Malingering?? MY SON???

  1. 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.

    Thanks everyone
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    Joined: Jun '02; Posts: 165


  3. by   Cathy Wilson, RN
    NOT MALINGERING! He may have been fudging on the eye exam, but the child obviously has PTSD. If his counselor can have the wool pulled over her eyes so easily by Zach, and discounting what you report, entirely, she is seeing and hearing exactly what she wants to hear.

    I say it is time for a new counselor, or even a child psychiatrist. Your little guy has been through a lifetime of grief and angst in his short life! He may require an antidepressant, as well as counseling, for quite a long while. He is trying to be the "brave little man," and put on a good front, but it obviously isn't working. He may even be trying to protect YOU, and Jacob, by wanting not to worry about him. However, his "eye problems" indicate that he is really asking for help.

    It sounds as though your family went through a horrific event. I hope that you, too, have had some support and counseling. Always know that we are here for you.:kiss
    ((((((( OHmom2boys )))))))

    I'm not sure where to start or what to say. My heart goes out to you and your family. What trying times you seem to have gone through lately. Your son very well could be attn seeking, and I believe rightfully so. It is typical for a boy his age to be that way, and it's just amplified by his life experiences. Gives those boys some love ( some from me too ). And I would look into another therapist. Sometimes it takes awhile to find the perfect one that has the qualities of friendship and trust along with being able to still challenge you to get to the root of the problem.

    I wish you and your family well. Feel free to PM anytime.

    Originally posted by Cathy Wilson, RN
    It sounds as though your family went through a horrific event. I hope that you, too, have had some support and counseling. Always know that we are here for you.:kiss
    Ditto this. You need to take care of yourself too!

    And another point: just because he was making up what he saw doesn't mean anything. He could have been making them up because he couldn't see them. I'm not an expert in vision, but I find it hard to believe that a vision test exists that doesn't require input from the child.

  6. by   OHmom2boys
    Thanks guys. Heather I thought it sounded funny too. I'd never heard of this test. He also used it on a little guy who was right before us. He used some eyedrops and did something else with some instrument, and said this would give an accurate measurement. Was he bull sh*tting me?? LOL!
    I do see someone and am on my trusty Wellbutrin. Jacob has Prozac for depression....he wanted to die last fall. Thank God that part is better. I do believe we need to see someone else for Zach. She did say if I wanted him to see the psychiatrist she would make a referral. Maybe it's time.
    The only time the kid is happy is when he's playing football. I HATE football, it scares me to death, but have finally been able to make myself let him live as normal a life as possible. But I still hate to see him play football!
  7. by   Rustyhammer
    When I was 12 I wanted to wear glasses soo bad I began making things up ie: couldn't see the board at school, trouble reading etc... Parents took me for an eye exam and the Dr. told them "This kid has the best vision I've ever seen"
    They made me pay for the exam out of my allowance.
    You are there for your kids and I think thats 90+% of the solution.
  8. by   BadBird
    If you think your son is pulling one over on the therapist did you ever consider changing therapists? I feel sorry for your entire family and I think all need counseling. Your sons are lucky to have such a attentive mom, keep up the good work.
  9. by   CountrifiedRN

    Ditto what everyone has already said. Your poor boys have been through so much. Try the referral to the psychiatrist, and see how you feel about what he has to say. Maybe he will also listen to your point of view, because it sounds like you're the one with the most information on Zachs symptoms until he decides to open up about them.
  10. by   shygirl
    OH mom2boys, Check your PM.
  11. by   kaycee
    I had tears in my eyes reading your post. I'm sooo sorry that you and your kids have gone through this horrible time.
    Being a 12yo boy is hard enough let alone what Zach has gone through.
    I think another therapist may be worth trying. One that doesn't see Jacob and that Zach can call his own.
    Sounds like you are reading your child well and that's very good.
    I hope things get better for you all. {{{{{OHmom2boys}}}}}
  12. by   OHmom2boys
    Originally posted by Rustyhammer
    When I was 12 I wanted to wear glasses soo bad I began making things up
    Hey Rusty,
    there's a really cute little girl who lives down the road who Zach talks to everyday, and she just happens to wear glasses. Think that has anything to do with this??
  13. by   OHmom2boys
    Originally posted by BadBird
    If you think your son is pulling one over on the therapist did you ever consider changing therapists?
    Hi Badbird,
    Absolutely! I live in a very small area. Choices are very limited here. But I have contacted Children's Hospital about transferring my boys up there for therapy. It's 60 miles away, but I'm willing to make the drive once a week. Unfortunately, they wrote me not too long ago and said there is not an appropriate therapist available since they are approaching the end of the teaching year. They are supposed to contact me again about this in September. I guess they get new residents or students then?
    Anyway, we will hopefully be going to Children's in September.
    Thanks for the nice words,
  14. by   bagladyrn
    Everyone has given you good advice already. Just one suggestion that helped when my son was about 12.
    Can you get him involved with a group like Big Brothers or Partners where they would pair him up with someone who is there JUST for him? At his age it would be really good to pair him up with a guy - especially, if like me, you are a single mom (I didn't see mention of a husband in your post)

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