So today we got our official "confirmation" - Nora has OCD...big, bad, greedy bully, OCD. Nora's 10, typical suburban kiddo, scouts, soccer, swimming - well hold the phone - that's kind of how this all got started...no more swimming. Around our house, we rearrange everything for summer. My husband doesn't sleep, I work crazy hours, we do everything we can so our gaggle of girls (we have 4, Nora's oldest) get to sleep in, go to the library, the movies, hang out with friends and swim!!!
Here's where OCD looks like normal...and looks like normal..and looks like normal until you think your kiddo has a severe drug reaction because WHY IN THE WORLD is she acting this way? I mean she's a different kid all together, NO she didn't act like this 2 weeks ago, what's up? Its like she has OCD...but she doesn't! Ohhhh, but she does.
WOW THIS HAPPENED OVER NIGHT, HANG ON, MAYBE NOT
Strange things that happened...some over time, some ALL at once:
1. Nora starts to cry and freak out and panic when Ken (her dad) and I (oh hi, I'm Tiffany by the way) would go on our evening walk - a walk we try to take as often as possible for 15-20 minutes and have taken well, for years....we called this a phase
2. Nora calls us...for most girls at 10, maybe they call on the phone, Nora doesn't...well didn't...she needs to check on us...and often! - okay, its summer and we have a droid the girls play with sooo again...we called this a phase
3. Nora goes to the pool for the first time for the summer, thinks it feels like the water is pee running down her leg (you all know the feeling!!!) - I tell her no biggie, its just the water - and besides - she'd KNOW if it was pee! This was the last time in 2 months she went to the pool with us and put on a suit and got in the water - she just didn't feel like swimming, you know...ummm, this time we called it all puberty...as a matter of fact, all these strange things just must be hormones! puberty has come!...we called this a level above a phase...
STOMACH ACHES AND AGITATED, STOMACH ACHES AND AGITATED, GERMS BE GONE!!! MOM STAY RIGHT HERE!!!
In the meantime…Nora was experiencing stomach aches – and was agitated and rinsing her hands a lot, poor thing is worried she’s sick hormones can be a pain can’t they! We’d taken her to the doctor in early May, we were told it was probably stress…we got a prescription for a generic version of prilosec…it didn’t help, stomach aches were getting WORSE! And by now strange things 1, 2, and 3 were underway…what was going on with our poor kiddo? Must be, that’s it, PUBERTY!!!
Every year I travel to Minnesota for my job…This year, I went in mid-June. Nora’s stomach aches were pretty frequent and she was agitated and of course we were concerned about strange things 1, 2 and 3. I arranged for my girlfriend (who nora’s known since she was pretty much a baby) to watch all 4 girls when I got home because Ken had taken off work while I was gone…treat for him! While gone, Ken mentioned he was concerned about Nora,
IS SHE ALLERGIC TO HERSELF?
I return from my trip and the downstairs wastebasket is full of tissues…Nora’s “wiping” her fingers of almost non-stop, she’s agitated and sooo glad to see me. Friday I go to the office for a few hours (it took longer than I thought, she was super upset, how could I not come home, I always do this, and I lie, I lie!!!) We order Chinese food, ate together, and went to my friend’s to hang out for the night, play cards and then the kids would stay over. Nora’s stomach ache got so bad we left with her. We took her to the doctor in the morning and noticed she was again washing off her hands – as a matter of fact, she seemed to be washing them quite a lot lately – like she was coming up with a reason to wash - hmmm….Nora sees the doctor, gets a new prescription – this time for prevacid, is excited to return to my friend’s because the doctor told her she was not ill, her troubles were functional and not germs…on the way back to the house I notice Nora uses her arm to open the door…and gets stuck up in her room because she can’t get the knob to turn…okay, this is NOT normal!
OHHH, UMMM, TIFF, THIS ISN’T RIGHT
My friend takes the girls to a dance competition and by 6:30 at night calls me to say that something definitely is NOT typical with nora and she thought I meant she was worried about germs but this is NOT what she thought!!! Nora had been to the restroom at least 30 times because she touched her shorts, touched the bench, touched her hair, touched her shirt, touched her face…and a bunch of other reasons to boot! I call the doctor, she said to reassure nora that she did NOT have germs and she’d be fine…this is the first time the actual letters OCD entered my brain. I was in a panic. SOMETHING was just NOT right here. Something was VERY wrong. Nora was changing from her silly self right in front of me and FAST!!! Gulp…what to do now!!!
OMG MAYBE THIS IS A DRUG REACTION!!!
I hopped online – started researching drug interactions and OCD – then side effects of prilosec and prevacid…anxiety was on the list, maybe this is it!!!! We quickly got an appointment at a children’s gastro-intestinal doctor. Umm, an appointment can almost not go worse!!! Nora wouldn’t talk to him, denied everything I said (she wasn’t about to share anything personal with that guy!), held her hands in her new folded manner (my eyes draw to her hands, she holds them so purposefully closed – and she doesn’t shake anyone’s hand, NO THANK YOU!), and wished herself outta there.
TUMMY ACHE, NO…BRAIN ACHE
That meeting sealed it. This was NOT a medical illness we were dealing with, they weren’t even asking about the hand washing, the agitation, the difficulty getting her to bathe, the temper flares, the hand washing, the aversion to her own self…LET ALONE ask me anything about the “confessional” conversations we now had every night “alone, in private” to discuss awkward incidents between herself or others from her past (conversations that usually ended with me telling her it was no biggie and no worry was needed, later I find out that was only making things worse). I had already done some homework and found OCD specialist doctors in our area but wanted to be sure the medical issue wasn’t playing a role in our symptoms so I had put off scheduling an actual appointment with them. Monday morning, we had an appointment on the calendar, my Nora was changing in front of our eyes and school was starting in mere weeks. –this OCD waited until summer until it took over my Nora (well, maybe not, but summer surely showcased its nasty handiwork!)
IF BABY SISTERS WORK, YIPPEE
While waiting for the appointment, we had a great day, Nora went swimming!!! She got in the water to help with her baby sister’s first time at the pool. She spent most of the time traveling back and forth to the bathroom to rinse her hands but she admitted she really does love the water! And sort of that she missed swimming, I was SO excited! No more trips back until we went to a new pool and were meeting up with friends and the excitement of all the activity overcame whatever was NOT allowing her to go. Again, she spent loads of time in the bathroom and I ended up giving her sanitizer so she didn’t have to miss out on so much fun time…I think she maybe got used to the pool and didn’t sanitize so much but I’m not super sure.
HELPING DOESN’T FEEL LIKE HELPING SO MUCH
Now that we’ve met our doc – my marching orders mean I turn into the big bad momma bear. Helping feels like the opposite these days. I find myself saying things like, “sounds so rude, she should be embarrassed” or “touching your hair is disgusting now isn’t it” or many, many other things that I can’t even repeat because if it is awkward or mildly inappropriate, Nora’s brain likes to settle right there recalling all the funky AWKWARD shouting moments in her life. And in order to stop a bully in its tracks, you have to call its bluff and NOT give it what it wants. It wants assurance the things there’s no need to worry about have no need to worry about them…I can’t give this bully any assurance about anything because then maybe it’ll stop trying to make her worry. Why not just tell her these things are “no biggie?” – Because that’s what it wants and then it will feed her brain with more and more and more of these anxieties…helping is hard work!!! She seems to be stuck on these thoughts, working through them obsessing over them compulsively telling me about them over and over and over again…what to do!!!!
More later…this has been quite enough…I enrolled her in school today, mentioned her diagnosis thinking we could get her safety net ready…ummm, apparently not…here’s where I need to dig in and find support and how to help them help her!...that’s saving for another day!