Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Weekend of Normalcy

The last few weeks have flown by. Graduation party for the eldest, working on a kitchen remodel, and not much out of the ordinary to report. I sometimes forget how far we have come until I am reminded by either my sister or by reading old posts in this blog.

The boys have been busy with activities. The older two have work and swimming. Colin has been going to cross country practices and recently finished up a SAT review class. The new X-Box has also been getting a workout with Colin and his middle brother. Having two teen boys that can drive has been a lifesaver for our family. The boys can be left home alone during the day and are fairly self-sufficient.

I have decided to continue with weekday doggie daycare for Sumter. I know from last year, that our pup will be largely ignored other than mealtime and bathroom breaks. I have found that Sumter is easier to manage when he has had a full day playing with other dogs and comes home worn out. Our beloved pooch has been instrumental in Colin's reintegration into our home. I am committed to providing the best care possible for him.

Almost Like Old Times

This weekend has been one of the most "normal" since our son has been back.Friday night, Colin and his Dad went shopping for new running shoes. Saturday night Colin came along with me to pick his brother up from work.  We got take-out from Wendy's then stopped at the grocery store on the way home. The boys stayed in the car while I purchased  a few necessities.

Later that night, Colin mentioned that he might want to go running around the neighborhood. He was feeling guilty about missing Friday's cross country practice and wanted to test out his new shoes. I looked at the clock and it was almost midnight. I mentioned that it was late and not a good idea. I realize that he does not want to run into anyone he knows from his middle-school days. The stigma from his interrupted school year still hangs over his head.

Sunday afternoon, while I was mowing the back yard, Colin, Sumter and hubs came out back. I took a break and we all sat down. Dad decided to take Colin down to his high school so he could run the team's usual path. As we relaxed and chatted for a bit, my husband and I exchanged glances. Not a word needed to be uttered to know what the other was thinking. We were having a "normal" boring day. And we were ecstatic!

To top things off, we made plans to go out for a Sunday family dinner. The WHOLE family. After some deliberation we decided on a nearby restaurant. Colin and his middle brother wore sunglasses. For my 17 year old, he was making a fashion statement. As for Colin, I believe this was for protection, in case he ran into someone he used to know.

Dinner Confessional

The coast was clear with not one familiar face in the restaurant and dinner was relaxed. The boys bantered about. My middle son mentioned his upcoming trip with me to NYC. Just the two of us are going on a mini vacation to visit family, take in a couple of college visits and see a play that my nephew is in. To my surprise, Colin mentioned that he might want to go. His middle brother mentioned that it was too late, tickets were already purchased. I mentioned that we can take another trip with him.

Truth be told, this would have been a very bad idea. While I am encouraged that Colin was interested in going with us, I know he is not ready. Until he is able to openly talk about his sound issues, there is too much room for things to go terribly wrong.

However, we may be seeing baby-steps in the right direction. In the course of our dinner conversation, my middle-son mentioned that he is slightly OCD. He and his eldest brother got into a debate about this when Colin chimed in.

"You know." he piped up, " I was diagnosed with OCD". There then was a bit of silent hesitation and we all dropped the topic. This was the first time our son had mentioned something from his hospitalization. While he was never formally diagnosed with any disorder, this was one of many possibilities mentioned.

We are all being careful to avoid mentioning anything from "the year that is not to be spoken of". We don't want to spook Colin. I have found that if you focus on listening and not reacting, every now and again a snippet of information will slip out.


As always we are a work-in-progress!

Friday, June 26, 2015

23andMe & Misophonia

A short time ago,  the evening of Thursday, Jun 11 to be exact, I was lounging on the couch, watching television when my husband walks into the room.

"Did you get my email?" he inquired.

When I asked for a little more information, he told me to just go read it. I begrudgingly went to my computer to retrieve his message, more than a little irritated that he could not just tell me.

When I pulled up the message in question, I about fell out of my chair. I could not believe what I was seeing:

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Sensitive to Certain Sounds?

The genetics behind the hatred of sound

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You are receiving this email because you are a customer of 23andMe.

 I was stunned. I was then told to read part two. I am pasting parts of it below. It is important to note that 23andMe would have no way of knowing our issues with our son. The significance is HUGE. The power of "Big Data" in the form of customer surveys makes a case for a significant percent of our population having this disorder. This may be the breakthrough that is needed to get researchers and the medical community to take notice.

And now, the rest of the story from 23andMe:

Sensitivity to the Sound of Chewing (Misophonia)

Are you annoyed by everyday noises such as the sound of other people chewing? You may have a mild case of misophonia: literally a "hatred of sound". Misophonia can be brought on by a variety of sounds made by other people including breathing, nail clipping, footsteps, and, most commonly, eating. About 20% of 23andMe customers describe themselves as "filled with rage" by the sound of other people chewing, suggesting that misophonia may be quite common. Furthermore, female 23andMe customers are almost 30% more likely to report this sensitivity than male customers. Unfortunately, misophonia has not been well studied by scientists and very little is known about its causes. An internal study at 23andMe, however, shows that genetics may play a role.

Keep in mind that:
  • This report describes study findings observed in groups of people. The findings may not be representative of you as an individual.
  • The genetic markers reported here are associated with normal variation and generally have very small effects on the trait.
  • Many factors besides those described here may influence this trait.

Genotype Genetic Result

GG Slightly higher odds of being sensitive to the sound of chewing..

AG Typical odds of being sensitive to the sound of chewing.

AA Slightly lower odds of being sensitive to the sound of chewing.

For More Information, See 23andMe June 4 Blog Post:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Happy "Gotcha Day"

Today is "Gotcha Day". It is the one year anniversary of getting our puppy and bringing our son back home. It was a nerve wracking experience, not unlike bringing a newborn baby home. We had just finished building the sound-proofed room in the basement. It was the start of Summer vacation. We had no idea how reintegration would go.

Would the changes to our house be enough? Could our son be able to live peacefully with us? Would he reestablish a relationship with his brothers?

Today is also my middle son's birthday. Last year was not a great one. All of our focus was on our youngest who not only got a new room but a puppy on his brother's birthday.

Birthday Celebration

Today we had so much to celebrate. We made a big deal over my 17 year-old's special day. After he came home from work, we went out to dinner. Then back home for cake and gifts.

Colin has seemed very interested lately in coming up with suggestions for gifts for his brothers. He's been asking what we were planning to give our eldest for high school graduation as well as showing an interest in what his middle brother was going to get for his birthday. When I asked what he thought we should do, a video game system was suggested for both. This is not a good idea for a soon-to-be college student but was duly noted for our middle-son.

The younger two wanted a certain game which is only out for the X-Box 1(newest X-Box). Hubs went all out & bought the new system with the game and an extra controller for the birthday boy. Middle-son was so excited we got big hugs. Colin was just as excited and surprised me with jumping in for a group hug. (the 1st in 2 years). He is upstairs now, in his brother's room helping set up the system. This is by far the happiest our house has been in a long time! 

Year-End Review

For the most part, Colin seems to be behaving like a fairly normal teen. The school year was fairly successful. Colin has been maintaining Honor Roll status and appears to be happy at his new school. He is famous for his study guides and has a group of friends he has been sharing study notes with.

My husband and I have been careful to limit our interactions with our son to allow Colin to initiate most conversation. He is most irritable in the mornings and I am careful not to make eye-contact and to steer clear of my son if possible. Since his return home, Colin has been able to control his reactions to former triggers so that it is hard to know what still bothers him. He is so good that his eldest brother thinks Colin is fine now.

Unfortunately I know that is not the case. Recently I had to pick Colin up from a volunteer gig and it started to rain. I heard a squeeking sound and looked in my rear view mirror to see what it might be. Turns out I left my back wipers on. I caught a glimpse of Colin with a towel over his head. I have not seen this behavior in the past year and am fairly sure this is his way to cope with the windshield wipers.

He also mutters under his breath. I recently caught a few swear words during a car trip. I am choosing to ignore this behavior. I have exceptionally good hearing and I believe this to be a coping mechanism.

As we begin this Summer break, we have much to be grateful for. Our boys seem to be getting along well. Colin will be taking a Summer gym course as well as a SAT-prep class. Cross country practice should be starting soon as well.

Fingers crossed for a routine Summer where Normal shall be celebrated at every chance.

As always, We are a Work-In-Progress.