Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lack of Mental Health Urgency

Friday is my "bill paying day". You know the day ... the day you wake up, check your bank account and say "Wow! That's more than I thought we were getting! Great!" then quickly you remember that it really means all that money you've worked hard for is gone before you could really enjoy it. That's okay. At least you have electricity for yet another month!

Last Friday, the 16th, we made the difficult decision to take our son to the hospital for CPEP (Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program). It was not a decision we took lightly, and there were events that led up to this decision. Events starting back to when he was younger. He's put his hands on both Gianna and Sofia many times since Gianna was an infant. I have brought it up to his therapist each time, and it was never really addressed. I was never really helped in that aspect. I wasn't really instructed on what to do. Typical punishments mean nothing to my son. Taking things away, spanking, time outs, isolation (sent to his room), nothing. It makes him mad, and he doesn't learn anything long term. We used to use a reward system which worked briefly. Every day he behaved earned him 15 minutes on the video game system we had (PS3 at the time). He could "redeem" his time on Saturday. I did not expect perfection in his behavior. We used the 3 strike system. He was "allowed" (for lack of better wording) 2 strikes, but if he got 3 in one day, he earned no game time. Most weeks, he got at least 30 minutes out of the game. After a while, he didn't care and said it wasn't worth it, so we stopped.

Let me get back onto what happened this past Friday. While out and about with the kids (no school), I had to run to my insurance company to pay them. Since I had my SIL with me, I left them in the car together while I ran in to pay. Since the ladies at the company know us, there was no waiting for them to misspell our name, dig around for our file, etc. They know right where our file is, and know how much we owe. I was out of there in less than 2 minutes. When I returned to the car, my SIL handed me her phone immediately. I thought she was going to show me something funny that she found on FB, so I almost didn't watch. But when I looked down and saw my kids on the screen, and the look on her face, I had no choice but to watch.

What I saw disturbed me, upset me, and made me hurt for my poor baby girl. As most of you know, I still have her rear facing because it's safer. Because she is still rear facing, one of the ways she sits is with her legs hanging off the sides of the seat (yes it's safe. Read HERE and refer to Myth #2). AJ apparently didn't like that, so he picked her leg up and SLAMMED it back into her car seat. She immediately put her leg back out of the car seat, where he proceeded to do it again. She winced a little at that one. Once more, she put her leg back out, he slammed it back in, and this time kept his hand on her car seat to prevent her from dangling her leg again. She did kick his hand and tried to make him move, with no luck. Once he moved, she dropped her leg off the side again. This time, he grabbed her leg, squeezed it REALLY hard, and spoke through gritted teeth to her. He threatened her by saying "Don't forget. I AM stronger than you." He then slammed her leg back in, reached into her seat and proceeded to slap her a few times. I couldn't see where he struck her, or exactly how many times, but he later admitted at CPEP to hitting her arm. He couldn't remember the exact amount of times he hit her, but said it was "at least 4 times".

I made a few phone calls to different areas in regards to this- First I called a local mental health hospital who gave me another number within the hospital. Called that second number, spoke with someone who transferred me to someone else who gave me info I was looking for. They also gave me the CPEP info, instructed me to take him there, and also told me to call his therapist. I called his therapist but was told by another in the office that she wasn't there on Fridays and I was laughed at for not knowing that. So, I hemmed and hawed about taking him to CPEP. I didn't know exactly what it was, other than what I was told from the guy from the mental hospital. He was vague, just told me that it was for crises, to take AJ when we're ready and talk to them there. They would decide what the best course of action was, up to and including hospitalization.

When my husband came home, we talked about it. It was decided we were all going. This way, I wasn't alone with the two younger kids, trying to talk to the doctors and nurses and whoever else. I would have an ally with me. Someone who knows his behaviors as well. Someone who could help me explain what we go through, talk about the difference in moods, how he snaps over minor things, etc. We arrived at the hospital at 6. I was told to go to the ER and tell them we were there for CPEP. I assumed that was something separate from the ER and that we would be taken there immediately. Nope, we sat in the ER for hours. In those hours spent waiting, we witnessed many people come in due to injuries from fighting- they were handcuffed and escorted by police. At least 2 of them were teens. We saw a meth addicted woman lock herself in the bathroom until she was given a room. We watched cops pat down a male in his late 30s, and pull out 3 heroin filled needles off of his person. Along with multiple other ailments from people who were not brought in by police. It was scary, and I almost left.

We were finally brought back to a room around 9ish. From there, we waited for a doctor to give him medical clearance to be seen by CPEP. It didn't take TOO long for the doc to see him. He was cleared by 10. However, at around midnight, I asked to sign him out AMA. I told the nurse that we could have waited through this at home. A man had been brought into the same room we were in (2 bed room) and he was drunk and scaring my kids. Nurses walked away instead of helping or making him go back to his bed. I mentioned that to the nurse. I told her that everyone was tired, especially AJ, and he was getting more agitated. I would prefer to just go home, call either the Mental Health hospital in the AM, or his therapist again and see if we can get in as an emergency case. The nurse informed us that they would be forced to call CPS on us if we left. I was almost tempted to leave anyway, as CPS could hook us up with the help he needs, PLUS could offer more resources. But, after the last debacle with them, I'd rather not deal with them again. So, I sent my husband and our oldest home while I stayed with the two littles.

When the doctor came in to convince us to stay, I informed him that we ARE staying, but this wait is ridiculous. If this were a serious crisis, and we were waiting for THIS long, this could be a worse situation. I did inform him that waiting was a trigger for AJ's episodes, and if something were to happen to my daughter, again, I would not hesitate to place the blame on them. Suddenly, not even 5 minutes later, a woman from CPEP came to get us. She took us to a separate area where she talked to us a little bit. First to me, then to AJ separately. Her "findings" were that it's simply sibling jealousy causing all this rage out of him. Jealous because he wanted a brother and not a sister. This has been discussed with AJ before, and he never said he didn't want a sister. He never said he would have rather had a brother. And even if that were the case, it does not excuse his behavior. Regardless, she still had to consult with the Psychiatrist on call and discuss her "findings" with him.

After another 45 minute wait, she came back to tell us what the Psychiatrist said. He instructed her to give us the information for the Mental Health Hospital (the same one I called and got info from earlier) and instructed us to go there for their open enrollment (OE). They have OE every day of the week, for a few hours each day. We will go Thursday, when they have later hours, so that I can be sure to get Gianna off the bus. I will have to bring her with us. Though not ideal, it's not too bad. At least she can talk to the people there and let them know what he's done to her since she seems to be the main target of his outbursts. Maybe someone there will get to the bottom of it and be of some more help to us. We left CPEP around 2 AM. It was NOT how I thought it would go, at all.

Since our visit, AJ has put his hands on her twice more. Once was to pinch her cheeks together because he was mad that she wanted the light on while he wanted it off. The other time was today while I was cooking. She says he shoved her down, he said he didn't. I didn't know who to believe since I didn't see it myself, so I just separated them and put him in his room until I finished. He's getting worse, and I wish someone would see what I see. I am hoping that we get somewhere on Thursday when I take him to OE. Somewhere, someone has to be able to help us. Please keep us in your thoughts.

A brief, kind moment between the two of them at 1 AM

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Happy Birthday AJ!

Today, we celebrate your eighth birthday. Technically, we only acknowledged your birthday today. But tomorrow, we will celebrate. We'll have cake and ice cream, and I'll give you the gift we bought you, but for now, it was low key and a perfect day.


                                                          HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

Your original due date was January 29th, but there was a reason I asked to be induced early. Selfish of me? Maybe I wanted to be sure you had your own birthday, and didn't have to share it with anyone else. I know what it's like to have your birthday fall on another person's important date, and I was reminded how it was an inconvenience for years. Also, you were causing me pain from previous childhood surgeries, so an induction date was set.

The day before the induction was due to take place, I had a baby shower. I am forever thankful to the hosts as they absolutely did not have to throw one. Without that, we'd have had no shower and not as many nice things (Thank you 'P' family!!) After the shower, I had just enough time to go home, unpack everything, and head to the hospital. We arrived at 6, got set up in a room, and got the induction process started. Cervidil (I think?) was placed and I was left to rest. I'm pretty sure we had Sofia with us this night, but I'm not 100%.

The following morning, pitocin was started and we waited. And waited. And waited. It took a long time for anything to happen. I know we had Sofia with us during the day, as I remember asking Beepa to come and get her. We thought it would be nice to have her with us while you were born, and she was still young enough to not be TOO invested in the process. But, I kind of get a little agitated while in labor and we decided it was for the best for her to leave.

My times are off a bit, as I don't remember EXACT timing, but bear with me. I believe it was around 4ish that I asked to get in the hot tub. I remember them setting it up, and I stepped in and immediately complained. I am the type that has to have the water incredibly hot during my showers/baths, so this 98° they set the water as was not cutting it. I asked about it being hotter, and they told me they could make it a touch hotter. Score!! Until they told me 100° was as hot as it could go. Ugh. Forget it. They did turn the jets on, which did feel nice. Until the machine couldn't read your heartbeat. Again UGH ... forget it. I got out.

At about 6, I asked for the epidural. I really wanted to try a natural birth with you, but couldn't take it any longer. I did have Fentanyl, which made the borders spin and get me sick to my stomach. We also tried Nubain, which I think was fairly new for labor at the time. That did absolutely nothing but make me so nauseous. I decided that I would just go with the epidural. I am terrified of needles, and really did not enjoy it after Sofia, but it wasn't a terrible experience. After all, I wasn't paralyzed from it, as was my most concerning fear of the epi. After it was placed, I was finally able to relax and go with the flow.

At about 9, I noticed things felt different. An internal exam revealed I was at a 9 and almost there. My Midwife was not there, as it was not her on-call night. But, she is so awesome, and knew I wanted only her to deliver, so she did come in on her night off to deliver you! I was told she was in a meeting about an hour away, but she somehow still made it to be there. I will always appreciate her for that. At any rate, she arrived just in time, and in less than 5 minutes, at 10:00 PM, you were born. All 5 pounds and 14 ounces of you.

You were so little! Yet, you are my biggest baby. When you were born, it was suggested that you may not be only 2 weeks early. Based on how your skin appeared and other features, 5 weeks was the estimate. But you did well on your APGAR. Scoring an 8 the first time, and 9 for the second. You required no oxygen, no NICU stay, no medical attention indicating that you weren't well. You nursed well and breathed with ease the whole time.

Long story short, you arrived safely and perfectly. With a head full of .... peach fuzz! You had a receding hairline already, much like an old man. Now? Now you have a full head of hair, lots and lots of hair. We buzz it, mohawk it, spike it, leave it alone, and everything in between. It's usually a mess because you hate when we touch your hair. You've put us through heaven and hell, trials and tribulations, happiness and sadness. We've endured hospital stays and Chuck E Cheese visits with you. Doctors, therapists, school meetings and everything else.

I want you to know that even through the lows, we still love you with every fiber of our being. You may test our patience, but that doesn't mean our love for you is tested. I hope with every year you grow, you gain more patience of your own, and more self control. I know what you're going through is scary sometimes. It's scary for us as well. But we'll get through it. It is just taking some time.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Goodbye 2014 ... Hello 2015

I suppose I'm a few days, maybe even a week, late for this blog. When I have a giveaway going on, I try not to blog often so that the giveaway gets the attention it deserves. But, it has been over for a little bit and I guess it's time for me to write.

I usually don't fall into the "resolution maker" category. I used to, but I don't any longer. I don't find myself upholding resolutions beyond the first few weeks of the year. Whether it's because I set the bar "too high" or I get bored, or something else, it's just a big ol' let down. So, I decided that I would no longer make resolutions for the year. If I decided I wanted to do something, I would do it whenever.

But, I do occasionally reflect on things that happened in the last year. And I think about how I can improve, or change, the situation so as not to have a repeat. Not necessarily a repeat in a new year, but a repeat in general. For example, I learned that I need to take better care of myself in regards to my health. I am now staying on top of that, and have my own hematologist to help me keep myself as healthy as my blood disorder allows me to be.

Another big area for improvement is AJ's well-being. As he gets older, each passing day, he gets worse and worse, and his temper gets shorter and shorter. Pretty soon, he's going be bigger than me, and much stronger. I will no longer be able to control the situation when it starts to get out of hand. I have been actively seeking a new therapist for him, and have done my research. I found one that lots of other families have recommended, for being both kind and serious about a child's mental health. That means a lot to me, seeing that our current therapist seems to not be any help at all. However, the road block I'm currently as is not getting a call back from that therapist. When I call her office, there is never anyone in the office. The machine instructs her patients to call her directly. I was desperate, so I left a message with our info, hoping for a call back. I never received one, so I will be working extra hard on somehow getting seen by her.

I've also been thinking about my blogging "career" ... for lack of better wording. There's so much more that I need to add to it, but I'm taking small steps. I took a few steps back as far as reviews go, because I felt I was doing too much in that area, and less in the area of family life. The problem with that is, I don't have much to report about ADHD, ODD, etc. Maybe if we were able to get the help that AJ needs, I'd have more to blog about in that aspect. I feel as if I were to blog at every event and interaction that we've had, it'd be a big old negative blog post about my son. And that is what I do not want. I love my son, as hard as he is to be around, he is still my son and I still want the best for him. And what I don't want is a blog about how horrible he has been behaving. So, I've managed to avoid that area by not blogging, period. But I miss it. I miss being able to come and vent about things. I miss having something to brag about when he does well.

I guess this is sort of a resolution list? Depending on how you want to look at it, I guess. I know what not to do, and I know what I need to work on. I'd like to make this a more active year for blogging, so I guess that's something I'm going to work on. I need to work on finding the correct therapist match for my son's mental health. I need to work on finding the flow for our family, to keep our sanity. Because slowly, I am losing it.

Pft, so much for NOT getting into the "New Year, New Me" hype. I know what needs to be done, and a bit of reflecting is just what I needed to make sure I understood. Now ... let's see how long into 2015 I keep up as diligently as I am thus far.

I hope you all had a great Holiday season!! Enjoy a few pics of the kiddos from Christmas

Checking out their stockings

Digging in! Gianna loved her Elsa doll!

He received a new Nerf gun. But yet he continued to play with the old one. At least he used his new ammo!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Oh Christmas Tree ...

Friday afternoon, after paying bills and taking care of errands, we stopped at the mall to go get a picture with Santa. It took a few tries and different positions, but we finally got a picture that wasn't too bad! Sofia originally started off by standing on the side of Santa, but she was standing a bit awkwardly so as not to get too close. We ended up having her stand behind him and his chair. I have no idea what AJ was doing with his hands, but he does it often.

 Please excuse the flash spot. I couldn't take a picture of the picture without it showing up.

Later that night, Sofia and AJ went over to our cousin's house to spend the night. Well, Sofia did. AJ ended up coming home in the middle of the night. Saturday afternoon, we decided to go out to get our Christmas tree. This is our first year having a real tree, and I really wanted to take the kids out, and give my husband a bit of Holiday fun. He grew up only having artificial trees in NYC, so he's never had the fun and joy of hunting down the perfect tree, then cutting it down yourself. I grew up with the forest in my backyard. He grew up with apartments and stores in his backyard, drugs in the street. So, this was definitely a new experience for him.

We went to a tree farm about half an hour away (40 minutes if you miss the exit like I did. Oops.) and got the run down of how it works there. They provided the handsaw, and a sled so the kids could ride on that instead of walking in the snow. There were tons of different kinds of trees, different sizes, different shapes. We walked around, and around, and jumped between 346,672,891,450 different trees. Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch, but there were so many different trees! It was hard to settle on just one. We found the perfect one, but then I found one that was even more perfect, and another, and another! The kids decided the first tree was the best, so we went back and hubby cut it down for us.

Fun in the sled and snow while hunting for that perfect tree!

This is it! This is our tree!

After it was cut down, the people who own the tree farm baled it up and secured it to our car for free. While they were doing that, the kids and I went in the garage and enjoyed cookies and hot cocoa. The place we went to takes pictures of you with your tree then posts them on the wall the next year. So, when we return next year, we'll look for ours! Once we had our fill of cookies and warm drinks, we headed back to the car to leave. It was at that point that Anthony and I realized neither one of us paid. I ran back out, paid them (only $20 per tree, no matter how big!), and gave a tip for baling, securing, and us almost driving off. Oops!

We drove to Walmart after to get a tree stand, and some tinsel. When we got home, Hubs and I had the joy of setting it up in the stand. Turns out, the stand we bought was too big for the tree. Hubs took it back and ended up finding the one in the basement that the previous renters left behind. It fit perfectly. After a bit of string and a metal wire rack thingy drilled into the wall, we were able to secure it to make sure it stood perfectly. Then hubby put the lights on the tree. We didn't decorate until Sunday, however. After it was all done, I was able to snap a few pics of the kids with the tree.

I had to buy another garland because the one we had wasn't big enough! I'm still searching for our special ornaments, so once those are found and put up, then we will put the tinsel on.

I love our tree. The black and white ornaments give it a simple, yet beautiful look. The scent isn't as strong as I wanted it to be, but it smells amazing. The cat hasn't tried to climb in it (yet), but he does enjoy laying underneath it.

Do you celebrate Christmas? If not, what holiday do you celebrate? If so, do you have your tree up yet?

             **Don't forget to enter the giveaway HERE! Only 24 days left to get your entries in!**

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

5 Days of No School

I've been out of. On November 14th, I had my wisdom teeth pulled, and it totally threw me off. I thought I scheduled the appointment for a day that Gianna didn't have school, but it turns out she was supposed to. I didn't send her because I didn't realize until it was too late. I wouldn't have been able to send her anyway, because no one would have been home to get her off of her bus.

I've missed appointments because I have been so thrown off with my days. I STILL need to call to set up a new therapist for AJ. I need to reschedule a ton of appointments. I need to reorganize my entire house. I need to figure out what to do with the Christmas tree this year. I need to continue to go through my clothes to put aside those that don't fit me any more. So much that needs to be done.

But first, I need to get through this Thanksgiving break. AJ came home from school today unhappy. I'm not sure why, he said nothing happened. I suspect he's upset that there's no school for the next 5 days. He has a love/hate relationship with school. His teacher is fantastic, he has friends, but he struggles with being overwhelmed. He starts his work and feels like he can't do it. It frustrates him. Mrs. R is awesome, and encourages him to take breaks when he needs to- go sit on the rug, get a drink of water, etc. Little things so that he can escape the work momentarily, then get right back on task. She tells me these breaks have been happening more and more as the school year goes on. It started off as once a day, but now it's more like once per subject she was telling me. I am concerned, but I have faith his teacher is doing all she can to help him. The school psychologist tells me they can't do another eval on him, but without that, requesting an IEP or 504 is pointless. We've been denied twice before because his "behavior doesn't affect his learning" while at school.

I keep saying it, but when we see a new therapist, I sure hope they can help more than his current one. I can't take this much longer. When he came home, he was upset and picked fights nonstop with Gianna. Snatching the tablet out of her hands, taking toys from her, pretending he was going to share the blanket with her then saying "NOT!" and laughing in her face. Gianna adores him, and loves to sit with him and play with him, but it breaks my heart to see him act so mean and bully her like this. I keep trying to tell him that one day, he's going to really regret it. It doesn't seem to phase him in the least.

I don't know if I mentioned it previously, but 2 months ago, we added Seroquel to his medications. We started at half a pill (12.5 mg) every day after school, and just bumped it up to a whole pill after school, and an extra half as needed for agitation and outbursts. I've not yet felt the need to give him that extra as needed, but have no qualms in doing so if I must. I have a feeling that I will need to at least once during this break.

Speaking of break, I am not going to enjoy this break if this behavior continues. I've decided that I'm going to start implementing chores as punishments. This will accomplish two things. One, my house will be clean pretty quickly, and two, it will keep the kids busy. With any luck, one or two additional things will come from it- One, my children will discover they actually like cleaning, so they'll do it willingly, more often. And/or two, they'll hate cleaning so much that they'll be extra kind to each other, and work extra hard to get along. Hey, I can dream, right?!

Speaking of being kind, have you checked out the Boogie Wipes giveaway yet? If not, head on over and enter. Bring your best example of spreading kindness with you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SpinKindness with Boogie Wipes and Boogie Busters! *GIVEAWAY*

As most of you already know, I belong to a fantastic program through Boogie Wipes, which puts me as a Saline Ambassador. What this means is every quarter, I receive a shipment of Boogie Wipes and other fantastic products. Usually Kandoo products (Kandoo wipes, shampoo, hand soap, sanitizer, etc). This quarter also includes DREFT products as well! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take a picture of my shipment before my kids tore into it, but my teammate, and fellow blogger, Mammanatty, allowed me to use her photo. Please like her page HERE, and check out her blog HERE.

This quarters focus is SpinKindness. So, what is SpinKindness? It's about making a difference through simple acts and little gifts. It's about being kind to someone, and hoping to create a chain of kindness, hoping to make someone's day just a tad bit brighter. It's the idea of being kind, intentionally. Not just doing something that *might* make someone happy. You know that neighbor you pretend you don't see? Why not say "Hello" to them? It's as simple as that. It doesn't have to be huge, start small! That person behind you in the grocery store short a few cents for their groceries? Maybe you're able to help them? You can read more about it HERE.

We'd love to have you join in our movement! We'd also love to have you enter our giveaway in celebration of this SpinKindness movement! Winner will receive a prize pack direct from Boogie Wipes!! Giveaway starts now, and will end December 26, 2014 at Midnight Eastern. Winner will have 24 hours to respond to the email. If chosen winner does not respond by then, another winner will be chosen. Winners information will be given to Boogie Wipes by the end of December and prize packs will be shipped out shortly after. Please understand that Life in the ODD Lane is NOT responsible for shipping prizes out. Good luck!!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Kids say the darnedest things

I thought my appointment with my hematologist was today. Apparently, it's tomorrow. So, I took a trip there for nothing. But since we were already out, I asked Gianna what she wanted to do. She said that she wanted to visit Beepa (grandpa) so off we went to visit him at work.

When we got there, Beepa asked how she was. Her answer was "I'm not sick anymore!" Then she quickly said "But my brother is sick."

This was news to me. I wasn't aware that AJ was sick. So, my dad asked her why he was sick. She replied "He's sick with an attitude!"

At least she's honest ....

After our visit with Beepa, we hit up the local mall to look for a new pair of shoes that fit her at Payless. We found these Mary Janes, and also picked up a pack of mini Gel Pens and Notebook for her Christmas stocking, all Frozen themed, of course.

We were also looking for a pair of sneakers, but couldn't find a pair at that Payless that she liked. I asked the woman there if she could contact another local Payless and see if they had these sneakers in stock. Once it was confirmed that one had them available, they put them to the side for me, and off we went to pick them up. They were running a promotion, buy 2 pairs of kids' shoes and get a free Frozen tote. Even though we bought from two different locations, they allowed Gianna to have the tote for free. She was beyond thrilled!!

And last but not least, HAPPY VETERAN'S DAY to those who have served in the past, who are currently serving, and those who will serve in the future! Freedom isn't free, and I appreciate all the sacrifices you have made to serve your country.