Thursday, November 17, 2011

Show me a kid on medicine…

…and I will show you a desperate parent.

Actually, I know one! She has long brown hair and a totally hysterical blog where she talks about her “feelings” all day long, and, whenever possible, dessert.

My point is, I dare you to find me a parent on the planet that WANTS to medicate their kid. Wait, never mind, they don’t exist. No one dreams of the day you go to your first parent teacher conference and sit there wondering what parts of this progress report is a reflection of your kindergartener, and what parts are medicine related? Especially when you suspect there are other parents out there who simply get to go admire the coloring and discuss penmanship and fundraisers.

This thing happened in the late 80’s and 90’s where being diagnosed with ADHD came under attack for being overused, a fad, an excuse, and a label for bad parenting. What these kids need is just a little structure, yah know? And the parents and experts allowing these kids to be labeled were vilified, mostly to get ratings on afternoon talk shows.

Well, I am here to tell you that in 2011, even with all the advances of our modern, more enlightened world, there is still no “structure” big enough to contain the shining persona of my eldest son.


Let’s talk about Russell’s privacy for a minute, shall we? I know by having this whole blog devoted to the way the brains work in our house, it may seem like I have no problem violating, well, everybody’s privacy.

I do care. In fact, in the last 6 months every time I have stressed how hard our move has been, mostly that was code for “people are losing it here!”

Since not the least of the unstable people was me, and sometimes I didn’t feel like I had a clear view of self imposed boundaries, I simply made entire topics off limits.

And By Golly! I can’t stress how nice it is to finally be home. To have my furniture (and brain cells) in semi-permanent arrangement's! Ahhhhh… that’s better.

So now I have to define what “Russell’s privacy” really means. I guess that someday (in a land far far away) potential girlfriends could go through these archives and find something humiliating? That when you turn 18 your criminal record gets erased, and so should your mom’s blog? That as I make friends with other parent’s at the school, if they find this blog, they get to see all our underwear before the first playdate?



Hey kid, welcome to the age of technology, facebook and text dating. Not only can this site work for Russell as a resource when he has his own kids <cough> in a way that MTV would have no interest in making a documentary about <cough>, but this? I am proud to let my kids see this blog as their mom learning to drive on the information highway. I think the age of information and fast food is going to be more open, and more isolating, than any other time on this planet. I hope my journey can serve my family as a road map, and that on the way, we can learn to grow strong supportive real and/or online communities.

Plus, it’s not like Russell robbed a bank. I guess I’m just feeling a little determined to talk about this thing that isn’t shameful or anybody’s fault, as if it isn’t shameful or anybody’s fault. You know since IT also happens to be the thing that makes my guy exactly the person he is supposed to be, and exactly the best friend I ordered. Shaken, not stirred.

Most important, if I show you mine, will you show me yours? Gosh, medicine does fit that deep dark secret feeling, but honestly, I would love to get some emails about what you or a loved one may be trying.  Scientist’s are so, so… scientific, what I might need right now is some good ol’ mothers and fathers wisdom on the topic.

And, of course, those things I would keep private. I will stick to making people in my immediate family uncomfortable, since afterwards I can bake for them, while they glare at me, waiting for warm cookies.


So, yeah, I’m going to start addressing medication here more often. I apologize in advance that during my first few posts about this, I may sound a wee bit defensive. Something to do with a lifetime of misunderstanding and feeling misunderstood on the topic. Mostly that means there will be times when you may find me addressing not you, my awesome friends, but Tom Cruise, current holder on-ers of old misinformation, or over opinionated parents who aren’t here, at my house, raising my best friend, Russell.

And I guess all I really want to tell them is that medicating an otherwise perfectly healthy child so they can sit in a chair ALREADY FEELS AWFUL, thank you very much. We don’t need your help feeling bad about it.

Hopefully it gets better. I have met some wonderful intelligent parents who give me great hope that I can find peace with medication and not buy into all this parent guilt, and all I really have to say to them is  “what are you taking, and can I try it?”

Hahahahaha… it’s funny cause it’s true.

Plus, laughing hysterically helps me not run in the backyard and yell the F word over and over and over again, which I’m tempted to do lately only because it burns more calories than eating my entire stash of chocolate in ten minutes followed by the obscene amount of sour patch kids I know Jon stashed under the stairs after Halloween.

Yeah, sometimes this whole thing just makes me mad, but then I breath and count my blessings.

And can you help? Sure!

As I told him about my good, but very long day, when I had parent teacher conferences, followed by the child psychologist, then the child psychiatrist, Jon summed it up for me by saying that as we are building our support system “we’re just looking for some compassion.” It’s so true it made me bawl like Alice when we take away the iPad.

ADHD doesn’t often elicit that emotion in people who haven’t dealt with a beautiful child that has it. I don’t know why, adrenalin junkies, trouble makers, maybe because left untreated it so often manifests itself as defiance, you end up with angry kids and adults. So many ADHD people own the title of “Bad Seed” and feel like they deserve it, while on the other side you’ve got some ADHD adults who are successful and ambitious in a way that seems like they don’t need anyone’s compassion, but you probably don’t want to see the wreckage of close important relationships behind the portraits above the fireplace.

Russell’s not bad or scary, he is wonderful and relentless and passionate, so it might not look like he needs compassion like some other kinds of special needs kids, but tonight I filled a prescription for something that was originally designed as a blood pressure medication for the elderly. For my shining six year old best friend. I’ve actually done my research and it is a non stimulant that has years and years of success with ADHD, and we need it to see if it can counter some parts of the amphetamine we give him so he can have a shot learning to, you know, read and write.

People (me) are cautious with immunizations and high fructose syrup, choose organic peaches and regular banana’s because of how different foods absorb pesticides, read the label on the baby Tylenol ten times before you ever administer it, and here I am giving him something an elderly person would take for blood pressure, to try and help the side effects of a medication I could sell by the high school to kids who want to cram for a test. THAT is what I’m giving my son.

But then… something works… getting the right combo and dosage is so hard, but when you have one of those moments where you see him finally breath, or focus, and laugh like normal happy boy, it’s amazing. AMAZING. Like it or not, medicine compliments all the other hard work we do with structure and rewards and consequences, exercise, and nutrition.

And I know I should feel only glad.

But sometimes when medicine does work…

…it just feels…

…very real.

This is not a broken leg that is going away, or an ear infection that was affecting his hearing. For this ADHD mom, the years that stretch out before me, the calling I have for constant vigilance and education are daunting. I know I’ve been talking about this for years, and have the whole blog, but maybe I’m still slow to accept or understand what all of this means.

Mostly, and with medicine in the picture now, I just pray to God every night to protect his growing brain, and fill his body with the golden light from his golden heart, and to give his mother the power to be enough.

Did I say desperate? I meant grateful.

I am grateful to have it.


Sharron said...

I think you are very brave to share your feelings about how hard this is. I remember the anguish myself, but just the fact that you care this much, that you consider all the options and the possible consequences, and your level of love and committment shows what a GREAT mom you are and that things will get better. I have proof, just look at how great YOU turned out! Love from your old Ma~

Andrea said...

All of the hammers and pliers in the world won't help if what you need is a screw driver (not of the alcoholic variety). It sounds like the right medicine is the right tool for right now. God gave us the science to create the medicines we need and you shouldn't feel guilt for using a tool that He has made available to you. You are the perfect mom for your two kiddos. Love you :)