Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Too Many Things

It's only Tuesday and I am seriously already done with this week.  Between the kids and work and life in general, I'm just spent.  I suppose this post is similar to one of my News and Notes posts, but it's more just a stream of consciousness about the many, many things floating through my brain.

Yesterday I had this weird breath test done that's supposed to check for a small intestine bacterial overgrowth.  I feel like it almost has to be negative as I felt pretty much zero body response while I was taking the test, and it seems like if there was an issue I might have been gassy or something.  I could be totally wrong, but that's just my hunch.  I had to drink some sweet stuff, and breathe into a bag for a few seconds every 20 minutes for three hours.  Luckily I could work on my laptop while I waited.  No results on that one yet, but in the meantime, I've gotten some other results from this round of bloodwork, most of which look negative for Celiac.  My iron level looked fine, but a couple other levels seem to indicate some sort of inefficiency in how my body is utilizing the iron.  The levels of two related tests were normal, but near one end of the spectrum.  My official Celiac test again came back fine, but the one level that was a bit low last time was identical this time.  So that level is low and I have slight inflammation in my intestine, but otherwise I have no symptoms.  Weird.  We'll see what yesterday's test and my genetic test have to say.

I think that testing, along with having to work on my small laptop screen for a few hours, made me a little overtired by the end of the day yesterday, and things were only made worse by something Jacob did.  Dinner as a whole was a little rough, with both boys getting a little too hyper and Carter not wanting to eat.  But as I went to look at the containers of cookies and donuts from the other night, I realized that they were empty aside from one half of a cookie.  Upon further investigation, I discovered that no one else had had any, meaning that Jacob ate five donuts and 4-1/2 cookies in less than 48 hours.  I was furious.  When we got the donuts I said that he could have at least one of each of the three flavors, but we all should have a chance to try the other ones.  The three of us shared one that night, leaving two extras.  On top of that, Jacob had said no to getting cookies like we normally do there, because he was happy with the donuts.  But I got them anyway because I love their crinkles.  I had half a cookie that night, and Craig had a half on Sunday.  But only the other half of mine was left yesterday.  Jacob ate everything else.  I was mad that he was so selfish, mad that he'd broken our deal, mad that he snacked so extensively without anyone knowing, and mad that he didn't seem to care.  It led to a big blow-up, lots of punishments, and the usual frustration.  He had a whole series of excuses about it, about how I don't give him enough food and how he can't eat anything at the afterschool program because they don't have things he can eat.  Never mind that he never used to eat the snacks I sent him for that, so I gave up, and that he hasn't asked me for anything recently.  Then he was complaining about Halloween and how he wants to skip school that day, even though I have always sent him snacks--donuts, cutout cookies, you name it--so he can fit in with his classmates.  Conveniently he forgets that I do everything in my power to make things better for him.  It's extremely frustrating and makes me wonder why I make the effort.  Anyway, it was a series of excuses and deflections and very little in the way of anything more than a forced apology.  So you can imagine, then, how much madder I was when I checked my voicemail and found a message from his art teacher talking about how disruptive he's been in class.  We've been getting the same info from his regular teacher, about how he's missing out on directions and things like that because he's just too distracted and impulsive.  I just wish he had any desire to try harder to regulate himself and make his teachers proud of him.  They know he's smart, they know he can do better, and we get zero effort.

He also told us last night that a classmate (one he seems to have a lot of trouble with) wrote a story that somehow told about a "Jake" dying through some means or another.  Jacob was obviously upset by that and said the kid didn't even get in trouble.  So, I emailed his teacher last night, and this morning she called me.  She explained that she only found out about it right before the end of the day.  She wasn't sure if it was malicious, but was going to ask the student to change the name in his story.  I assume there might also be some punishment somewhere along the way, but who knows.  I suppose in some way this qualifies as bullying, so in case we didn't have enough to deal with, let's just add that.  Ugh.  His teacher brought the conversation back to his behavior in class, just as we talked about last Thursday at his open house, and she ended up asking me what had worked with him previously.  I told her about his last teacher's reward system, so apparently she's going to try a 1-10 rating system with him.  It didn't work today courtesy of a rough time at lunch, but hopefully in the long run it might.  It was funny, though, because when the teacher described something he did in class the other day, I explained exactly what was probably running through my head at the time.  She said to me something like, "You sure know him well," and I wanted to be like, "Uh, yeah...#1, he's my kid; #2, I live this stuff every day; and #3, I have overanalyzed this kid for-freaking-ever."  I have theories on almost everything.

Incidentally, this morning I randomly came across an article about a disorder called PANDAS.  A mom wrote the article about how her son was "kidnapped" without ever leaving the house.  One morning he woke up and turned into a different kid.  He became withdrawn and distracted, showed signs of OCD and anxiety, started losing his coordination and cognitive abilities, and eventually developed constant tics.  After years of testing and pleading with doctors, he was diagnosed with PANDAS and PANS, a similar related condition.  Both are caused by illnesses (one strep, one Coxsackie) that if left untreated, leave the body overreacting to defend itself.  Luckily, there were treatments to eventually bring him back to normal.  It was a pretty amazing article, and while clearly Jacob's symptoms are not that severe, it definitely got me thinking.  I don't really recall him getting strep or a fever in close proximity to when this stuff started, but I suppose I could have just never blogged about it.  Who knows.  While I don't think that's what he has, it made me wonder what other issues could lead to lesser but similar symptoms.  As I read, on some level I felt some of this mom's pain.  I mean, even though Jacob has always been challenging, there was a time when he was five where he became a different kid--to the point where we got bloodwork done that eventually led to the Celiac diagnosis.  I look at his baby and little boy pictures now and that kid is almost unrecognizable to me.  Not physically, of course, but I was so close to that little boy, and this one almost feels like a stranger sometimes.  There is so much distance between us and it kills me that I somehow lost that close relationship we once had.  With the hateful things that come from his mouth now (and the angry things that come from mine), it's so hard to feel close to him.  It's agonizing.  And also like this mom, I feel like we've been on a constant quest, ever since things really fired up, to find him help.  And like her situation, it's been a series of dead ends.  It hurts.  And admittedly, sometimes I wonder if there couldn't be something attacking his brain that is making all of this happen.  Perhaps it's some sort of low-lying mental illness, or maybe it's something else.  But the anxiety, OCD behaviors (he has a few--though nothing serious enough to warrant a diagnosis), meltdowns, odd physical movements (he literally cannot sit still at the table, for example), and random noisy outbursts that we almost jokingly compare to Tourettes, there were probably more similarities in this article than I would have liked.  Again, that child's symptoms were so super serious that it seems stupid to compare, but it just makes me wonder.  Could there be some sort of weird underlying cause of all of this that makes him so darn difficult to work with, so consistently impulsive and exhausting?  No one has come up with a real diagnosis yet, so I guess stranger things have happened.

On the bright side, while school has been challenging, at home he's been trying to play with Carter more.  Sometimes this is good, but Carter is a tough sell.  A lot of the time Carter is busy doing something else, but when he's interested, half the time it ends badly, and half the time Carter loses interest pretty quickly.  And of course then Jacob gets mad and terrorizes him for a bit.  But I guess it's good he's finally interested.  He just needs more patience and a little bit more gentleness.  Weirdly, over the weekend Jacob was actually pretty good, to the point that I could hug him without getting pushed away.  In fact, last week one time he actually climbed on my back for a piggy back ride, and leaned on me a bit when we talked before bed.  Those moments with him are rare, and I have no idea what spawned them.  It hasn't stuck, unfortunately, but it's good to know that potential is there. 

Anyway, it's been a crazy couple days already this week.  My brain is tired.  Work is busy, the kids are exhausting, and so many of these things--particularly about Jacob's and my health issues--keep percolating in my mind.  So I write them here, hoping the venting session makes me feel better.  Time will tell...

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