Friday, November 21, 2014

Roller Coaster Ride - Part Two

Roller Coaster Ride - Part One

Taking the Princess to the ER was not an easy decision.  She became frantic when she heard where we were going, asking, "Why?" and "What's going to happen?" over and over again. Once we arrived and she was placed in a treatment room, the seriousness of the situation began to hit me.  We were at the hospital because we were afraid our daughter would hurt herself if we left her alone.  This was not like when she was two and used to get scared there were monsters in her closet; this time the monsters were insider her head.  And unlike when she was two and I was able to get rid of the monsters by spraying the "Go Away Monsters" spray (which looked remarkably like Fabreeze), I was completely at a loss here.

We spent hours in that ER.  The Princess had to repeat her story so many times, to the nurse, the doctor, the other doctor, the social worker - once with us in the room and again with us out of the room.  Each time the fear and guilt would well up inside of her, looking for a way out.  She was wiped.  We were wiped.  And the night wasn't over yet.

The doctors ruled out any medical issue that would cause this situation, so the social worker decided that we needed to transfer her to a nearby facility to be evaluated and possibly admitted.  If admitted the Princess' worst fear would come true: we would have to leave her there.  Parents were not allowed to spend the night with their children.  Once again panicked ruled her every thought. Our mantra became "One step at a time."  DH and I kept repeating it to her and each other when we began thinking about the possibility of having her admitted.  I went with her in the ambulance-like transport vehicle but had to sit in front while she lay strapped to a stretcher in back. I listened to her quietly crying behind me and could not even reach my hand out to comfort her, could not even twist myself in a position so she could see me. 

We arrived at The Center (not its real name) and were escorted into the building.  We were taken back to an evaluation room.  By now it was the middle of the night and we were exhausted.  DH and I shifted in the hard back cheap plastic chairs, trying to find comfortable positions, while the Princess did everything she could to practically climb inside of us.  We listened as the Princess once again told her story.  The final decision was that if we were able to promise not to let her out of our site until Monday, she would not have to be admitted but instead would begin The Center's partial hospitalization program from 8:30 to 2:30 Monday through Friday.  We agreed and took her home.  It was 4 in the morning.

This is hard to write.

I have had to pause many times while typing this to take a break.  I find myself beginning to breathe faster, tensing my muscles and clenching my jaw, as I relive these experiences.  Especially knowing that the partial hospitalization I am writing about will not be the last.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Roller Coaster Ride - Part One

I had all but stopped this blog since I started using Facebook.  But with everything happening I need to write it down somewhere that would still respect my daughter's privacy.

We have had to partially hospitalize our little girl.

This past August, while I was completing the last week of camp, the volcano of emotions that our daughter had been suppressing erupted, spewing poison on everything in its path.  The Princess had spent two nights with some neighbors at their shore house. She was a little nervous going, but we had assured her that if at any time she wanted to come home, we were a phone call away.  We got the call; DH went off to pick her up.  She entered the car quietly, but as soon as he pulled away from their shore house, the floodgates opened.  By the time they got home, he called me at camp.

This had come out of nowhere.  Since I was working at a therapeutic camp, he brought her to me.  I had never seen her like this.  She was a wreck and had been sobbing on and off for most of the day.  We had her sit down with one of the therapists, who was able to calm her down.  By that evening we had brought her to the ER of a large children's hospital.

Her story emerged slowly that day, in bits and pieces, on her bed.  She began with little stuff, testing to see my reaction, getting more and more weepy as she went on.  Apparently she had been feeling guilt and anxiety for a long time now, and she was panicked at the idea that she may have done something wrong, something so horrible that she would be arrested and sent to jail forever.  While away from home she heard on TV about the apparent suicide of Robin Williams. She heard a news reporter mention the discovery of a knife at the scene and began obsessively thinking about the knives at our house and how she could use one to hurt herself.  Once she thought it she could not get the idea to stop ping-ponging in her mind, and that terrified her.

I can still see her lying in bed, her face buried in the pillows, crying, peeking up every once in awhile to gauge my reaction.  "Princess, you could never do anything that would make me stop loving you," I explained as calmly as I could. "You could have murdered someone and I would still love you.  I might be a little confused, but I would still love you." A tiny giggle emerged from the pillow.

The Princess sat up, took a deep breath, and began talking to me about the guilt that has been gnawing at her.  "I have been thinking about things that I have done years ago, things that I now know were wrong, things that might even be illegal." She paused, glancing at my face to make sure I was still okay.  I worked to keep my face completely impassive. She continued, "Four years ago (when she was SIX) I did something with a friend and her younger brother that I now know was totally inappropriate.  I didn't think it was that bad when we did it, but now I know and I feel so bad and I think if anyone finds out they will arrest me."  At this, she threw herself back on the bed, sobbing so loudly that she soon was having trouble breathing. I worked with her to calm her breathing, and soon she was able to whisper this horrible, horrible crime: "We pulled down our pants and looked at each other's private parts."

In other words, they played "doctor," something most kids at that age have done for years. Something so common they have a cute name for it.

I began saying everything I could to assure her that this is normal, this is something most curious kids do.  I asked her if they touch each other, and she shook her head.  I asked her if it made her feel uncomfortable, and she said  not really, but she kind of felt it was wrong. I asked her if it was something she did recently, and she quickly responded no with a shocked tone.

And I told her what she really needed to hear, "I still love you."

After the big secret was told, the others came pouring out.  Little ones mostly, things like going along with her friends and not stopping them when they made jokes about another girl.  Another that made her begin sobbing again was about a crank call.  No, she didn't make a crank call, but she had actually contemplated helping her friend make a crank call.  To the library.  To ask if they had a book on how to make babies.  No one actually made the phone call, but the fear that the security camera at school had recorded this conversation and the police were coming to lock her up was all she could think about.  Every time she heard a police siren she tensed up, just knowing that it was coming for her.  And she was terrified that a few years from now she would look back at something she was doing now and realize that it was totally wrong and inappropriate.

No matter how much I assured her that all of these things are normal, that she was not a bad person, that I still loved her, didn't matter.  She FELT bad, and thought she should die.

That evening we drove her to the ER.
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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Starting Over

I need to start blogging again.

It's been a rough year.  I have had major clinical depression most of my life, but it has been under control with medication.  The depression gradually, insidiously started taking control of my life again about seven months ago.  It actually got to the point where DH and my mom took me to the ER for fear that I would harm myself.  Yeah, it was bad.  As always, I could function really well at work (I'm teaching at a preschool now), but at home, all I wanted to do was sleep.  Sleep was my escape.  And I wanted to escape pretty much whenever I was not teaching. 

So I started therapy again.  And got a psychiatrist to adjust my meds - he actually added another one to what I was already taking.  In case I ever questioned if depression is a chemical thing, I do not questions it any more.  Cognitive Behavior Therapy was new to me, but it definitely helped.  However the biggest thing that helped was that new medication.  Within a few days of starting it, the weight began lifting off my shoulders.

Know this song?  "I can see clearly now the rain is gone . . ."  That's what it feels like. 

I can function again.
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back on the Menu Planning Train


Meatless Monday: Tilapia Baked in Couscous served with brocolli 

Tilapia Baked in Couscous

Tuesday: Beef Stir Fry with onions and string beans
The beef was already cooked and frozen in some kind of sauce (I forget what kind), so I'll just be cooking up the veggies and adding the defrosted beef.  I'll be sure to set some of the beef (with the mystery sauce washed off) and string beans aside for Twin A, who does not like sauces or food that is mixed up.

Wednesday: Tuna Noodle Casserole
Easy Peasy!  Make boxed mac and cheese, stir in tuna and peas. 

Thursday: London Broil served with rice and sugar snap pea

Friday:  Shabbat dinner at my parents

Saturday: Mish Mash Leftoverpalooza

Sunday: Dinner at my in-laws'
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Friday, March 08, 2013


I think I am ready to admit it now:  I'm an addict.

And if I knew of a twelve-step program that could help me, I would willingly seek out the next available meeting.

I'm addicted to sleep.

I'm not saying this to be funny, or to commiserate with other tired moms out there.  I know all of us would love to take a nap, or are tired from being woken up during the night one too many times.  But once I started thinking about my need for sleep like an addiction, it really fits.

To test my theory, I copied, pasted, and edited the ten warning signs of alcoholism:

Do you ever sleep after telling yourself you won't?
All the time.  I always start the day with the best of intentions, telling myself I won't lay down to take a nap, but sooner or later I do.

Does your sleeping worry your family?
Oh yeah!
Do you sleep when you feel angry or sad?
Sleeping is my main form of escape.  If I'm angry, but especially if I'm sad, I curl up under the covers and go to sleep.
Have you ever felt you should cut down on your sleeping?
Every day that I am home from work or it's the weekend and I have the opportunity to sleep, I do.  I feel I should cut down on my sleeping every day.
Do you get headaches or have hang-overs after sleeping?
Not really.  Finally, one question I can say no to!  Though I do often wake up with my kidneys hurting so much because I was too tired to get out of bed and pee.
Does your sleeping ever make you late for work?
Yes.  I can convince myself of anything in order to hit the snooze alarm or reset the alarm so I can sleep just a little bit more. 
Have people annoyed you by criticizing your sleeping?
Some of the biggest fights DH and I have had are about my sleeping.
Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your sleeping?
Every day.

Do you ever forget what you did while you were sleeping?
Obviously not.  Woohoo, another question I can say no to.  That makes two!  However I do almost always forget about everything I have planned when trying to get more sleep. And I do forget everything that I promise the kids or DH in order to be able to sleep for five more minutes. 
Have you ever gone to sleep first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover? Not to "steady (my) nerves or get rid of a hangover" but I often go back to sleep first thing in the morning.  Sometimes I wake up, stretch, and then just go back to sleep, and sometimes I get myself a bowl of cereal first before I go back to sleep.

There.  I've answered every question.  And I return to the original website to check out what my responses mean with a feeling of dread, and my fears are confirmed when I read, "If you answer even one of these questions with a 'yes,' you may be an alcoholic."  Or, in my case, a sleep addict.

And just like a food addict who struggles because food is one of those things you can't live without, I can't go cold turkey to break my addiction to sleep.  But sheer will power is not cutting it.

I don't know what to do about this.  I thought when I got diagnosed with Narcolepsy so many years ago I would be able to stay awake and alert for longer periods of time, but it's just not happening.  But I do know that admitting the problem is the first step in solving it, so that's what I'm doing:

I am Miss Mommy, and I am addicted to sleep.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Life is Crazy - What Else is New?

I can't believe it's December already and I haven't written since September.  Bad Blogger, bad, bad, bad.  I am hanging my head in shame.

And . . .now it's Hanukkah. (Okay, okay, when I started writing this post, it really WAS still Chanuka.  I'm keeping the original language for the integrity of the piece.  Yeah, the integrity, man!)

Happy Hanukkah!
Money has been extremely tight (that's a post or two for another time), so we had to be very creative this year for gifts.  Here is my take on having an extremely frugal Hanukkah:

We have a fairly strange Hanukah tradition that has developed over time.  One night of Hanukka the kids will each get a new pair of pajamas.  This year I found each of them a pair for under $5 at one of the local Goodwill stores - SCORE!  Our tradition is that whichever night the kids get their new pair of pajamas they rush upstairs to put them on while I make hot chocolate for all of us.  As soon as they are changed we all hop in the car to go look at Christmas lights.  Yes, I told you it was a strange Hannukkah tradition, but it works for us!

The second night of Hanukkah fell on a Sunday this year.  Most Sundays we go to my in-laws for dinner, and this Sunday was no different, which meant we celebrated Chanukkah in front of their Christmas tree.  My ILs got around our plea to cut down on the number of gifts they shower on the kids for Christmas by getting them each a present for Chanukah, which means we do NOT need to buy them a present for the night.  Win!

Since DH and I are both teachers, we have another tradition that one night of Hanukah the gift will always be a new book for each child.  This year DH bought the books at his school's book fair, which meant not only were the prices discounted, the profits of the fair went to his school's library.  Win/win!

On the fourth night of Hanukkah (anyone else hearing the music of the "Twelve Nights of Christmas" in their head?) we gave the kids make your own sundaes.  We wrapped up a different topping for each child to unwrap and then pulled out the ice cream, whipped cream, bowls, and spoons.

On the fifth night of Chanukkah (" true love gave to me...") we gave the kids a gift I made myself (I'm so crafty, I know.)  This year, with me subbing most days, I knew there would be days that the kids would get home five to ten minutes before either DH or I got home.  In September we gave the kids house keys.  For Hanukkah I made them personalized key chains.  I bought thin wooden circles at a local craft store (22 cents each) in which I drilled a hole through at the top (go me with my power tools!).  After painting each circle a different color, I modge-podged words and pictures that I had cut out from magazines onto each key chain. 

Twin A (my video game lover) got a picture of Sonic on one side and words like "clever" and "funny" on the other side.  Twin B (currently obsessed with professional wrestling) received a key chain with a personalized paper wrestling championship belt buckle on the one side and the logo of the WWE along with other words that describe him on the other side.  The Princess' key chain had her name (with the letters cut out from various magazines) on the one side and then a ton of great descriptive words on the other.  I also had to buy key rings and metal clasps for this gift (approximately $3) and some more Modge Podge because I was out (around $6 - but I will be using that bottle for many other crafts, too). 

Wood circles = 22 cents/each

Key rings/clasps = $1/each

Amount of Modge Podge used for each = approximately $1/each

I would love to end this section by writing, "The look on the kids' faces when they saw their personalized key chains and realized how much time and effort went into making such a special gift = priceless," but in reality the kids looked at both sides of their key chain for about fifteen seconds each, commented on a couple parts, and then had to be reminded to thank me.

I am going to tell myself that they will appreciate this gift more as they get older.  Yeah.  They will.  I'll just hang on to that idea.

For this night, the kids each received the gift of one-on-one time with the parent of their choice, going or doing whatever they wanted (within monetary reason) some time over winter break.  Hopefully this will not be more expensive than I am anticipating.


The seventh night of Hanukkah fell on Shabbat (Friday night).  This is when my whole extended family gets together to celebrate Hannukkah.  My parents and my sister buy presents for the kids, so DH and I are off the hook for that night.  This year the adults did a pollyanna among ourselves for the first time, which was WONDERFUL!!!

DH and I had talked about getting the kids a "big" gift for the last night of Chanukkah, but it turns out his definition of a "big" gift meant a "BIG GIFT" where my definition had really meant "big gift," and since he's the one who did the shopping for it, I lost out.  So much for any money we saved being frugal for the other nights.

Bah, humbug.

P.S. Bonus points to anyone who noticed who many different spellings of Hanukkah I used when writing this post.  Record your answer in the comments section along with any frugal gifts YOU have given your own kids.

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Saturday, September 01, 2012

Almost Back to School Time . . .

              . . . and I can't wait!

Summertime is fabulous, but this one kind of sucked.

We got to play with adorable
cats like this when volunteering
for P.A.L.S - how great is that?! 
First The Princess had what looked like a teeny tiny bug bite.  It didn't really hurt her, but it was oozing just a tiny bit and we were about to volunteer for P.A.L.S. , so I cleaned it and put a band-aid on it.  In the morning, when I took the band-aid off, it was totally disgusting.  There was no doubt in my mind it was infected due to the swelling and amount of pus, and after attempting to care for it at home, I finally took her to the doctor who told us that it was probably MRSA, an antibiotic resistant type of staph infection.  The lab test which came back a few days later confirmed it.  We treated her with Bactrim and she got better.

Then DH got a little cut on the Tragus part of his ear (see diagram on the left).  It also became infected with MRSA.  We knew that because it swelled and swelled and swelled - never would have thought that part of the ear could possibly get that big.  He was hospitalized for a week for IV antibiotics and eventually surgery to drain the infection.  He was discharged and home for about ten days before spiking a fever and getting readmitted for another week for even more antibiotics.
And then I discovered a tiny but extremely painful bump on the top of my head.  Yep, it was MRSA.  And oh my gosh did it hurt!  After a few days of antibiotics and lots of time lounging around in the bathtub (hey, the doctor told me to apply warm compresses as often as possible - hot baths qualified), my head started to feel better, just in time for Twin B to point out painful red spot on his thigh.  We took one look and knew what it was.  At the hospital we discovered two other infected areas on his body.  Twin B was hospitalized for a week for IV antibiotics.
The Princess and Twin A were at my sister's house while we were with Twin B in the ER.  When I went to pick them up, my sister pointed out a red spot on The Princess's chest.  Oh, come ON!!  I turned around and took her back to the ER.  Because she has always had such sensitive skin and eczema, she apparently had a number of raw spots on her body.  As we started examining her in the ER, we found a total of seven spots on her infected with MRSA.  Back on antibiotics she went.
I'm not gonna lie; MRSA is a pain in the butt to get rid of once more than one family member has it.  We have bleached every surface, doorknob, and handle in the house.  We have bleached all of our sheets, pillowcases, towels, and washclothes.  We have each put medicine up our noses (at the suggestion of the infectious disease doctor) twice a day for a week.  We have washed our bodies in a special hospital cleanser for ten days.
But as much of a problem dealing with the infections was, dealing with people's reactions was worse.  There is so much misinformation out there about MRSA.  My kids and I were kicked out of camp.  People wouldn't come inside our house.  Some of my daughter's friends wouldn't let her play with them.  When on vacation with my extended family, it was decided that we were only allowed to use one particular bathroom in the beach house.  I feel I am an expert on MRSA now, but even when I have tried educating people with information from the CDC (and supply links for more detailed information), people were scared and simply stayed away.
So I'm thrilled to declare the Summer of MRSA is nearly over.  Bring on school, with its early mornings, temper tantrums, packing daily lunches, homework struggles, behavior issues, and all. 
It's got to be better than this past summer.
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