Worried about my mom ... bipolar II??

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Grammy2J&J
New Member


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 9/20/2007 8:48 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi ... this is my first time on here ... but I've read lots of people's comments about bipolar disorder and Limictal ... and I first want to say how much I appreciate all of the information.  My mom's doctor just started her on Limictal. She just increased to 75mgs today for the next 2 weeks before bumping up to 100.  She also is taking Clonazepam (1mg at night, .5mg in the morning), Seroquel (50mg at night for sleep) and Zoloft (75mg) for anxiety/depression.  This is about the 10th combination of drugs we are trying - and so far nothing seems to work.  Long story short, my mom is my best friend and has always been the backbone of our family. She is strong, vibrant, outgoing, beautiful, etc.  She has always been the one to take care of all of us ... until last October when she seemed to slip into this super "funk".  She lost tons of weight in the beginning and eventually had to be hospitalized for nutrition/dehydration. They then transferred her to the psych ward for 2 weeks and then sent her home. We've been on Xanex, Paxil, Lexapro, Effexor and now the combination I've listed above.  NOTHING has made an ounce of difference thus far.  She's never had mood swings and has always been the most stable person I know. She is a devote Catholic and isn't even able to attend Church right now (which I don't think she's missed a Sunday before in her life). It is hard for her to get motivated to do anything ... even to come visit her twin grandsons (my boys) who just turned 3.  They used to be the highlight of her life, and now they are just "too much" to be around. It takes all of her effort to take a shower - or go to the store - or to the bank.  Previously, she's maintained a 5 bedroom house with large yard and pool all by herself. She loved to mow, pull weeds, clean gutters, etc.    On a side note, we did lose my dad over 6 years ago to cancer. She says she has completely dealt with his death and has grieved as much as needed ... and up until last October, she was doing great.
I just want my mom, best friend and "grammy" back. I feel like the longer this goes on, maybe there won't be an answer or drug combination that will work?
Any thoughts or comments would be GREATLY appreciated!!!! I personally don't think this is bipolar II ... but it just seems like some of the other drugs should have worked by now if it was just depression/anxiety.   Please help!  sad

loving frustrated wife
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Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 865
   Posted 9/20/2007 9:41 PM (GMT -7)   
If your mom has been stable all her life, why are they suddenly saying BP? Who is dx'ing her? A qualified pdoc? How old is she? Have you looked at seeing a really good neurologist? My father had a slow moving Alzheimer (12 years and he still knew us) and passed this last February. Are you sure it isn't something more like that. If it is, you'd want to get correct treatment started sooner than later. The new drugs can do a great job of holding the condition from advancing better the earlier they are started. Plus, there is also a condition in seniors or even early onset in the 50's of "water on the brain" that build's. I would have a neurologist look into this as well...that is very treatable, but if it goes untreated can mimic a bunch of stuff. But from what I know of being a wife and mother to BP’s, she would not spend her life being a rock for your family, after all - consistency is not a BP’s strong suit, and then suddenly develop this. There would have been signs throughout your life. (BP’s, jump on in and correct me if this is not accurate please! Many of you are more knowledgeable than I…) If there weren’t, I’d question the dx for sure. Maybe that is why the drugs aren’t working. They told me when discovering it in my son, that if it wasn’t a correct dx, the drugs for mood stabilizing won’t work, and the other drugs will not have the right effect either. Good luck to your family to find really what is going on here and getting your mom the help she needs. LFW

sukay
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 1432
   Posted 9/20/2007 11:10 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi my name is Sukay. I'm so glad that you are taking such good care of your mom and looking out for her well being. I'm glad you found us and I hope we can offer you some suggestions.
 
LFW has been dealing with B/P family members for a very long time so she is well seasoned with her wealth of information.
 
I also agree with her.  From what I have known and learned is that B/P symptoms don't just suddenly appear. As you said, " She's never had mood swings and has always been the most stable person I know." You usually see symptoms build up to that diagnosis over a long period of time.
 
I would also agree that perhaps you should take her in to a  neurologist for a full evaluation. That would be my first approach. Before my mother in law was diagnosed with Alzheimers she starting acting very out of the norm and before that was just like your mom and had everything together. It to hit her abruptly.  What type of doctor did your mom see prior to this?
 
Keep us posted. We would like to continue with her progress and help in any way that we can.
~Sukay~
 
Crohns Disease-Remicade since 1999, Methotrexate
Fibromyalgia & Arthritis
Bipolar & Panic/Anxiety-Trileptal, Xanax, Trazadone, Wellbutrin


Honey Bee
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 9/21/2007 1:53 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Grammy

So sorry to hear that your mum is not well and it is so wonderful that you care so much about trying to help her.

I agree with LFW that in my experience (BP hubbie for 20+ years) that it doesn't sound like BP to me. She would have had symptoms before, possibly developing in her teens. You certainly would not be describing her as your rock etc. if she were BP, again in my opinion and the backbone of your family. BP would not just appear now like it has done.

You don't say how old she is so it is difficult to add to other people's suggestions but a neurologist is a good idea. Again, who has diagnosed her BP? If it is just the family GP I would be asking for a second opinion from a qualified psychiatrist. BP is difficult to diagnose and you really do need a thorough diagnosis and expert opinion on this one.

Whatever it is she needs to get back to the doc I think.. You don't say how old you are (or did I miss that?) but can you go with her to press them to find out more?

Keep posting and let us know.

Honey Bee

Grammy2J&J
New Member


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 9/21/2007 8:03 AM (GMT -7)   

Oh my gosh ... you guys are wonderful and I appreciate all of the quick responses. Let's see ... my mom is only 63 years old ... and I am 36.  We are going to a licensed psychiatrist ... and I guess he hasn't actually diagnosed her as BP - but thought we should try the Limictal since none of the other drugs have worked.  During her hospital stay months ago - they did an MRI of the brain - would that show any signs of alzheimers - or is it a different brain scan they do for that? We mostly insisted on the MRI because we wanted to rule out a brain tumor, which is what my dad died from. The pdoc we are seeing now is the 4th pdoc we've seen. The one in the hospital was OK - but he didn't see patients outside of the hospital. The other 2 were referred to us by him ... one went on maternity leave (she wasn't overly impressive anyhow) and the one that took her place was awful! The pdoc we see now was highly referred and we have to pay out of pocket since he's not covered by moms insurance ... but he just seems "ok" as well.  I keep waiting (and hoping) to find someone spectacular who seems to really care about mom and understand that she is nowhere near her normal self at this point.

Her regular general medicine doctor has also been involved and done thyroid testing, blood work, etc ... all of which has come back normal.

A couple of side notes ... we had a huge winter storm last year that knocked the power out for several days. This seemed to really hit mom hard and started what we call her "downward spiral".  All of her concerns (the house, finances, etc.) were, in her mind, "catostrophic".  My dad left her very well off financially and the house she lives in is worth a ton ... but she is so worried and concerned about money. So really, her concerns aren't "valid".  She litterally sits in her house all day and watches TV - and she is one that used to only watch TV for an hour or 2 at the most - and only at bedtime. Her personality is just SO different! She is a huge sports fan - and has actually gone to the last 2 home football (college) games ... but she won't participate in the tailgate partying beforehand like she used to.

I'm just so worried about her and I miss her companionship SO much! And the boys miss their Grammy! 

Even tho she's already had the MRI done - do you all still think we should see a Neurologist?

Thank you all SO much!!!! I just feel lost ... and with twin boys - I don't have tons of free time to research everything.


loving frustrated wife
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 865
   Posted 9/21/2007 10:40 AM (GMT -7)   
Grammy, there is NO question you should be seeing a neurologist. The tests for Alzheimer are things like PET scans, and several other markers. But from the sound of it also, your mom is not a BP, if anything mentally is going on it sounds like she is in a deep clinical depression. Forgive me, but unless your mom is on the correct meds, and she has been being treated with the wrong meds, THEY can be throwing everything off too. Now, I am NOT recommending that you stop all her meds. But frankly, I would sure take her to the neurologist and demand to have her PDOC wean her off the meds completely and START OVER! Because whatever they are doing is obviously not working and could be leading you in all sorts of incorrect directions. I know you say that the big storm seemed to trigger this. Has anyone checked for a sign of a stroke? My uncle, who use to be a VERY dynamic guy went in for heart surgery, and had a stroke on the table during the surgery. When he woke up, he was a VERY different man and was never the same. I am not saying he was suddenly a bad guy, just VERY different. If your mom became terrified during this storn being alone in the house and feel exceedingly vulnerable, people have had heart attacks under these conditions… why not a kind of stroke? It is possible I suppose. They can also cause personality changes that seem unexplainable. Again, a neurologist is the one to find it.

Also, is your mom speaking regularly to a therapist? Fear for a senior citizen can be a HUGE issue. Your mom sounds terrified to me. Maybe she just emotionally shut down? Plus, women of her generation many times allowed the “men” to handle all the finances, so even if she is well off now, she may not REALLY understand the nuances of money. She may feel too vulnerable handling it on her own, not knowing a good investment from bad, is her money being managed right, will she loose it all and become destitute because she doesn’t feel she was a capable as your father may have been about it, fear of being stolen from, taken advantage of, it running out, etc. That is all different than dealing with your father’s death. My mom was like this, when we found out Daddy had Alzheimer and mom had to step in…she had NO idea what she was doing and it caused great panic for her. And even though she was a strong capable woman, she didn’t have to words to describe how she was feeling about it; she just knew she didn’t feel comfortable. So, we found a VERY trustworthy CPA and financial advisor for her and he became part of my mom’s advisory team to help with that. We are part of it to, so mom doesn’t feel overwhelmed or alone with it. It is daunting to take this issue on at a later stage in life when you feel so much is riding on it.

I hope this helps. Good luck and get mom to a top neurologist! LFW

sukay
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 1432
   Posted 9/21/2007 6:42 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi Grammy,

It's me again. I've been reading the posts along with you. I just wanted to encourage you to really take to heart what "Loving Frustrated Wife" is advising you to do. She seems to be hitting a lot of things right on the head.

Just wanted to offer my encouragement. Please keep us updated.

Sincerely,


~Sukay~
 
Crohns Disease-Remicade since 1999, Methotrexate
Fibromyalgia & Arthritis
Bipolar & Panic/Anxiety-Trileptal, Xanax, Trazadone, Wellbutrin


Grammy2J&J
New Member


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 9/21/2007 8:11 PM (GMT -7)   
Wow - you guys are wonderful! My mom actually came out to our house tonight for dinner ... which is a first in a LONG time - so we were thrilled! She seems to actually do better when she is away from her home ... it's like the fears and worries of everything falling apart go away. She even mentioned one time that "assisted living" sounds good ... meaning that it would be great to not have to worry about cooking for herself (I swear she eats the same thing every night because nothing sounds good), not to have a house that could fall apart around you, etc. We've talked about having her sell the house and maybe even rent somewhere for a few years. It's just hard because her house is so ideal and is in a location where you could never afford to buy again. It's convenient, safe and has tons of memories. Plus, we don't want her to make a huge decision like this when she isn't feeling herself - and then later regret it. I told her that I have been on here talking to wonderful people and getting lots of input/advice ... and she said that she thinks our new pdoc is also a neurologist?!? Her next appointment is in 2 weeks - and I'm definitely going to go with her and run some of this stuff by him. Even if this is not BP and is just deep depression, the Lamictal could still work, right? Or do you all think we are spinning our wheels? We have a family memeber who is extremely BP and actually tried to kill himself last year ... and I've read that the BP tendencies can (and do) run in the family. It's her sisters son who is suffering from it ...he is 18 months up and 18 months down. It's really sad and unbelieveable. So while I don't know first hand how it feels for those of you who are personally going through it, I have had some exposure to it. I too am on Paxil - it's helping me deal with my 3 year old twins! I was having a really hard time when they were babies and just needed a little "helper" to get through it. I've since increased the dose and found a happy place. I'm normally not one to push pills ... and I would actually love to wean mom off of everything and see where she is ... but then I think back to the beginning of all this and she was litterally curled up in a ball on the couch, shaking because she thought her house was going to be condemned since we found that her popcorn ceiling contains a tiny amount of asbestos (less than 1%). Anyhow - I will take all of these thoughts with me to her next appointment and see what the doc has to say. I'm not feeling overly impressed with him at this point - so we'll see if it's time to change docs yet again. It's hard to find a good one!
Oh yeah ... and about her finances. She really does know how to handle everything and has excellent financial support through her private banking team ... but she says she just feels "inadequate" when it comes to knowing all about how her funds are allocated, the difference between stocks, bonds, etc ... but then again, the people in charge of her money have spent years going to school to learn all about this. The average "joe" doesn't know all of this either. She and dad worked together with the finances ... just so that she was never left in the dark. I know her mother had a terribly hard time learning how to do things when her father passed away.
Also - mom is not currently seeing a therapist. We tried a couple and she just didn't connect with them. In fact, the pdoc we see now thinks that therapy won't necessarily help until her chemical makeup is re-balanced. Mom too doesn't think that therapy would help - she feels like she talks to all of us (we are a close family) about everything and has nothing to hide. I think once we start to see some improvement (hopefully) - we should look back into it ... because she'll need some help remembering healthy behaviors!
Thanks again for all the care and concern. You guys are the best!
(I'm not actually Grammy ... I'm Katie ... we call my mom Grammy ... just FYI. I probably should have picked a different sign on name!)

loving frustrated wife
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 865
   Posted 9/22/2007 11:25 AM (GMT -7)   
Katie, I agree with your assessment to NOT rush and sell your mom's house yet. But, there are certainly a lot of options around to look at in the meantime: you can look at doing a 6 or 12 month lease to give her a break from the responsibility and place her things in storage. Perhaps moving her into and ACTIVE senior community where they cook all the meals and they are served in a "restaurant" style setting would be good for her. (However, most of the seniors living in such places are more in there 70's+) Several years ago, prior to my father in law passing when he was still driving and traveling...etc, we looked into this wonderful, very upscale senior complex with park like grounds. There were single, 1, 2 & 3 bedroom condo's and were stocked with full kitchen's, living rooms...etc. You could cook at home, or go to the restaurant for meals. It was the choice of the person. They had parking spaces as everyone still drove, and it was seriously just like an upscale condo for still working and active seniors but it came with some of the things that made life easier such as maid service, gourmet meals, assistance if you needed anything...someone was right there, and a built in social community with card games, movies, social events...etc. It was wonderful. It sounds like something like that might work for your mom. Think a "leisure world" community (look on line to see what those are like). You see, while YOU see the joy in all the memories, for your mom, they may be very painful. It also may be very lonely for her now so everything is extremely magnified etc. Perhaps she could move in with your family for a few months and only go "home" when she is ready? Let her spend some time helping with the grandkids and focusing on something outside herself consistently. Sounds like she spent a lifetime doing that and suddenly she was lost when that stimulation was gone and then the intensified fear struck.

I know you say she is good with the money, but it has to be pretty scary to be doing it without your dad. I know the "team" was put together while he was still alive, but if I put myself in your mom's shoes for a minute - and as smart and savvy as I my think I am at times, I would still fear being swindled by someone on the team if I turned my back for one minute because I didn't have my "partner" with me anymore to run things by. It’s harder to slip something by 2 people than 1, if you know what I mean. And in the world of money...my husband understands the nuances of stocks, bond, portfolio's better than I do, but I have a very strong sense of money and how to make it grow and am more grounded than he is in that…so we make a good team. I’m sure it was the same for your parents. But it sure is scary to know who REALLY can be trusted, and if I didn't have him as my backup...I'd be scared to death! So keep in mind it is very different to do something alone that you are use to doing as a team.

As to the Doctor's...any doctor...waste NO time if there is a sense this is not the right guy..."I'm not impressed" type of thing. You can go on the web to places like "best doctors", or “health grades” to find a good match for your mom, or contact the top hospital in your area and find out the best neurologist on the team, or find a top medical university, call some senior centers and ask for the best names they know...blah blah blah. You get the point. Appointments can be canceled or made inside of the two weeks you sit and wait for this next appt. Once you get some names, then, do your research to ensure they have a good record. THEN make the first appointment and write out your concerns (if I don't I always forget in the moment all the questions I have). You should absolutely have a sense that your mom is with a really excellent dr and you are happy with her care. She is still quite a young woman and has many years of her life to lead. The only way you are going to have success in her getting on happily with it is if the dx is the correct one. THEN, all "ducks" are facing in the right direction and everything can work in harmony.

Keep us posted! LFW
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