Sunday, November 06, 2005

Just Like a Bad Penny. . .

OCD always returns! We had a pretty good week and a half between episodes; then it hit again.

Z had a friend spend the night last weekend. Whenever this friend comes over, Z's room and the den get totally trashed! I'm planning a post on Z's friends in the future, so I won't go into details on this kid right now. Anyway....Z picked up the living room on Sunday and started on his room and the den on Monday. We try to keep the areas Z studies clutter free as this tends to clear a lot of the clutter in his mind. He often studies at his desk in his room and his computer is in the den, so clearing the mess was a priority.

By Wednesday I could see no progress. I couldn't even walk into Z's room! When confronted, Z burst into tears and said: "What's the use of doing ANYTHING when I'll probably be dead in 2 months?" Oh boy; here we go again!

As I've said before, we choose our battles with Z's TS behaviors. Many of his obsessions we just work around. We've worked on easing his obsession with thunderstorms over the past few summers. When it comes to obsessing over his health, we have to do something. Anxiety over his health CAN wind up ruining his health.

Z and I sat down and calmly discussed his health obsessions. Then we decided it was time for some professional intervention. I called to make an appointment with his psychologist, but he's booked for the next 2 months! We wound up taking an appointment with the new gal at the clinic. Z tends to have trust issues with people until he gets to know them, so I hope he'll open up with this lady. The only available appointment she had was in the morning, so I'll have to leave work early. L doesn't hear well enough to attend these meetings without me. Hopefully the psychologist will be able to give us some tools to help Z overcome this obsession.

To complete my week, I ran into a homeschool snag. The Algebra book I ordered for Z is a wonderful explanatory guide! The problem is that it doesn't have enough assignments to work out. If you know math, you know that the more problems you work out, the better the concepts sink in.

I did an online search and found a textbook that would work for us. I decided to buy the teacher's guide so I would have the answers to all the problems. Any math teacher's guide I have ever seen has been a larger version of the student textbook. There are teaching hints in the text part and solutions to the problems are included. I found a used teacher's guide for $78, a savings of $40. When it came, I was dismayed to find that it was ONLY the solutions to the problems. It didn't even include the original problem! Now I had to order the original textbook so the guide wouldn't be useless to us. Fortunately I found another used deal for $29, but now we have to wait another week for it to come.

On the bright side, we got the inside of our windows cleaned and put up Thanksgiving decorations. This small gesture did a LOT to lift the depression that was dragging us all down.


At 11/06/2005 4:50 PM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Isn't it funny (sometimes not) how kids with certain issues tend to attract other kids with similar issues? Sounds like Z tries hard to "hold it together", then when things get overwhelming, it just all comes out. :-/ My heart goes out to you. By the way, Bravo to you for teaching math. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the "MaTHEMAtics" curriculum. K used that last year and he was forever lost and I couldn't figure out what in the hell they were trying to teach. :-/

At 11/06/2005 6:21 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Sending many many hugs ((((hugs)))). Hope things brighten up for all of you and like NW said, bravo for teaching math (my pet hate).

Poor little guy, what on earth made him think about death?


At 11/06/2005 7:37 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

I've found that in a LOT of the math books the school used, Notta. We're staying away from those texts. Have you noticed that they have a new way of rounding numbers and it doesn't make any sense?
When our daughter was this age, she actually had a teacher that told me he didn't understand how the book explained things either. I could've hugged him right there!
Math doesn't change like history and science. I don't understand why they can't use the old tried and true methods for teaching math. I'd love to get my hands on the texts I used when I was a kid!

Thanks sooo much Bridg. I needed the hugs! At the time, Z thought his stomach problems were probably fatal. Yesterday he said his chest felt heavy. I told him he was probably coming down with a chest cold. Sure enough; today he has a cold. Last week the dog smacked his head into Z's groin while they were playing. A couple of days later Z couldn't understand why his penis hurt(another disease). He'd forgotten that the dog had run into him. Every little ache becomes a lethal disease to him.

At 11/07/2005 8:17 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

I'm sorry to hear that things are so stressful. I can't believe that it's a 2 month wait for the psychologist - well - yes I can. The waits for specialists here are getting longer and longer. A lot of doctors are leaving PA because of the laws.

About the math - I love our curriculum but there are a few things - such as the rounding - that I look at and think why in HELL are they doing it like that?? They also demonstrate the 'proper' way though.

Good luck - take care.

At 11/07/2005 1:01 PM, Blogger SME said...

At least you still have Thanksgiving to look forward to. Mine's all over! *sniffle*

At 11/07/2005 4:58 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Isn't it ridiculous Monica? Some of the rounding methods are so complicated that you might as well figure out the problem. The other screwed up method doesn't get you anywhere CLOSE to the actual number. I swear they have lawyers writing math books nowdays!

Wipe your nose and look forward to Christmas, SME! Think how nice your decorations will look in the new condo!

At 11/07/2005 6:19 PM, Blogger Sagepaper said...

What a mess! Does Z have seasonal affective disorder? I'd almost bet he does, especially up north where the angle from the sunn is worse than it is closer to the equater. Anxiety and depression have a similar problem with neurochemistry. In fact, 20 years ago, it was thought that they were the same underlying disorder. Other factors dictated how it would manifest.

I hope he's going to see someone who can work with a physician on prescribing appropriate medications, or just adjusting what he's already taking.

Regarding the part about thinking everything is a fatal disease, I have a tip. My Dad is a doctor, and I get medical student syndrome a lot. When he reassured me that the problem was not X horrible disease, he didn't just go over the criteria needed for the diagnosis. He went through a complete explanation of the differential diagnosis. It was reassuring to know that it definitely was not so. Understanding the differential diagnosis also calmed me in the future.

Maybe Z can find a doctor to correspond with about his concerns. That might even help change his experience from dreaded anxieties to interesting science. If you don't know all of them, you should find out what the symptoms of hyperventilation are.

I died of that a lot. It causes many weird symptoms. It can also be a feedback loop. You feel anxiety, you start to hyperventilate, the symptoms are alarming, and you feel more anxiety, and increasingly have a shallow rapid breath.

It's awful, but it can be fixed with a paper sandwich bag. Z might want to keep one handy when he goes out. I have enough breathing problems without hyperventilation. Hope that helps.

At 11/07/2005 6:35 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Yeah, light may be affecting him; I know winter affects our daughter's depression.
Z has done a lot of researching of different diseases he thinks he has. You're right. When he finds out that he doesn't match the symptoms, he feels better. It's report card time, so I guess I can give him an A in science. We're studying anatomy right now and diseases would fit into that. ;)
Thanks Sage!!

At 11/07/2005 6:43 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

I hope all goes well with the different psychologist. That is hard, and I wouldn't blame Z for having trust issues right off the bat. I would, too!

At 11/07/2005 8:12 PM, Blogger Squirl said...


I hope this new person helps Z work through his feelings. I don't know how you cope. There is a special place reserved for people like you who handle stuff like this. You may have days when you don't feel very saint-like, but believe me, you're working your way there. :-)

At 11/08/2005 1:15 AM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

The hypercondria would be tough to deal with. Obsessing with health actually does make it worse. I hope he could get past this, but I have no idea what advice, or even where to get the advice.

My grandfather was a hypercondriac and we just ignored it, because my grandmother said not to give him attention when he said he was sicker than he really is. So I never learned what to do about it.

At 11/08/2005 11:10 AM, Blogger Sadie Lou said...

I'm interested in what you would have to say concerning something I posted on my blog this morning--when you get a chance.

Just a bit of encouragement--I think you are doing an excellent job with this difficult parenting challenge. I am prepared to come to you if anything even remotely difficult comes up concerning my children. You're doing a GOOD job.

At 11/08/2005 8:47 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

WC, I just hope she reviews his file before we get there. I don't want her wasting our hour bringing herself up to speed.

Squirl, thanks! *blushing* My mouth's too raunchy to be a saint.

ZS, I have a mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and a co-worker who are hypochondriacs. This tends to make me lose patience too easily in Z's situation. That's why we figured it was time for professional assistance.

Sadie, I commented on your post. I can't believe the courts went along with this!
Thanks for the encouragement. I'd be honored to be a surrogate grandma anytime you want! I have the feeling that you would do everything I've done in this situation. You're a GREAT mom! All of us concerned moms just do what we gotta do!

At 11/08/2005 9:01 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

tshsmom: Yeah, I can only imagine how much she charges per hour.

At 11/08/2005 10:54 PM, Blogger The Zombie Lama said...

Wow.... good luck with everything! Sounds like you have your hands full!

(Breathe in... breathe out.... breathe in....)

At 11/09/2005 10:18 AM, Blogger Sagepaper said...

Hypochondriasis is actually a disorder having nothing to do with your state of health. It means you are obsessed with your health to a point where it interferes with your normal occupational and social lives. Believe it or not, a person who is terminally ill can be a hypochondriac. If they focus only on their own body, and cannot have meaningful interactions with family and friends, they are hypochondriacal. The problem is, we don't diagnosis it in the terminally ill, because it seems right that a sick person might be focused on their own body. So you only see it diagnosed in healthy people.

What many people call hypochondriasis is actually a separate disorder: malingering. That's not just calling the person names, it is a diagnosis in DSM. Malingering is pretending to be sick to gain favor or advantage. To be fair, there are reasons a person might be a malingerer besides just being a "bad" person. It sounds like ZS's grendfather meets the criteria for malingering, rather than hypochondriasis, or they could easily be comorbid.

Nothing you have posted here leads me to believe Z is a malingerer. He feels rotten, not priviledged. He discontinues his assertion that he has X disease if he learns otherwise. Please do keep in mind that hypochondriasis is a completely separate matter from his physical health. The obsessing is unhealthy, but from a mental health standpoint.

This is an important distinction to make. The layman's term "hypochondriasis" implies a dishonest and manipulative character and personality. That's because the layman uses that word to mean malingering.

At 11/09/2005 2:28 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

I understand your explanation completely Sage! Z is the classic, Howard Hughes type, hypochondriac. He worries that every little ache and pain is a serious illness. He never whines about it; he hates to go to the doctor; and he doesn't want other people to know about it. So far he isn't germophobic, but we're trying to nip this in the bud before he becomes obsessed with germs too.
My sister-in-law(sil), is a classic malingerer. Her mother, sister, and brother all have MS. Sil had herself tested for MS all the time(she wanted to live on Social Security Disability like her siblings). She finally managed to get on SSI by saying she has fibromyalgia(a hard disease to prove). Sil constantly, whines about the pain from her fibromyalgia, acid reflux, migraines, and dislocated knee. She also demands special foods as she can't eat "just anything" when she has all these illnesses.
I didn't realize that malingering was an actual diagnosis. I just classify these people as lazy and annoying. Thanks for clearing this up. I really do learn something new every day.

At 11/09/2005 2:32 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks ZL! I actually have to remind myself to breathe calmly at times. I always take a deep breathe before I try to calm Z down.
I've been doing Z's Brain Gym exercises with him and it's quite relaxing. I guess I'm learning something valuable right along with him.


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