Tim was discharged from the hospital last Saturday. I’d taken our daughter up to Wisconsin to visit my parents for a few days on Thursday, and Tom and Tim joined us on Saturday late afternoon. I wouldn’t normally take him straight from an inpatient stay to visit family, but this was his last chance to see his grandparents this year before he goes into residential next week, as my parents live in Wisconsin in the summer, but the Southwest the rest of the year.
It’s nearly a five-hour drive between our home and my parents, and Tom said he was pretty good. Of course, he plugged him into his CD player, which helps. But it was a testy few days. Tim’s….habits, for lack of a better term…..when he’s not entirely stable can make the faint of heart run for the hills. Arguementative for arguement’s sake. Carbo loading. Mumbling incoherently. Excessive bed-wetting – and when I say excessive, I several times a night without bothering to get up – is right up there on the most offensive. Imagine a grown man, awake, peeing himself two or three times a night and then marinating in it, then coming down with it all dried on his skin and pj’s to say good morning.
My parents love Tim to death, but have a hard time dealing with all of this. They try. My dad tries to give Tim pep talks on behavior, and tries to rationalize with him how it makes it hard for him to be around, and that it doesn’t help him become more independent, which is something he desperately wants to be. Tim listens, but it doesn’t sink in any better when my dad says it than when we do. My mom’s frustration shows, and Tim wants to please her, but when he’s off he’s just not capable of doing so. And he is capable – he spent a week with them in June, all on his own, and did great. No bed wetting, very little food pilfering, and very helpful to my dad. He did so great that my parents questioned whether or not he had to go to residential at all. They are now sure he needs it, after the past three days.
Five days until we check him in to ODTC. Not that I’m counting. It’s a moderate “don’t poke the bear” day around here today, and I have to think that some of his current anxiety/agitation is because he knows it’s only five days until he goes to ODTC. He wants to go, and has articulated why very well, but I’m sure this is hard on him. Bless his heart, when I sit down and try to talk to him about how he feels about it, he says that he’s happy, looking forward to going, needs to go to learn to be more independent. I think he’s trying to protect my feelings, and keep himself from getting upset. For once, I wish he’d let his feelings all come out. Usually I fear that.
So, for the next five days, we’re making things as mellow as possible. No plans. No stress. No big redirection on behaviors. Just hang out, play basketball, shop for some things for his dorm room, play on the Wii. I don’t see the point in pushing him to use his coping skills, fight over his eating, or doing anything else that raises his stress. We might as well try and enjoy the weekend and get ready for Tuesday without putting a huge emphasis on it.
In the back of my mind, I am paranoid about how Tuesday will go. First, ODTC has to get through a hurdle of the Illinois review before they are reopened for admissions on Tuesday. The review is Monday. Nothing like cutting it close. If for some strange reason they aren’t reopened (which, they say, has never happened), they can’t admit him on Tuesday and then our whole plan is shot. But let’s not think about that. My head might explode if I do. Then there’s getting him up, dressed, and in the car for the hour drive to ODTC. He may refuse to get out of bed / get in the shower / get dressed / leave his room. That’s not unusual, and it’s nearly impossible to get him to do it, at 5 foot 11, 200 lbs. Then there’s his habit of jumping from a moving vehicle when he doesn’t want to go where the vehicle is going. We have child locks in the backseat of both of our cars to prevent this so I’m less worried about it, but it’s still a possibility. I’m thinking about asking one of our neighbors to come over sometime this weekend to give Tim a pep talk. He’s an elementary school teacher, and Tim just ADORES him. He had one talk with Tim over the summer about how cool it was to go away to school, and Tim was pretty puffed up after their talk about going. Yeah – now that I think about it, I think I’m going to call him and ask him if he can spare an hour to hang with Tim and talk about how cool it is to go to school. I hope that helps lower his anxiety to get us to Tuesday.
Our effort to not make Tuesday ‘special’ means that, yet again, we ruin the day for our other two kids. It’s also the first day of 8th grade for our daughter, and first day of college for our oldest son, and what are we going to do? Shuffle them out the door and the concentrate on getting Tim ready to go. Yet again, Tim’s needs overshadow the day for them. I hope we can make up for all the days and times and fun they missed because of having to concentrate on Tim in the weeks and months to come.
again, no words of wisdom, just letting you know you have emotional support anyway. i have been reading assorted biographies and medical books on bipolar disorder to try to educate myself on all this. i have read for years about FAS, but at this point, the bi-polar seems to have come to the front of it all.
good luck on tuesday. please write and let us know what happens.
Thanks. It is comforting to know there are others out there! Pediatric BP is really a beast all unto itself – doesn't quite match the DSM-IV for adult BP, but is definitely much more than just a child "acting out," which is what many people – including mental health professionals – still think.
I'll be sure to check in after Tuesday. Thanks for writing. Best to you as well.