your hard work is about to pay off

11 10 2009

I’m consolidating all the little “do this” lists that are on my workstation, and I just found a fortune from a fortune cookie:

your hard work is about to pay off

God, I hope so.  I’m so damn tired.  I’ve been trying to stay upbeat and focus on the blessings instead of the distance we still have to go, but it’s so fucking HARD.

We’ve had some major breakthroughs these past couple of weeks with regards to LJ’s therapy.  He’s finally starting to talk about what happened to him at the group home he was in.  He’s been doing therapy two or three times a week since there was a BIG ISSUE and he finally started to talk about it while we were dealing with the BIG ISSUE.

It’s really too much to know… I couldn’t imagine living with that secret inside me, thinking that terrible things would happen if I told.  Now that I know part of the “secret” its hard to see it in a non-emotional way.  I’ve counseled and mentored sexually abused children for what seems like forever and this is by no means the worst I’ve heard.  It’s a fairly common story.

It is really just hitting me hard.  This is MY kid.  MINE.  I could decimate every person or circumstance that enabled this to happen.  I could sit down and cry for a week.  Neither Shaun nor I are able to sleep without nightmares and we’re always listening through the baby monitor because he’s been having nightmares.

Thank God for our therapy group, though.  This center has been the absolute best place.  They deal with foster and adopted kids, and they know the system.  They also haven’t lost their ideals.  This isn’t the first time they’ve had to report to the state about something that’s come up in therapy and mostly it goes without ever being checked out, but this time they flipped shit.  The proprietors involved with running the home didn’t seem to care one way or another what was going on.  They actually said that LJ was “a damaged, retarded kid” and was probably lying. (This is from the home that had him classified as autistic and mentally retarded.  He’s not autistic and his IQ is in the 120s.)

When this asshole said that to the lady who runs our local center, she… well… the Bible says “vengeance be mine, saith the Lord” but God sometimes subcontracts.  I would not willingly set foot in her path while she’s pissed off – and I’m one of those people who would stare down a hurricane.  So, now the COO of the national treatment center is making a report to the group that runs the DHR – which is over DFCS.

(Yes, this is the same home that called DFCS on me because of a facebook status where one of my friends joked that I was a dominatrix.  Didn’t you know that I’m a harlot because I have short hair, wear makeup, and have tattoos?  Well, I am, and that means any sort of deviance from the straight and narrow means I’m a BLASPHEMER!!!! AND OMG, I HAVE KNEE HIGH BLACK BOOTS!!!  I’m obviously a tool for the Devil himself and my facebook updates should never go unnoticed.)

So, back to LJ.  He seems happy during the day – almost carefree.  He’s a very somber kid so this is really a shock.  He has gone back to soiling his drawers and hiding them, throwing tantrums, and forgetting personal space b0undaries.  It’s expected… it’s not acceptable behavior, but it’s expected.

We’ve been talking a lot about what to do when you have scary memories that seem real.  (PTSD flashbacks, for us grown folks.)  We talk about how to get to a safe place physically where you can’t hurt yourself or other people, and then find someone who you can tell about it.  I told him the important thing is to talk.  It doesn’t matter who – and we’re not going to spread it around like “oooh, guess what LJ remembers!”  He just needs to get it out before he does something stupid.

We also have been talking a lot about other people having scary memories that seem real.  A (chickpea) has flashbacks during October and last year scared the living hell out of LJ, so this year we’re talking about how its normal for people who remember scary things to have this happen and also what to do if a flashback does happen.

I’ve had to tamp down most of the talk about Halloween.  LJ is so excited about it, but because he was separated from chickpea for so long he doesn’t realize what Halloween means to her.  Her little brain learned the routine: dress up for Halloween, get candy, eat dinner with family, then get sent to live with a new mommy.  She LOVES pumpkins and getting dressed up and the pretty colored leaves, but she gets so amped up thinking that she’s about to have to leave again.  She’ll get in trouble and scream “I’m bad so I have to go to a new house!”  I told her that I’m much worse than she is and I’m not in a new house yet.  If she doubts it, she can ask Grandmommy and Grandpa exactly how bad I was.  So, we’ve been talking a lot about how adoption means she’s my kid forever and how hard we worked to get her and that no one was taking her without a fight.  A very messy, nasty fight.

It seems like we’ve talked about good touch/bad touch 500 million times and its still an issue.  We’ve talked about “games” that predators play to make a kid think its ok to touch each other, we’ve talked about safety plans, we’ve talked about the rules that we have to have while they’re having scary memories… we’ve talked about secrets and about personal space and being respectful.

We’ve talked our little throats hoarse and still, we have to keep going “omg, wtf” then keep on saying it.  One of these times it will sink in and hopefully be remembered.

And E… poor little guy.  He’s taking a lot of crap from LJ and chickpea during this and he’s getting so mad.  He’s 4, but the size of most 7 year olds.  He doesn’t know how to process all this drama right now, so he’s acting out and destroying things.  He’s yelling and kicking and throwing tantrums.  He’s stealing food and lying.  Gah… It’s hard to even work with a 60 lb preschooler, much less try and peel him off the ceiling.

Next on my list is to write a post on my post-op appt with my OBGYN.  I won’t put it here because it’s absolutely not male friendly.





An idea and advice for special needs moms

28 07 2009

If you read my blog often, you probably know that my daughter who is 5 has chronic PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder.)  The chronic part means that she’ll probably always have anxieties related to certain situations.

One of the most disconcerting parts of PTSD is the anniversary effect.  For foster parents – this means out of the blue, life goes flipping crazy!  It took us about a week to realize that all of Alyssa’s major changes in life had happened right around Halloween.   She had been sketchy and nervous for about a week before a caseworker visit so we mentioned to the cw that she had separation anxiety and that she needed to tread softly.  Historically, caseworker visits had not gone well with the children.  The kids would get so scared, they’d freeze like a deer in headlights and wet their pants where they stood.  It took days of hugging and rocking and reassuring before things went back to normal. Alyssa has a defense mechanism of telling people what they want to hear when she gets scared.  She wants them to go away – and telling them what they’re asking gets them to go.

So, the caseworker came and it went like normal for those visits.  My sister was in the hospital, so I was heading out the door and Shaun was going to put the kids in bed.  Alyssa did not sleep that night or the next three.  She regressed all the way back to infant stage and blocked out the entire world.  She would not leave my side, even to go to the bathroom and when I turned my back, she grabbed my razor and tried to cut herself.  She would only play with some baby toys I kept for my nephew when he visited.  This was not normal anxiety – this was scary.  (Later we realized this had happened with her last foster parent as well before she moved in with us – on exactly the same date.  She had pulled large patches of hair out and had sores all over her head when she came to us.)

We called everywhere we could think of but on a weekend with a 4 year old child, there aren’t too many resources available.  There’s a crazy long waiting list for any children’s hospital equipped to deal with mental health issues.  We were told just to provide 24/7 supervision and to do what we could.

I did what I do – I got online and signed into a foster parent support group I was a member of.  One of the ladies who I love totally to death suggested a blanket that was satiny on one side and fleece on the other.  She said it was what calmed her children when nothing else would.

Children are incredibly tactile.  They will sit there and rub something in between their fingers for hours.  They love sand, water, hair, everything they can get their little fingers and cheeks on.

I gave Shaun a kiss, and headed out to the mall.  I got this blanket, a white noise machine that played jungle animals across the ceiling along with a lullaby, some pacifiers, and some aromatherapy stuff.

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It’s easy to find stuff to sooth babies.  It’s not so easy to find a blanket that is fleece on one side and satiny on the other.  I got it home, sprayed it with the aromatherapy stuff (chamomile and vanilla,) wrapped her up in it and sat in the rocking chair.

Thank God, the internet, and foster parent support group – she got two hours of sleep.  That blanket went with us EVERYWHERE for weeks.  She rubbed it, she sucked on it, she wrapped baby dolls in it, she wore it like a cape.  It still holds special honor in her bed by laying next to a fleece covered body pillow.

So, etsy family, I need you guys to make that more available!  Moms who need something to help with your child – try one of those blankets.  My friend said her children with PDD-NOS, autism, separation anxiety, drug addictions, and developmental delays all loved it.  It’s helped Alyssa so much that I’m going to be in the market for one for each boy come Christmas time.

The only thing that could make it better was if it were lightly weighted.  Weighted blankets help people with autism spectrum and anxiety disorders sleep better.  (Really, read the article linked.)  It’s like an all night hug.  I sleep better with tons of blankets – I have OCD which is an anxiety disorder – and it’s easier for me to sleep if I feel secure.  Speaking of that… etsy folks – anyone want to make a grown up blankie?  😀





Lots of work to do, no money to be found

19 07 2009

I know that on Sundays you aren’t supposed to worry about work.  Let it all wait until Monday and just take some time to relax.  Right…

I’d been joking for a few months about going to work at Hooters to get a little extra cash flow.  When the adoption went through, we lost about $1k a month in income because we didn’t want to wait for the special needs waiver to go through on A.  It would have put the adoption off for another 8 months or so and from experience we’ve learned that a lot can go wrong in 8 months.  LJ’s had gotten approved two days before we signed intent to adopt but being A is younger, we didn’t have enough documentation to get the rubber stamp.  It was better to just get the adoption finalized even without getting the special needs care she qualifies for.  We did, however, get federal Medicaid on all the kids until they’re 19 or out of high school.  It covers mental health treatments and that’s what we needed to ensure.

Note to potential adoptive parents:  make sure you get the adoption assistance.  It’s wounding to the pride, but you’re gonna need it and use it.

Back to Hooters.  I found out today that I can’t work there because I don’t meet protocol – tattoos are out of dress code.  Damn, that means I may have to find work where I use my IQ instead of my T&A.

Unless I find somewhere I can flex-work or work part time, work just isn’t a viable option yet.  I say yet, but the truth of it is that I’ll probably never be “cured.”  Shaun has intermittent FMLA leave enacted in his job because the next migraine could literally kill me.  Reading that on paper scared the crap out of me, even though I knew it.  The MVP puts me at a higher risk of stroke, syncope, and fatal arrythmias.  Being the migraines are severe enough to take out my vision and I often can’t keep anything down, dehydration is a major risk.  Not enough blood running through the heart equals regurgitation and syncope.

I want to just scream that it’s not fair.  I’m 28!  I’m one of the smartest, most talented people in the workforce (mathmatically speaking,) I have the will and want to work – but I can’t.  I can’t even lift my head some days.  When I feel like that though, I verbally tell myself to shut up.  One of the kids I went to school with just died from cancer this past week.  He wasn’t one of my friends, but we ran with the same crowd.  Well, as much as a socially-impared art geek can run with a crowd. I’m blessed beyond belief.

I think I’m just feeling older than my age.  Wednesday, I have an appt with the OBGYN to start talking about a hysterectomy.  Friday is Shaun’s and my 10 year anniversary.  September is the 10 year high-school reunion.  I have three kids, ages 9, 5, and 4.  Two of them have PTSD and the laundry list of abuse related and drug-exposure related mental illnesses.  The last one is trying his hand at tantrums, but doesn’t have the stamina to keep up the 4 hour fits his sister is capable of.

The kids keep bringing up in therapy that they’re scared because I’m sick and they don’t want to lose another mom.  I can tell them again and again that it’s just a headache, but they know.  Kids are really good at not accepting bullshit and I’m really terrible at lying.  I don’t believe I’m going to die but I do believe that I’ll probably battle this well into my 90s. I grew up taking care of my mom through the same thing and I’m a productive member of society.

Some days are great and I feel like I did before I got sick… or until the sickness that I was born with caught up with me enough to take me down.  I have energy.  I laugh and smile.  My grammar doesn’t suck.  I have patience and want to conquer the world. I think about another child.

Yesterday was one of those days.  We went out with the kids to thrift stores and antique stores.  We picked up some pipes for Shaun to restore.  I got some $3 keyboards at Goodwill to modify and some clock parts.  We spent the kids’ Toys’r’Us gift card and their McDonalds gift card.  It was beautiful and sunny and great.

This morning was the same way, but a bad night’s sleep and too much caffeine caught up with me around 4 pm.  I got out and cleaned the wheels and chrome on my Durango now that the local road work is done.  I started teaching A how to work the shower since she’s going to start school in 3 weeks.  I took apart one of the keyboards and started cleaning it and sanitizing it.  We had pizza with the big family at Mom’s and the cousins all got to play and we made hand puppets out of paper bags.  I finally gave the digital picture frames back to my dad (one we couldn’t set up without an SD card port… blah) and set up the one for my mom.  I sorted through jewelry with my sister and stole some of her stuff.  The stupid gate at the family’s place was deactivated so we didn’t have to wait to be buzzed in.

Around the time Mom went to church with Grandma, I was a snippy bitch.  I even snapped at my mom.  I snapped at the kids for singing Spongebob’s “idiot friends” song.  I came home and took a bath, finished a stupid book, and tried to steady myself with working on fixing a flatbed scanner.  What I should have done is taken a shot of Zomig.

Now I’m going to attempt to sleep it off after I get Cali cleaned up.  Nola got pissy and and started a fight.  It looks like Cali lost a toenail.  Shaun’s putting the kids in bed and I’ve got the cameras charging so I can download the photos in the morning.

I don’t know who is harder to raise: children or German Shepherds.  They’re all too damn smart for their own good.