Friday, October 10, 2014

One Week

What a week.

This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week, as I'm sure you know, and today is World Mental Health Day.  This year's theme is Living with Schizophrenia, something we know a lot about.

This week was also the week Kelli Stapleton was sentenced to ten to twenty-two years in prison for her attempt to end her and her daughter's suffering.  There are a lot of opinions about what Kelli did.  A lot of them aren't helpful, because this isn't a cut and dry issue.  This is a road flare on the side of the highway of the lives of parents of children like Issy; parents of children with severe autism or severe mental illness that comes with very real and very dangerous behavioral problems.  If you've ever read Kelli's blog, you know how difficult Issy's behavioral issues are. All you need to do is read the last post Kelli wrote before the fateful day she lost all hope.  And why did she lose hope? Because a team of professionals decided to back a teacher that was upset that the INDIVIDUAL education plan that was crafted by experts that had just had Issy in residential treatment might need to be tweaked to fit what SHE - a teacher who had never taught Issy before - thought was better. They told Kelli that Issy was not welcome to attend the public school in her home district -- at the school where Issy's dad was the Principal, mind you -- and they suggested Kelli consider homeschooling.  Forget how they felt about Kelli; this is a direct violation of federal IDEA law.

I hope that teacher and the administration that backed her feels they have blood on their hands. 

Absolutely Nothing

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Social Services Oxymoron


Why must I hand hold Tim's case manager through everything?  The man has been a licensed clinical social worker employed by our county health department for at least 6 years, yet he acts as if he has never had a single client before Tim.

Two weeks ago I asked him about permanent supportive housing options for Tim when he turns 21 and his ICG grant runs out next July. He had no idea.  I gave him the names of four programs in our area I'd heard of.

He had someone in his office call them and ask, hypothetically, how they work.  HYPO-FUCKING-THETICALLY.  This isn't hypothetical.  Tim needs an ACTUAL place to live. This dude is ACTUALLY his caseworker.

I swear, I'm starting to believe the reason the mental health system is so messed up is that the people running it all have a collective IQ smaller than my dress size.  And my dress size ain't all that small.

My father always says, "illegitimi non carborundum," which is Latin for, "don't let the bastards get you down." What's Latin for, "don't get mad, get even"?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Devil You Know

The Devil You Know 

 We’re learning the hard way that the old adage is true. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

To be fair, it was a bit broken. Tim went on Clozaril a month before his 15th birthday and last fall we decided it was time to try and get him on to another atypical antipsychotic because, after four years and change on Clozaril, his blood pressure and blood sugar were elevated with no signs of retreat. Working with his doctor it took six months to transition him slowly off of the Clozaril and on to another medication, during which time he was inpatient twice. But once winter ended and the transition was complete, it looked like it might be ok.

Turns out we were all wrong. Tim spent 14 days in September inpatient again. He’s been a bit paranoid over the summer, but by the beginning of September, the change in his routine as school began again was enough of a stressor to prevent him from being able to keep it in check. Tim is the king of “holding on.” He stuffs his symptoms until he starts to spin like top, then the top explodes. We were concerned when, the week before he went inpatient, he was spending an extraordinary amount of time in his room, door closed, headphones on, singing at the top of his lungs. The louder and longer he does this is typically an indication that he’s trying very hard to drown something out. In this case, it was the paranoid delusion that his sister was trying to humiliate and/or harm him, as came out when he was admitted. He has always had definite tells, but this one was hard to distinguish because it was an exaggeration of a normal habit. Arguably we didn’t realize this was a tell until it was too late, and Tim did not give us a heads up this time like he did back over the winter.

So, here we go, titrating back up on the dreaded Clozaril. Back to weekly blood tests and finding a pharmacy that understands how to register the results with the FDA. Back to watching blood sugar, monitoring blood pressure, and yearly liver panels. It pisses me off that I have to choose between my son’s sanity and his longevity, as I’d guess the effects of this toxic chemical with five black box warnings we ultimately shorten his life. I suppose it’s better than the possibility that his life will be shortened by suicide or some external danger that he may encounter when psychotic. It doesn’t make the choice any easier, but it is the devil we know.

Image by Frank Kovalchek