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Talk to me about drug testing UPDATE in #45


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If I wanted to drug test my child, I agree with Spryte about going to the doctor's office, letting the doctor help you tell him, and doing the test the same day. And I agree with Tap about framing it as trying to figure out WHAT is going on, why his behavior and grades have changed so much.

 

If it's nothing but fatigue and foolishness, showing you are serious in this open, honest and above-board way, will sober him up in a hurry. If it's something more, you're starting off with the doctor at your side, and with good communication on your side, at least.

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I didn't quote because I wasn't sure what you wanted to erase later.

 

It's standard for any doctor who sees adolescents to not do drug tests against their knowledge. It's actually a pretty common request (a parent who wants a teen drug-tested without their knowledge). We won't do it. It's pretty standard for docs to consider it unethical to do so. 

 

What I do is offer to be the one to talk to the teen with or without the parent present (parent's choice). I usually am straightforward: "Your Mom has told me that there have been some things she's seen in your behavior at home. Do you know what she is worried about?" I give the teens a chance to answer in their own words what they think the issue is. If they don't or depending on what they say I add something like "Your parents are concerned about your grades slipping and xyz." Then again I give the kids a chance to respond. Then I would say "As a doctor, when we see someone who has a change in their behavior we worry about a lot of things. One of those things is drug use. Your parents have requested that we do a drug test and I agree that is a good idea." Then I give them a chance to express how they feel about it. I respond..."I understand why you are upset...." Then we would talk about how regardless of the results of the test there are obviously some underlying issues and we discuss how to address those (whether that is psychiatric care or family therapy etc.) 

 

 

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I don't think anyone should be drug tested without their knowledge.

 

If I had a minor child still living at home and relying on me for money that was displaying your child's set of behaviors, I would first set up individual and family therapy.

 

For me, drug use would not be the biggest issue. I'd assume there were issues and that drug use may or may not be a symptom of those issues.

 

If you are already in therapy, I'd try to get suggestions from his therapist and maybe even change doctors if you feel like it is not working out.

 

If I wanted to know about the drug use right away, I would go to the drug store, buy a kit, tell him that his behaviors are in acceptable to you and that you want to rule out drug use so you can focus on the real problem.

 

I'd stand with my back to the open bathroom door and tell him to pee. If he balked, I'd start taking away privileges. I bet he would rather take the test at home, but tell him if he won't, you will have to do it at the doctor.

 

I'm sorry you are in this situation. It seems clear that something needs to change for your kid to be happy. I'd just keep searching for answers and ruling things out until I saw progress.

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I think you'd written in the OP, or way up thread, that your DH wanted to be surreptitious about the drug testing. The doctor you were going to take your DS to, for the drug testing, wasn't going to play that game, and as others have commented, that may be considered illegal or unethical, on the part of an M.D..  I suspect from that that your DH is afraid to face the reality of the behavior of your DS.  I can understand that. It is much much easier, to see things, while wearing Rose-Colored-Glasses. Unfortunately, that also means that one is avoiding or evading the truth, which is possibly/probably obvious.   I am concerned about how many additional days or weeks your DS can continue his current behavior, without crashing.  I hope you will intervene, ASAP.

 

OT: With regard to the other private High School, which I think you wrote would cost USD$40 K per school year, I would rule that out.  I think it is questionable whether or not he will be able to participate in the 2017-2018 school year, at this time. Hopefully, if you get help for him ASAP, AND IF he is willing/wanting to change, he will be able to attend school during the next school year and do well.

 

That is IMO a much lower priority than trying to get his behavior back to where it was and not be doing things to mutilate his body, which could eventually lead to Suicide, whether intended or accidental.  

 

OT #2: A week or two ago, in L.A., a singer, Cuba Gooding, Sr., died. He was in a parked car, with drugs and with alcohol.  Was his death accidental or intentional? Who knows.   The use of drugs can lead to death, intentional or accidental.  If your son is using some kind of drugs, that is very dangerous for him.

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I wouldn't start out with drug tests, with or without his knowledge.

 

Accusations of drug use, I know first hand, can be incredibly hurtful to a troubled young person when that's not what's going on.

 

Try to connect with him on a deeper level first - probably involving family therapy - try to get to the point where you can ask him, and be reasonably assured of an at least semi-honest answer. Don't allow yourself to be BS'd, of course. Maybe what you find out through this process will lead you to the conclusion that you should test. But starting off testing him says "I don't think you would tell me the truth, and I'm taking a stance to you like the authorities to a criminal."

 

The school thing is hard. My first thought is that a $40K school is even more likely to have spoiled kids who are indulged to make bad choices. The peer thing should not be so hard though in general - in school they're in class most of the time, and surely you can tell him not to spend the whole weekend at another family's home? If not - if you've lost control of his movements - then you absolutely need a good family therapist ASAP. Even if substances are part of what goes on at the friend's house, I doubt they're the sole reason your son has this whole dynamic going on in his life; after all even if you found he was drug-free, that wouldn't suddenly make the rest of it OK.

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How long was he out of school when he had mono?

 

I read the mono thread that someone linked to upthread, and wow - his schedule looks exhausting for a healthy kid, let alone a kid who is recovering from mono. I can see why he could be feeling overwhelmed.

 

 

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Fwiw, I don't think drug use would have been my first thought at all!

 

I have one DS who has tried this hand sanitzer and lighter thing. He learned it at summer camp and thought it was so cool. Freaked me the heck out, but I chalked it up to reckless boy stuff. I made him promise never to do it again, and he hasn't (to my knowledge).

 

The other stuff sort of sounds like regular ol' teenage moodiness and feeling out of place (in school, etc.). I would just suggest getting some therapy and let the professional assess whether he/she suspects substance abuse.

 

It doesn't sound out of the realm of normal for teenagers to go through this.

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Whoa, I guess I missed that you were trying to get him tested without his knowledge. I would assume he would figure it out and I think that that would really damage your relationship. I'm agreeing with the doctor on this one.

 

Have you asked him if he is on drugs?

Edited by Moxie
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If I thought my kid was on drugs, then I would drug test him. I would do the blood test that is the most detailed. I would include a chemical test for huffing as well. I would haul him down to the local lab. If he was not 18, I would order the tests myself. If he was 18, I would not feed him until he consented. Who cares if he trusts me ever again. Alive would be a better choice.

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I'm a little surprised that so many people are freaking out about the stunts. I mean, I would freak out because they could very much hurt themselves, but I wouldn't consider it a sign of mental illness or a wish to self-harm. When I was a teen, the hand sanitizer one was done with rubbing alcohol. I didn't do that one, but I did spray perfume in a zigzag pattern all over the kitchen counter and tile and set it on fire  :leaving:

 

That's not to say that I wouldn't be looking into things and pursuing things, I definitely would, but I can't imagine any ER admitting or even referring him based on what was said in the OP. He got some C's, has a bad attitude, and took a YouTube challenge? Um, yeah, he's shooting to the top of the list, lady. 

 

Can you speak to his counselor about what to do next? Or get a new counselor for that purpose? What do you mean when you say that his reactions, when talking to his grandparents, were like someone on drugs? I wouldn't be too quick to accuse my child of doing illegal drugs without some evidence. And there's always evidence. 

 

I would not dismiss public school without some hard research. What do you mean, "they are very poor?" If they are very poor performing, then I'm not sure why the virtual version would be acceptable. Look at the specific school, program, and classes your son would be in. A district can be struggling and still have good schools, a school can be struggling and still have good classes. If he is willing to take the more challenging courses, I would definitely consider public school. I think it's pretty clear that he does not want to be at the school he's currently attending - you may never know exactly why, but it's a problem that needs to be addressed if possible, and in this case it's definitely possible. He can go to public school, and the grandparents are willing to pay for private school. 

 

Best of luck to both of you. I hope you find a helpful path soon. 

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You can buy drug tests for many different substances over the counter at the drug store. I know there is one for marijuana (it is a spray that reacts I think).

 

I would tell him what you are doing.

 

I would also get a psychiatrist on board (not just a social worker/therapist).

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If drugs are involved they can be legal or illegal or a combination of those. If he had previously been a student in the same school the changes seem odd. Grades Friends and Behavior.

 

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There is something else that may be in play here. It could be that drugs, legal, illegal, or a combination of those; are not involved. One can "get high" on Gasoline fumes, Paint fumes, Sharpie Pen fumes, etc.  I've seen that on TV news or read about it.  What are he and his friend doing on the weekends when he is at the friends house? That friend does not seem to be a good influence on him.

 

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Is your son still actively involved in sports?

 

If he did have to drop his physical activity level significantly because of the mono, that could also be impacting his motivation, learning ability, and general mental health.

 

Some kids need a LOT of physical activity to stay mentally alert and healthy. It's a tough thing to balance when there is sickness and the body also needs time to heal.

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I have had my hands lit on fire using the fuel from a lighter. My boyfriend-now-fabulously-responsible-and-trustworthy-husband did it to me. It didn't burn me at all. If we had done arms instead of palms, I suspect I would have burned the hair off. Drugs had nothing to do with it. Why did I agree to let him do it? Because he demonstrated that it didn't hurt and because I knew enough science from being taught about the various types of fuel used on our sailboat and their advantages and disadvantages that I believed it was possible. And I had been shown by my parents when I was little how to run my finger through a candle flame so I knew that fire doesn't always burn. Why did my husband do it? Because he had the same scientific knowledge base I had, because his older brother had shown him how to do it, anx because he was a 16yo trying to impress his girlfriend. Thank God we didn't have YouTube lol. I would do it again without thinking twice about it, but this was not something we demonstrated to our three boys. Or at least, something *I* didn't demonstrate. I did tell them about it.

 

OP - I am not saying you don't have a problem. The fire stuff could just be normal teen stuff and since your son is mad at you right now and wants to demonstrate that, you get to hear about it. I am just saying, having been there with the fire stuff, that that part of your son's behavior would not particularly worry me. Or at least, not worry me nearly as much as the being very angry with me part. Just in case that is comforting ...

 

One of my sons had some extremely rich classmates in his public high school. He swung the other way and decided to befriend the few who were the exact opposite. That, too, had its problems and he was angry at the world for years. Disparities are a hard thing to deal with when you are a teenager.

 

Holding you and your family in the light. Parenting teens is so hard. I am so glad mine are past that now. My only advice would be to try to keep communication open, make sure he knows that you hear what he is saying, and no matter how untrustworthy he is, make sure that YOU stay utterly trustworthy because once he stops trusting you, your influence on his decisions dramatically diminishes. This is one of those places in life where the two sides are not at all equal.

 

Best of luck

Nan

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Is your son still actively involved in sports?

 

If he did have to drop his physical activity level significantly because of the mono, that could also be impacting his motivation, learning ability, and general mental health.

 

Some kids need a LOT of physical activity to stay mentally alert and healthy. It's a tough thing to balance when there is sickness and the body also needs time to heal.

This would have been a major problem with my boys.

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He didn't have a head injury, rather mono.

Good grief. Mono is serious and absolutely affects attitude and thought process. It's not rocket science to know that battling an illness can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. And that a long term illness can cause depression and apathy and lethargy.

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I just read the mono thread. I'd assumed that would be ancient history because you hadn't mentioned it yourself, but it was just four months ago, putting him well within the time many people with mono are still out of commission! You also didn't mention in this thread that his school is a combination yeshiva/college prep that runs eleven and a half hours a day. I'd be putting my head on the desk too! I'm not seeing anything on the other thread to back up PP's claim that he was put right back in instead of recovering, but your not mentioning it and your response to it being brought up aren't very encouraging.

 

Given that, it seems pretty unlikely your son is on drugs. The apparent attitude problems could just be the health stuff - not enough energy to be cheerful - or resentment, perhaps subconscious, over being pushed. Even befriending the bad boy type could just have to do with no longer being able to keep up with his friends academically and in sports. (Please tell us you at least dialed down the sports?) And I agree with others that you are misinterpreting the YouTube stuff in any case. Don't jump to the conclusion of wrongdoing such as drugs when there's a much more likely explanation. Take him to the doctor again - to actually have his health evaluated, not for an investigation.

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Also I'm not okay with running tests on a teen without their knowledge or consent. If you can't be honest about that with him, then you absolve him of any duty to trust you or be honest with you in return.

 

I'd take him to the doctor for an evaluation and maybe try listening to the doctor's advice about recovery from mono.

Edited by Murphy101
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I've had mono. I could not have handled an academically rigorous school during it or for months afterward. I caught it in the middle of May junior year of college and could still only go back part time in September. I had to get a special medical waiver to live in the dorms but take 9 credits.

 

I don't suspect drugs. I suspect his school has long days and is academically challenging, and he's exhausted.

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I just read the mono thread. I'd assumed that would be ancient history because you hadn't mentioned it yourself, but it was just four months ago, putting him well within the time many people with mono are still out of commission! You also didn't mention in this thread that his school is a combination yeshiva/college prep that runs eleven and a half hours a day. I'd be putting my head on the desk too! I'm not seeing anything on the other thread to back up PP's claim that he was put right back in instead of recovering, but your not mentioning it and your response to it being brought up aren't very encouraging.

 

Given that, it seems pretty unlikely your son is on drugs. The apparent attitude problems could just be the health stuff - not enough energy to be cheerful - or resentment, perhaps subconscious, over being pushed. Even befriending the bad boy type could just have to do with no longer being able to keep up with his friends academically and in sports. (Please tell us you at least dialed down the sports?) And I agree with others that you are misinterpreting the YouTube stuff in any case. Don't jump to the conclusion of wrongdoing such as drugs when there's a much more likely explanation. Take him to the doctor again - to actually have his health evaluated, not for an investigation.

 

 

I did not read the mono thread, so this is new information to me. And it sounds quite plausible. It's well worth figuring this out one way or the other.

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Yael, I've been thinking of you since your first post. I hope you're getting answers and working thru things.

 

I remember you lost your sister earlier this year, and I mention it bc that is also so recent it could be a factor with your family's situation.

 

You're in my thoughts and prayers.

 

:grouphug:

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... and no matter how untrustworthy he is, make sure that YOU stay utterly trustworthy because once he stops trusting you, your influence on his decisions dramatically diminishes. This is one of those places in life where the two sides are not at all equal.

 

Best of luck

Nan

 

What wise words!

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Am I the only one thinking the hand sanitizer thing is just a trick, not a wish to actually self harm?

 

I also wonder if the request for a new school is him knowing he needs a different environment/friend group and his only way of asking for it while saving face?

 

 

And, further, self harm is a coping skill, not suicidal ideation. It's a bad coping skill, but that is the function it offers in the user's life.

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It's pretty common for foster parents of teens to routinely drug test their foster kids when they come into the house.  You can get at-home drug tests at any pharmacy that work fairly well, at least for the common drugs.  You could also just get a specimen cup and tell him to use it because he'll need an updated physical to switch schools, then test that cup with an at-home test. Not that starting from deception is moral.  I don't think it is.

 

I think if you're seeing behavior changes to that degree you should probably have a family talk about the changes, say that you suspect drug use, and demand he take a drug test.  If it's not due to drugs but just some other issues, you don't want to start from a place of deception and manipulation.  It could easily be some other type of trauma or mental illness and have nothing to do with drugs whatsoever.  If that's the case starting from deception is a terrible idea and will only compound his problems.

 

Let's say his problem roots from trauma, not drugs.  He could have been sexually abused in the past, and now that he's older it is bothering him much more and he's trying to work out something that's too big for him to handle.  You starting from a place of hiding the drug test is going to make him feel more alienated and betrayed, not loved.  It will make it worse.

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re parental deception with older teens:

...

 If it's not due to drugs but just some other issues, you don't want to start from a place of deception and manipulation.  It could easily be some other type of trauma or mental illness and have nothing to do with drugs whatsoever.  If that's the case starting from deception is a terrible idea and will only compound his problems.

 

Let's say his problem roots from trauma, not drugs.  He could have been sexually abused in the past, and now that he's older it is bothering him much more and he's trying to work out something that's too big for him to handle.  You starting from a place of hiding the drug test is going to make him feel more alienated and betrayed, not loved.  It will make it worse.

 

 

I can't find words to express how strongly I concur with this.

 

 

The disorienting ghastly truth about on-the-edge-of-launching older adolescents is, our parent-child relationship is in transition and it will be different on the other side of their Rubicon.  

 

They have to figure out how to detach and live autonomously from us -- that is their job.  

 

And we have to figure out how to navigate a different relationship that is no longer based on authority but rather on something else -- hopefully love and mutual respect for one another's values and viewpoints; but, look around, not always.   Plenty of adults in this world have prickly or estranged or non- relationships with their parents and in-laws. As our kids launch, we move to the other side of that relationship.  Getting that role-shift right -- transitioning from a relationship in which parents make lots of choices on behalf of our kids, to one where we dont --  is our job.

 

If we insist too vehemently on exerting control in those last few years where we still have control levers, rather than moving to and practicing a different model that is increasingly collaborative and respectful of the kids' autonomy... we are sowing seeds of distrust and resentment.  And we will reap what we sow.

 

 

(ok stepping off the soapbox now, lol....)

 

 

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Further update:

 

I'm sorry for the delay.  My computer died last week and I had to do a clean sweep which was pretty traumatic.  :)

 

My son was suspended again last Thursday for leaving the morning prayer time to go weight lift in the basement of the school, a persistent problem over the year (in addition to still failing to follow the simplest parts of the dress code and his attitude).  He had a long weekend off from school. Our family went to visit family friends and everyone enjoyed themselves.  On Sunday night we were required to come to meet the principal with our son.  At that meeting, our son tried to get the principal to release him from more Jewish subjects and more rules.   The principal demurred and then told my son that he was expelled from the school.  My son (and husband) were honestly surprised.  He thought he'd get another stern talking to.  Instead, he got the possibility of finishing out the school year remotely, both in Judaics and secular studies.  He'd have to engage tutors for the Judaic subjects (we decided he will have to pay them himself) and he would get assignments from the secular subjects.  If he succeeded, he would finish the 10th grade year with a transcript that would mention his suspensions and alternate school finish.  I wasn't surprised.  The school is very small (7 boys now in his grade) and everyone sees and knows what is going on.

 

We did do drug testing on our son on Friday with his knowledge. When we asked him if the changes we have been seeing were related to drug use, he wouldn't say yes or no.  The results came in today and they were negative.

 

On a more positive note, the same son found out that he got into a veterinarian prep course for high schoolers in late July-early August.  They are hopefully not going to ask about his spring semester.  This is going to cost over $2000.  My DH and I have to talk about who will pay for it.

 

I had to leave today as my father will undergo a CT scan to see how much his prostate cancer has spread since the last time he was irradiated (cancer occurrence two).  Thank G-d he feels good and hopes the cancer hasn't spread much if at all.  However, with the recent death of my younger sister, we are all a little traumatized.  

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He does want different school environment and we moved to show him some of the other possibilities.  He chose a school.  I'm not sure they will take him now, but that is a moot point as he said   even the small amount of Judaic studies is too much.

 

Now that he is expelled he has to make a decision as to whether he will finish out the school year in the way that his previous school is willing to help or re-do the 10th grade again.  It will cost him money.  

 

He also has to figure out which online school he will be willing to attend next year.  He is looking at our commonwealth's virtual public schools and several private ones.

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:grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:

He really may not know about drug use. My childhood neighborhood has a few drug lords and even my neighbor whose relatives are drug pushers can't recognize all street drugs.

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Weight lifting, no comment on drug use, bad grades, attitude.... is it possible he is doing steroids?

 

I'm pretty sure that isn't one of the standard drug tests, but you can check with your doctor to see if it was included. Not necessarily illegal, but might fit the behaviors you describe.....

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Weight lifting, no comment on drug use, bad grades, attitude.... is it possible he is doing steroids?

 

I'm pretty sure that isn't one of the standard drug tests, but you can check with your doctor to see if it was included. Not necessarily illegal, but might fit the behaviors you describe.....

I'm guessing no, as his muscles are nothing to write home about yet....

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I'm guessing no, as his muscles are nothing to write home about yet....

My asthma inhalers are steroidal. My mom's rheumatoid arthritis medicine were also steroidal.

 

ETA:

Not saying steroids is the cause but that steroids are common in medications without people like my mom realizing. Her rheumatologist did explain to her.

Edited by Arcadia
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I'm glad his test was negative but I'm sorry he seems bent on making poor choices. I hope you can find the root cause so you can best help him reach his potential and not self destruct :(

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My asthma inhalers are steroidal. My mom's rheumatoid arthritis medicine were also steroidal.

 

ETA:

Not saying steroids is the cause but that steroids are common in medications without people like my mom realizing. Her rheumatologist did explain to her.

 

Corticosteroids (the kind in your inhaler) and anabolic steroids (the kind body builders take) are totally different.

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Is he opposed to doing the Judaic studies because he doesn't believe in your faith (or maybe is questioning his belief)?  In that case I can totally see his reluctance to participate in prayers, religious studies, etc., and to be honest I'd have felt the same way in high school.  

 

Alternatively, perhaps he has faith but feels like it's more of a personal thing than a social/institutional one.

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Also, wouldn't he have credit for the first semester of 10th grade no matter what?  If so, repeating the second semester online starting in the fall might be just what he needs after a summer off. It sounds like he could use some downtime.

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Does he have plans or thoughts at this time about what he would like to do after High School graduation? I read something about a Veterinary oriented Summer Camp for USD $2000. When I lived in TX it was much easier to get into a Medical School than into the one Vet. school. The Anatomy in Vet school is for multiple animals and is harder. He seems to have money but to be very depressed and not looking to the future when he will be an adult. I hope he will improve and be happy.

 

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