Committed: No Meds Land Part 2 (Read “No Meds Land” first, if ya want)

I had finally surrendered to getting a meds evaluation for Michael. I committed to going to the appointment. I committed to actually talking to the doctor about my son. That was so hard though. I wanted natural. I wanted connection with the planet and each other. I wanted peace. I wanted dark chocolate with a cup of hot tea. I wanted people to stand up for justice when needed. I did not want meds. At all.

I went to see the doctor for my initial meeting.

In times like these, I need to dress accordingly. I am about to do something I don’t want to do. I’m about to do something, feeling completely alone. I need support and I don’t feel like I have any at this moment. I need to be a Badass. That means I wear my tight jeans ($1.50 Salvation Army, half price Wednesday), a tight black tank top, three-inch silver hoop earrings, three-inch black clogs, black eyeliner, and dark lipstick. The black eyeliner was not the best choice, because going to a meds doctor when you have to explain that you need meds for your son and absolutely do NOT want them means you’re probably going to cry . . . but black eyeliner was a must nonetheless.

I started with the truth (seems like the best place, right?). I know that I speak with my hands, with lots of expression. By the time I was done explaining the sides of this dilemma, first one side (left arm flung wide) and then the other (right arm flung wide), both my hands were flailing wildly and my head was hung between my legs. Here’s what I explained:

~ I have made two other appointments with meds doctors and canceled them both.

~ I do not want to engage in chemical warfare in my son’s body (nothing like dramatic language to get my point across).

~ I heard about you and have committed to this appointment.

~ I don’t fucking want to be here.

~ I feel like you’ve got two choices to offer me.

  1. You’ll recommend I don’t give meds to my son. I have been fighting for this answer and don’t feel like it’s a viable option anymore.
  2. You’ll recommend I give my son meds and I adamantly do not want to commit chemical warfare on my child’s body. Right now, though, I don’t feel like I can say no to putting my son on meds without taking away the threat of physically harming him.

~ I don’t want any answer you’ve got. So let’s start there.

He took me in stride for sure. How could he not after I dramatically explained my absolute desperation and how I am in his office and I’m essentially handing my life (that feels completely unmanageable to me) over to him. In his very grandfatherly, gentle, calm manner, he explained that we would start with what was going on. Then he would determine his recommendation based on whether or not he would give the meds to his grandson. If he would, then he’d recommend them for my son. At that point I could make a decision.

In that moment, though, I was still free of information and judgment and didn’t quite have to jump to where I figured I was heading next.

No Meds Land

Of all the things I deal with relating to this different brain of my son’s, meds is what I hate the most. Yep, I used the word hate. I’ll say it sucks too. I’ll stop there because I think you get the point.

I hate the whole fucking meds thing, OK? OK I really feel like I need to make my feelings known. In the first year after our official diagnosis, I made appointments, at different times, when I thought, I HAVE to get more help somewhere, someway. Each of those appointments was canceled after Michael had one “calm” day. I’d convince myself yet again that I had a typical child and I was completely crazy for thinking that he was so different. And then the tantrums would rev up and I’d have no idea what the trigger was or how to help him down . . . or how to help myself, which led to another appointment with a meds doctor. And so the cycle went.

One fine day we were headed to a party that was on the other side of town from where we live. We were a bit early, so we stopped at a drug store to pick up some gum and waste time. As I was walking in the parking lot with my two kids, I ran into a dad that I knew, who had been struggling with some similar yet seemingly more intense issues with his son. Those are the best meetings, the serendipitous ones that the Divine schedules.

He proceeded to tell me how the tiniest dose of an anti-psychotic drug changed his life, his son’s life, and the lives of everyone in his family. He said he felt like he was meeting his son for the first time (his son was eight) almost every day. He explained how there were almost no more rage-filled outbursts, how his son was actually engaged in school and conversations with peers. This dad said it felt like a miracle.

We met at a school specifically for high-functioning autistic children and children labeled with Asperger’s syndrome. My assumption, from what I heard through the grapevine, was that his son was just too high-needs to attend that school. It turns out he was back in the public school system doing great. WHAT? I couldn’t believe it and had to pick up my chin off the pavement.

All I could think was, I’m in! I’m all in, in fact. I don’t want meds, but I need help, and if this is the help I need, I’m in. I had to hear it from someone I knew though. The dad explained that this doctor d meets with the parents (or parent) first. Then he schedules an appointment with the child alone. Then he has one last evaluation with the parent(s) to share his recommendations. Again, I’m in, what’s the number? He didn’t know, so I called his wife the next day. She and I spoke for over an hour. I boohooed to that kind, open-eared, knows-all-about-it woman. She was so gracious and struggling in her own beautiful way. She gave me the time I needed to feel confident in moving forward with the evaluation.

I made the call and committed to the appointment. I had made the call before, but this was the first time I made the appointment and refused to cancel. I knew in my heart that if it still didn’t feel right, I could always say no thank you.

 

 

All I Wanted . . .

 

All I wanted was to get my grocery shopping done for the week. That’s all. It was the only outing planned, so it SEEMED like it would be doable. Right?

Being first is our thing. Our life revolves around Michael being first. You could not begin to grasp how important this is unless you witness one of our “events” and then multiply it by one hundred gazillion (I’m looking for sympathy people). And then you might, just MIGHT, understand the insanity of our “being first” thing.

Trader Joe’s is my very most favorite grocery store EVER! I love so much about it, especially the fun energy and friendly people that work there. For kids, they have a “hunt” of sorts. When the kids walk in, they pick up a small pencil and a sheet that has a map of the store on it. There are four different stuffed animals that are “hidden” on different shelves. It feels like the kids own the store as they walk in, get their papers, find the animals, and then claim their treasure, which is a small candy or other treat stashed in the gem-speckled treasure chest near the check-out registers.

I’m in the produce section and have two items already in my cart. I’ve made it through the bread section. The kids are off on their hunt and we’re really moving along at the perfect speed for me, not too fast and not too slow. I’m actually feeling really good in this moment. And then it happens.

Insert moment of silence here.

Feel free to add a deep breath.

Mason found the four animals first in the Trader Joe’s treasure hunt. (String of under-the-breath cursing!) Michael goes red eyed and grabs and pulls my shirt. I am now in it, “it” being trauma.

I innocently ask, hoping to possibly switch his focus, “Sweetie, did you get hurt?”

“No.” Sniffle, muffle, growl.

“Then why are you crying? Did someone say something to you?”

OK, so I know exactly what is going on. Why in the world am I asking these dodging questions? In this exact moment I know for a fact, the same way I know gravity is going to keep me pulled to the Earth, that I am not going to switch his hyper focus. I suppose I just want to get my shopping done, but I know and he knows and Mason now knows that is probably not going to happen.

Mason found the animals first, so Michael starts to grab and bite me as discreetly as possible. He knows that people frown upon hurting others and that I don’t tolerate inflicting pain on others, even when his brother found the animals first. This is when the people around us start to eye dart. I have termed it eye dart for obvious reasons; they don’t want to get caught looking at the scuffle that’s taking place right in the middle of the produce aisle.

Michael then threatens: to leave the store without me, to go to the pet store alone, to make my day as bad as possible, to do whatever it takes to ruin my day. I retort, because I am now hooked in, “So you’re going to ruin my day because Mason found the animals first? Oh yeah, that makes sense.” More grabbing and trying to hurt me. More me saying “that’s not OKOK” and a stern “Stop it!”

I am now walking with Mason riding on the cart, between my arms and under the handle, and Michael clinging not-very-nicely to my back. Yeah! Let’s go shopping!

Damn Mason, finding the damn animals first. Just Kidding, GHEEZ! Good for Mason, in fact. And you shoulda seen Michael when Mason suggested helping him find the last animal . . . . whooo boy, that was getting ugly fast. I had to literally separate Michael from Mason as if they were fighting in the lightweight championship boxing bout. Referee striped shirt was missing, but the skill level of protecting my youngest offspring was pretty adept.

I try to get a few more items, figuring out what the heck my next step is. I start to giggle under my breath, (which, by the way, infuriates Michael) repeating the mantra, “I live insanity. I live insanity. I live insanity.” I suppose repeating that mantra isn’t quite as healthy as “I am love. I am love. I am love.” But who knows? I digress though . . .

Michael now says that the next item I buy has to be thrown away without being used. Huh? Oh dear God. “OK,” I say “one ear of corn?” Seriously, that answer really seemed to work. Whatever, man, we’re able to take a few steps and that’s farther than we were. So far, so horrible.

I try for a few more items, which becomes more like trudging up the steepest mountain in murky slime, bare footed with not a stitch of clothing on, as people are still staring.

I’m done; stick a fork in me. “We’re checking out now. Let’s go.” We make it to the front of the store and run into his old Talent & Development teacher, whom we all love. She wants to talk and catch up for a moment, and I whisper, “We’re in the middle of a major breakdown and I’m just trying to get out of here.” Michael starts crying a little louder because he heard me. Dammit.

How refreshing and serendipitous to run into someone who actually gets what is happening at that very moment. The tears start though. Not just Michael’s at this point; I’ve now joined in the sorrow. The sorrow of being seen, if only for a moment. The sorrow of life shifting on a dime, from pleasant to insane. The sorrow of not getting the Mandarin Orange Chicken that is only nine feet from me at that moment. Oh, the sorrow of it all.

Michael and Mason go to the front as usual to claim their victory prize. Michael never did spot the duck or loon. I suppose the scar on his soul for lying about finding them is easier for him to bear than to admit he was second. Who knows? I check out, we walk through the door, and Michael asks, “Can we go to the pet store?”

I rant now, because I’m frustrated and done and confused and overwhelmed and pissed. “NO, we can NOT go the pet store. I didn’t get my shopping done because of your breakdown, because Mason found a duck first. You want to go to the pet store? No, we are not going to the pet store!”

We get in the car and Mason starts going on and on about Angry Birds (a video game) and Annoying Orange (unexplainable videos on YouTube, which I strongly do not recommend but know that you’re going to check out as soon as you can) and I wonder, Does he dissociate during these moments? He doesn’t even know anything different. How does a six year old cope? When he was five, four, two¸ in utero?

So then I wonder, if I got more than 50 percent of my groceries, was it a successful trip? I’m definitely thinking not successful. I still have to go back and get the two most important things I need, juice and snacks for lunches. I continue to wonder was it successful as far as how I handled it? This is a tough one. I want to keep Michael’s self-esteem intact, and I also want to teach him what’s OKOK and not OKOK for living life.

And my next steps are to immediately call the meds doctor and say I can’t deal anymore. Or to get my ex-husband remarried so I can send the kids to him and his new love, and I’ll get a mundane job so I can relearn what it’s like to NOT have trauma in my life each day. Or . . .

Or I can continue to write these stories—for my healing, through each day—and hopefully share them with others so we can try to shift our mantras from “I live insanity” to “I am love.”

Time will tell.