We have an ever-increasing cast of characters in our journey towards stabilization and, hopefully, establishment of wellness. They seem to enter and exit the stage willy-nilly, ignoring all direction. It’s important to know who they are even if I’m the only one trying to keep it straight.
Grace: Grace is my daughter. She had not yet entered sixth grade when I started this blog. She is in the eighth grade as of April 2015. She has schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type–a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. My life and the life of my family changed in every way when Grace was diagnosed.
Eadaoin (pronounced AY-dən): Eadaoin is my second eldest daughter. She is sixteen as of 2015. When she hit puberty she also “came down” with a mood disorder which happens often in families where mood disorders run only I had no idea we were one of those families. She also has a crippling anxiety disorder which is exacerbated by the mood disorder. The anxiety became debilitating after the mood disorder arrived.
Milly: Milly is my youngest daughter. She has an autism spectrum disorder. (HFA-ASD). The world would recognize her ASD as Asperger’s.
Doireann (pronounced DOR-yn): Doireann is my eldest daughter. She is completely neurotypical. She has the same Myers-Briggs personality profile as the character of Jack Donaghy of “30 Rock”. As her most recent English teacher described her: “You are such a beautiful girl. You look like a china doll. So delicate. So beautiful. And then you have the mouth of a sailor…I love it!”
Dr. Awesome: A local pediatric psychiatrist who is a bit of a superstar. She was the first to say (out loud and in my presence) that Grace has a schizophrenic spectrum disorder followed up with “the prognosis isn’t good”. I actually really appreciated her honesty. She will officially be Grace’s psychiatrist beginning in March 2013 because there is such a shortage of psychiatrists specializing in childhood-onset schizophrenia. I’m so thankful. One thing about her? She’s very collaborative, and Grace likes her.
Grace’s primary-care psychiatrist. He is quirky, funny, and always wears black socks. He has a wonderful way with kids, and I suspect he hides a very high IQ behind a silly demeanor. We bond over wordplay. He’s a logophile, too. When asked to prognosticate, he merely shrugs and says, “We’re in it for the long haul.” Grace really likes him. December 2012: Sadly, he is no longer Grace’s primary-care psychiatrist. He’s not a great communicator, and I don’t think he’s trained well enough to handle Grace.
Dr. Klerpachick: For the life of me, I can’t get this man’s name right. So, I call him Dr. Klerpachick. He is currently Grace’s psychiatrist at her partial hospitalization program–the second one she’s been in since July 2012 (and it’s November 2012). He’s a typical psychiatrist in many ways and atypical in others. He’s young and wears wildly colorful, funky socks with expensive Italian shoes which I like. He is very good at communicating as far as his availability, and he’s been very open about his thoughts on Grace’s status–she’s schizoaffective. He’s recommending that we send her to the university for follow-up and treatment after her program completion because of their expertise in psychosis. I like a doctor who will be straight-up with me. He is standing in as Grace’s psychiatrist until Dr. Awesome takes over in March 2013. He’s also been very helpful in that he’s recommended seeing another neurologist: “Get a second opinion. Now.”
Dr. Whiskey: Grace’s treating psychiatrist at her second inpatient hospital program. He’s got a radio announcer’s voice, smooth as whiskey. He’s very kind and collaborative. He’s very willing to do whatever it takes to meet Grace’s needs until Dr. Awesome takes over in March 2013 since Dr. Klerpachik is about to go on paternity leave. He’s also got a great sense of humor a bit on the irreverent side much like my own. When I mentioned Grace’s dilated pupils and owl-like stare, he said, “What’d those nurses do? Slip her LSD instead of Lithium?” Yeah…I really like Dr. Whiskey.
Jane: Everyone loves Jane. She was Grace’s in-home therapist assigned to our family through a local center after her discharge from her first day treatment program. This was one of the best programs we’ve come across yet. Jane acted a bit like a case manager. She hooked us up with services, called us almost daily, and visited our home at least once a week to see how Grace was doing. This program was covered by our medical insurance. She is no longer our in-home therapist because she’s been replaced by Tammy, the county case manager. I really miss Jane. She was a special person.
Tammy: I really like this woman. She’s very compassionate, and she loves our obnoxious cats who seem to always get under her feet. She’s very knowledgeable, and she’ll be with us for a long time. We are just getting to know each other, but I think it’s a very good fit.
Dr. Fabulous: I adore this woman. Having spent a great deal of my own life around neurologists, I know just how hard it is to find a good one. This woman is young and tender-hearted with children and present and collaborative with parents. Do you know how rare that is? She should be bronzed. If you have a child that presents with any sort of mental health problem, one starts to feel defensive often when in the presence of clinicians due to a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) attitude that one might be drug-seeking, lying, or abusing the child. When you find a clinician that is relatable and believes you as well as your child, it is a blessing indeed. As of October 2013, we are beginning our journey with Dr. Fabulous, but I am hopeful to figure some things out.