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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Come Ride The Roller Coaster with Me!

These last few months have been the "usual" for me which means lots of clients with pretty significant issues.  But first, I will bring everyone up-to-date concerning my younger son, the one who had encephalitis.  
He has recovered completely from a physical and mental perspective.  I think he has learned some valuable lessons.  He is struggling right now with trying to start his law practice on his own.  Today's economy doesn't make it easy for someone just starting out. He has developed a niche practice, but the company he hired to market the practice has not been as productive for him as we had hoped.  
He has helped a local small businessman with some legal work which led him into a trying to start a business venture with that gentleman.  None of us know whether that will work or not.  He has been very discouraged lately, and I am hoping that God will continue to work in his life and heart.  

Our grandchildren keep us laughing and engaged in the  process of growing. 

My brother, whose has not been in good health for years has ended up in the hospital in the city where he lives and then in a specialized nursing home for rehab for lymphedema in his leg.  I received this piece of news just before I was to speak at a NAMI dinner here in our town.

That week-end was an interesting one, to say the least.  On Friday, I was giving a presentation to nursing students about suicide.  One of my clients, who struggles with suicidal ideation, had asked to come and talk with the students as well.  I had been offered, and had agreed to, a three hour presentation..  After the first hour, we all decided to take a break for a few minutes.  I went to use the bathroom and said hello to another person in the class who was leaving the bathroom.  When I was in the middle of "taking care of business", the power in the entire building went out.  I finished what I needed to do, and was groping for the handle on the stall door when the person I met earlier, came to get me, flashlight on her smartphone guiding the way.  The funny thing is, I am almost never without my iphone (which has a flashlight), but of course, that time, it was still in the classroom.  

As a group, we explored, talked with the cleaning personnel, listened while the nursing instructor called security and waited.  We were informed that the emergency lighting in the hallway would only last an hour, and so we all decided to leave.  I packed up my lap top, thought I had grabbed the power cord, and left.  

I had also committed to be the speaker for the NAMI dinner the next night.  NAMI is National Association on Mental Illness, a grass-roots educational group that was formed to educate people about mental illness and provide support to those with mental illness and their families/friends/significant others.  The topic was "Humor in Difficult Situations".
I arrived at the Embassy Suites where the dinner was to be held ahead of time so that I could make sure everything worked properly. Then I noticed that my battery indicator showed that I had almost no power left...remember where I had been the night before? I had not picked up my power cord.  Luckily I called someone who had the same model of lap top, and she came down and let me use her power cord.

The dinner was wonderful, and I put my hat on and began to speak.  

My lap top was charging appropriately.  Then, the first problem cropped was with the microphone...crackle, crackle, squeak, squeak.  

Then the LCD projector which was connected to my Mac was not projecting the sound on my video clips to come through the room speakers. So, I put the crackling microphone next to the speakers on the laptop and listened as the audience laughed at Art Linkletter talking to kids on his famous, "Kids Say the Darndest Things" program.

But, after my Mac had died and before I plugged in the other power cord, the connection between the LCD projector and my Mac had been interrupted.  I thought it was my Mac and turned to use the laptop Embassy Suites provided for me when my Mac first ran out of power.  I connected it to the LCD and inserted the thumb drive that I had copied my presentation onto.  Still no powerpoint projected on the screen.  And crackle, crackle, squeak, squeak went the mike.
I was provided with another microphone, and continued to speak.  I reconnected the LCD to the Mac....but the powerpoint still wouldn't project on the screen. Reconnecting to the other laptop, I continued to speak....and chuckle.  That laptop crashed and so I powered up the Mac and presented to the audience from my powerpoint which I could see, even though they could not...I truly was enjoying the irony of the whole thing, and as I closed with a couple of funny stories, decided that what better way to give a presentation on "Humor in Difficult Situations" than to experience it first hand!  I still find humor in that NAMI presentation.

How I wish that people who struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, abuse histories, Dissociative Identity Disorder and other complex mental health issues could find relief from their struggles.  I suggest humor whenever appropriate and have "prescribed" old TV shows such as I Love Lucy.   In addition, I suggest reading humorous books as well.
Because of the complexity of the issues that my clients are dealing with, it is not uncommon for several of them to be in crises at the same time.  When several of my clients are experiencing crises at the same time, I lovingly refer to that as "Three full moons, six full moons, etc".  That is because I have often said that there is always a full moon in my office.  (There is a general consensus that when the moon is full, people's behavior often deteriorates.) 
As a therapist, I see the pain and anguish these diagnoses cause, and am constantly educating myself and researching techniques and medications which might help. I have found medical hypnosis to be a useful technique for those experiencing depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and those who want to stop smoking or overeating.  I am also utilizing it as I work with the clients with Dissociative Identity Disorder.  In addition, I use EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) to help clients process trauma.  In addition, I use Sand Tray Therapy, stuffed animals, and Projective Drawing to help the  adult clients express themselves.   This is a journey for all of us.  I hope to be able to blog about some of the more complex diagnoses and explain them in understandable terms. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

In a Moment of Time

In a Moment of Time

In a moment of time, one's whole life and circumstances can change.  Even when your children are adults, as ours are, what happens in their lives affects us.  Last week, my husband and I went out of town with a close family friend so she could attend a training and not have to drive alone.  Last Monday night, our older son called and said his brother was acting rather strangely.  As a 35 yo with a history of alcohol dependence in the past, my first thought went to, "oh, oh...he started drinking again."  Tuesday he was no better and the behavior was becoming more bizarre, so we instructed N (older son) to take P (35 yr old) to the ER.  They did a CT scan and preliminary findings indicated acute demyelinating encephalitis...This is an illness that can follow a viral infection, like the flu...He had had a cold a couple of weeks before.  He also may have inherited the autoimmune problems that are on my side of the family.  The autoimmune issue may have also played a part.  We returned from Kansas City the next afternoon (9 hour trip).  A spinal tap was performed and an MRI confirmed the ADE.  It is a viral infection and it was determined that there is no medicine to kill this virus.  The treatment is IV prednisone for 3-5 days to reduce the inflammation so the brain can do its own healing work. 

Fortunately there was NO swelling ever in the brain.  There is a 70% survival rate with ADE and of the 70%, 2/3 will recover their mental capabilities completely.  Each day was filled at first, with prayers for survival.  After that was determined, our prayers are now for complete recovery.

P is an attorney with a mind like a steel trap....he is in the process of starting a unique law practice that will mostly be done on line.  Like all of us, he has not always made the best decisions in the past and was dealing with those consequences.  In the hospital, his mind was obviously affected by the disease.  He had to be retrained in basic skills, but, thanks to God, those have returned.  There is still some fine tuning yet, however.
We are seeing symptoms of impulsivity, agitation, restlessness, frustration, and an inability to make some wise choices.  At this point in time, short, short term memory is a problem.  He cannot be left unsupervised at all.  He cannot keep track of the simplest things...he is frequently losing his glasses, his contacts, his wallet, his phone...he is not sure where he left his clothes.  We are constantly reorienting him.  It is very difficult for him on so many levels and us as well.  One of the positives is that he figured out how to use most of the functions on his phone and that requires higher level the brain connections are there...just not always functioning correctly.

My husband is in his final week of his employment.  He is retiring after 47 years with the same this week he has had to be IN the office, finalizing the training of his replacement....(it is taking 2 people right now to replace him!).  I have had to be out of my office for almost two weeks now because of P's care needs.  If I don't work, I don't get paid since, as a therapist, that is the process in our organization.  I don't share this to whine in any way but to give indication of the depth of the stress we are all experiencing. We ARE trusting God to provide in every way for us.
Our church family and friends are upholding us in prayer and offering concrete help, and that is what we believe is making it possible for us to deal in a positive way with all of this.
P is very, very independent and it is very difficult for him to be supervised, questioned, and redirected.  It is not easy for us either.  He was a very stubborn 2 year old, a very stubborn and defiant teenager, and so some of the symptoms we are seeing are reminiscent of those earlier years.

If any of you pray, we would appreciate prayers for complete healing for him.  Please also pray for strength, courage, and wisdom for my husband, N and his wife and our two grandchildren, and for me.  I have always suggested to clients how beneficial journaling is.  Now I know first hand.  And thank you, to whomever developed blogging!
The road ahead is uncertain, but our Guide is beside us and has provided wonderful people to walk with us on the way.
There really has been no questioning of God as to why this has occurred.  We are trusting in Him.