Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Is the kid alright?

I mean, I hope so. We've worked pretty hard to make him so, the past couple of years, after discovering that the moodiness and the excessive energy and the inability to focus and the inability to hear what people were saying to him added up to a diagnosis. We've continued to work on it even when I swear every single medical professional we've reached out to has somehow punked out on us. For example:

1. The occupational therapy facility promised they knew how to work with insurance companies, then completely mis-filed three months' worth of invoices, then called me in a panic, said kiddo couldn't come back until the money was paid because lots of other people owed them money too and they might have to shut down, and could we give them some cash up-front and they'd pay us back? A year-plus later, we got everything paid off by submitting every single claim ourselves, and had to explain to them that deciding to tack on extra money to your claim because gosh you had to spend all that time on the phone with the insurer is not, generally speaking, allowed. Kiddo never did get to go back there.

2. The pediatric psychiatrist has been MIA for two months' worth of appointments, which is doubly frustrating because I've wanted to go over the evaluation from the school's psychiatrist with her to see if we should change anything. We've gotten stuck with a different psychiatrist in the office instead, who spends .5 seconds discussing kiddo with me and then hands me the pre-written prescription. I'm looking for another practice.

3. The first behavioral therapist kicked things off by announcing, "I don't believe in medication." So when she also stopped believing in taking our insurance, I didn't fight hard to stay with her -- even though she did offer useful advice -- because by then, we'd come to believe that kiddo did need medication, and our belief and her belief seemed like irreconcilable differences.

4. The new behavioral therapist, whom we'd seen precisely once, was removed from our insurer's list in February. Unfortunately the office only discovered that TODAY. Less than a day before we were supposed to have our second appointment. I am not a loud person, but you probably could've heard me yelling at the office manager from three blocks away. I am, obviously, looking for another practice.

Practice makes perfect? I'd settle for practice makes competent.

And yet I know all the aggravation will be worth it in the end, if kiddo learns social skills, if he finds a way to settle in school, if his executive function skills improve, if he learns how to keep calm and carry on.

But it still knocked me for a loop when I heard about Robin Williams.

Now he was, despite what certain websites suggest, never officially diagnosed with ADHD that I can tell. (Or bipolar disorder for that matter.) His official issues were drug and alcohol addiction, and depression, at varying times. But if you ever watched him do stand-up -- as I absolutely did growing up, and loved it -- you had to have noticed the bam-bam-bam cracked-whip intensity of his performance, just a little moreso than other comics. Or maybe you watched "Aladdin" and marveled at how the animators were even able to keep up with his voice.

Plus there's his reasons for using cocaine. This is what he told People magazine:

"Cocaine for me," Williams told People in 1988, "was a place to hide. Most people get hyper on coke. It slowed me down." 

Who slows down on cocaine? Exactly how quickly does your brain need to be racing?

I feel like, whatever his mental issues really were, they weren't being properly treated. And if a universally beloved, massively successful TV and film star can't get the help he needs to keep his brain in check ... well, where does that leave the rest of us?

I mean, I can't even find a therapist for kiddo who takes our insurance for longer than a nanosecond.

I have to hope that what we're doing is going to pay off in the long run. I have to keep to the notion that previous generations flat out didn't know what to do about mental illness or mental disorders, and so did nothing. I have to hope that the whole "mental illness=moral failing" attitude is disappearing, because who could look at Robin Williams and say his whole problem was a moral failing?

I am never going to be able to watch "Aladdin" again without crying.

On the way in to work today, the radio station, randomly, played the Who: "The Kids Are Alright."

Yeah. I hope so.

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