Breathe in, breathe out, move on.
Friday, August 31, 2012
Jimmy Buffett’s words describing the Gulf’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina. “If a hurricane doesn’t leave you dead, it will make you strong. Don’t try to explain it, just bow your head, breathe in, breathe out, move on.” No, I’m not talking about Isaac, though my thoughts are with those impacted by the flooding and power outages. We started school here Monday. For our volatile family, a pretty good week leading up. I hurt my back, pain meds; we managed. Kids set by Sunday with clothes, shoes, binders. No screaming swearing. No boys punching holes in the walls. No chairs flying across the kitchen, all of which we’ve experienced getting 3 ADHD kiddos ready and out the door. Monday morning, 1st day, we took pictures out front, every body went on their way. My oldest, 14 to 9th grade, middle child12 to 6th, baby @ 9 to 4th grade. An hour later, I got a message from my husband that the school nurse had our oldest: slurred speech and disoriented. I was flabbergasted. What had he done? Hubby headed to school; school had called an ambulance b/c child passed out. Overdose. He’d taken a combo of his bipolar meds, my pain meds, toss in some pot. I had NO CLUE! He was not in immediate health danger. Basically he slept all day. He was admitted to pediatrics to check his blood work and make sure his kidneys were working. Was it a suicide attempt? Don’t know. His counselor said he’d never talked to her about killing himself. He hadn’t talk to me about suicide. If I had taken a handful of pills= suicide attempt. His story: he was worried about school and thought it would help him relax. He didn’t realize how dangerous it was (although parents and doctors talked to him many, many times how life-threatening mixing meds would be for him).
In talking with doctors, nurses, MHMR (mental health agency), apparently my 14 year old son had been drinking all summer, the rum I stashed away and hadn’t looked at in months. Pot, about once a week. Yes, 14 year old has vocally supported the legalization of pot. My response: it’s illegal. You are not allowed to do that. With your meds and history, pot could be really dangerous. I never smelled it on him. Never found a joint. Cleaning out his room when he was in hospital, and finding his “pipe” I wouldn’t have recognized it anyway. He spent a night at the hospital, medically stable. Now, what to do next. Our only option from MHMR was short term psychiatric unit. For years, we’ve asked for long term care. At 14, bipolar, ADHD, Oppositional defiant, getting him to follow the most basic rules is a constant battle. He has so little concept of morality: he lies, he steals, he sneaks out, he sneaks friends in. A constant problem for us, yes! Can we supervise him 24/7/365. No. We have to sleep sometime. Last school year, it was cigarettes in school and probation for evading police. He struck me hard enough to leave bruises. We thought he’d stabilized; no, his actions were just more hidden. This year, it’s drugs and alcohol. What’s next? How do I parent a child who is unable to respect me? How do I keep him safe? We can and will lock up the meds at home ( we did it as foster parents for years before and after his adoption was finalized). We can and will ditch all alchol, which irritates the parents to be honest. We can drive him to school and walk him in or have someone meet us to take him, so he doesn’t sneak off to the gas station to get pot. He can still get it from someone in school, the neighborhood. We can turn the house into Fort Knox with alarms on all doors and windows. If he can’t get my meds anymore, will he be buying from a dealer at school? And where is the money coming from for the pot? What’s he doing to earn it? This summer he was here at the house almost all the time. He slept at a friend’s once. He went to the park a couple times. He won’t be doing those without parental supervision from here forward. How do we keep his younger siblings safe? What’s next? He steals the car? Driving intoxicated and killing someone?
Summer 2011, my life crashed. My hubby moved out. I adapted. Teen son imploded with violence, cigs and the police and his probation was that he live with hubby. I adapted, and I realized that no matter what, if the family is stripped away, I am enough. I am strong. I have to create a life that fulfills me and brings me glimpses of joy and gratitude (thank you SparkFriends). My son came back home 3 months later. Hubby returned a year after he moved out (“it was a mistake”). We seemed stable. Ha! My Dad was an alcoholic, so I grew up with the Serenity Prayer all around the house: God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change those things I can and Wisdom to know the difference. I cannot change my son’s mental health. He’s had psychiatric treatment, psychological therapy, parents and teachers and neighbors and pediatricians doing all we could imagine to help him. And he is what he is. Courage to change those things I can: I can manage my life choices: how I deal with him, the consequences of his actions. I will stay my own course of eating well, exercising, taking care of my family as best I can, teaching my Anatomy & Physiology students so when my kids show up in the ER, my former students can help them! Wisdom to know the difference. In a few minutes, a counselor from the psych hospital will call for “family therapy” as the hospital is 2 hours away. Do I want my son to return home in a few days? My mother’s heart screams how much I love him. My mother’s brain says I can’t keep him safe.