Summer has come, and summer has gone. For the most part anyway. At least as far as summer vacation for kids in here in Albuquerque goes. When the sun rises in the morning over will be the lazy mornings of sleeping in, summer camps, and trips to the community swimming pool. That will all be replaced with rushed mornings to get out the door with lunches packed and homework in hand. When the sun rises in the morning, Pickles will still be in residential treatment and I will still be waking up to a house that is far more quiet than it should be.
Things with Pickles are much as I wrote in my last post at the end of the school year. We exist day-to-day. I never know when the phone rings if it will be a call to let me know that there was another restraint today, or if it will be Pickles herself. Pickles giggling and asking if when she gets a pass away from the RTC, if she can play with Shad, our best friend’s dog. When that RTC phone number comes up on my cell phone, I never know.
Over the summer we’ve made a few med changes. We’ve dropped the Saphris and added Lithium and Thorazine. This puts us at over 60 some combinations of medications and medication doses since Pickles was around 2 1/2-3 years old when the soul freezing and childhood stealing hallucinations began. It also puts her on 5 medications, 4 regular on a daily basis; Thorazine, Lithium, Depakote and Clonidine, and one, Zyprexa as needed when Pickles dissociation and psychosis leads to her behaving in ways that are dangerous to herself or to those around her.
*Even if you don’t usually listen to, or play the videos I embed into these posts…take the time for this one. Even if this isn’t “your kind” of music. There is hardly another song that is Pickles more so than this one.”
Dangerous to herself or to those around her. Wow. I just typed those words about my 8-year-old daughter. Dangerous to herself and to those around her. Excuse me while I step away from my computer to go throw up the late night snack I just finished.
Over this summer the Olympic Games in London took place, my beloved Red Sox have struggled with injuries and, in my opinion, questionable leadership in the dugout, and there were 3 blockbuster superhero movies released. The Avengers, Spider-Man, and…and Batman. Pickles loves super heroes. It’s one of the geeky, tomboy things my girlie-girl actually enjoys with along with me. We like super heroes, rock ‘n roll, and comic books. I can say with pride that I have the absolute coolest kid ever. We have family therapy every Thursday at 10 am and to each session I bring her a new comic book and we spend at least a quarter of the time reading through it. Last week it was the new Wonder Woman.
So yeah, a new Batman movie premiered.
The day of the midnight release Pickles had a pass. Her first since entering her newest Residential Treatment Center, and she wanted to go to our local Aquarium to see the eels and have lunch by the giant tank with the sharks and turtles. We went and she had a wonderful time as we explored the hallways and water tunnel passages. She was bouncy and somewhat jittery as we were seated in the restaurant, but she was happy. Then the waiter brought her chicken strips and french fries. Then the shouting at the wall, and the crying began. The french fries had been poisoned. And the eyes in the wall belonging to the hands that had been tormenting her in the shower were telling her so. Before I could get our lunch packed into to-go boxes and us out the door, the lady at the table next to us told me that I shouldn’t bring my weirdo kid out in public unless I wanted people to make fun of her. We left before Mommy ended up being hauled off to jail because she pummeled the ever-living crap out of the obnoxious adult at the table next to us. We left and spent the rest of the pass driving up to the University of New Mexico campus looking for the Astro-Zombies Comic Book Store before it was time to take Pickles back to the RTC. That night I contemplated going to the midnight premiere of Batman, but after the Aquarium incident I was, again, emotionally wiped out and just plain tired. So I crawled into bed with a book and my iPod and fell asleep. I woke up the next morning and as I logged into CNN.com, Facebook and Twitter I was bombarded with posts and stories about a young man who had, gone into a movie theatre at one of those midnight shows of the new movie and opened fire on the packed theatre. Was he a terrorist? Was he pissed off at someone in the theatre? Did he prefer Michael Keaton over Christian Bale as Batman? Or…or…was it “that” which ripped into me and made my stomach turn even more when the RTC phone number came up on my call screen for so, so many days afterwards.
That is all I will say about that. There’s enough out there about the Batman Shooting, as it’s sometimes now referred to in the media. If you want a side-show talk about that topic from the Summer of 2012 there’s enough out there already. And that is one monster I will not feed.
After that day at the Aquarium there weren’t any more passes. Pickles hasn’t been stable enough. Until today. The day before she starts 3rd grade. 3rd grade and yet another fight. Just like everything anymore is. A fight, a struggle. Always one, two or three more phone calls to one, two or three more people, at one, two or three more agencies or departments. Another fight for her to walk into a 3rd grade classroom as opposed to a 1st grade room which is where they were going to place her based on how she finished the last school year. It’s been a fight which for now, I can say I won. Pickles is too smart to go back to a 1st grade classroom. All she needs is someone to work with her one on one and help her manage all the noise in her head against what she needs to hear outside of it to learn.
So today she had a pass. It was only for 2 hours, not very long really. Just long enough to go to Wal-Mart to pick out a new outfit for school and the dry erase board Pickles has been asking for the last few weeks. Long enough to do that and then go get an ice cream before heading back. Two hours.
And it was a horrible two hours.
I heard about how the old “ghost friends” are gone, but how there are new ones. How as an old friend has left, a new one has shown up to take its place. A new one to hover above the people around her. A new one to stare at her from inside the walls, a new one here, and a new one there. Pickles told me about the Black-Eyed Ghost. A new friend who she somehow made a connection to based on an audiobook story she heard once, in the car, almost 3 plus years ago. I heard about how the new friends tell her how the other kids want to provoke her to get into fights, and how the Black-Eyed Ghost tells her how she needs to get them, ie her peers, before they get her.
I heard, as we were in the checkout line at Wal-Mart, that she was glad we were leaving because the crowd and the noise was starting to bounce around inside her head “like someone was screaming knives in her brain.” Pickles tells me this as I see her arms start to shake and her hands and fingers start to pull at one another. It was horrible to see and hear that as I watched other parents and kids checking off pencils, markers and yellow folders from their school supply lists.
And it was a wonderful two hours.
I listened as Pickles told me how the “cookers” at the RTC, otherwise known to you and I as the cafeteria staff, have helped her to feel comfortable enough to put her hands together in prayer to help quiet her fear when the noise from the cafeteria becomes overwhelming, or when her ghost friends are scaring her. I listened as she explained her new friends in a manner that was more cognizant of what they are, and how they are impacting her than she has ever been able to talk about them before. And I watched as she read labels, signs and the covers of check out isle magazines with little to no hesitation or difficulty.
And it was absolutely wonderful.
I listened and talked back to Pickles as we argued over why she can’t dye her hair green, and why she can’t have dread locks at 8 years old. We argued, we discussed, we negotiated and we finally compromised. Just as other Moms were arguing with their daughters the day before school starts over skirts being too short, jeans to tight, and yes…even over hair style choices. Pickles wants dread locks because her favorite drummer, Berry Kerch of Shinedown has dread locks. Kind of like she wants large gage ear piercings because Chester Bennington of Linkin Park has those, and she wants tattoos because Lacy Sturm of Flyleaf and Mommy have them. She wants all of those things because she is Pickles and she isn’t, and never will be just like other kids. Sure she likes Monster High, and Mulan and Miley Cyrus. But under that typical 8-year-old stuff, is my artistic, and free-spirited elf child who rocks out in the car and thinks the coolest woman on the planet is Kat Von D.
My 8-year-old, my 3rd Grader, who wrapped up and intertwined around the typical and the not so typical has this part of her called Schizoaffective Disorder that tries its damndest to smother the little girl who loves Monster High and Silk Spectre comic books. My beautiful dark-haired and big hazel eyed child who survives with one of the most terrifying mental illnesses on this earth. A mental illness that also tries its best to smother the kid who would like nothing more than to rock out on a drum set like Berry with her dread locks flying around her head.
My Third Grader.