A Lesson in Patience and Endurance
Learning to live with a child who has multiple emotional handicaps is indeed a lesson in patience and endurance. My twelve-year-old son was diagnosed with severe ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) at the age of four. Three years later, after much research, I realized that he was Bipolar. I bought this to the attention of his psychiatrist who prescribes his medications. His reply was, “You do not want to label your seven-year-old with Bipolar.” Patience. No explanation was given. This prompted even more research. — Endurance.
One of the scariest incidents was after Jack had been told he couldn’t have or do something. He raged out of control. When a violent child rages, the best advice is to allow him to vent, defuse himself without causing damage to himself, to others or property. Safety is a huge concern and an obstacle at times. After some time passed, he quieted down. He had gone to the kitchen to get something to drink. We had thought he was calmed down. It was eerie how quiet he was. I went to check on him only to find him sitting behind and beneath the breakfast bar with the largest butcher knife in our kitchen at his throat! This is one picture that is emblazoned on my brain and won’t go away.
Jack, was admitted to a residential treatment facility due to self-injurious behavior. Jack had attempted suicide twice by the age of eight. This admission was a lifesaver and a heartbreaker all in one. It saved his life by admitting him to a care facility that is trained and staffed with twenty-four-hour care in handling violent and at-risk children. The heartbreak occurred when I had to leave my baby there. — Patience and endurance.
During his stay, Jack exhibited every adult symptom of Bipolar and then some. The doctor, therapist, other staff members and his parents concluded that Jack should be weaned off all the drugs that he was taking. The cleansing took three weeks. During this time the violent behavior worsened. He had night terrors, hallucinations, walking and talking in his sleep, had to be restrained on several occasions and isolated from other patients for everyone’s safety.
The diagnosis was added to Jack’s official diagnosis now is severe ADHD, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder), Conduct Disorder, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and Bipolar. Some doctors will argue that ADHD and Bipolar are not co-morbid. We have proved that these two diseases are co-morbid.
They began with small doses of Adderall to assist in settling him down to a manageable state of hyperactivity. Then, week by week the doctor added other more potent medications to deal with the severe chemical imbalance occurring in his brain. Some of the medications were FDA approved for adults, not children. Some were typically prescribed for convulsions, depression, psychosis, stimulation, etc. The medications that Jack consumes daily is truly a cocktail.
After Jack was released from the residential facility, his homecoming was great. It seemed that he was medicated properly. Bipolar Disorder is a lifelong disease. There is no cure. Life had been a lot better after the residential stay, it lasted about two years. Then, things began to change again. The violence towards other people, the threat to himself, the rages and destruction of property began again and worsened.
By the age of ten, Jack had committed pre-meditated attempted homicide by planning and executing the poisoning of his mother. Two days of planning. The first day he attempted, but failed. The second day, in between two doctors’ appointments, he succeeded. Jack offered to serve me a glass of root beer. I thought that it was a nice change from the hatred we had been experiencing. I accepted the offer and the soda. Jack served the soda in a glass, set it on the table next to me. He walked off to his room and closed the door. We still had an hour before the next appointment. Let’s just relax. A few minutes later, Jack walked out of his room, we exchanged glances, he threw his hands into the air, humphed, turned around and went back to his room, slamming the door. I thought that it was a display of weirdness, something we have come to accept from him and went back to crocheting his new blanket.
It was a very unusually warm day for March, especially with a large, heavy blanket sitting on my lap. I picked up the glass and began guzzling. This didn’t taste like root beer. Maybe it was a dirty glass, a bad bottle of soda. I smelled the contents of the glass, it didn’t smell right. I picked up the glass to compare it to the contents of the bottle. The soda in the bottle smelled normal. OH, MY LORD! The glass of soda was tainted! It hit me like a ton of bricks that my darling son had just poisoned me. I was scared to death. I called him out of his room and asked him what he put in my soda. It took nearly twenty minutes to get the truth out of him and some very quick thinking on my part to extract that truth.
Once I had learned exactly what he administered to me, I got on the phone to the poison control center. I am obviously still alive and more distrusting and alert than ever. I made two more phone calls, one to my husband, a truck driver, and one to my oldest son to have him follow me to take Jack to see his second doctor that day. Jack was supposed to be admitted to the hospital, but there were no mental health beds available. I was now being guarded against another attack from my own son. The adults were sleeping in shifts to prevent Jack from attempting to harm me or anyone else. –Endurance.
What caused the rages? Anything, everything, and nothing. Patience sprouted from dealing not only with Jack and his rages, learning not to “feed the fire”, but dealing with the world outside. Well-meaning friends, family, schools, acquaintances, insurance companies, employers, etc. There is always unsolicited advice on how to deal with “that brat.” Life became isolated due to no one wanting to be around such volatility. Endurance came from the need to find out what to do to help this little boy who is in so much pain, so unhappy that he wanted to die. — Patience, endurance and now, educate the world.
Jack is twelve years old. If we are lucky, we will all live to see him turn thirteen, still three months away. The fight continues to obtain the best possible care for Jack. There are forces out there that are preventing this from happening. But, I am like a mother lion protecting her young. Patience and endurance. I will find a way!
I no longer work outside my home. I am a true stay at home mom. The financial aspect of Jack’s illness/disability is staggering. It’s a very long road. A road that we are still on and someday, we will find the end to this living nightmare. –Endurance.
Jack’s father and I are still married and long ago when all of this turmoil began, we made a pact. We will not become just another statistic and allow this to become the reason we get a divorce. The statistics on marriages falling apart due to illnesses of this type are huge. We need to stay focused on helping our son. He is the most important part of our lives and together we will find a way to help him. We must remain united and show Jack that whatever he says or does is not going to make us love him any less. It will only allow us to prove to him how much we do love and care for him. I pray that someday Jack will know what we have done, and are doing for him and that he will thank us. Someday. — Patience.
I have been told more times than I can count that God only gives us what He knows we can handle.
OK, time to give me a break.