Sunday, May 18, 2014

I'm here.... I'm still SOBER, and I'm still doing my BEST.. .. .. .. .. .. ..


BIG Changes....
My son started medication for ADHD, two weeks ago now.
HOW-EVER you personally feel about meds, I just want anyone reading this to KNOW,,, I didn't take the decision lightly.... In all actuality, I've had numerous so-called experts of the field now, tell me I have gone way above and beyond the "average" parent, 
Trying to AVOID meds..... 

Yes, that means I tried EVERYTHING else that either Early Intervention recommended, OR head start, and sometimes BOTH...... All while simultaneously keeping a VERY CONSISTENT schedule... because if there is ONE THING that sends MY SON into a complete "tailspin" it's CHANGE In schedule and/or daily routine.....
We waited about 3 months, for the ACTUAL medication appointment.(since he was a "new patient" it took a little longer to get in).. we were in THAT appointment for the better part of THREE HOURS.... Needless to say, I very much like his Dr. and the kicker is, Samuel absolutely loves her, too. 
Two weeks isn't a "long time" considering the last TWO YEARS.... but, I know,,, and I have ZERO DOUBTS that I made the right decision.... the only thing I might say, is I should have went for it, sooner.... but had I done that, I probably wouldn't have the 
WITHOUT A DOUBT CERTAINTY that I do ,,, 
TODAY.... 
to that I say, maybe things DO happen FOR A REASON...

 Samuel & School------
He Is starting Kindergarten,,,,, in September. I can’t hardly believe it. Part of me is absolutely TERRIFIED,,,,,,, for what lies ahead of him. I’ve heard many of my fellow parents say, that school isn’t the same as it was when WE went to school, thanks to all this “technology” and social media, and so on. Well I’m really hopeful, that is true….. I’m hopeful bullies aren’t as bad as they used to be, and being the slightest bit different isn’t as MISERABLE for a kid, as it was for ME…
Worst case though, even if it is,
I’ll just do the best I possibly can,  & remind him that school doesn’t last FOREVER, like my Mom reminded me, almost daily, and continue to encourage him to be HIMSELF, and not to “conform” or pretend to be someone he’s not, just to satisfy the “crowd” at school…….
we are all different in our own way, whether we actually show it or not…..
I say,
it’s only US; BRAVE SOULS,,, that DO show it….. 
Sam already notices, he's different than his peers. I know I've mentioned that before.... It's one of the reasons I did decide to DO something about all his evaluations since 2.5 years old coming back as possibly ADHD..... And, yes he was recently OFFICIALLY diagnosed, by 3 different , so called experts.  Since starting the medication 2 weeks ago,,,, I've heard nothing but slow & steady improvement...  In ESD/Early Intervention class,,, he was able to SIT @circle time, and even PARTICIPATE with his peers,,,, the teacher saying that's not happened in MONTHS....
Friday he earned something like THREE smile stickers and got to "pick a prize from the treasure box" 
he as absolutely PROUD to tell me and SHOW me what he had picked out, his teacher said, that hadn't happened in at least six months...
They did mention he is still a little squirmy, and gets up out of his seat a lot, but overall it's a drastic improvement on the interrupting, waiting turns, participating appropriately with his classmates, ETC.
the kid just walks around MORE CONFIDENT, already. Maybe I'm biased, but I can definitely see it... I can see a LOT of the anxiousness, on our way to school is GONE... he's more excited now than anxious/apprehensive about going. 
I'll continue to write about it all, of course...
Many people automatically assume it's CHANGED his personality.... I don't see that AT ALL..... Here's the BEST EXAMPLE I can think of,,,
W/O MEDS,,,,, my son is running at 250 mph every single MINUTE of every single HOUR of every single DAY.......
ON meds,,,
he's only going about 95 mph,,,, and it's POSSIBLE to get his attention, he is ABLE to wait at least a few minutes before absolute PANIC kicks in.... 
I hope that all makes SOME SORT OF SENSE>.....
To summarize things,,,,
it was not a decision I took lightly (and still don't) I don't "view" ADHD as a negative .. .. .. anything .. .. ..  More like just a bump in the road, in his scholastic career..... which we ALL KNOW NOW,,, doesn't last forever.. but sure seems like it MAY last for all eternity, when we are stuck going to school every day... 
At home,,
the first few days to a week, he was definitely Less "combative" with me, although this weekend/past few days, it seems that part is damn near back to normal,,,, or maybe I'm just being over-sensitive about it, I don't really know for sure... Probably too soon to tell, either way.... Samuel sees his dr again in just a couple of days, so I'll be asking some questions THEN, you can bet on that. 
Overall,,,,  things are better.... I have been known to "lose my cool" and yell and fly off the handle a bit.... My son is still UNAFRAID of me, I think he only starts moving once I completely lose it, just because he doesn't want to hear it, or see it anymore, not because he's necessarily "scared" of me.... yeah right..... 
I can still see impulse-control issues, DAILY..... but I know that meds are not a "cure all" or instant, FIX IT ALL,,  so I just continue with all the behavior interventions I've learned.
If that sounds like a TON of work, well it is..... BUT I can say the "pay off" is a least a couple hours of SANITY each day..... Well worth my efforts, I think. 
THE ONE PROBLEM I can't seem to "cure" is when I get a phone call.... 
Here, let me explain......
First off,,, I don't really enjoy talking on the phone, anyway... The only time I ever remember it being FUN, or something I liked doing,,, was in my early teens and then it was just to talk to my friends, or dial prank calls while at their house... When I was using & selling and hustling all the time,,, I didn't like it,,, but knew I could lie better over the phone, so I really didn't mind... plus while using, I didn't experience many ADHD symptoms... that makes sense, right? 
Anyway,,,,  I feel the need to remember everything the other person says, and to have an answer READY when they finish speaking, and if I don't know the person very well, or I"m NERVOUS for ANY reason what so ever, well then I stutter, that makes me feel stupid, so I stutter more, then try and "save myself" usually by saying something border-line inappropriate, because I'm trying to make the other person laugh........ as you can imagine things go downhill quickly from there. the same time that all this is going on I either pace the house, or walk around outside, OR I go a totally different route, and fidget, re-arrange things, tap, draw, ETC.... 
So,,, that's a short summary on how phone calls are FOR ME.
MY SON.....
Well he's old enough to know now, that when I'm on the phone it's completely consuming, and I will MOSTLY ignore what's going on, because it's not "worth it" to me to try and have a WWF match while keeping up the conversation and NOT Stuttering. Sam just thinks it's a bell ringing for round one, when the phone rings.......  He's knocked over the TV, spilled an entire gallon jug of laundry soap, sprayed me with the hose (99% sure on accident) , Among other things, ALL WHILE I WAS TRYING to have a phone conversation..... I know I have to figure something out, I've tried a few different things, but so far the only thing that really works is if he is busy with something of his own.... I realize it's my very own insecurities, that make this an issue.... Just goes to show how NOT perfect, I am. But hey,,, I'm doing my best, nobody can take that from me. 

~~~Update on Grama/chemo/Overall~~~
Some of my earliest childhood memories consist of sitting on Grandma’s hospital bed with her, in the livingroom. I think Grandpa still worked at least part time, or was some kind of boiler inspector or something…… and this was a few years before my Dad and little Brother came to exist, so it was just me and Mom at home, I got to hang out with Grams, when Mom was at work, or as she got  a break from being a single Mother, not to mention Father and soul provider, too.
Grandma had a hospital bed in the livingroom,
because she was in her THIRD YEAR of Chemotherapy, fighting Breast Cancer. She recently told me, they only gave her about a 15% chance of living longer than 5 years. Well she sure showed them, didn’t she?
Grama will be 78 years old, in December.
That is, if all goes well, and it’s in the “plan” for that to happen.
She’s been very sick ...... It's been SUPER SCARY for me... I can THINK I'm
"prepared" ALL I want to,,,, and be NOWHERE near close to READY... if that makes any sense at ALL....

Her 2nd chemotherapy infusion was last Monday. Anybody that knows anything about cancer, knows that the chemo kills all the healthy cells in your body, too. . . . . It also greatly compromises your immune system, and all the Doctors say, if you’ve had chemo before in your lifetime, it will affect you differently than someone  receiving treatment for the first time.
To make  a long story short,,, and I'll explain the "details" of how I started staying over there, later in this post,,,

Samuel and I started staying @Grandma's house, 
Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday nights.... The first 72 hours after her infusions, basically...
Let's face facts, here.... 
she's going to NEED help ---not to mention,,,,, if she were to have a fall or something (my #1 fear), ANYTHING could happen and it'd likely be at least a couple hours before the neighbor would come to check on her, Or I'd be calling and get no answer, and become suspicious but NOT QUITE suspicious ENOUGH to head out..... Know how many times THAT has happened???
Yes, quite a few..... But she is good friends with the closest neighbor, who is a widow as well,,,,, So there has been MANY times I call her and ask if Grama's car is there, or if Mike is there, or what exactly it "looks" like from the driveway...... When the neighbor's phone gets no answer as well,,, well then I usually calm down, because they are MOST LIKELY together, out to eat or playing cards, SOMETHING......
This past week,,, 
Grama was having a temperature off and on,
and in her PAPERS it said, for her to "call provider" for these things, ONE of which,,,, was a temp of 100.8 Or higher. It did read higher than that a few times, but Grama just INSISTED to not call and she would tell me it only "counts" if she's having OTHER symptoms on the list, too...
I don't know what it is,
about "parents" in general, or anyone you've looked at as a parental-type unit growing up..... But they AGE,, and you AGE,,, yet being in the center of the described situation,,,
I still felt NINE YEARS OLD.... furthermore, Like I had NO CHOICE but to listen, and "Do as you're told" without asking questions...
as the week unfolds, she finds out at the 2nd infusion, she will be having something called hydration therapy (fancy for given fluids via IV...)
She had this done Monday after chemo/infusion, and was told to come back again on Wed & Friday.
Wednesday morning, she woke up NOT feeling well, at all...... Her blood sugar was really low ( I made her drink OJ) , she was nauseated,  and her fever had returned..... When I took her to the infusion clinic, I "reported" this to one of my closest, LIFE-LONG Friends (cheyanne)  that just so happens to work there as an RN..... which is AWESOME by the way,,, and a HUGE RELIEF for me..... in more ways than one.
WELL,,, During the conversation, and my "report" ,,, she explains to me that even if they don't want to "do anything" regarding the fever it's very important to at least let the oncologist know, and note her chart. She gave me a better/more appropriate number to call, as well.
After THAT discussion, I was finally more confident, on what to do, whether or not to 'make the call'  or confident in myself to do so........  When I know that someone knows me inside and out,,, Like Cheyanne does;  it's easier for me to take their advice, or listen to what they have to say, because I know they at least understand SOME Of my issues & insecurities. 
Grams does her business at the clinic,,,, returns home, pretty much just as frail and weak as earlier... only now she's cold, and doesn't want anything to eat..... it's 80 some degrees outside, I might add...... So while all of us are sweating inside the house, she's in a sweater and under a blanket.
Around 5pm, her fever went UP, and this is even after Tylenol.... to  103. So, I made that call...... and heard straight from her Dr's she was to go to the ER, just to see what was going on..... They said over the phone they were sending over ALL HER INFO,,, so if all goes well, she'll be done in no time, and if not well then hopefully we can figure out exactly what's going on.
Needless to say,
Grama was LESS than happy to hear THAT news..... I didn't think it was very appropriate to have Samuel running the halls of the hospital, or witnessing whatever was going to happen there, so I called my Mom and asked if she wanted to watch Sam or take Grama to the hospital..... She opted to cart Grams down to the ER... 
A few hours later,
She calls to tell me Grama has Pneumonia, and is being admitted, will be staying a minimum of a few days, at least.
I was absolutely RELIEVED that something was FOUND and being TREATED....because she was in NO WAY doing well....
My Grandma has ALWAYS been VERY independent,,, and taken pride in being so much on her own.
that night, when she couldn't stand up on her own, she couldn't pull herself to a standing position with her walker. . . But had to ask me for help so she didn't fall backwards, TRYING........ well I knew something was VERY wrong.... Not to mention the beads of sweat pouring off me while helping her, all the while she complains of being COLD...
THE GOOD NEWS IS...
She was discharged today!!!! And is getting around again, completely ON HER OWN.... She looked SO MUCH BETTER when I saw her in the hospital on Friday,,,, I can't even put into words the RELIEF I felt, when I saw her laughing and joking and sharing funny stories with her visitors..... Her SMILE,,, her LAUGH,,, was BACK..... and that is ALWAYS WELCOME NEWS.

~~~Update on  Mike's Probation/Court, ETC~~~

Probation Violation Hearing/Sentencing was on May 2nd.
Actually,,, this court date probably went better than ANY OTHER court appearance I've witnessed.. 
His actual "consequences" for missing his community service due date & the non-payment of accounts just 3 days shy of his first paydate, were:
13 days of electronic monitoring, (total cost of $215 )
12 days of work crew to be completed by 09-02-2014
So,,, Not too bad, all things considered.....
The great part wasn't anything to do with consequences though, it was what BOTH the Judge and his Probation Officer said during open court. His PO stated he's made drastic improvements since the first of the year, both in general probation guidelines and his "treatment" classes. the Judge followed with, "Mr. Cowan it seems that you have made a complete turn-around since being in court last October. you have exceeded at keeping within your rules and guidelines, Plus taken a very active role in your therapy/treatment group. THAT is not to be taken lightly, nor is it easy to do, I hope you give yourself a pat on the back for your efforts, and let me just say I see NO reason to revoke your probation in any way what so ever"
Mike definitely looked more confident than ever before, while standing in front of a judge. . . he also was armed with a stack of receipts, all the payments he'd made since the papers were turned in. I know that had to feel like great ammunition, as well.... 
After court,
the attorney, the Probation Officer, Mike and I all sat down for a talk...... We discussed the pregnancy, my Grandmother's recent cancer diagnosis and the "rules" as they sat at that moment.
It was decided to have another meeting a few days later.
At that time, it was agreed that Samuel and I both, could stay at Grama's house, three nights per week. . . . . 
I also discovered that Mike will progress forward to the 'advanced' stage of his classes, after what they call a full disclosure polygraph, in July.
Remember, that he already has maintenance polygraphs about every 90 days, and he's passed the last four, only ever failing one question on the 2nd one he was given. Keep in mind, that it's been 18 months, and we're NOW once again, "allowed" to all sleep under the same roof,,,, Mike's definitely been working hard... Jumping through hoop after hoop.... attending those once weekly classes, working upwards of 14/16 hours per day, half a day on weekends, too. I'm NOT complaining...... I just wonder if the "general public" has ANY idea that your entire life can be stripped away for one, single 60 second  mistake .......
I don't know what the future holds for "our" family, or our relationship, I'm not anymore gifted than the next person when it comes to "reading" the future....
I do know it's easier to think about now that it seems the IMMINENT threat of a 2.5 yr prison sentence isn't a constant fear/possibility..... There was a point in time not so long ago, where I was convinced he was on his way..... I was also convinced I was filling for divorce..... Nowadays,,, I'm not so sure. I see SO MUCH change, so much potential.......  I'm not afraid to be on my own, or forge ahead into my future, alone. . . however, there's still some part of my heart, that longs to be with him, that longs to have my family whole, once again. There's no doubts, my heart is still in pieces, but with all the consequences he's dealt with, and totally "taking care of" on his own, I can't imagine how many pieces his heart is in, either. 
Counseling, is something we both still want to do... Now that the "basics" are covered, or feel like it anyway, I think it's time to pursue it ..... I've pretty much pushed the "pause" button on MY feelings, since the beginning of this whole ordeal.... Because there's really no use in bringing it up, when there's ZERO that he or I can do about it. 
Anyway,,, Moving right along,,,,
Mike was making an "entry level" percentage per "load" of logs, with his employer..... As it turns out,,, he got a pretty significant increase this month. The total made his "take home" amount, about 30% higher..... He was able to give me enough money this month, to catch up all the bills, to the month..... he got ALL his payments, caught up as well. I'm pretty much broke again,,, but it's OKAY..... I think things will only IMPROVE from here on out.... that is, as long as he can STAY in that log truck and out of lock-up....that's my hope anyway.
Sam has definitely benefited from the extra "allotted" time..... Mike is so much more involved, than he was a few months ago. I'm sure part of it being HOW he feels about himself or how he views himself. I'm sure with all the barriers he faces, it's NOT easy to feel good or have any ounce of confidence within yourself. But, he's really worked his ass off, and gotten somewhere... Sam holds onto his Dad's words more than either of us, EVER realized... In discussing this with Mike, he actually listened and asked questions... The easiest way I could think to explain it was , to say "Sam will either obsess & repeat GOOD things you say to him or NEGATIVE things you say... THAT power is totally YOURS.... you can decide, which he has and owns, maybe for the rest of his life. 
It's amazing to see that he would much rather let him carry around the GOOD and positive and encouraging things. I haven't even had to remind him.... I just share the things I hear Samuel say about him sometimes. . that seems to be reminder,,, enough.

~~~Buprenorphine Dose & the constant battle~~~
I don't care if I sound like a broken record..... But before Suboxone/buprenorphine treatment,,, I couldn't TAPER,,,,,,, ANYTHING... no way.... Yes, I sure tried.... and failed miserably..... To touch base again, too..... I don't "feel" anything when I take it, but I do feel anxious, grumpy, ETC when I do NOT take it,,, or take a significant amount LESS.. it's important to ADD.... if it did give me ANY SORT of "payoff" or reward of a slight euphoria,,, Well there's NO WAY it would've worked from the start. Not to mention, a TAPER/cut in dosage of anykind... 
okay,
now that part is out of the way..... I was on 16 and sometimes 20 mg before the pregnancy.... Since then I've been as low as 4mg, once daily and currently I'm bouncing from 6mg to 10mg daily.... 75% of the time, my "average" is 8mg. 
I think that's pretty damn good... ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.... you know? obviously the hardest part being my grandma being sick and the emotional triggers that brings.... Those are difficult to work thru.... But I'm doing it... and I have realized, there will  ALWAYS be something going on in my life, that will cause re-occurring triggers... It will only be what's lurking at that certain point in time... 
My goal was to be at a lower dose by now, but obviously I'm not there. . That's okay because I still have a little TIME,,, too. 

I hate when people say it's just trading one drug for another... Sure, I'll be the first one to tell ya, In MY opinion, it's a crutch,,,, a help UP in the battle uphill.... But, what's so wrong with that??? when your chances are less than 10% you'll be sober longer than 5 years??? To that I say, ANYTHING that helps, should be encouraged and not demonized...
Going on Suboxone, or into a treatment program should NOT be decided "lightly" it does carry certain risks, it causes certain hysteria sometimes among medical professionals.... BUT, the more education that gets out there, the better off we ALL ARE..... 
how Suboxone works, in a nutshell


That's about all I've got for today.....
I'm doing well over-all ,,, at least I feel like I am.... Sam continues to challenge my patience & nerves,,, at the same time, he shares his feelings with me... So I guess right now, that's a large pay off for me as a parent. 
I've also been trying to get IN as much 1-1 time as possible, before his baby brother is here. 
As always, a great big thanks to my family & friends.... I just wouldn't be here, without every one of you ....



































November 2000

                Christmas 2013
                   
~~~~~~~~my how things change.....