Unexplained Physical Symptoms, What's a Psychiatrist to Do?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Missizzy, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

    Good Morning--Here is a link to a thought-provoking article which provides insight into the training doctors receive relating to our "treatment". I have very mixed emotions about this piece but I will be very interested to read the feedback from all of you.


    As a sidenote, I have a personal story to share pertaining to Conversion Disorder. One of our sons is a vibrant and popular Varsity soccer player--top ranked in the state as a striker. We've been told by soccer professionals that he's the only player they've seen who can run faster than the ball!! All this and he's blind in one eye. He came to us via adoption at the age of 2 yrs. and had never been with his biological family. He spent his first two years with a lovely foster family trained in medically fragile care. This boy was prenatally exposed to crack cocaine and born prematurely as was his older brother (who is also our son). Our son has done extremely well socially and health wise. His disabilities seem to be primarily mild developmental delay and some learning deficits.

    When these children were six and seven, they were horribly raped by a local young man who volunteered at their school. He also raped six of our other special needs children and at least two other children unrelated to our family. The boy threatened the kids with a rifle (an exhibit at the trial) and killed one of our beloved kitties and permanently maimed another in front of them to terrify them into silence. He was tried and convicted to 10 years. He will be released next June. Our family was numb with trauma.

    Our children testified at the original trial and received years of compassionate therapy. They had to deal with the embarrassment of extensive media coverage. They had to bear the agony of an appeal, a Supreme Court decision and be deposed for a Post Conviction Relief Trial. These children saw their rapist at that trial which occurred about nine years after the abuse. Following that trial, our family appeared and spoke before an Oregon Senate Committee on victim's rights. This son spoke out eloquently in that Committee (and on camera) about his rape. He was so brave. So, for ten long years, these rapes were a centerpoint of our life.

    One week after seeing his rapist, the son I mentioned above started having seizures and unexplained vomiting. He would seize and vomit in class, on the soccer field, while riding his bike, at home, and on the bus. He suffered two concussions from falling. It didn't matter how many friends or pretty girls were with him at the time. He disappeared several times only to be found by police in strange places in a "fugue state". He spent weeks out of school, in and out of the hospital, barely crawling through his days. He slept for days at a time. He complained of muscle pain. He was diagnosed with epilepsy and placed on meds. He wore a Holter Monitor which picked up racing heart rates throughout the day and night. Through this, he continued playing soccer.He hated being sick.

    When my husband took me to the Mayo Clinic, his health quickly declined and he was hospitalized for almost a week with dehydration and intractable seizures. The doctors were as baffled as were we. There was even some discussion that he could be afflicted with whatever was affecting my health. Needless to say, he and I spent many many days together.

    It wasn't until a cold night this last February that this son confided that he had been considering suicide and finally disclosed what was going on. We rushed him to the hospital and he was committed to the Pychiatric Wing. It turned out that he "sees" his rapist everywhere and when he does, he seizes. My husband and I were shocked as we'd never heard of such a thing. We were also heartbroken that he had suffered so long in silence. Our beloved pediatric neurologist assured us that he'd seen this before with people who have been terribly traumatized, such as soldiers, crime victims, and sex abuse survivors. Suddenly everything started to make sense. Our son was formally diagnosed with Psychogenic Seizures caused by severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with frequent flashbacks and hallucinations.

    This young man, now 19, is in therapy and making progress. He still cannot tolerate being alone for one second. He still closes the blinds and will not look in mirrors but we've made so much progress. We've been told to prepare for this to be a lifelong challenge for him. But there is hope and he has the support and understanding of a large and loving family.

    The reason I share this very personal story is that you will note that this article talks extensively about these very issues. On one hand, I am extremely offended by some of the statements which insinuate that many of us suffer from conversion or somatoform disorders. On the other, I live with a young man who could be the "poster child" of the very symptoms described in the article.

    My request if that we read this controversial article with an open mind recognizing that some people do suffer just as described. And that suffering is life-changing. There's so much to learn about how the mind plays its role in our physical health.


  2. meditationlotus

    meditationlotus New Member

    I didn't know that you were a Mental Health Professional. I am considering going back into therapy for PTSD and Depression after years of absence.

    I am hardly sleeping, and it is making me crazy. I know that I need medication, but I have Neurally Mediated Hypotension, and so many psychiatric meds lower blood pressure and make my NMH much worse. So, it is a catch-22. But maybe this catch-22 could help to build a case for Social Security Disability.

    I will check our the CD's you recommended.

    Also, thank Missizzy for sharing. It is amazing how trauma can so change our lives. I am glad that your family is healing and moving forward.
  3. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

    Thank you so much for your compassion and your recommendations. I will research this immediately. One of the very sad facts of victimization is the lack of follow-up supports. We are very active with Crime Victims United and it has still been very difficult to access appropriate mental health care for our children. It angers and disappoints us that the rapist will never be held accountable for the life long damage he caused. His family has spend over one million dollars in his defense (per the DA) and our children were awarded $80 each by the judge in the orginal trial. There is no hope of a civil trial as the rapist was under 15 at the time of the crimes. Even though he has been locked up for ten years, he has never participated in any treatment. We are almost certain that he has been a victim also.

    Our son is very motivated to be well and strong again. I know he would welcome the CDs you recommended. My husband and I have been trained in talking him through his flashbacks and that has been very helpful. His current therapist is using a form of CBT and calming exercises with him. It is just so sad to see a handsome, athletic, endearing young man with so many prospects literally brought to his knees by past demons. He himself has reported that when he "sees" his rapist, he is still 6 years old but the rapist appears to be 24--the age he was when we last saw him in court.

    And you are so correct in your assessment that the whole family suffers from some level of PTSD. Every time I climb marble steps (as in courthouses), I have horrid memories. So many things trigger painful thoughts of the last ten years. And our older children who were not targeted have suffered in their own way. Just as my husband and I do, they blame themselves for not being vigilant enough. Of course we intellectually have processed this, but the pain remains.

    Once again, thank you for the help. I never give up hope that the healing will continue.


  4. kellyamos

    kellyamos New Member


    As I read your very personal story of how your family has suffered so much for so long, you have touched my heart. Even though you yourself have medical problems, you are doing everything to help your family to cope and heal from such horrible acts against your family.

    I have not experienced the horrible things your family has suffered through, but I just wanted to let you know that you are such a HERO and a wonderful mother. I have never heard of one person's sacrifices that you have made to help your family.

    Please remember one thing though, don't forget about you. You sound like such a loving, caring, wonderful person and you are a very important part of the healing process for your family.

    I wish you the very best and hope and pray for your family.


  5. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

    Kelly--Your kind words touched me deeply. I don't feel like a hero but I do feel like a person who refuses to give up. I just cannot let evil win. If you knew my children, you would know why I fight so hard for them. They are my greatest blessings and have made me the person I am.

    Nink--I was very impressed with the Healthyjourneys website and have ordered the 3 cd set on healing trauma. My son and I listened to the short clip and his eyes lit up. He loved it!! He was especially interested in the fact that there is a cd to help build safety and calmness and to initiate sleep. These are huge issues for him. I'm glowing a bit right now just to have seen his face.

    When I called my older son to ask about ordering (cd versus MP3), my older son surprised me by saying how much he'd like to listen to the tapes. This is my son who lost his newborn daughter, his marriage, and his business late last year. He's just been diagnosed with bipolar 2 and anxiety disorder. He's also actively grieving. I can't tell you how much joy this gives me. I have been doing this sort of imagery with both of them for the last several months as they know they can always call me when they are struggling. Now, they will have Belleruth to listen to also. Nink, just to know that these two fine young men are willing and ready to heal makes me proud of them. They have so much empathy and compassion for others and have many gifts to share. You've really touched our family today by your note.

    Gentle hugs,