Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Team Effort

A kind of evolution is happening in Thomas' therapy lately. I've sat there kind of dumbfounded as one of my wishes for Thomas' treatment has come to pass. After writing those couple of emails to his therapist and one time asking him, or rather insisting, that we make Thomas' treatment a team effort, at the time I was requesting it I really felt in a way that the therapist's ego was much too fragile to make allowances for such a suggestion. Slowly, though, he's been coming around making comments here and there about how I have had something to offer the session and I've relished each time he's done that but I still felt I was out there on my own trying to do my own brand of therapy to help Thomas in between sessions. Last Thursday changed all of that and now I feel like we are on the right track.

What happened was that I was called into yet another session. I've really had mixed feelings about the fact that I'm in on practically every one because I don't want to ruin Thomas' place to talk about the things that he wants to talk about without me there. At the same time though I have had valuable things to share with his therapist and with Thomas' memory getting worse, I have now become his voice in a way to help him express the things that he's been through the week before. That's one thing I have been very worried about lately with Thomas and both of his doctors and Thomas share the same concern and that is his memory loss. It's been a slowly creeping symptom of something (is it meds side effects? Is it the schizophrenia?) that no one can seem to put their finger on. At any rate, as I said, I have sat in on sessions to help Thomas remember his previous week.

Thomas and I and his therapist worked together on Thursday to help Thomas restructure his view on his anxiety. It does seem to be lessening for him and I think we have the new high dose of Latuda to thank for that. However when it does get bad, it gets really bad so it seems we've traded an almost chronic mid grade anxiety in for calmer times that are punctuated with some pretty rough moments. In a way I see this as a better choice, if we were actually allowed to choose, because I see such improvement over all that it seems almost worth it to have moments of serious anxiety but with a more normal life in between.

Then it happened in session, the thing that I have waited weeks and maybe even months or years to happen. Thomas' therapist leaned forward in his chair and looked Thomas in the eyes and spoke. He said:

"Tom, the reason I have mom come in there all the time is because I think of her as my right arm in therapy. I only get the luxury of seeing you once a week but your mom is with you all the time and sees things that I would never get a chance to hear about if it weren't for her. Tom, if it's ok with you and mom, I am going to ask her to do something for me. I need help. I want to do everything for you I can but I just don't see you often enough. I think mom could play therapist and be my helper when I'm not there. My thoughts are that it would be nice for her to be there when you're dealing with your anxiety and she can give you pointers on how to deal with it or if it's after the fact, she can help you see how you might have handled it differently."

I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Was he recruiting me to be his partner once and for all? Had he finally seen my value as his "right arm" and decided that he'd involve me in helping Thomas? All signs pointed to yes and I sat up and listened and began, finally, to take myself seriously in terms of my value to him.

So, we formulated a few plans and now I am a valuable piece of Thomas' treatment team according to his therapist. All that I'd been hoping for in the last few months had come to pass and here we were, finally a team he and I, and Thomas would now have both of us working together to help him. I consider myself a very lucky person. The truth of the matter is, my angry, demanding emails could have taken the caregiver/therapist relationship so far south that treatment might have suffered but in the end, thanks to Thomas' great therapist being thoughtful about what I was saying and seriously taking it into consideration, Thomas is now the fortunate recipient of some loving, compassionate, educated teamwork on the part of myself and his therapist.

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