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faking sickness

(11 Posts)
NettleTea Wed 14-Nov-12 14:32:48

DD is currently in hospital at the back end of IV antibiotics which are a standard treatment for her and she usually comes out in the daytime to go to school. I went in this morning and she has decided she is 'too ill' to go to school. I freely admit that today maybe she is feeling a bit rough because of the flu jab yesterday - her arm is sore and a definate red patch but she added more to it and was OTT grimacing about her 'burning' stomach (probably because she refused breakfast because its not EXACTLY as wonderful as she feels it should be and she then took antibiotics on an empty stomache) and a refusal to get up and dressed.

On its own that would be fair enough. However she called sick yesterday and refused to get dressed, and within half an hour of being let off school she was fine. She also did the same every last week. One day last week she wasnt too hot, but 3 were fakers I suspect as she seemed fine later in the day when I insisted she go after a big fight. The week before half term she ended up being admitted early because on the monday she wouldnt get up, so I called her bluff and pulled her out of school and straight into hospital. She went in on the thursday - she probably was a bit off colour on the monday (she had been to a friends sleepover on Sat night), but tues/weds she was absolutely fine.

I would say that during last half term I can count on one hand the number of days she just got up and went to school without fuss. Every other day she has told me she is ill. I accept that she has been a bit run down, however she is not IMO ill enough to be off school. And we get the full works, OTT drama, every day there is something, or indeed several somethings, which are wrong with her. Its got to the point where I find myself furious with her when she starts on.

The truth being she doesnt want to go to school. There is a girl she doesnt like who is saying snipey things to her and looking at her in a horrible way. I have tried to talk to her about it, but everything I suggest she has a reason why she cannot do it. She doesnt want me to go in and speak either, but Ive arranged for head of house to call me, as we cannot carry on with this illness fakery, and she cannot carry on doing/saying nothing or be moved schools just because she doesnt like someone, which is her suggestion. There are always going to be horrible people. Ive tried to help but she throws it back at me and seems to revel in the drama of despair. She does like to create a huge amount of drama about everything. If you touch her accidently she screams as if you poked her with a red hot poker, she is absolutely foul to her brother, she has TONS and TONS of attention and things done for her, and at the moment everyone is running about after her.

I have to admit that today Ive lost patience. Ive taken her computer away from her and left her in the hospital. She needs to go to school but I just cant fight her every single day. She is too big for me to physically pick her up and put her clothes on, I cannot MAKE her do anything. We are in the hospital because I stood back and refused to nag her about doing her medicines and physio, and she got sick. Ive walked out..... I told her to think hard about what she was doing. how we dont know when she is ill or not ill because she has cried wolf every day - even the doctors and the nurses say they dont know. They say that her arm is sore, but that its nothing that should stop her being able to go to school.

I do understand about being bullied - I have issues with standing up for myself, and esteem issues. But I think that she also is hyper sensitive too. I understand a new school is scary, but she has some good friends she has gone there with, so its certainly not as if she is on her own.

I just really dont know what to do. I made her tell her form tutor, but I am also aware that the situation is making me angry and I am feeling that her respect for me is falling every time she manages to pull the wool over my eyes and get out of going.

Its difficult because its always possible that she IS ill - however I think I can pretty much spot it when she is. And now I am getting to the point that when I hear her begin to gripe come the morning that I automatically assume she is faking and start to get mad. Today I told her that once out of hospital I would be taking the bedclothes off and dragging her there in her knickers if I had to, to which she replied that I couldnt do that and she 'knew her rights'. I did then point out that in order to have rights she also needed to demonstrate her responsibilities, one of which was going to school - and offered to phone childline for her if she felt that they would have anything other to respond to that. Not helpful, not dealing with the problem, but Im just at my wits end. I left the hospital in tears and she got another day off school. When I phoned at lunchtime she was fine and one of the nurses was giving her a bath........

NettleTea Wed 14-Nov-12 14:41:08

Just to add that this girl sits next to her in most classes, due to their names, and is not going out to be nasty to her at breaktimes, its just during the lessons.

I have made her tell her form tutor, so that if she DOES tell her to get lost (which I have suggested) that they already know there is history. DD has been caught out in a bad way in the past with a boy who said some prettyhorrific stuff to her in primary school, and when, after 8 months, she retaliated, he went crying to HM and DD got in huge trouble. This may be clouding her judgement. She has barely been in school since she spoke to her tutor.

I have suggested she ignore it - which she is, but its obviously really worrying her.

I have suggested that she try not to let it bother her - thinking of it in a different way 9ie when she makes a horrible face, dont feel it directed at her, but think about how ugly it makes her look, or laugh) she wont consider this

The girl isnt just like it to her, she has been nasty to a couple of her friends too. I am getting that there is a bit of a pecking order/popularity thing potentially going on. DD has a nice group from her very small primary, but this girl aparantly has 'lots of girls following her around thinking she is wonderful' and comes from a huge primary school.

NettleTea Wed 14-Nov-12 14:42:48

oh, and she has asked me not to go in or she will be teased. she wont ask to move seats. she doesnt want me to talk to anyone about it. she doesnt want to tell anyone herself and it took alot of persuading to tell her tutor.

I have, however, asked the head of house to give me a call.

cory Wed 14-Nov-12 15:00:42

What is your dd's general health situation? Does she have ongoing health issues? What is her age? Could she be suffering from anxiety related to her general health?

Just asking because my dd, who has a chronic disorder, has lost the best part of an academic year from anxiety and school refusal. When she got help to stop hyperventilating, she started vomiting, when she was taught how to control the nausea something else started up. She isn't lying as such, but her body reacts to extreme anxiety. Makes it very difficult to know when she is ill as in needing a doctor and when not.

This was a girl who seemed to be coping very well with her chronic condition when she was at junior school; got lot more difficult after puberty. She is having counselling, but it's a long haul.

SparkleSoiree Wed 14-Nov-12 15:10:34

I really feel for you and your daughter in this situation. The thought of going to school obviously makes your DD anxious and I can understand your frustration.

When my DS(20) started secondary almost immediately the same thing started with illness. It was a couple of months and trip to the GP before he told us about the bullying. It was ranging from name calling class about his weight to stripping his down in the changing rooms and soaking all of his uniform in the showers. He had a horrendous time and I felt guilty being cross with him when I found out the extent of the problem. At his age he didn't know how to handle it so he just tried to avoid it by not going to school. In the end after many meetings at school I ended up moving him to another school where he settled in almost immediately and made himself some friends. He was much happier there.

I think perhaps the first thing is to ensure you have the whole story from your DD. Then it would be wise to approach the school to find out their anti-bullying policy because you daughter clearly feels targeted even if others don't feel it bullying. Hopefully the school would work with your daughter in trying to resolve the situation. It would be wise to set a time limit though for review to see how things are going. I.e. if this time next year the situation is not any better would you still want your daughter attending the school?

I hope you manage to resolve it soon.

guineapiglet Wed 14-Nov-12 15:36:36

Hi - it sounds as if you are both going through the mill, it sounds rather familiar to me. Have just had two years of a similar sounding situation, and understand how frustrating it all gets, - how old is your daughter and what year is she in? Would be happy to talk to you directly through messaging if you want to - all I can say is it is imperative you and your daughter get some help from an outside source, would recommend CAMHS as a starter via your GP. If your daughter has ongoing health issues ( to have ABs and be in hospital) this is a form of loss of control for her, and everything else you mention spins out of it. You must also talk to the school about where you are at with her, and find someone in the school to take her on board to be there for her and listen - does the school have a counsellor? The downward spiral of non attendance you mention is very scary indeed, and as a parent it is almost impossible to get it right - but you have to be strong and be supportive, even though at times you feel like doing as you have described out of love and frustration. You want the best for her, you love her, that is the starting point. As others have described bullying is massively underestimated in our education system - the well being of many is adversely affected. Let us know how you are doing.

Mutteroo Wed 14-Nov-12 15:48:21

While your DD must hate hospitals, could she feel secure there? I say this from personal experience. I have always had health issues and I missed chunks of school due to surgeries and urgent admissions. In the end I hated school as I had very low self esteem anyway. I found it difficult to maintain friendships because I was off so often and nobody wants to sit next to someone who is frequently off school! When I was bullied, I was unable to cope with it and chose to bunk school taking weeks off. In the end it became habit and I was hardly there. The school never bothered to contacts my parents and presumed my health issues were the reason I was off. Things are better with school absence now thankfully.

I am not saying your DD is having the same issues as me, but your posts made me think about it. There was no counselling available when I was younger but there is now. My own DD had some rotten times throughout senior school and had counselling via YAC (school's own brought in service) and then a couple of years later DD was referred to CAMHS (children/teen mental health service). DD wasn't interested in counselling, however CAMHS organised a course in mindfulness training. This is similar to meditation and when she went along to the first session, she realised there were many others in the same boat and found it very helpful.

Talk to your DD, talk to the school and talk to your GP. It may be that your lovely daughter needs some extra support from an outside organisation. Sometimes we mums are just too close to the situation and it takes an outsider to ease things. You sound like a fabulous mum who sounds at the end of her tether. YAC offered us some family counselling and yes it really helped us to stop feeling so guilty which in turn was causing problems!

I had counselling when I was 25 and I feel completely at ease with my past. My DD is 19 and less angry. She still has self esteem issues but I am so grateful to YAC and CAMHS.

You're not alone OP and there is help. You have my very best wishes

Madmog Thu 15-Nov-12 11:23:36

My daughter has just gone into comp. Before they joined, it was made very clear who the members of staff (Pastoral Support worker, Head of Year, Tutor, Head or his deputys) are who deal with any kind of problems and any worries should be referred to them before they get out of hand as they want to avoid the situation you are on, ie having a child who doesn't want to go to school. If it doesn't help too much speaking to one member of staff, ask if another one is available who may have other ideas which may help. Obviously you have concerns over the girl you mentioned. Do mention about the time out for hospital appointments (which I know have to be done). It might be she finds it hard to settle back in after them.

So do speak to the school as arranged and see how you can both help her work through this. If necessary go in, it can be in lesson time when your daughter and her friends won't see you. It might be the school could change sitting arrangements around in a couple of classes. They do have a lot to deal with changing schools so if she is having problems, it's not going to be easy for her to work them through with other pressures.

It might be helpful to have the girls she does like back for tea or perhaps invite them to join you if going out at weekends a bit more at the moment. It will help confirm the bond with them more and may give your daughter something positive (however small it may seem) to focus on.

NettleTea Thu 15-Nov-12 13:34:31

Thanks for all the advice.

DD is 12, just gone into our local secondary which is very well thought of and a good school. I need to dig out all the info and find out who is who - I know they have a school nurse who is there for emotional stuff more than medical. I also think I have quite a good relationship with head of house, which is why I have asked her to call me. She has been very understanding about DDs condition, and helping to find ways for her to come to school during hospital, and be allowed to go between classes late, into lunch early, etc to avoid the crush of the corridoor. She also remembers me and DP as she taught us both when she started as a student teacher way way back in the depths of time.

DD does have an ongoing health problem. Its unfortunate that this hospital admission came so close to the start of school - she hadnt been admitted for nearly 18 months, so she had a straight run all through year 6, then a decline followed by hospital right on the back of starting seconday. During the first half term she also had a few hospital appointments before she was admitted, so along with the real and unreal days, she has probably missed more school so far this year than she missed during the whole of yr6.

DD spoke to one of the nurses at the hospital about how she was faking because of this girl, and she apologised when I went back in the afternoon. She hadnt thought I was going in at all, and was very upset. Today she has had her line taken out and her health has improved alot according to the assesment they did this morning. I took her into school and now I am waiting for the Head of house to call me around half 2, as I unfortunately missed her call as I was carrying tons of luggage out of the hospital.

In the past she has had CAMHs - she had a lovely lady who came and saw her about a different issue and then again a few years later. More recently we had asked for help as she was being non compliant with medication/physiotherapy and they sent us to one man, who DD didnt like at all and refused to speak to. They then gave us sessions of family therapy. We did 2 sessions which seemed to be looking as if they were going well, but then they said all looked well and stopped it. I felt that they were only just beginning to scratch the surface and there was stuff we needed help with, but there you go. I am trying to find the original lady again, as she had tld us to get in touch if ever we needed again.

NettleTea Thu 15-Nov-12 20:58:42


After all this time, the angst, the wailing, the missed school, the big discussions, she's only come home and announced that Miss Snipey is actually 'quite nice' [exasterated face]

apparantly she told her how to get extra points on some computer game, they started chatting and now she quite likes her.

So now when I speak to Head of House Im going to have to back track wildly, and Im not getting involved again.

Bloody girls. She's home from hospital too now, so thats a relief.....

cory Mon 19-Nov-12 10:45:09

Only just seen that you came back to the thread, OP.

Can I just say that I feel your pain- we have had a very similar situation with dd over the years and FFS sums it up very well. The rapid fluctuations between Situation Unbearable and I Don't Know What You're Talking About, and always Mother who ends up with egg on her face. Over the years I've come to realise that this is actually a part of dd's problems: because of ongoing health problems and not really knowing where she is, she does struggle with interpreting reality, though she seems

It's taken a long course of counselling (and several false starts before she found a right counsellor) to get her to a place where she can start recognising her own panic reactions and take some kind of responsibility for them.

Non-compliance with treatment also very typical of dd in the early days. Again, counselling has helped- and maturing has helped a lot.

Hoping all goes well for you!

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