Thursday, May 24, 2012

Phone call re: DD

Hello, Carol?  This is the group home.  I'm calling about DD.

No, she's ok, there are just a few things I need to talk to you about.  Um, I'm not sure really how to bring this up but..... she has been bullying other clients.  We were wondering how you felt about us moving her to a different house...?

It's not just one other client, she's bullying all three of them.  They're so intimidated by her attitude and behavior that they barely come out of their rooms if she's around.  And we need to think of their safety, too.  She is insisting on receiving attention from staff all the time, and having angry outbursts if staff pays attention to the other clients.  She is cursing at the other clients, calling them "retarded" and bossing them around.

No, we haven't talked to DD or her social worker yet, we just wanted to notify you that this has been happening and we are trying to find a solution.

Yes, we can set up a meeting--next week, maybe?


I have to say I'm not surprised really.  I'm surprised that it has taken this long.  But it looks like DD is not real welcome at her group home any more.  I know at her last "team meeting", the nurse for the group home asked me if DD gets this aggressive "seasonally"?  I told her she was "this aggressive" all the time and that is a big part of why she is currently living in the group home.  The nurse gave me a look like she thought I was exaggerating....but I figured she'd find out sooner or later.

So it looks like DD will be moving again.  I wish that her pdoc would try some kind of medication that could maybe tame her outbursts--she hasn't really been on much for that since they took her off all her meds in 2010 :-(  but I guess it's another case of "what do I know?  I'm not a doctor, I'm just the mom....."

Frankly, DD has been very hard to like for a few years now.  We love her and are still having her home for visits and such, but if I didn't have a moral obligation, I would definitely choose to not be around her.  And it sounds like several other people feel the same :-(

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'm old. But it's not as bad as I thought it was.

For the last few months, I've been feeling pretty run-down.  I've been having a much tougher time staying awake all night at my part-time job, to the point where I was trying to decide if I should put in my notice before I end up getting fired for dozing off (I decided I need the income for as long as it's available).....I was getting up at 4am to go to my full-time job, but sleeping an hour on the bus both ways (it's a 1-hour commute to the bus stop).  And I wasn't enjoying anything any more.

I know I've gained a lot of weight.  I've been telling myself "it's because I don't have time to exercise or cook healthy foods...." and I know that does contribute.  But there are people who have a crazy schedule who do much better than I do.  I have HUGE bags under my eyes, even when I've gotten 10-12 hours of sleep.  And there's nothing that's fun any more.  I figured I was middle-aged and just plain tired from doing this for so long.  I figured that not much would probably change until I was once again only working 1 job and not constantly worried about my family.

And then.....my thyroid swelled up to the size of a tennis ball.  I was at work in the Cities, and it was kind of hard to swallow.  I felt like I had a really sore throat, except nothing was sore, it was a very strange feeling.  When I looked in the mirror in the bathroom, I was shocked by this huge lump in my neck.  I've been hypothyroid for about 10 years now, so I suspected it was my thyroid.  But then I thought "well maybe my neck is always like that and I just never noticed...." so I asked a coworker I trust if my neck looked funny.  Her reaction told me "oh yes, it sure did."  She wanted me to go to the E.R. right then and there.  I waited until the next day just to make sure it wasn't going away.

The Dr. told me that "lots of people get enlarged thyroids".  He did an ultrasound, which showed no tumors, so he told me to treat it by....."taking ibuprofen".  Seriously.  "It'll reduce the inflammation."  So I did take ibuprofen (Advil) and my thyroid shrunk.  But what I didn't understand was why did it swell up like that in the first place?  I talked about this with my friend at work.  She told me that she'd been seeing a doctor for her thyroid for several years and it had made a huge difference.  I made an appointment with her doctor.

Suffice it to say, it was a very eye-opening visit.  I learned that I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, which is where your immune system goes after your thyroid.  Since I already have Lupus, that makes sense.  What I didn't know, though, was that my body was not providing me with some other hormones, either.  I wasn't producing much, if any, testosterone or progesterone.  Because these levels were so out of whack, and progesterone especially can impact the thyroid, the doctor opted to treat these issues before even beginning to address the thyroid problem. 

He prescribed progesterone pills and a testosterone cream, both bioidentical (hormones that are identical in molecular structure to the hormones created by my body).  I took my first dose(s) that night and went to bed, not expecting much, because I know that things like thyroid pills and lupus treatments usually take weeks to have any recognizable effect.

When I woke up the next day, I could not believe how amazing I felt.  I honestly was "hyper" and wanted to clean the house.  And even though I knew it wasn't true, I felt like I'd lost about 500 pounds :-) (no, I'm not that overweight, LOL, but I suddenly felt really skinny and energetic).  For the first time in a long time, I felt like maybe I should exercise.  I felt like I could see again (I wasn't blind to begin with, obviously, but I guess I was paying attention to things where I wasn't before).....it was unbelievable.

Now, after about a week on these hormones, the "amazing" is starting to feel "normal".  I'm kind of forgetting that I felt bad and didn't even realize it until I felt better.  But then I look in the mirror and the bags under my eyes....well, they're still there, and still big, but they're significantly smaller than before.

And my cravings for bread and pasta?  Almost completely gone.  I've actually, for real, lost 7 pounds without even trying, just because I'm not thinking about eating all the time.  In fact, I've been hungry about 3 times a day.  And my portion sizes are much more normal.  I feel like I could really set my mind to eating less and exercising more and I could maybe even do it.  I'm excited.

I feel like I can suddenly make some positive changes that I thought were impossible.  And I'm hopeful sometimes now.   It makes me wonder what other things I could improve if I was better able to recognize that maybe I could feel better.  I'm still not sure about my thyroid.  But I'm getting impatient to learn.

Friday, May 11, 2012

From the mouths of babes.....LOL-I think!!!!

As you probably remember, I work in a group home for mentally ill people on Friday and Saturday overnights.  We recently got a new client, age 24, who has a very similar history and diagnoses as my dd.  So it's possible that I have above-average experience/skills in talking with a person with these issues (or maybe I'm just lucky!)....anyhow, this client and I were talking about some problems she's had in the past, and her family history.  And even though a lot of her thoughts were showing a lack of common sense, I just tried to empathize and say things like "Wow, it sounds like that really stresses you out!" Or "I can sure see how that might upset a person....." and "I can hear how frustrated you are, that must be very hard."

So she was really opening up to me.  And it was very nice to be there for her.

And then she said, "You remind me of a lady who worked at a group home that I used to live at.  She was a really nice old lady, just like you!"

I was taken aback for a second, because, after all, my Mom's the "old lady", right?  Then I just thanked her for the compliment.  And I'm still laughing inside.  And cringing a little maybe too.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


DH got a certified letter in the mail yesterday.  It was from our health insurance provider, and stated that since he had had at least 10 visits to the emergency room at two or more hospitals, and had 15 prescriptions filled for narcotics (Percocet), they are placing him on restriction.  Basically, what this means is that he is ONLY allowed to go to one specific doctor and/or his psychiatrist.  Nobody else.  And any time he requires Emergency Room services outside of our own county hospital, there will be a team determination as to whether those services were a true emergency.  If DH uses a different Dr., other than his "one and only", or a different psychiatrist, or uses an Emergency Room when it is determined that it was probably not a life-and-death emergency, the bills will not be paid by our health insurance.

I had heard of this happening, but this Percocet thing had been going on so long, I figured nobody cared.  Apparently they do. 

DH was embarrassed.  According to him, he has not been in the E.R. or received Percocet since his Pdoc warned him in early February that being addicted to Percocet could affect his disability case.  I don't know if that's true or not.  I do know that there seem to be a lot less complaints about back pain and definitely a lot less trips to the E.R. 

In DH's defense, I believe that the "more than one hospital" was probably because DH's job was in a different county than ours, and not necessarily because he was "drug seeking" (going to a different hospital because he had already gotten Percocet from our hospital).  And he was always getting sent from work to the E.R. for high blood pressure, high blood sugar, back pain, whatever.  His work did not take chances.  If they thought something could possibly be wrong, they sent him to the E.R.  And I understand that.  I also understand that he believes that he functions better and has more initiative when he takes Percocet.  Actually, it seems that way to me, too.  But to me, really, that just says that maybe there's something else out there that could make things better (and it isn't a narcotic!). 

I'm relieved.  When I know there is Percocet in the house, I get very anxious.  I end up being the Percocet police, keeping the Percocet under lock and key, and doling it out one at a time according to the instructions on the bottle.  If I just left the bottle for DH to use "as needed", he would (and actually has) take much more than the prescribed dose--once he took an entire bottle of 60 pills in 2 days--I don't know how he survived. And even though the "you might not get your disability if you keep this up" is a big incentive not to do that any more, I know addiction can be more powerful than that.  So it's nice to have a backup.