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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Antipsychotic Medication, continued...

I got home and shared the news, then did some reading up on Hoshimoto's disease. The reason her behavior had been so off was because her thyroid was being attacked by her own boby. She was essentially running very high. Her system completely out of whack, her heart racing, making her constantly feeling anxious. It had been suggested by both doctors to get her on a beta blocker. The rages were so close together, so often on a day that she was home from school, we were barely catching our breath. Summers are fleeting in Upstate NY, you look forward to them all year and then in the blink of an eye they are gone. It was August and I had never before or since, hated Summer, but this August was horrid. Her school day was shorter in the Summer, so she was home longer hours after school before Mark got home from work. The weekdays were the roughest, I was exhausted and suffering more than people knew. I carried a strong outside appearance, but inside I was crumbling. At the time my Mother in law lived with us and needed much care too, I was fried trying to help my family through this crisis. As usual, I felt alone and forced to just plug through. My husband's family didn't step up and I was hurt by their lack of care. Didn't they see I was drowning? We started the increase of the beta blocker right away. The theory being that it would take away the horrific racing feeling my poor daughter was having. All I could liken it to was that feeling of literally wanting to climb out of your own skin, Teale was feeling that way constantly. It made my heart hurt to think about what she must feel inside. I've had a few "anxiety attacks" in my life, so I thought about those. I've never been diagnosed with anxiety, but if you just look at the unpredictability we live, I guess it would seem reasonable I would have at least an occasional attack! We increased her beta blocker, propranolol, that day. It is a mild blood pressure medication that we have used for her anxiety many times over her lifetime. We see mild results and therefore have kept it on board as a add in, in stressful times for Teale. It just takes the edge off of her anxiety enough to get her through a time or event she is anxious about. It is not a miracle drug. It's subtle, enough of a help that we notice, but Teale is so intense at times, I'm sure no one outside of Mark or I see the difference. Increasing it has risks, it could drop her blood pressure so much that she could physically fall. Considering Teale's CP, legal blindness, etc. it is risky to have her unsteady. There was not much relief on the higher consistent dose of propranolol, so the doctors suggested a higher dose, a longer acting propranolol. Weeks went by without much relief. The dropping started, her behavior was still awful. She was still biting her own arm so much it looked like hamburger. She had scab on top of scab, the bruised ranged in deepness and I was self conscience of her arm when out in public. People would stare at it, I worried about child protective services being called. I hated the judgement without understanding of the crisis we were suffering. I was bruised from head to toe myself, from the times I would need to try to physically restrain her in rages. She was strong, I was losing the ability to keep her safe in a rage. I remember thinking this was it, we were going to have to give up care of her. I was sad constantly, but trying to just survive the crisis, hoping it would soon be over. The Hoshimoto's diagnosis was somewhat promising, once her body got through the killing of her thyroid, we could add synthroid and begin to stabilize her again. The problem was no one really knew how long it would take her body to kill her thyroid and so there was no clear end in sight. Weeks went by and then Teale was off for her three weeks at home before school started again in the Fall. The rages were several times a day. I was calling or texting my husband at work, crying often and feeling just defeated. I sat in her psychiatrist office, worn from the stress. We had tried antipsychotic medications before. She never responded well and the side effects were worse than the relief. Dr Tom handed me a new prescription, saying go home, research it, talk to Mark and decide if you want to try it. I took it cautiously, medications are not the miracles I once hoped they would be. Side effects, years of "experimenting," drug trials that made life harder, it had all jaded me. I took the script, shoved it in my purse and thought to myself, "doubtful." Hugging Dr Tom goodbye, I lied and said I would consider giving it a try. As I drove away, I decided to go to our grocery store, who also housed our pharmacy. Something drove me to get the medication filled, even though I still didn't plan on trying it. I went home and soon, it happened, another huge rage. I looked at Mark and said, I can't keep living like this, I'm seriously losing it. Tears ran down my face and without even researching, I gave Teale the antipsychotic. To our surprise, the benefit was almost immediate. I called Dr Tom to let him know I had tried it and was going to continue it. Her eating increased drastically, as we expected it would, but her behavior was so much better, her doctors talked us into sticking with it. It is almost three years later. This medication hasn't been perfect, after all, Teale weighs more than I do and there are still rages, but the benefits of the antipsychotic have been drastic. Teale is the most stable she has ever been. The timing may have been coincidental, but between her finally being in a school setting where she is happy and her being on an antipsychotic, I hardly ever think about needing to give up care of my daughter anymore. We did recently go through a rough patch, but we took a chance and doubled her antipsychotic and she has evened out again. I said earlier I didn't believe in the miracle medication that would help Teale. That is no longer the truth. It isn't perfect, but thanks to her psychiatrist's persistence and our faith that Teale had the potential to be better, she had come a very long way... 

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