Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"A walk in the park (with a lollipop)"...

The past couple of days have been very stressful... B has been having more & more difficulty with anxiety over the past week or so & yesterday it finally hit the fan. It was one of those days where I felt as though I was making it all up as I went, & nothing was working more than once... one of those days that seriously tested my faith in myself as a mother... & at one point I realised that nobody that has much invested in their own pride, or in being right all of the time, should become a parent because all I seemed to say to B all day was "I'm sorry"... The anxiety was causing him to have random "thoughts" that were either unpleasant or scary (he couldn't say much about them) & there wasn't much that could distract him. He would just freeze-up, shaking, or drop to the floor & sit there crying, or -worst of all- bang his head on any hard surface nearby, & very little that I could say helped... he sat down to eat breakfast & then a "thought" caught him & he just froze & couldn't even pick up his hashi (he was having rice). I tried having him go back upstairs again & start over, but nothing worked. He finally dropped to the floor, but I couldn't help him much down there so I lifted him up (unfortunately my sciatic nerve has been acting-up big-time lately, so it really hurt to lift him *sigh*) & got us to a chair so he could sit in my lap & at leat be hugged. After a few minutes, miraculously, he lifted his head & started talking about Pokeman... he managed to sit in his own chair & eat & I even got him to school. He was pretty upset that my back hurt when I picked him up, but luckily he'd recently watched "Return of the Jedi" again, so I could explain to him that, just like Luke was willing to fight Vader to protect Leia, I was willing to risk my back so that he could feel better- that's what people do when they love each other. He seemed to get it...

School went very well (these days it seems to be the best distraction for him), right up to about an hour before the end of the day, when he lost touch with his body again (he's doing this a lot lately) & didn't get to the bathroom on time. When his consultant teacher, Cherie, brought his spare boxers to him, a "thought" made him reject them, so she called me & asked if I'd bring another pair... I had spent the day doing laundry & trying to recover my energy (I really had wanted to blog, but was so numb & muddled that all I could do was bury myself in manga, which really helped) but the call was not unexpected. I ran over to school, but he was pretty distraught by the time I got there... he got dressed all right, but bumped his arm on the bathroom stall lock on the way out & it hurt so much I could practically feel it... Cherie got him an ice pack, then gathered his things for him & I took him home. He was so lost... did his homework & ate his snack, but he wasn't interested in watching a movie or playing with legos... (I had been madly hoping that the "Howl's Moving Castle" dvd would arrive in the mail from Amazon- it was supposed to have arrived last week- but it didn't, grrrr...). He finally settled on playing internet games, but was finding them frustrating, too. I was still pretty low-energy, so not at my diverting best... he finally spiralled back down right before I started to make dinner. I caught him whacking his head on the table & offered him every diversion I could think of. He started to cry & asked for tylenol because he had a headache (head-banging will do that, but it still scared me because he never, ever complains of headaches). He rejected the idea of putting some music on, putting a dvd in the laptop so he could watch it in the kitchen while I made dinner, playing more games on the computer... he just sat & cried. I asked him if he thought he might be able to eat dinner. He said that there was a 96% chance that he'd be able to... so I decided that I could leave him (I had been hugging him for comfort & to prevent the head-banging) long enough to cook. I made buttermilk pancakes, with a bit of whole-wheat flour for flavour & melted butter instead of oil, because I wanted them to be extra-yummy. At some point, B got up & just started conversing normally with me (talking with my therapist today, she wondered if it wasn't the smell of the pancakes that did it... I am keeping this in mind for the future...). I asked him if I was making things more difficult for him, when I tried to divert him. He told me that the only parts that make it harder are when I ask him what the thoughts are- he just can't articulate them, so that was very good for me to know. Then I asked him if, compared to the OCD, having Aspergers was like a walk in the park with a lollipop- he actually laughed & said "oh, yeah!... & compared to the OCD, having Tourettes is practically nothing... I'd dump the OCD in a minute..."! It was amazing. He did not sound like a kid right then, he sounded like another adult, just for those few moments. When I shared this conversation with my therapist, she said she suspected that it was a very therapeutic for him to share those feelings. It certainly confirmed my sense that the OCD is the biggest obstacle to B's quality of life, & perhaps helped him to feel that we understand this.

The rest of the evening went pretty well for B, although I was absolutely wiped-out. C came home to a kitchen full of pancake-aroma & we all really enjoyed dinner :) Then they played a game, & after jammies, B watched some "Robots" (his best buddy lent him the dvd), which makes him giggle so hard he can barely breathe at times, then storytime & to sleep. C & I did quite a lot of processing after B was asleep... I did quite a lot of crying, too. When we looked at the recent patterns of behaviour, it was clear that B has probably outgrown his dose of zoloft, which is what is keeping the OCD anxiety in check. B weighed-in at 110 lbs in February, & we haven't upped the zoloft (I just checked) since mid-October! He has gained at least 15 lbs. since then... so it really makes sense that he's not got enough in his system to damp-down the anxiety sufficiently. We also decided to ask Dr. M, B's psychologist, to see him twice-monthly (we usually go once a month) until the end of the school year. Getting more of the cognitive/behavioural therapy for the OCD might be a big help right now... we also decided to ask Cherie if she'd remind B to go to the bathroom sometime around lunchtime, so that he would be less likely to have an accident in the afternoon (she was happy to agree to do this). The processing helped to ground me, so that I was able to finally relax enough to go to sleep myself (even though I was wiped-out, the stress sometimes revs me up).

This morning went much better. I was ready to explain to B why he had an extra half-a-pill to take with breakfast but he didn't even notice... After dropping B off at school & hanging out in Paula's room for a bit, I saw my therapist & was able to get a sense of perspective on the previous day. I looked at my budget & decided I could go back to the anime store & buy some more Fruits Basket -heaven help me! I tried to resist, but the story is just too good! B was animated & laughing when I picked him up from school. He happily did his homework & had snack, & then the mail arrived & "Howl's Moving Castle" finally arrived (!) so we went right up & watched it in Japanese. It is so wonderful... B & I enjoy tossing out the words we recognise (we put the english subtitles on, too) to see if the other of us picked-up on them... plus we really enjoy the original voice actors, chosen by Miyazaki himself. I would probably not ever watch it in english again, given the opportunity... The evening went well, too. After B was in bed, C & I decided that there was no way that his good day could be due to the increased zoloft (yet) but was probably the result of having had such a dreadful time the day before (C calls it "regression toward the mean" :) Either way, we are grateful. We shared again how tough it is to live with such an unpredictable kid... but how rewarding B makes it anyway, just because he's B.

Tomorrow is another parent/student/teacher conference day (our conference was last week) & it's C's day off. A school friend is coming over & they're all going swimming at the Y in the morning (after our last meeting with Dr. M, when he encouraged us to get B more physically active to help deal with the anxiety, we joined the Y where B's class goes swimming for part of the winter, since it's nearby & he's comfortable there). I have a doctor's appointment in the morning- I've got to do something about this sciatic pain, since I don't need the extra stress of sharp pains going down my leg... then we're hoping to take C out for japanese food (we're trying to get him accustomed to it well before we go to Japan next year, hee, hee). I am hoping to have us all sit down to watch Howl together in the afternoon- C said he wouldn't mind seeing it in Japanese, if we have the subtitles :)


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