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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


We made it through the weekend without too much drama, for which we are grateful. We were able to celebrate Tanya's 15th. birthday with a family dinner on Friday...there were no raised knives or threats, just a bit of a strained atmosphere. The birthday girl was far too excited to even notice, another good thing.

My oldest boy and I went to see "Crooked Arrows", a lacrosse movie that was filmed right here in New England. Loved having the one on one time with my almost 17 year old. Loved that he wanted to share this movie with his mom. Saw "Dark Shadows" with the kids, overcame some resistance from our boy who wanted to be left home alone and was angry that I refused to leave him unattended. He did manage to come along and not spoil the event for the others, another positive step. Grilled the obligatory burgers and dogs for Memorial Day, planted our vegetable garden, tried our best to keep peace and harmony under our roof. We were mostly successful. Craig and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary yesterday. We were able to go out to a romantic little Italian restaurant, just the two of us...a lovely meal and a much needed break from home. Our wonderful neighbors came over to hang out with the kids just to make sure all went well. For the most part, it did...except for some binge eating by our boy when he thought no one was watching. As for how our boy is doing...he started back to school yesterday with a lot of one-on-one support. Since there are no outpatient services available for him right now, it seems this is our best option. He did manage to get through the day with only one disturbing issue. He announced to his English class that he really hated a particular actor, wanted to cut off his head with a knife. Wasn't sure why people might think he was scary for saying things like that...sigh. At home, he has been for the most part trying to follow rules, says he wants to do better and be able to stay at home. However, it's clear he is still struggling with his impulses. We're all just taking this a day at a time...not much else we can do at this point.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Walking on eggshells...again

Our son is home, very unexpectedly. Around 4:30 Thursday afternoon, I received a call from the CBAT facility telling me that our insurance had refused to authorize additional days of treatment. That meant we needed to come pick up our boy ASAP. I was standing on a lacrosse field an hour away; Craig was at work. There was no discharge plan in place for our child. Our other kids weren't aware of or prepared for our boy's return; neither were we. None of that mattered...our choices were to pick him up or pay out of pocket for 100% of his care, money that we just don't have. Craig left work to bring our boy home... Sadly, our son was as unprepared for the change as we were. He was very upset by the news that he would be coming home so abruptly. He was beginning to show some improvement at the CBAT and he is really trying here at home, has told me he wants to act better...but it's clear he doesn't quite know how to do that. We have no support system in place, are scrambling to set up therapy and services for next week. The school is our best hope right now; they have scheduled a reentry meeting for our son and plan to provide one-on-one support and instruction for him as he transitions back to school on Tuesday. In the meantime, it's a long weekend with no structure, all the kids home, all of us on high alert. The other kids are trying to avoid conflict with our boy as best they can. The girls are being polite but a bit distant; the boys are also polite but are more or less avoiding him, walking out of a room when he walks in. No one wants to trigger one of our boy's rages...no one is sure what else to do. As for our son, he wants to watch TV or sleep; nothing else interests him and he is starting to show signs of stress when asked to do anything else. For now, we are tiptoing around as though we have a sleeping beast in our midst...because we do.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

We're trying to have a normal life...whatever that means

For the past several months, we've been pretty much consumed with the mental health struggles of one of our kids and that's what I've written about here...when I've found the time and energy to write at all. Now that we've had a bit of a respite and our home life is more "normal", my other kids are asking me when I plan to return to writing about more interesting things. Of course, this means I should write about THEM!!! I think they're right...so I'm going to try to highlight the "normal" stuff that's happening with our other 4 kids these days.
For example, lacrosse has entered our lives! Our oldest son joined his school's first-ever lacrosse team this spring and he is now officially obsessed with the sport. In spite of the fact that the team is made up of kids who have never played the game before, they have no home field, their equipment is mostly donated, and they've only played 3 games as a team (all losses), these boys are still having a blast. They're passionate about learning a new sport, they're supportive of each other, and they have a great attitude. They're all calling this the building year, talking about summer lacrosse clinics to learn new skills, and playing indoor lacrosse in the off season to prepare for next year. What more could anyone ask?
As for my boy...he's scored some goals, is wicked fast on the field, and is pretty good at face-off. On the down side, he tends to draw quite a bit of time in the penalty box as well...not afraid to take a hit or to deliver one. On the positive side, he's learning to control his frustration and take his penalties without complaint.
Then there's my new role as a lacrosse mom, driving a van load of kids and equipment to games, sitting in a drizzling rain to cheer the team on...and you know what? It's fun...a welcome break from the mental health advocacy role I've been so focused on lately. Truth be told, lacrosse is turning out to be a good outlet for my oldest boy and his mom.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Some good news, some not so much...

First the good news... and it is actually very good. After a truly awful week of advocating for our son with the hospital, the insurance company, and everyone else I could think of and getting pretty much nowhere, we finally made a human connection with a REAL LIVE PERSON. I know...it's shocking, but it really happened. To our insurance company's credit, they offered us the services of an "Intensive Care Case Manager" to help us coordinate services for our son. This woman listened to my tale of woe and quickly became my new best friend. In spite of the fact that she is based in California, knows nothing about services here in New England, and has a hefty time zone deficit to overcome, she got us what we needed. She found him a bed at a CBAT just 40 minutes away, negotiated a contract between the facility and the insurance company, and even got him inpatient coverage at the hospital until the CBAT bed opened up on Monday. OMG...what a gift...a weekend of peace and hope for our son as we move forward. Our boy was transferred on Monday to a very good CBAT. He has spent the past 2 days being evaluated and getting settled. We have attended his intake meeting and our first family therapy session. The insurance has pre-approved 7 days initially and has left the door open for an extension which has everyone at the CBAT exclaiming in awe...seems it's not usual to authorize that much time up front. Thanks to my new BFF in CA, we have a little breathing room. That's the good news...Now for the not so good. Our boy isn't as thrilled as we are with this move. He doesn't like the changes, the rules, the expectation that he will participate in therapy and activities and goal setting. He is acting out, refusing to participate in activities, questioning any direction given him. He seems more withdrawn each day, more hostile. He is unrepentant re: his attacks on others, says if everyone else would lighten up and stop annoying him, everything would be fine. The therapist and other professionals are asking us if we have considered long term residential care. Hmmm...well, if we had an extra $100,000 a year laying around, we could do just that...but we don't. Ah well...one day at a time. Repeating the Serenity Prayer, trying to breathe and ignore the chest pains I'm having. It's just anxiety...or the feeling of a mother's heart breaking for the son she can't quite seem to heal...but I'll just keep trying.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I wish...

I wish I could tell you that things were better. They're not. Our son is now refusing to go to group therapy in the hospital, also to work on school assignments for the paltry 1-2 hrs a day that he is asked to focus on education each day. He continues to spiral out of touch with reality as well. I wish I could tell you that our insurance company was helping us but I can't. Our insurance has denied the last few days of inpatient care for our son, leaving us with a few thousand dollars worth of care to pay out of pocket...again. I wish I could say that we feel hopeful re: our son's immediate future and the care he will receive in a CBAT near our home so we can support him during this difficult time. Unfortunately, our insurance has currently only approved a CBAT in Vermont...4 hrs away from us. Not so helpful, certainly not hopeful since the bottom line is that eventually we will have to bring our boy home again with no improvement in his condition. What happens the next time a knife gets raised in anger?? Sigh... I wish I could promise my other 4 kids that they would be safe and that their brother would be in a place where he would be safe and helped at the same time. Sadly, it seems that I can't make that promise....

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Just playing

Our boy has been hospitalized once again for violent and threatening behaviors. The latest in a long string of incidents happened at the dinner table, right in front of the family...a teasing comment from a sibling was responded to with a raised knife and threats of stabbing before Dad stepped in. Next came swearing, raging, and throwing things, followed by a trip to the ER. During the time we waited, my boy's mood was erratic, swinging from belligerent to tearful to laughing. When he was interviewed by the psychiatric triage clinician, she asked him how other people felt about his threats of violence and physical actions (punching, choking, arm twisting, raised knives). He said his behavior is no big deal, people aren't frightened by him because they know he's "just playing". The clinician concluded that our boy is out of touch with reality and unable to control his impulses. As a result, he was admitted to a pediatric psych unit for our safety and his. This is his 3rd. admission to a psychiatric unit since February 2012...so sad. We are once again requesting a Community Based Acute Treatment (CBAT) placement for our son...so far, our health insurance provider has approved the latest inpatient stay and we're hopeful that the CBAT will be approved as well. Fingers crossed that this time, we will actually get him the help he needs. Keep us in your prayers...