Following Bunny Trails

“I don’t have ADD, it’s just that…OhLookAKitty!”

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Much Ado About Nothing

Sorry I’ve been so inconsistent about writing my blog posts lately.  You know how busy summers can be, right?  The boy turns 6 this Saturday and has requested a Wild Kratts cake.  He also requested a Dragonvale Cake, yes, as in the app… my son has turned into a gamer against my will.  But in the end, he said he preferred the Wild Kratts.  But I digress… [bunny trail]   I really left you hanging on my last post, so I will fill you in on what we decided to do about the stimulant medication prescribed by the psychiatrist.

Yesterday was our second appointment with the psychiatrist.  I was all stressed out because of the warning from the behavioral specialist.   When I told her that I wanted to approach our son’s ADHD from a natural standpoint, because of the epic failure of the previous medications, the specialist told me that if the doctor takes the time and effort to diagnose and prescribe a medication for the boy, she’s going to want us to give it to him.  Then she added that if we refuse to take her direction, she would tell us to go to another doctor.   So I’ve been stressing out because I intensely dislike my son taking a stimulant medication.  The side effects are not worth the hour or two you get of the boy being able to sit still.   So, of course, I procrastinated getting the prescription filled.   I finally decided that I would give him the medication for a couple of days, just to say I gave it to him.  Besides, what if this was the one medicine that finally worked, I would hate to deny him something that could possibly help him.   I took the prescription to Target pharmacy.  They didn’t have any, they would be able to fill it on Tuesday.  Uh oh… the doctor appointment is on Monday!   So I took my prescription back and headed to Walmart.  They didn’t have any of the medication either.  Next I called the two Meijer stores in our town.  None available.   On Friday I needed to do some shopping, so I thought I’d give Meijer a try again.  They told me that they couldn’t fill the prescription, then they looked closer and saw that it was only written for 5 tablets.  They said they had exactly 5 tablets.   Saturday was the usual whirlwind of activity and the medication was completely forgotten about until it was too late to take one.   Sunday morning I asked hubby if we should medicate the boy before church, just so we had two days of seeing its effects before reporting to the psychiatrist Monday afternoon.   He said that the boy had been looking forward to fishing at grandpa’s house so much, and he didn’t want the medicine to ruin his fun.  So we decided that we would give the medication on Monday and observe closely before reporting.   I am so glad that we decided not to medicate on Sunday, for two reasons.  Reason number 1 was that the boy was extremely good at church, and if we would have medicated him, the drugs would have gotten the credit.  And reason number 2 was because there was an incident where some wasps were making a nest under grandpa’s floating dock and kept flying up between the dock boards and investigating us.  This terrified the boy so badly that he began screaming and shrieking and sobbing and drooling.   In other words, this extremely intense emotional display would have been credited to the medication, had we given it to him.

Monday morning we woke up and I gave the 1/2 pill of the 5mg Dexedrine, as prescribed.  Within an hour I watched the boy become instantly energized, the drug had kicked in.  He bounced out of his chair and said with wild eyes, “What are we going to do?”  ‘I’m bored!”   I reminded him that Monday was mom’s big cleaning day, and I would really love if he could help me.  “Noooo!” he shrieked.  Ok, here we go with the intensity that comes with the stimulant medication, I think to myself (as if the boy weren’t intense enough without medication!)   I try to make a game of picking up the toys and throwing them into his sister’s shopping cart.  “Let’s go shopping for toys!”  “Nooooo, that’s boring!”  he cries.   Then the excessive talking started.  He was excitedly talking about some nature program he had found on the Xbox streaming.  The phone was ringing and he didn’t miss a beat, running his words together and hardly taking a breath.  I give the signal that I’m about to be on the phone.  He missed the cue and kept right on jabbering, so I keep the conversation short.   I start cleaning the house.  Now you know that children often claim to be bored on summer vacation, they often lay around and moan and groan about not having anything to do, but my son was literally screaming, “I’m bored!”  “I’m soooo bored!”   So I set up the tiny pool I just bought, pour in 1 bag of sand, scatter some cheap fake jewels I bought for a dollar at Michaels, pour the second bag of sand on top of the jewels, fill the pool with water, and teach the kids to “panhandle” for the precious gems.   I continued to clean the house, but the boy kept running inside and showing me the trinkets he found in the sand, leaving a trail of muddy water on the floor I was attempting to sweep and mop.   Oh well, the kids were busy and happy.

The psychiatrist appointment was at 4PM, and the pill had pretty much worn off, leaving an exceptionally calm boy.  I guess that’s one good thing about a stimulant.  It makes you go, go, go, and when it wears off, you’re exhausted.   We met the behavioral specialist in the waiting room and were called into the psychiatrist’s office fairly quickly.  The first thing the doctor asked was how the stimulant medication was going.   I told her that an hour after I gave it to him, he became very energetic.  That it seems as if his emotions are intensified, and I gave her the example of how a child complains of boredom, and how the boy was complaining earlier.   She asked if I felt that we were able to function as a family while the boy is unmedicated, and I said, yes absolutely.   We were medicating him so he could get an education and have acceptable behavior for school.  She said, “then don’t medicate him.”  What?  Excuse me?  She continued, “why don’t we see each other after the first week of school and see how he’s doing in class.”  I was still in shock.  I stammered, “Well, I was thinking of homeschooling him because he was just not able to handle the school environment at this point.”  The psychiatrist said, “Good.  I think he would do well with more one on one education time.”  I had to lift my jaw off my chest, my mouth had been hanging agape.  Saywhatnow?  I could not believe how easy this was.  How open she was to not using medication, how open she was to homeschooling!  I had been prepared for the worst.  I was prepared to discontinue seeing her if needs be.  I was prepared to be lectured about not giving the boy “the best quality of life” or how unfair it was to withhold a medication that would possibly give him control of himself and a better self esteem and a better education… all those things I had been told by teachers and other professionals.   She must have noticed the stunned expression on my face because she went on to say, “Well, obviously the normal ADHD medications are not working for him.  If there continues to be problems later on, we can give anti-psychotic medications a try if you’d like.  We usually don’t resort to those except in extreme cases because they have many side effects.  But lets just see how he develops over the summer.”  And she held out her hand, I automatically shook it and gathered up my papers and we left the appointment.  I should add that while the psychiatrist was talking I glanced over at the behavioral specialist and she had a shocked expression too.

A footnote:   The one day I tried the most recent stimulant medication, we had mixed results, both bad and good.  There were no severe side effects, no meltdowns, no mania.   I was reaffirmed in our decision to not medicate when my son crawled into bed with me at 3AM.  He was unable to sleep.   He kicked and wiggled and squirmed until I forcefully made him leave my room at 5:45AM.  Daddy just happened to be sleeping on the couch because he had a fever and stomach virus and had laid in bed all Monday.  His back was too sore to continue laying in bed.  Daddy got up at 6, when his alarm went off for work.  He got the boy some chocolate milk and turned on the TV to PBS cartoons; after all, you can lead a kid to bed, but you can’t make them sleep.  The boy got 5 hours of sleep last night, and today he has wide, glazy eyes and is behaving wildly.  We have not had a sleep issue in months, not since the last dose of stimulant medication.  Methinks this is going to be a long day.   And yet I’m so relieved that we are done with our trials with medication.


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I May Have Some Explaining To Do

I still haven’t filled the prescription for Dexedrine 5mg, the stimulant medication that the psychiatrist gave us.  Part of the reason is because I haven’t been shopping lately, or been anywhere near our pharmacy.   The other reason is because I really don’t want to put him back on a stimulant so soon after the last one made him manic.  I was informed from the behavioral specialist, that the psychiatrist will kindly ask us to seek a second opinion [permanently]  if we refuse to give the medication that she has prescribed.  I guess she feels that she is asking us to do what she thinks needs to be done for the boy’s ADHD, and if she takes her time to diagnose a disorder, then we will be considered “non-compliant” if we don’t follow her professional opinion.  I guess I can understand that.  She is a psychiatrist, that’s her job, to prescribe psychiatric medication.  I’m either going to have to fill that prescription and at least give it a try, or I’m going to have a lot of explaining to do.

It has been a few months since the manic episode, and my life has drastically changed since he has been off medication.   The big change is that I can no longer just take off and go to this store or that store and pick up things whenever I want to, I have to schedule shopping trips and public outings.  I either have to make sure my mom is available for babysitting, or I have to wait until after dinner, so daddy can watch the kids.   I did take the boy shopping on one occasion, and it went relatively well.  I had to constantly redirect him back to the cart, and tell him to keep his hands off the merchandise, but there were no fits and no “cleanup on aisle 5” incidents.  I would call that a success, even if it was stressful for mommy.   I am ok with the lifestyle change.  I am ok with having a rowdy boy at home.  I’m fine with the fact that we might have to cut a graduation party short when we see signs that the boy’s becoming overstimulated and it’s time to go.  I’d rather schedule my shopping trips on a day when the boy is feeling good and isn’t being obstinate or sassy, then to medicate him into good behavior or complacency and have to go through the “come down” time every afternoon when the medicine is wearing off and he is hypersensitive to noise and is spacey and cranky.  I love the weight gain, growth, and appetite that I’m seeing with my normal, unmedicated son.

The hubby and I were really hoping to go at the boy’s ADHD from a natural standpoint.   Our first step was removing the dyes and adding Nordic Naturals, Children’s DHA to our daily multivitamin.   Removing the food coloring has naturally lead to less sugar intake, but recently it’s been difficult to keep the excess sugar consumption down because of all the picnics, graduations, and parties. Plus, there’s the natural inclination toward ice cream when the temperatures soar in the summer.   I have slowed my blogging recently because I have been doing some research and reading (mommy doesn’t have a lot of spare time, so it’s kind of ‘either or’ at this moment’).  I have always secretly believed that my son can “grow out of,” or more like “develop out of” his ADHD.  I have also come to believe that there are ways to help the brain develop the areas that may be lacking, or where brain synapses are underfiring.   Keep in mind that I am not a doctor, and certainly not a brain surgeon, but as we read and research and educate ourselves, most of us form our own opinions and beliefs.  I hope to keep you informed as I learn and test out new theories.

Dexedrine 5mg tablets

Dexedrine 5mg tablets (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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It’s Not Tourettes!

I’m really nervous for tomorrow’s psychiatrist appointment.   Months ago, my son’s pediatrician asked us to continue our ADHD care with a psychiatrist after 5 different medications that he prescribed were considered “failed” because of undesirable side effects– and the last one caused him to suffer a “manic” episode.   It has taken us two and a half months to get our first appointment.   I have thought about cancelling it on a few occasions.   I’m nervous and have imagined a scenario where the psychologist spends some time with us and then says, “lets try this drug, it might work better for him.”  Or worse yet, I’m afraid that they are going to try to pin a diagnosis on him that is more severe than what he actually has.  I know, it’s totally unfair of me to make assumptions.

My fears are not completely baseless though.  I have written before, of the  behavior specialist that we must meet with in order to even make an appointment with the psychiatrist.  She came to the boy’s school and observed him during gym class.  He was running around like a maniac and making high pitched, almost chirping, noises.  I can not possibly spell the noise out to give you an idea of how it really sounds, like they do in the comics and Sunday funnies, but I can tell you that this noise has gotten him into a lot of trouble.  He has done it in class and disturbed the peace quite a few times with this weird little noise.  The boy once explained to me that it was his bat superpower and he uses it to repel bad guys.  (That’s what you get when you cross Batman cartoons with The Wild Kratts!)  The teacher tells me that she thinks he can’t help but to make that noise.  I agree with her somewhat.  When he’s overstimulated or stressed, he will still occasionally make that noise, I feel like it’s a “tension breaker” for him.  But when I tell him to stop, and use 1, 2, 3 counting, he stops the noise.  The behavior specialist who observed these noises, thinks that he might have “something else going on” and has mentioned Tourette Syndrome on several occasions.

Attention deficit and Tourette Syndrome do go hand in hand in many cases.  They do have similar symptoms, they are both neurological disorders.   But for crying out loud!   Tourettes?  Cut me a break!  ADHD is all about impulses and trying to control them. Making weird, inappropriate noises is par for the course with young children with ADHD.  I am not saying it should be allowed, or go uncorrected.  In fact, what I really want from the meetings with the psychiatrist is for someone to teach him how to cope and control his outbursts, be it noises, or temper, or need to run or move or tip his chair over (and over and over).  Drugs don’t teach children how to take this energy that is welled up inside and direct it, or to hold it in until it is a more appropriate time.  After our recent terrible experiences with ADHD medicines, I’m not really ready to jump right into another prescription.  I would like to give him some time to grow over the summer and be the wild, fun, free, funny, intelligent, inquisitive, inventive boy that our unmedicated son usually is.