Wednesday, September 28, 2011


He has asthma.

A lot of it. 

Has he had asthma all along?

Or did he develop it from smoking stuff for two years?

The specialist said that he could not say for sure.

I can’t help feeling like it did.

Now there is one more thing to worry about.

Will he ever have a scary asthma attack?

I think he had one before we took him to the specialist.  It was about 2:00 a.m. and I was in the kitchen making a cup of tea for him in another attempt to stop the coughing.  He came downstairs complaining of a pain his right side behind his ribs.  All of a sudden, he started coughing in a different way and acting like he couldn’t breathe very well.  It was frightening and I wanted to take him to the hospital, but he kept refusing and saying that he knew he was going to be all right.  It went on for about five minutes.  Then, he thought that using one of the inhalers that we had been prescribed when he first got sick might help.  After about 15 more minutes, he stopped the weird coughing and was breathing better.  So, the inhaler might have worked.  But, he still had the pain in his ribs.  I thought he might have finally cracked a rib from the stress of weeks and weeks of coughing.  The chest X-ray did not show any breaks and the doctor said that my son must have pulled a muscle.

I know that if that was an asthma attack, I don’t ever want to see another one.

The doctor thought that we could get the asthma under control and didn’t seem concerned about asthma attacks.  At first my son had to use two different inhalers twice a day and take prednisone tablets.  One inhaler opened the airways and one reduced inflammation.  Then, we scaled back to the inhaler that controls inflammation.  He will be using that one for a year and then he will be re-evaluated.    

So now we know.


Another reason to worry about him not smoking marijuana or anything else.  It will make the asthma worse (which the doctor did tell him and I hope he believes it).

The treatment helped within a few days. 

It was so nice.

No more coughing every few seconds.

Silence at night.

Sweet, relaxing, restful, silence.


Saturday, September 17, 2011


We had about 3 good weeks.

When we left family therapy one of the nights, our therapist said that she really enjoys our sessions now.  She said that she used to just dread them.  (That made me feel weird because even though we have had tons of family problems, I thought she liked us!).  She said she thinks that my husband and I are really great parents.  That night, when we walked out of the building, my son and I had our arms around each other’s shoulders. 

It was so nice.

What a difference from a month before.  Now the therapist thought our son was almost ready to commence from the program.

And then he got sick.

Coughing and coughing and coughing with no breaks.  There was a cough every 3 seconds.  Day and night, the coughing went on and on. 

It just started one morning, with nothing leading up to it.  It was so strange.  And, now that we never can be sure what the underlying cause of any of his behaviors is, we drug tested him to make sure he hadn’t smoked anything or was still smoking something that was causing the cough.  I told him that I was 99.9% sure that he hadn’t used anything or smoked anything, but that if there was that .09% chance that he did—it wasn’t worth it to be going through this.  I wanted him to be honest with me about it.  He said that he honestly hadn’t used anything and the drug test WAS negative.

We took him to the doctor and he began taking antibiotics as if he had an upper respiratory infection.  He did not get better.  He got worse.  He wasn’t getting any sleep at night and neither was I.  My husband is a lot better at being able to fall asleep in a noisy situation than I am, so even though he felt sleep deprived, he was doing a lot better than the two of us were.  I felt like I hadn’t had any sleep at night in a long time.  Usually, my son would fall asleep about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning and then sleep until noon.  I don’t know why he could sleep better in the morning than in the night.  I would fall asleep as soon as he quieted down, but had to get up at 6:30 a.m. to get ready to babysit my grandson 3 days a week.  It was exhausting.

I was trying everything to stop the coughing.  Vaporizers, humidifiers, prescription cough medicine, and even putting Vicks on his feet covered with socks.  We tried giving him Nyquil to calm the cough and put him to sleep.  It was so frustrating that nothing would work.  Someone online even suggested sucking on dark chocolate.  He liked that treatment, but it didn’t stop the coughing, either. 

One night I suggested that he should go sit in the bathroom with the shower on and let the steam try to moisten his throat.  He got mad and said that wouldn’t work, either.  I didn’t know what to do. I was trying my best to help him and the thanks I got was him shooting down every idea.  So, I told him that he could just lay on his bed and cough, then.  I said, “Hopefully, you will fall asleep sometime.” 

And for that comment, I was told that he couldn’t go to sleep with this #*!%-ing cough.  Nice.  Just what I would like to hear when I just WISH I COULD GO TO SLEEP!

It made me so mad.  I had been doing everything in my power to try to help him and then he unleashed the bad language on me.

I realized that since he was still taking Ambien and that since it wasn’t helping him sleep, he was operating in the Ambien mode that made him unreasonable and unaware of the fact that he was treating me very badly.  But, I still didn’t like it and I still let myself get my feelings hurt.  

About 10 days went by.  There was no relief.  We switched to allergy medicines, inhalers, and every brand of cough medicine on the shelf.  We even tried honey and tea.  Then, he begged me to take him to another doctor.  That is pretty good when your child begs you to take him to the doctor. 

This doctor thought that based on his cough, he either had Pertussis (Whooping Cough), or that he had Adult Community Pneumonia (Walking Pneumonia).  Whooping Cough?!!!!  I didn’t understand how he could have that because he had been immunized against it just 2 1/2 years before when he was 12, but she said it can happen. 

The chest X-ray did not seem to indicate Walking Pneumonia, which led her believe that he was more likely to have Pertussis.  We wouldn’t find out the results from the test for Pertussis for 5 days.  Even then, if he did have Pertussis, there really wasn’t any other treatment because he had already had the standard treatment of a course of antibiotics. 

When we left the office, he begged her for something that would help him stop coughing.  She said that there was nothing else she could do, other than prescribe another course of antibiotics, just to be on the safe side in case he did have Walking Pneumonia or to prevent the Whooping Cough from giving him pneumonia.  She said that people call Whooping Cough, the 100 year cough because it just won’t stop.  He was extremely upset at that.

Why did this have to happen to my son?  He had already gone through so much.  And, now he just had to sit in his room and cough for 100 years?  He already missed over a week of school and Day Treatment.  I didn’t know if they would let him be on leave until he got better or if they would just say that he had to be discharged from the program since nobody knew when he could come back.  I wanted him to be able to officially commence so that he could feel like he really accomplished something.  I felt like we all deserved a break from sickness and things that upset the forward progression that we had just started in our life with him.

Five days later, the doctor called with the results of the test and with the radiologist report.  Negative.  It wasn’t Pertussis OR Walking Pneumonia!  We just got to worry that it was for 5 days.  Why didn’t anyone know what was wrong with him? 

She said the next step was to take him to a Pulmonary Specialist.

Meanwhile, he was still coughing.

And coughing, and coughing…….

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

AA Insights

AA meetings. 

Sometimes I hate them.  Sometimes I like them.

We go to AA once a week.  For right now, we go to the Friday night meeting at the rehab facility.  Once he commences, he can either keep going to meetings there, or go to another meeting somewhere else.  His sponsor goes to a meeting that consists of mostly young adults and would like to take my son to that meeting. He says that he would like my son to see some people near his age who are successfully living sober.  I think that is a good idea.  But, I hope we will be able to still go to the meetings with him, occasionally.

I like to go to the meetings with him.  They give me some insight into what he is thinking that he usually won’t talk about around me.

I like to hear the success stories.

I like to know how the kids that we have become familiar with are doing. 

I do not like to hear about the relapses.

Sometimes the meetings scare me to death because I hear him express feelings that I do not want him to have.  I understand the process.  I understand that sobriety is hard. 

But, I want it to be easy for him.

This night, my son’s comment was:  “I have woken up many times and have wanted to smoke really bad, but I haven’t been able to do it since I have been in this place.  I don’t know what I will do when I have the chance to do it.”

Wow. That makes me want to keep him under my wing, tied to my apron strings, and safe at home with me. 

The man who is in charge of the meetings said this at the end:  “We are all just as sober as each other.  We all woke up today sober and we are all here, still sober.  Hopefully, we will all stay that way tonight.  And when we wake up tomorrow, we will have another sober day.”

They all like to end their comments with, “And with that, I’ll take another 24.”

Take another 24, son.

One more 24.


And tomorrow.

Monday, September 12, 2011


He brought this assignment home from school:

Dear Mom,
I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you do for me and say that it really means a lot to me.
(your son)

Oh my gosh!

That little note means so much to me.

I want to frame it.

I did not know if I would ever see or hear anything like this from him ever again.

Hopefully this isn’t the only time.

But, I will take it and cherish it for now.

Family Group Therapy

I emailed the therapist and told her what an awful weekend we had.  She had a drug screen run on him for us just to make sure that it wasn’t the reason for the arguing all weekend. It came back clean.  That was good.

I think the therapist just LOVES to get my long emails.  But, she is the only one I have to turn to for help right now.

I don’t know what I will do without her when he commences out of the program.

She is a much needed life line.

Then, she brought up the Red Shirt Incident in Family Group Therapy the next day.

It actually worked out pretty well talking about it with the other families.  I was sure that all of the other parents would think it was crazy that we were having this problem because of one little red shirt, but they weren’t there when he was gang-talking during his first few weeks in treatment.  They didn’t know that we were asked to take away his red shoe-laces and bring him some shirts in colors other than red.  They hadn’t seen him wearing red all of the time. 

Everyone in the group knows that any little thing that causes a conflict is also a little thing that can send the kid into relapse and they are willing to help each other talk about and try to solve problems.  I like Family Group Therapy and all of the families in the group.

Through talking about a Dialectical Behavior Therapy skill called DEAR MAN, we came to some conclusions about wearing red.

DEAR MAN stands for:

*D stands for Describe what is bothering you. 
*E stands for Express how the situation is making you feel. 
*A stands for Assert Yourself and tell them what is wrong. 
*R stands for Reinforce how it is important for you to be heard. 

*M stands for Stay Mindful—don’t allow the person to go into another topic, stay on the discussion at hand. 
*A stands for Appear Confident.
*N stands for Negotiate.

I think it will be hard to think of all of those things during a blow-up.  Maybe now that I have learned this one, I can say, “Wait, I need to get out my notes on DEAR MAN before we can argue about this!” 
By the time therapy was over, my son agreed that he will only wear the red shirt twice a week.  And, when one of the girls pointed out that he wears his sweatshirt hood pulled up over his head and around his face all the time, acting has if he wants to be all closed off from the world, we also got an added bonus.  He agreed that 50% of the time when we are out in public he won’t walk around with his hood up on his jacket.  I appreciated her insight and everyone’s help.

We left the group that night with the mood in our family greatly improved.    

The next day—the bad mood seemed to be gone.



You would think that since he actually got to go to the movie and had fun the day before, that he would have been in a better mood on Sunday.

No such luck.  We couldn't say anything to him without him trying to argue about it.

Church:  He said that now that he was a Phase 2, he could stay home from church because he was now allowed to be alone.  We said, “No, because we had to establish House Rules when you became a Phase 2 and you agreed to those rules.  One of them is that you go to church with us on Sunday.  So, we don’t’ need to talk about it every Sunday.”

His response:  “I know, so why are we still talking about it?”

Oh, brother.

Home:  He lost a contact lens in his room.  My husband moved the TV stand to look under it and all of a sudden he was being told how moving the TV stand was going to break the surround sound speakers and that we had already broken most of his speakers 5 months ago when we moved everything out of his room.  That was news to us.  Every now and then he has to point out that we had no right to go through his things and remodel his room. 

X-Box:  We had a big storm a few days earlier and the internet had not worked since.  Of course, it was my fault that he couldn’t play X-Box Live that day.  I had already spent a lot of time in the last few days trying to get it working and my son-in-law had even tried to figure out the problem.  On Sunday, I tried again just to try to have peace, even though it wasn't exactly what I wanted to do on Easter Sunday.  It was a good thing we had our Easter fun the day before (Ha Ha).

I was so proud of myself when I finally figured out the problem and couldn’t believe it that he only played a game for 30 minutes after all that work!  I was glad that I spent hours on the problem so that he could have fun for half an hour.

The Simpsons:  One thing he loves to do is watch TV shows that we had never allowed him to watch before.  Even though we have told him repeatedly that certain shows are not allowed, he watches them anyway.  He seems to know that we aren’t going to have a daily argument about TV.  The Simpsons Movie was on TV that night. 

Given that the atmosphere in our house was not the greatest, we probably shouldn’t have chosen that moment to talk about it again.  But, then again, maybe the atmosphere in our house gave us the feeling that we might as well talk about it.

We said that we wished he would use more discretion about the shows that he watches on TV because there is so much that pops up in those shows about drug use (and sex, too).  Everything that he has heard in treatment and therapy says that he should avoid triggers.  He thinks that seeing it in a TV show or movie isn’t a trigger for him. 

He tried to turn the attention away from what HE shouldn’t have been doing, by telling us what WE shouldn’t be doing.  He rationalized his TV choices by saying that we shouldn’t watch crime shows either, then.  Right, because when we see something about drugs or murder in a crime show, that is going to be a trigger for us. 

He loves to come up with irrational examples in order to try to win an argument—even if it is not an argument.  And, if it is not an argument, it might become one. 

Red shirt:  On Monday morning, he was wearing his red shirt AGAIN!  He had already worn it on Friday and Saturday.  Both his friend and my older son mentioned on Saturday that he was always wearing red and black gang colors.  So, we weren’t the only ones that noticed that the red shirt gets more mileage than any other shirt he owns.  He would wear it every day, if he could.  My husband suggested that he wear other colors more often and stop wearing that one so much.

He was still in a bad mood and the comment about the shirt seemed like it was going to start another argument.  So, I hurried to say that on their way home from Day Treatment that day, they could stop at a store that has colored t-shirts for $3.00 and buy 4 or 5 of them. 

Easy solution.  He would get new shirts and we could have a quiet morning.  But no, my son had to give one of his irrational examples to try to prove some kind of absurd point. 

He said that if HE wears red too much and that makes him supposedly part of a gang, then, my husband, who wears camouflage (every now and then while hunting), must be in a gang, too.  We didn't say he was in a gang, just that he was wearing gang colors way too much. 

So, we had a Monday morning blow-up over a red shirt--a great beginning to the week. 

It was just icing on the cake after the weekend that we had.

When was he going to get over being mad at us for everything?

I kept waiting for it to get better.

It was going to get better, right?

Thursday, September 1, 2011


He wanted to go to a movie with a friend and his parents.  We were all for it.  He finally a chance to do something safely with a friend.  We were 99.99% sure that this friend has not used drugs, so we were anxious for him to re-establish this friendship.

Then, the night they were going to go, their family had a change of plans and decided to go to the movie the next night.

I told my son when the plans were changed that our family was having an Easter party the next day in the afternoon and early evening and that if he was going to go to the movie, he would have to see if they could go around 8:00 p.m.  I suggested that he call his friend.

He didn’t.

The next day, he was reminded again, a few times, that he should call his friend.

He didn’t.

Later that day, when I told him that it was time to get ready to go to our older son’s house for the party, he freaked out about how he couldn’t go to a party, he was supposed to go to a movie with his friend.

Oh brother.

Does he just not listen to me and all he hears when my mouth is moving is “blah, blah, blah, blah?”

He began accusing me and blaming me, repeatedly for not telling him that we had a family party to go to and now he wouldn’t be able to go to the movie.

He still did not call his friend to find out about the movie plans.  He just tried his best to argue with me.  I didn’t want to get into an argument, but I couldn’t even defend myself by telling him that he was told at least 5 times about how he had to make arrangements to go to the movie after the party.  He would not listen.  I am pretty sure he knew that he was the one who may have ruined the plans to go to a movie, but needed to blame someone else—me.

He just kept getting angrier and angrier at me.  It was so bizarre.  He didn’t even know if they were still going to the movie and when they were going and didn’t seem willing to find out. 

Thinking about it afterward, it seemed like he was possibly showing his nervousness about being in a new situation—going out with a friend for the first time in months-- by doing everything in his power to get grounded so that he couldn’t go.   The therapist said that when he has to switch from a familiar situation to an unknown situation, he feels a lot of anxiety, due to some of his executive functioning limitations.  This might cause him to act out.

He was acting out all right.

The longer the barrage went on, the more MY attitude and tone of voice changed from nice to irritation.  He assumes that irritation is yelling, so as I tried to explain the situation one more time, he said that it was time to have a time-out because I was yelling.


I was totally in emotion-mind by then and I did not honor the time out.  I shouted my explanation at him as he walked away from me.  “I told you about the party last night.  I’m sorry that wasn’t soon enough for you.  I told you about the party several times today.  For some reason you chose not to call or talk to your friend about it.  It is not my fault!  Just call him now!” 

Bad idea. 

Anything that comes out in an argument while either of us are in emotion mind is a bad idea.  I knew I shouldn’t have done that.  But, seriously, it is a little hard to take the blame for messing everything up and then just sit back and take a time out. 

I am not very good at walking away.   I always think that if I can just say my piece, I can fix things.  I just want to solve things and have all of the bad feelings disappear. 

It didn’t work.

He swore at me and was very angry that he didn’t get to have his time out. 

Then, miraculously, his friend came over.  Since my son was sitting in his room, I asked the friend if they could go to the movie around 8:00 that night.  He called his mom, and it was fine with her.

Just like that.

Just that easy.

I wish it would have been just that easy to drive to the party at my son’s house.  I knew that the time-out would only last long enough for him to get ready to let me have it again, anyway.

He said he wanted to solve the problem and wouldn’t even get out of the truck until we rehashed everything. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore.   

We were going to the party and he was going to the movie after it.  Problem solved.

(And he WAS LUCKY to be able to go to the movie.  He was lucky that I thought it WAS more important for him to go out with a friend at this point in his life, than it was to ground him for being a jerk).

But, he had this huge need to make me admit that I made a mistake when I broke the time-out rule.  I was supposed to accept that he could blame me and blame me until he felt that I was put in my place and then he could take a time out so that I wasn’t allowed to say anything.  Even during the re-hashing, he never accepted any responsibility for the conflict at all.

It had to be my fault.


Enough already.  I was in tears.

I should have been happy and excited.

It was my grandson’s first Easter.  We were going to watch him have his first Easter Egg Hunt and dye eggs for the first time.  It was supposed to be a memorable occasion.

Now it was going to be memorable all right.  Just for the wrong reasons.

I went into the house and gave my grandson a big hug.

Fake it till you make it, right?

It was a good party and my grandson was as cute as could be.

A few hours later, my son went to his movie.

And that was Easter.

No Easter feelings of new beginnings in our struggles with our son that day.

Just feelings of Ongoing anger from him

And frustration for me.