Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Rest of the Story

When we entered the alternate universe of mental health disorders, I thought that once the chemical imbalance was straightened out, we would be good to go.  Unfortunately, for us, the self harm morphed into an eating disorder.  I think it had been lurking all along, but the residential treatment center did not deal with eating disorders.  Since we had bigger fish to fry, we put that on the back burner and just tried to find the right dosage of the right medicine to help our child not self destruct.  On December 23, 2014, we drove our child home, the long term treatment ended.  I was terrified.  Would we be racing back to an emergency facility within three weeks?  Could I care for my own child?  Luckily, things did smooth out.  No more police visits, or hospital visits or CPS visits.  However,  our child "coped" by eating as little as possible.  She lost 20 pounds before we finally found help.  This was our journey:

Although everyone talks about how evil health insurance companies are, I need to tell you that ours was super helpful and caring and understanding.  They covered all of our child's hospitalizations and medication and therapists. Sadly, they did not cover nutritionists.  We realized going in that we were going to be paying out of pocket for this, but the alternative would be to allow our child to slowly starve as body dysmorphia controlled reality.

I searched for a nutritionist that dealt with eating disorders.  There weren't very many.  When I found one that did, I made an appointment and poured out our story.    She was very kind, she totally understood, having lived with an eating disorder herself, but she couldn't help. She wasn't licensed to treat patients with eating disorders.  I cried.  That may not mean much unless you know how I hate crying, especially in front of others.  But I ugly cried with grief, frustration, anger and fear.  How was I going to keep my child from wasting away?

Joining an eating disorder support group online was an inspired move.  I wouldn't have known what to do without their advice,  pep talks, and support. Everything I read said eating disorders had to be hit HARD.  I found a place in Austin that  specialized in eating disorders.  Macallum Place was our answer.  I remember when we visited, I hoped we could do outpatient, from 3pm to 5 pm Monday through Friday and all day Saturday, but after speaking with them, realized we had to do their all-day program in order to eradicate this very insidious mental illness.  Dan was on a business trip and I didn't feel I could handle dropping the news that we were going to "hospitalize" our child yet again.  My support group was there for me.  I am SO grateful to this day for those faceless strangers who became my lifeline during that really dark time.

Once we did the paperwork, the hard part really began.  Dan would make the drive to Austin in the morning before going to work to drop our child off and I would leave work at 2:30 every day for the pick up.  Between us, we basically spent 6 hours on the road every day.   I can't even remember how in the world we did weekends.  But we did this for months.  MONTHS!  The toll fees alone mounted into hundreds of dollars.  Our insurance company didn't bat an eye.  In May, our child finally reached the weight requirement and graduated from Macallum, a place that holds good memories for our family.  The staff helped us find a nutritionist (still not covered by insurance) as well as a therapist so we could transition away from such intensive therapy.

It's almost two years later.  Things are stable.  Eating isn't an issue.  Yes, I still get triggered when our kid picks at the meal or won't eat everything, or chooses to drink a Boost if dinner doesn't sit well (it happens VERY infrequently).  We're all still here.  Things are much better.  Not all the parents on my support group had such happy endings, so this was miraculous.  I count this as a blessing.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Waiting for the Other Shoe...

When we lived in Bosnia, we were fortunate that our landlord's daughter spoke some English.  One day she was telling me about a product she didn't like and she told me, "It is sheet."  I was taken aback at her language.  Then I realized that she didn't understand the offensiveness of that word.  To her, it just meant, "worthless" or "no good".   I totally get her now.

Last year was sheet.; serious sheet.  I'm afraid this year might be it's ugly twin.   Our family is in crisis.  I don't know how to write about it...we are battling a sinister alien who has taken one of our children hostage.  The doctors have named it Depression.  Anxiety.  Possible Bi-Polar Disorder.  We went through four emergency psychiatric facilities and a long term residential hospital in nine months.  Those nine months included four attempted suicides, two runaway incidents an one melt down in a police car.  Our child called Child Protective Services after an altercation in our home.  They wouldn't close the case until  they knew that this child (suffering from a poor cocktail of SSRI medications) was locked safely away in a residential treatment center so that the other child in our home would be safe.  

Residential treatment was the ticket.  It got the right meds on board and we have been 50+ days without a meltdown.  But that *@$! hijacker is back, this time clothed as an eating disorder.  Our baby is melting away, starving, terrified of food.  Our child's hostage whispers lies, makes the image in the mirror look distorted, ugly, fat.  Our beautiful child won't even eat half the calories needed to sustain health.  This makes our usually cheerful child morbidly surly and critical.  Today I hugged my baby and gently murmured that athletics needed to be cut since there weren't enough calories to maintain that level of activity.  "I'm afraid for your heart.  I love your heart.  I don't want it to be damaged," I whispered quietly.  Tuesday, we go to the pediatrician to get the ball rolling on this newest development.  I feel like we are trapped in Satan's own Fun House where each turn is met with a new and more fearful specter.  I feel like we are strapped into a roller coaster from hell being pulled slowly up, up, up.  I don't know when the drop will come, only that it will.  I hate roller coasters.  They are sheet.

Friday, 24 January 2014

My First Snow Day EVER

Weather in central Texas is an enigma.  Which is awesome because how many times do you get a chance to use the word "enigma"?  But we ARE going to discuss the weather because it's been bizarre and puzzling and difficult to understand…which is the exact definition of an enigma, so there you go.

See, on Thursday, it was chilly when I arrived to school at 6:30 a.m..  Then it became pretty brisk by 9:30, evolving to bitingly cold by lunchtime.  At 4:00 p.m. as I was waving good-bye to my last student, it was decidedly arctic.  I was going to stay awhile to clean up my classroom, but the roads were starting to ice up, so I abandoned ship.  It was SNOWING by dinnertime.  It was still snowing when I went to bed with the liberating news that school would be delayed two hours on the morrow.  

We woke to find we had ourselves a bona fide Snow Day, giving us an unintended three day weekend! You Northerners don't understand the phenomena that is snow when you live in TEXAS where  a cold snap means temperatures will be under 50 degrees.

The kids were up and we giddily high fived each other and whooped as we read the text message that freed us from all responsible behavior for the rest of the day. Granted, it was just a dusting of the magical white crystals, but the kids got dressed and romped around in it, making snow/dirt angels and a legit-looking snow-dwarf. They would warm themselves occasionally in front of the fire pit where flames crackled smartly.  Then, using all the snow they could find in the yard, they made a snowball two feet in diameter and parked it by the back door. They played video games for too long.  They made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and then ate them all.  Yeah, it was the perfect day…  
Tomorrow the temperatures will be in the mid 60's.  Sunday will be a sunny 71 degrees.  I love our winters!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Another Post Where I Write about Writing

Grading papers written by first grade students…debilitatingly painful.  One must remember they are just starting out.  It's their first tentative foray into the written word.  Wielding the sword of correction is a delicate operation that should prune just enough to encourage growth but not so much that it  permanently stunts the growth of my budding authors.  I hate it.  I want to hack and slash and cut out unnecessary verbiage, taking no prisoners.  But I can't.  So I groan and moan and drag my feet about it.

Logan noticed me crying out in literary pain and shuffling papers to the bottom of the stack because they were burning my retinas with their poor letter formation, or unintelligible spelling, or incomplete sentences or, more than likely, all of the above. He encouraged me to do all the hard ones first and get it over with rather than leaving them to the end.  I handed him one from the bottom of the pile and told him, "Here, YOU read this." He mumbled as he tried to decipher the words scrawled higgelty-pigglety across the paper.  Finally he handed it back and wisely advised, "Just shred this one Mom."

Friday, 15 November 2013

Public Displays of Thanksgiving

Now that it's November, half a dozen of my friends on Facebook post  things they are thankful for each day--enumerating the blessings we take for granted eleven months out of the year.  I've been thinking about a  blessing which I'm thankful for and it's time to put it out there.

This blessing started when we moved in with Dan's mom three years ago.  We were out of work and homeless without any other option while we waited for a job to turn up.  She graciously opened her home to us and made every effort to make us feel comfortable and welcomed.  Nevertheless, I remember feeling covetous when I drove around, resentful that  people had  homes while my family didn't.  Looking back, I don't have great memories because I was in survival mode; putting my head down and plowing through it, sure that God's plan was going to be one of those tragic stories where everyone suffers years of poverty before some tear-jerking final scene.  Of course that wasn't the case; four months after we arrived, Dan got a job in Texas. Three months later, I joined him  and we bought a house.   As far as I was concerned, that horrible episode was past--we could start rebuilding out life together and try to forget that really distasteful chapter we had just been through.  It took losing Dan's mom several months later to bring things into sharp focus.

Those seven and a half months with her were a gift we were being given.  It was a blessing to live with her and talk with her, comfort her and be comforted by her.  I remember how much Logan loved helping Grandma  or just sitting by her.  He was a joy to his Grandma, filling her darkness with light.  Once he said, "Grandma, you have such soft skin," completely melting her heart.  I'm grateful  he  and Hannah have  memories of  Grandma that never would have been made had we not been "homeless" those few months.  I didn't realize at the time that God was giving us a final window of opportunity to love and be loved every single day by an amazing woman--I didn't see the blessing because I could only focus on what I perceived was disaster.   I should have trusted that  "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:24). 

So I want to say "Thank you" for giving me a gift I wasn't willing to accept. Thank you for giving it to me anyway, knowing I would recognize it's value later.   I regret not cherishing it when it was given, but I do now and I'm filled with gratitude.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Great Halloween Fiasco of 2013

I'd like to lodge a complaint  with the Fates regarding the quality of my  Halloween.  You see, I started working as a classroom teacher after being MIA from the profession for a scandalous number of years. Now I'm trying to play "catch-up" buy putting in 60+ hours a week at school.  Luckily, hubby has valiantly been holding down the home-front, cleaning, cooking and jetting kids around to their various locations in my absence.

This year, (due to my inattentiveness of what's going on at home), the kids decided to MAKE their Halloween costumes.  Logan was going to be this incredible aluminum-plated robot while Hannah planned on being an ultra cool, morphing-before-your-very-eyes Dragon Girl.  We argued about the wings, as I wanted  store bought and she insisted she could MAKE better dragon wings than the ones in the store (and she DID too)!  The rub was trying to get them to attach to her body, which I solved quite neatly at the last moment. Go me.  We painted her skin (and my trousers) with green Kool-Aid but it was so insufferably itchy she had to shower it off and go as a sorceress (see last year's Halloween picture and subtract the bat ears).  Logan actually got his costume to work all the way across the street to the neighbor's house before he had to ditch it because walking around in a box with dryer vent arms is actually a painful way to die.   *sigh*  And of course, the neighborhood Halloween party is ending 40 minutes from the time the kids finally don their (store bought) back-up costumes.  I'll be honest.  I told the kids that I had bought a large bag of candy and if they decided to stay home, we'd just split it up between them...which makes me Halloween Scrooge.   As we're pulling out of the driveway, our dog is seen wandering the streets (he went to see the neighbors too).  Giving up entirely, I bailed from the car and sent the family on ahead while I nabbed the dog.

OH, and one more thing...I  want a refund on the  two large pumpkins I bought to make into traditional Jack-o-lanterns...they're nothing but deer fodder.  I wasn't home to micro-manage the affair, as custom would dictate, so things went horribly, horribly wrong.  Logan's first attempt at carving a wicked-good design was a fail; resolutely, he  attempted to carve the OTHER side, which somehow ended up worse than the first try.  That  was just too much disappointment for one nine-year-old boy on Halloween to bear and he came in crying.  We doctored it, praised his knife wielding abilities, and put it out front.  Unfortunately,  amidst the costume craziness,  we failed to light it. we're facing being plagued by spirits for the rest of the year for failure to observe Standard Halloween Protocol.
Last year's costume.

I call him, Tragic Pumpkin

Sunday, 28 July 2013

On the Block, Take Your Mark, GO!

Last week, Hannah had her very first swim meet.  She decided to enter 3 events which guaranteed we'd be spending at least 8 hours sitting on the bleachers.  I had volunteered to work  the concession stand with two other ladies, which is where I learned to do this to my child's arm:
Coaches expect each swimmer  to have their own particular information posted with permanent ink on their arm or leg.

E= Event   H=Heat   L=Lane  S=Stroke

This way, at a glance, both swimmer and coach knows when each athlete needs to swim and in which lane they should be.

That morning, Hannah had asked if she could use the inferior goggles for the meet since the Speedo ones were too tight. I was a bit dubious, but if she wanted to use the $4 Wal-mart goggles, that was fine with me.

Her first event was the 50 meter Freestyle and when she dived off the blocks, the goggles ended up around her mouth.  Not super conducive for a good finishing time.  After that event, she had a few hours until her next event, so Dan took her to the sports shop and bought her some non-fogging Speedo goggles so she could destroy her final 2 events.

Her 2nd event was another 50 meter Freestyle, and her new goggles weren't tight enough so they flipped and filled with water when she entered the pool.  But her time was about 2 seconds faster than her first event, so yeay, right?  Her final event was a 100 meter Freestyle.  That would mean she had to lap the pool four times.  She had left her inhaler at home, so Dan had gone back to get it.   He brought back what he could find.  She took a few puffs before her event since she has been having trouble breathing on longer events.  Even so, she finished dead last and gasping for air.  Turns out the inhaler Dan found was one we had SIX YEARS ago in Bosnia.  It was a little expired. Which is probably why Hannah couldn't breathe.  Or swim.

Despite the troubles, she got a 6th place ribbon for her 2nd event.  And we threw away the old inhaler, so we're totally ready for next time!