Thursday, March 01, 2012

Curious Bruce Flies a Kite

I've been reading a lot of Curious George books lately. They always start out with one simple event (playing with a ball), followed by a string of other random events (climbing a wall, letting a bunny loose and finding it again, going fishing), and finally ending with an event loosely related to the title and not related at all to the beginning of the story (finally, they fly a kite). I feel like Bruce is stuck in this story, somewhere in the string of random events, and I'm not sure how this one is going to end...

It all started 2+ months ago when Bruce did something naughty at school and was taken to the principal's office for a solid lecture. He also sat with the school counselor for a little Q & A. When the counselor said she was going to call me, Bruce freaked out: "Don't tell my mom!" He started shaking, repeating himself, and having some sort of panic attack.

So of course the counselor wanted to know why he was so scared. She asked if he was abused at home. Sometimes, he said. She called me and explained what happened and asked me the same question. No not ever, I said (but doesn't everyone say that?). She interrogated me with other questions: any deaths in the family? disturbances at home? No and no.

I got off the phone and called Scott in tears. "What do I do with Bruce?" I asked. I was mad at him for getting into trouble in the first place, and then lying about being abused, potentially getting me into trouble.

I picked Bruce up and we walked to Dunkin' Donuts and ordered some comfort food. I asked him to tell me what happened and we calmly talked about the incident. I asked him why he did what he did and he didn't have an answer; when I pushed a little more, he made up an answer that I knew was a lie. A-ha!: when he is pushed or interrogated, he gets anxious and lies. No wonder he freaked out with the school counselor.

We talked about repentance and what he needed to do to make up for his mistake. He decided to bake cookies for the person he had affected, so we made a batch that night. He brought them to school the next day and sincerely apologized. We discussed it, he repented, and he learned a valuable lesson. Time to move on, right?

The school counselor called back. She said Bruce needed to see a child psychiatrist for his panic attack. I said I didn't think that was necessary seeing as it's the first time he has ever been in trouble in his whole life. I'd be concerned if he was indifferent about having me called by the principal. The counselor insisted and I scheduled an appointment with our pediatrician to appease the school.

"Why are you here?" the pediatrician asked. He agreed that this was a one-time incident and not worth following. Thanks for backing me up, doc. And now this thing is done, right?

The counselor called back a few weeks later and said Bruce wrote a disturbing poem in class. The first line was "life is strife" and the following lines rhymed with words like "knife" and then "death" and "health." She insisted again that Bruce see a psychiatrist and even suggested that he see a team to evaluate him at the school. I recounted what our pediatrician had said and told her I didn't think a workup at the school was a good idea.

I asked Bruce about the poem that night. He recited it by memory word for word. I asked him if he knew what "strife" meant. He did. I asked him if his life was full of strife. No, he said. I asked him about the "knife" part. "I was just trying to rhyme," he said. "My life is more like the last line: Life is cake." Clearly, no one at school discussed the poem with him.

I called the pediatrician back and told him about the poem and the counselor's recommendation. He said because it was a second "red flag", it wouldn't hurt to see a psychiatrist.

Really?

We made the appointment and took great care to tell Bruce how much we love him and how we were going to see a nice lady who would teach him to control himself a little better. We went to the appointment and met the doctor, who talked to Bruce for awhile and then Scott and me for awhile. She asked Bruce lots of questions, but he refused to talk about what happened at school. She asked if he heard voices. He said he heard the voice of Satan tell him to lie once.

"What did it say exactly?" she asked.
"Lie." said Bruce.
"And what did you do? she asked.
"I did not lie," he said triumphantly.

The doctor fixated on the voice thing for awhile. She was also disturbed by an unexplained fever and some sleepwalking that he'd had a few months ago. At the end of the appointment, she talked to me privately and could see by my expression that I wasn't pleased about being there (why is my face so darn honest?!). I told her my concerns, foremost being that I didn't want Bruce to feel like something was wrong with him by having to come to all these appointments. She said we would just meet a few times so that she could get to know Bruce. That's all.

Fine, I said. I grouched about it to Scott later and he said, "at the very least, Bruce will get to play board games with a nice, intelligent lady once a week. It's more attention than he's getting at school anyway."

We went to the next appointment. The doctor asked more about the voice of Satan and asked if Bruce could picture Satan. He said she could google it, so they did but didn't find a picture to match the voice (and I wonder again what the point of all of this is). The doctor explained several theories and diagnoses that she had in mind and recommended a few referrals to various neuropsych and developmental pediatricians and such. Really? All this from one incident at school? I said I'd talk it over with our pediatrician. I never got in touch with him (not for lack of trying though!).

By the third appointment, I was more than annoyed. I dragged Phoebe and Miss J along with me and we all crowded into the doctor's tiny box of an office. I told her I was tired of these appointments and asked what his most alarming symptom was in her opinion. She said the auditory hallucination of hearing Satan was most disturbing. I asked if she went to church. No, she said. I told her we talk about this in church and that this finding does not worry me at all. According to her, every Biblical prophet from Elijah to Moses probably has epilepsy or Asperger's or something. She talked with Bruce alone for awhile, then told me at the end that he may need a social skills evaluation referral too.

"What on earth for?" I ask. She said he didn't want to talk much and had his nose stuck in a book the whole time. I told her we had just been to the library before coming to the office, so Bruce was holding a fresh Star Wars book that was way more interesting than anything she had to say (I was a little nicer when I said it to her). Even still, she said he could have social skill problems.

As I roll my eyes and grumble about this whole thing, I read this article about overdiagnosis in healthcare. I have this printed and am crafting my argument for what will hopefully be our last appointment next week. Wish us luck!

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9 Comments:

Blogger ellen said...

I've got two words: Edna Mode

1:16 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

What?! Crazy story. I can't wait to hear what happens!

5:23 PM  
Blogger Strong Clan said...

Emily, wow, I am sorry. As an educator I am sorry for what has happened. You have a BOY on your hands. If I reported every time one of my students said "knife, dealth, blood, or the devil" I wouldn't have a class - they would all be sitting in a doctors office getting "evaluated." You are his parent. Have you talked to the Principal about this whole situation? Did the Principal or teacher ever call you in the first place? Are they going to pay for the medical bills and therapists?
Sorry...venting...I am annoyed...and I bet you are livid!

10:10 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Scott said I'm ranting. Yes, I am. Mess with Bruce and you mess with me.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

and thankfully insurance covers all this, but it does not cover the waste of time that this has become.

11:16 AM  
Blogger The Elledges said...

ridiculous. scott and i were discussing and laughing over all the interesting things a psychiatrist would discover while evaluating our children :)

3:47 PM  
Blogger Leslie Barton said...

Your the mother. Tell everybody to back off :) Bruce is about as normal as they come.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Jodi said...

tell her to stick it. ha. They over analyze everything.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

Emily- So, so annoying. I feel for you. We have had a couple of incidents of school WAY over reacting about things with my boys. I won't go into it here but I'll tell you about it if you email me. Some people just make way too much about nothing and blow normal things way out of proportion. There is a LOT of hypersensitivity these days in my opinion. Anything can be taken out of context and made to sound way worse than it really is, esp with boys since they are kind of obsessed with weapons, action etc. Anyway, I hope this all blows over. And saying that someone has social problems because they would rather read than listen to some boring old shrink lady is ridiculous!!!
I'm ranting right along with you because I've been there and it's so infuriating! I bet you could take any kid in America and "diagnose" them with something which in the past would have just been considered personality differences.
Good luck!

4:52 PM  

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