Mental Health Update

I should have posted this before my post titled Starting our Journey. Oops.

My son was admitted to the state psychiatric hospital on Friday 5/26, which just happened to be a Holiday weekend. That meant he only met the doctor who would be treating him briefly and had to wait until the following Tuesday to actually meet his team of providers and start treatment. He spent the weekend being what I would consider babysat. He was asked how he was feeling,  but had no therapy or group counseling all weekend. He did spend time with the other kids in his unit. They used the playground, played in the gym and watched movies. He didn’t like the way the other kids behaved, and did not feel like he belonged there. 

When Tuesday finally arrived he met with his doctor briefly and participated in 2 group sessions. His assigned social worker called me at 11am that day saying they were ready to discharge him. I was a bit surprised, since the people we were dealing with from the other hospital were so convinced he was a suffering child who needed intense in-patient treatment. The actual professionals in the field felt how my husband and I had started to feel, which was that although the thoughts my son is having are disturbing,  he doesn’t seem likely to act on them.

The hospital contacted a therapist who works with children in our area, and made an appointment for us. This was the appointment I discussed in my previous post. 

So, my son is home, and still dealing with his bad thoughts but heading in the right direction to get better.😊

He’s struggling with the chaos that is life with 2 young children in a small house, but I’m no longer worried he’ll let his frustration lead to harming his brothers. He still tries to parent, but my husband and I are stepping in to keep him from taking on that role. He likes to be in a position of authority over them, but if it’s going to lead to him being angry/frustrated he needs to know when to leave parenting to us parents. πŸ˜‰

Starting our JourneyΒ 

Today was a busy day of appointments. Our first of the day was to meet with a therapist for my 12 year old son. He had been hospitalized this month for mental health reasons. He has been having thoughts of hurting himself or others, and thoughts of swears/gestures that he would never say or do. While hospitalized, we discovered he has a thyroid condition which may have contributed to his sudden change in personality and thoughts. We have to give his medication a few more weeks to see if it helps.

In the meantime we will be going to therapy about once a week. Today was a two hour appointment, to gather information. My son was a bit stressed by it all, but being honest and sharing everything is the best way to get the help needed to get back on track. During the appointment he said he wanted to be fixed, but the therapist stopped him right away to say he has to make this work and want it. Nobody can just “fix” him. They can give him the tools to help him change the way his mind is working right now. She explained that right now his thoughts are stuck on a path in his brain, and he needs to train his mind to follow a new healthier path. ☺

I think we both liked the therapist we met, but unfortunately her availability is pretty limited. 😞 She’ll refer us to another therapist in the practice and we’ll meet them next week. She comforted me by saying she didn’t see my son as being an imminent risk, in need of immediate intense treatment. My husband and I agree. We know he needs help to cope with his bad thoughts and to hopefully stop having them but we don’t see him acting on them.

Our next appointment was to see his endocrinologist. She explained that we will never know what caused the autoimmune response that destroyed his thyroid, because there just isn’t a test to determine that. It’s hard not knowing what caused his condition,  but we’ll just moved forward and treat it. We are very thankful that his condition was caught, since she said his thyroid doesn’t feel like one she’d normally be concerned about. She said his thyroid level needs to be checked in about 4-5 weeks, and if his level is normal we do another check in 6 months. If the level is still high they will increase his medication and check his level in another 6-8 weeks.

I don’t have anything else to share right now. I think my stress levels will be dropping some with my son home again,  but we’re still going through  a lot. πŸ˜›

Mental Health

I’ve been absent for a while due to a family crisis.

My son turned 12, and our lives turned upside down. I had a blog started about how life with a twelve year old was going to be an adventure, but decided to trash it when things got serious in an instant.

Here’s how it started… my boy started questioning the words he was using, and whether he was telling lies by not choosing the “right” words for the situation. I explained that so many of the words we use can have different meanings and interpretations, and that he had nothing to be concerned about. He was concerned, since God sees all sins as equal. Β So, this was all my original blog was really going to be about. Then things got serious. He confessed to hurting his brothers. He said he had squeezed and bitten the two year old, and that he had shaken the baby. I was in shock! I knew he would get frustrated with them from time to time, but I had no idea he hurt them. The two year old is very difficult when it comes to diaper changes, and the baby gets distracted during bottle feeding so those get difficult too. Of course the two year old interrupts and requires a lot of entertaining and the baby crys when he needs things. That’s all to be expected.

My son’s personality completely changed. After he confessed about hurting his brothers, Β my husband came home from work to talk about it with him. My husband was obviously upset that the babies had been hurt, and he was as shocked as I was that our 12 year old had been doing it. My husband asked how he felt about hurting his brothers, Β and how serious shaking a baby could be. My son had no emotional response to those questions. His only concern was of his punishment. He also seemed to be ignoring my husband during this talk.

My son confessed to having thoughts of hurting his brothers the next day, and they were for minor things like chewing loudly, Β or for just sharing space. We were concerned that he might act on these thoughts so we brought him to an emergency room.

They were prepared to send him home with us, with the plan to find out patient therapy. We chose to keep him there and requested in patient care. We had to protect the babies who couldn’t protect themselves. 😞

He was in an emergency room, just waiting for a bed to open up in one of the psychiatric hospitals. They did no testing while he was there, and he didn’t even have a functioning nurse call button in his room. He had security guards stationed right outside his room too. They were there to monitor the whole floor. The staff didn’t even remind my son to order his meals on time. It was very frustrating. We saw some improvements in his personality during our visits, so after 2 nights we decided to bring him home. He was home from Thursday night to Monday evening without many issues. If he had a bad thought he left the room, or I would take the other kids away from him and quiet them down or whatever was needed. We were doing ok, and just waiting for calls back from local therapists.

The two year old was napping on the floor Monday while my son and I were playing a video game, and when it was time for us to stop to get chores done he stepped over the 2 year old to put a controller away. After doing that, he confessed to having a thought of stepping on the 2 year old. We discussed how hard, where on his body and what damage it could have done. It was scary! After that he did his chore of cleaning a litter box, then took a shower. After his shower he told me he had suicidal thoughts while in the shower. He told me those thoughts became homicidal too.

I messaged my husband, and we decided we had to bring him back to the hospital. We chose a different hospital this time though. They were much more thorough, and the care seemed to be better.

They actually ran some blood tests, and discovered my son has a thyroid condition. It can be linked to mood changes and psychological changes. He was started on medication and had a “sitter” in his room 24/7. He wasn’t allowed utensils or sharp objects. We visited him every day, and were waiting for a bed in a psychiatric hospital again. 😞

We had heard that strep infections can cause psychological changes in children too, but his strep test was negative. Since we were all very sick during the whole month of April we thought there might be a hidden infection. We were able to get him treated with an antibiotic just in case. He was in that hospital from 5/15-5/26. They wanted him transferred sooner, but there are only so many beds available in our state. My husband and I had hoped the thyroid medication and antibiotics would have made a difference before the transfer happened, Β but sadly they haven’t done enough. He says he has thoughts less frequently though. 😌

He was transferred yesterday. He had to ride in a sheriff’s vehicle with 3 officers.😞 It was not due to his threat level, it’s just protocol.

We met with some of the staff, saw his room/unit and had a short visit with him. We called him to say goodnight and left it at that. My phone was charging after our call, so when my husband when to check on it he saw I had a missed call from an hour before and a voicemail. It was after the time my son was supposed to be in his room for the night. The voicemail was my son, saying he didn’t like it there. It was heartbreaking to know I missed that call and chance to comfort him. I called the nurse’s station right away to make sure he wasn’t still upset. Β I wasn’t allowed to talk to him since it was after bedtime, but they left him a note to say I did return his call.

He called me at 8:30 this morning,  and again at 9:30. Both times he asked to talk to his 2 year old brother. 😊

The plan was for us all to visit tonight after my husband got home from work, but it would only be for an hour. My son requested that I go this afternoon with his brothers so he can visit longer. It is awful to have him away from home, and know he doesn’t like it. He says the other kids are crazy and he’s the only normal one. He said they swear, and one girl has cut marks all over her arms. 😞 I wish I could just wave a wand and take away his bad thoughts. He needs to learn how to get through this, and I don’t know how to help him. He has to be there.

I know this is a lot to share on a blog, Β and I left some things out too. This has been such a stress filled month. I just want my life and son back!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

I loosely followed a recipe from the Quaker Oats website for these cookies. I say loosely, because I’m an idiot. Lol! I thought my batter seemed a bit too moist so I checked the ingredients list again. Sure enough it called for one cup of pumpkin, not one can. Oops! 

I just added a bit more oats, flour and sugar. I had already deviated from the recipe by adding nutmeg and allspice too. πŸ˜‰

I know baking is sort of a science,  and the ingredients really matter so we’ll see how they turn out in a few minutes when the first batch comes out of the oven. 

Ok, so I may have made the first cookies a bit too big. They were browned nicely on the bottom, but since they are so thick a tad too moist. They are bit gummy and cake like.

I think the flavor is good. I LOVE pumpkin pie, but the rest of my family could take it or leave it. πŸ˜‰ If they really hate these, I will have to freeze them. I never freeze baked goods though, so I wonder what they’ll be like thawed. Hopefully my family thinks they’re edible and I won’t have to find out.

I’m making the next batch smaller, and just watching them closer so they don’t burn.

They are smaller, but a bit darker. πŸ˜’ I think they will be just as cake like as the first batch too. Oh well, not every recipe will be a winner. (Especially when the recipe isn’t followed exactly.)

I offered the 2 year old a cookie, and he wanted one until he saw it. He called it yuck! It’s official, the 11 year old doesn’t like them either. πŸ˜›

Another Saturday Crock Pot Meal

The picture doesn’t look great, but it smells yummy. πŸ™‚

This Saturday crock pot idea is really working well for me. Tonight we are having a pot roast with carrots and potatoes. I went to bed around 10 pm, but the baby was awake at 2:30 to nurse, and the 2 year old was awake at 3:30 with a poopy diaper. 😦 I wasn’t able to fall back asleep until 4:30 so, I did not feel very rested when the boys were both awake for the day at 8:30. Thankfully they woke up the 11 year old too. πŸ˜‰ He helped me with the 2 year old while I nursed the baby again. By 10 am I was able to have dinner going in the crock pot.  

My husband used the crock pot this week too. He cooked up some chicken breasts for dinner the other night, and made enough for lunches for a couple of days. He simply put 4 frozen breasts in the crock pot with some spices and let it cook all day. He was able to shred the meat with a wooden spoon since it got so tender. For dinner he made mashed potatoes and gravy to go with the chicken. I had made a batch of cole slaw the night before so that went well with it too.

For lunches we made wraps with the chicken, some salad mix and honey mustard dressing. They were satisfying, and a nice healthy choice. The fact that chicken breast is so much cheaper than the deli meat we were buying for sandwiches is a bonus too.  

Unfortunately leftovers won’t work for my husband’s lunch tomorrow, but I know what I’ll be having. πŸ™‚ 

I’ll probably make some more chicken tomorrow so he can have a nice wrap Monday, and the rest of us will be able to make wraps or tacos out of the chicken for our lunches too. These little time and money savers are making my hectic life a little less so. 

Mom’s Chicken Pot Pie

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I knew what I made wasn’t really my mom’s pot pie recipe, but I didn’t think it was too far off. Tonight, I checked my recipes to find my copy of my mom’s pot pie recipe only to realize I wasn’t even close to the original. I guess I can say this is my own pot pie recipe. πŸ™‚

I won’t be sharing exact measurements for much, since I don’t measure the ingredients. I just wing it every time I make it. πŸ˜‰

I use frozen chicken breast, sometimes 2 large ones sometimes it’s 3-4 of varying sizes. I usually put in about 3 medium potatoes. I like using red skin potatoes, and I do keep the skin on them. For other vegetables I use Normandy blend, which is a combination of broccoli, cauliflower, yellow squash, zucchini and carrots. My husband does not like peas, so we never eat them. My mom’s recipe called for both onions and peas, but my family does not like them. Her recipe called for a can of cream of celery soup, and sometimes I will use one. Usually I use Β cream of chicken soup.

The first step is to get a pot of water boiling. It has to be large enough to hold the chicken and vegetables with enough room to boil without spilling over. I season my water with poultry seasoning, garlic salt, pepper, a bay leaf and sometimes I’ll add a dash of oregano or basil. Next I put the chicken in the pot. I put in whole frozen breasts. While they start to cook I wash and cube my potatoes into bite size pieces. I add those to the water, and take out a chicken breast. I cut the chicken into bite size pieces. At this point it will still be frozen in the center, but it cuts easily. I toss those pieces back in the water and cut up the rest of the chicken the same way. At this point I preheat my oven to 350 degrees and add some of my frozen Normandy blend vegetables to the pot. I don’t measure, so I just put what I think will fill my pan.πŸ˜‰ The pan I use is 13″x9″. While the mixture starts boiling again I work on the pot pie filling. I melt a stick of butter and pour that in the pan, then I add the can of cream of chicken soup and a cup of the water from the pot stirring it all together. My next step is to mix the topping, which is equal parts milk and Bisquick. I use 2-2 1/2 cups of each. By this point it’s time to drain the chicken and veggies. I usually don’t save the liquid, but it feels like a waste to dump all those flavors down the drain.😞 I make sure I pull out the bay leaf I had seasoning the liquid and spread everything into the pan, coating it with the soup mixture. Finally the Bisquick mixture gets poured over the top of the meat and veggies. I try to poke any of the bits under the topping to make sure the topping covers it all well. Then it goes into the oven until the topping is golden brown. My new oven cooks faster than my old one, so it only takes 45 minutes instead of an hour.

I know it’s not a traditional chicken pot pie, but my family really enjoys it. I still think of it as my mom’s pot pie, since I have taken a few steps from her original recipe. πŸ˜‰

The End of 6th Grade

April 23rd, and the school year is done! Well, sort of. πŸ˜‰

My son used Switched-On Schoolhouse this year, and he has completed his work. My husband and I still need to go in and grade a few things, and adjust some grades where the program didn’t grade correctly. That was my son’s biggest problem with the program. He knew he gave the correct answer, but the program would mark a problem wrong. My husband and I would go over the problem with him to find he was right. After reading some reviews on the program that was a common complaint.

We have been discussing unschooling, and we plan on heading a bit more in that direction. We have some state requirements to meet for homeschooling, so we will still have a bit of a curriculum to follow. We basically want to work on life skills, and what is practical/useful. My son (The only one of 3 who is schoolaged) has been interested in the medical field for career options, so if he continues on that path we will have to make sure he meets the requirements to enroll in college courses for those options. He has been interested in phlebotomy, and radiology over the years. Most recently he has been less interested in college, and more interested in working in fields that only require on the job training. 

I explained to my son, that with unschooling there may be schoolwork over the summer. When the weather is nice we have more opportunities for field trips, and lessons in the garden. Obviously I want him to enjoy his summer, and part of unschooling is for the child the choose what they want to learn about. I hope that he will choose to learn over the summer. πŸ™‚ I told him that we might look into buying a new tree for our yard, so I might request that he research the soil type, or amount of sun that tree needs to thrive. He thinks that would be easy, so he’s willing to do it as long as there isn’t a report involved. His father and I appreciate nature, and like improving our property.  I see the tree project as a practical/useful lesson, but maybe he’ll be a city dweller with no garden to tend when he leaves home. Will it be a waste of his time to do such a project? I know he has a curiosity about plants, because right now he is trying to grow some acorns that he collected in our yard. In years past he has had his own row or two in our vegetable garden to grow his own plants too.

I don’t want to force my interests on him. I want him to develop his own personality/interests. Right now he is reading the Harry Potter series for enjoyment, so I don’t want to push him to take on more reading.  I plan on having him use our local library to borrow several books on a subject that interests him and see what he gains by doing so. If he likes the subject he will have no problem sharing what he learns verbally, but I wonder if I should require anything in writing to keep a record of his “schoolwork”. I also plan on having him be more involved with meal planning. I want to make sure that he won’t rely on take out, or convenience foods when he moves out on his own. I’ve had him help find a new recipe to try, and he made the meal with only a little guidance from me. I think he enjoyed cooking, and since he’s a picky eater being part of the planning meant he was willing to try it. πŸ™‚  

He is a very curious child, and likes to learn. He enjoys sharing what he learns too. (Sometimes while I am trying to read, blog or nurse the baby) ;P

I think I’ll give him at least a couple of weeks off before I start requesting “work” from him. He did work hard to earn his time off by doing extra work daily in subjects as others were completed.