That's what the eye doc asked me yesterday while examining my oldest son's eyes. "Any chance of malingering?"
Zach has been complaining of vision problems for a few weeks now, but I never dreamed he really had NO problem. The doc says his vision is perfect. Apparently there is a test they do that needs no input from the child. It will tell whether the exam was accurate or not. Even I could tell Zach was making up letters when the doc asked him what he could see. The letters he was using weren't even close to what was up there. So it wasn't that he was trying to see them. I think he was trying to make his exam worse than it was.
Yes, there is a chance of malingering. A HUGE chance. Zach has been through a lot in the past two years. He watched his brother drown, he jumped in to save him and nearly drowned himself. He remembers every single detail of the event...even kicking his brother in his panic as Jacob in HIS panic, pulled him under. That resulted in a ton of guilt. I thought we had worked through all this. He remembers grabbing a root sticking out of the hill by the creek and it breaking and him falling back in the water. He remembers getting tired in the water and just wanting to sleep.
This all happened 5 days before his 10th birthday.
Since then, Jacob has made an amazing recovery considering his injury. Zach and Jacob have both been in counseling for two years. Zach's therapist says he's doing well...only needs to see him about once a month. She swears he's never suffered any PTSD....even with the evidence of nightmares, panic attacks, avoidance of the subject, major irritability, behavior problems at school that were never there before, and tons of other stuff. She says NO, there's no problem here. He's coping fine. I know better. I've seen it. I've put my son to bed only to find him in my room shaking, sweating, breathing fast and shallow, and his little heart beating so hard and fast it feels like it's coming out of his little chest. But no problems here. He's one hell of a bull sh*tter. He's got her believing him. She thinks everything is fine because he doesn't talk about things with her! I've tried and tried to tell her this but she doesn't think there's a problem. HELLO! The kid refuses to talk about it! Doesn't that send off a red light or something??
If no problem, why then, is he suddenly having problems in school? Why the nightmares? The panic attacks? Now this??
Okay, so I'm not a psychologist. Maybe it's not PTSD or whatever. But anxiety at the least, wouldn't you think?
Over the past two years everything has been about Jacob. Everything has been about Jacob's brain injury. It's so easy for people to forget that Zach was involved in something horrible too. He had to be revived, too. He just doesn't have the lasting injury. He has the memories though.
Zach has a lot of resentment built up against his brother. Everytime he turns around someone is saying Jacob is such a lucky boy. They never say anything about poor little Zach. He thinks everyone loves Jacob more than him. He thinks we are easier on Jacob than we are on him...and we are. Jacob is different now. There are some behaviors that he can't control. You can not discipline, spank, or whatever, a child who can't control his actions. You have to stop the behavior before it begins. Zach is 12, it's hard for him to understand that.
I've tried to make Zach feel special. To spend alone time with just him. He was presented with the local Red Cross Youth Hero Award last November for his bravery. That was really great for his self esteem....for a while. I've had him in counseling, for nothing it seems, for the past two years.
By the way, not ten minutes after I finished explaining to the doc about everything Zach's been through, (in private) he started making all over Jacob. Right in front of Zach.
Only re-enforcing Zach's beliefs.....that Jacob matters more than he does. The doc said "Jacob, I am so happy you are doing so well. You are such a lucky little guy." I tried to include Zach by saying "Yes, my boys are both very lucky little guys. They've both been through a lot." Doc just ignored me. You can even detect a change in the tone of voice when people talk to my sons. They just speak nicer to Jacob. Poor little Zach just sat there and rolled his eyes while the doc made all over Jacob. Makes Jacob uncomfortable when people do that, and makes Zach even more resentful.
So what do you think? Malingering? Or just typical 12 yr old attn seeking? I don't know. Got a counseling appt for all the good it will do us.
She's a sweetie, but she tends to believe this 12 yr old boy just a little too much. He's got her buffaloed!
And would a 12 yr old be malingering? I guess it's possible. What can I do for this kid to help him? He's a very resentful little boy and puberty is upon us, which has not helped his attitude at all.