, you can't defend yourself or you will suffer like consequences. I think not.  I fought them on it, but lost.  School policy, ya know.
Finally, at the end of 6th grade we decided to pull him from public school.  We had enough of the politics and games, the "0" tolerance policy that was supposed to protect kids from being bullied was a farce!
We placed him in a private school and could finally breathe deep in relief.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh, a healthy place for Jacob.  A place where kids and teachers alike accept him as he is.  Jacob was on the football team and had friends for the first time since we lived here, best of bullies!
A little more back knowledge.  We had been told since Jacob was in kindergarten that he may have ADHD and he should be tested.  I fought it loud and proud for so many years and it wasn't until Jacob voiced in counseling (we thought counseling would help with the bully issues) that he felt different from the other kids.  He felt he could not comprehend as they did and was puzzled why he could not focus like them.  Once Jacob voiced that on his own, I felt it was time to seriously check this out.
We had him tested and two professionals diagnosed him with ADHD.  He had a therapist and a psychiatrist.  The psych prescribed him medication both of which made him go crazy with angry outbursts, tears and emotions breakdowns.  We took him off of the meds with his Dr.s blessing.
The very next day, IT happened.  I picked him up from school and he was upset.  He threw his backpack in the back seat, slams the door shut, gets in the front seat, slams the door shut.  What in the world? I thought.  I asked him if he wanted to talk about it.  Nothing from the passenger seat, but steam brewding from his nostrils.  I felt best to let him alone for the ride home to gather himself.
Upon arriving at home I parked the car in the carport and locked the door.  I announced that he was not leaving the car until he gave me some sort of inclination of what had happened.  He sat there for a moment and then asked me if he could speak freely.  Now, I know what that means.  That means that he is so upset about something and feels the need to throw some slang into the mix.  I thought for a moment and decided that it would be ok for this moment only.  What I heard next changed our life forever.

I told my husband and we agreed that we would need to move up his regularly scheduled appt that week from Friday to the next day at that time which was Wednesday. We had a great evening.  I worked with him on his homework on the floor and we laughed and I felt as though things would be ok.  This is not a kid who was going to hurt someone, just a kid who seriously felt like the only way to have people listen to him was with a firearm.  That is sad.
Just as I had that thought of relief, we are torn from our peace with news that my niece has runaway and just like the wind, we were off to look for her.  We did not return until very late and Jacob was exhausted.  The next morning, I decided I would call him in late and let him sleep in.  It was not his fault we had to whisk away to help his troubled cousin after all.
I spoke with a friend that morning from work to explain my tardiness.  She highly encouraged I make that call to the therapist sooner than later.  My next call was to my husband and then to my Dad.  Everyone agreed, that while he was very brave to voice his feelings, that he should get help from his therapist so things do not develop into "plans of action".  I agreed.  Knowing that his therapist would be able to talk this out with him better than I, my next call was to her.
Her words to me were "I am going to have to report this."  What!  You talk about shock and awe, I was in it.  The psych was called and he had us rush Jacob to the ER.  The ER had us take him to a "hospital" here in town.  Turns out, it is basically a detention center.  We did not know that, or I would have fought tooth and nail.  I say that now, but at the time I was in such shock that I just following the motions.
I kept thinking, ok this is normal for them to go to this extreme.  They must really want to help Jacob so he does not recreate another Columbine.  I reassured myself that there are professionals here who will be able to really help Jacob.  I kept thinking that the feelings he expressed to me deserved these actions and that sure, he needed to be hospitalized.  Once we all saw the locked doors and behind and in front of us, we began to wonder.
Jacob became very confused.  All he knew was that he shared something with his mom that was scary for him and now he is being locked up. His confusion then turned toward anger.  He was mad at me, I told.  He was never going to do anything, he was just voicing a feeling, not a plan.
For the next five days, Jacob was not allowed outside.  He was labeled homicidal and anti-psychotics were shoved down his throat.  He was told he was nothing but a paycheck and cussed at by the orderlies.  Everyone there looked at him and treated him like a criminal. His father and I were allowed to visit one hour a day in the evening and twice on the weekend.  My kid was locked up.  My son, who had been tortured and bullied was now missing  his final game in football, a homecoming game and the harvest festival with the friends that he had made for the first time in three years.  Everything was gone in an instant.  The next morning we received the phone call from his school, the wonderful healthy place that God had brought us to. Jacob had been expelled.  He was not allowed on campus and his father and I were to come and retrieve his things.  Gone. His future, his friends, our hopes for healing and that healthy environment.  Gone. Just like that.  Why?
My heart was torn out and broken into a bazillion pieces.  What have I done to my child?  I thought I was helping him by calling his therapist.  But at that moment, there was no help for him.  He was a criminal after all.  This is how we treat criminals. 
Discharge day had come and Chris and I were eager to take our boy home.  We were also eager to hear of Jacob's diagnosis.  Bi-polar the Dr. confidently announced.  What, the what?  How could he be bi-polar, he is 12.  I asked him how he came to that diagnosis.  No joke, this was his response and I will quote.  "Well, ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, you see,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm."  Yep,$7000.00 and five days of having my son locked down as a criminal and that is what he says.  My husband decided to pipe in to break up the tension on my part and the confusion on the Dr.'s part.  He told the Dr. that we had done our research and that Jacob had displayed a lot of PTSD symptoms.  The Dr. instantly said and I quote again "Oh, PTSD...yeah, I could change my diagnosis if that would make you more comfortable."  What the double what?  Make us more comfortable.  Why did I have my kid here for five days on lock down, having medicine shoved down his throat that he apparently did not need, get cussed at, told he was only a paycheck, have my heart ripped out so that you and I could NEGOTIATE his diagnosis.!!!!
My husband and I took our son to his therapist immediately afterward.  All of us in shock, all of us confused, all of us broken.
We have not been able to recover yet.  He is currently being treated for PTSD but we are no closer to a solution or healing than when this began on October 5, 2010.  That is why I am Reaching Up for Hope.  I have relived a very traumatic time in my life.  I am overwhelmed and I need to get ready for work.  I will share more as I am able.