Lately, Alex is determined to get into everything. I go to the washroom and discover he has gone into the cupboards to eat half a bag of marshmallows. I go into the kitchen to start the microwave and he steals the therapist's keys and runs into the basement to open up the locked room of toys. I'm helping Nathan with his homework and Alex is upstairs dumping out laundry and crawling into the washer to play Oscar the Grouch.
Predicting what he's focused on is almost impossible. One day it will be the washer, the next it could be pulling all the DVDs out of their cases and spreading them on the floor. I leave him alone and he could go upstairs to start pulling apart his dresser or he could dash outside to watch the buses.
This is how my life used to be for the years between two and seven. I had to have a second person in the house at all times or else I couldn't feed Nathan or cook supper or even go to the bathroom. I paid two university students to be at my house from the time Dave left for work until he came home, except for when Alex was at therapy or at school. (We usually only had one at a time in the house but I needed two in order to have complete coverage.)
Gradually, through a combination of therapy and medication, Alex started to calm down. He started to understand consequences for his behaviour. Some things still fell under the level of compulsion and he was going to do them no matter what. But we started being able to trust him more.
The last week has been a taste of what it used to be like. I'd forgotten how exhausting it was. It's draining, leaving me feeling numb until panic ignites as I hear a clanging and realize I haven't been paying attention for the last five minutes and Alex is off somewhere doing something he shouldn't. I'm hoping that it's only a phase and we'll go back to normal as the routine stabilizes again. (I did call the doctor to double check on his medication level and that is still within the range for his height and weight.)
As exhausted as I am, I still feel grateful that things have improved so much. If nothing else, this is a visceral reminder of how bad things used to be and how bad they still could be.