Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Diagnosis of ADHD Isn't the End of the World.

         My oldest child and I are alike in so many ways. Being so alike, however causes us to butt heads because we know how to get under each other's skin. But because he's a lot like me, I am also able to understand a little bit about how he's feeling, what can cause him to get angry, or how to handle a situation so it doesn't blow up in his face. I've been there, I've reacted the same way.

Last year, my son was having a difficult time in school. I was called into the office almost every day because the school wasn't able to handle him. On one particular afternoon, I decided enough was enough and demanded to have a meeting with my son's teacher, the principal, and the social worker who works at the school. I threw down my gauntlet and told them that things needed to be changed. The principal (who had been a huge butt kisser) got called away for something and when she was gone, I asked the social worker, "Do you think that there is a chance that my son has ADHD or some version of it?" and he said, "I think there's a big possibility that he does." With help from the social worker, we were able to have the school psychologist come in and assess my son. She gave his present teacher, his teacher from last year, his case worker from this year and last, the social worker, and my husband and I a questionnaire to fill out. From the questionnaire, we found out that he had traits of a child with ADHD and varying degrees of anxiety- probably because he wasn't able to learn the way that a focused child could learn.

          Right after we reconvened, we all talked about the next steps. I changed my children's primary care physician to one who would be able to make appointments and specialized in ADHD in children. We met with the physician and she was impressed by the actions we took and our involvement with getting a diagnosis. She didn't have to do an assessment because we had one right there with us from the people who see him everyday. She told us that most children only get one done through their parents and because we did it the way we did with others involved, the questionnaire wasn't biased in anyway. She talked to us about options and recommended that we do medication. She spoke to us about the side effects and what each medicine would do for him.

          She also asked a question that surprised us. She asked, "Do either one of you lean towards ADHD tendencies?"
          My husband looked to me and I raised my hand. "I do."
         "It's very common that children who have ADHD have a parent who also carries that trait. Have you been diagnosed?"
         "No."
         "You should. I have ADHD, too and there is such a difference when I'm on the medication then when I'm off. I'm more focused and don't forget everything and can finish a sentence without getting distracted."
          "Maybe I can clean my house and it won't look like a hoarder moved in before it's clean because I can actually focus on one task."
          "Exactly!"

        So.... We started my son on medication. It was an extreme ride between convincing my son to take it, trying the different dosages to find one that works, waiting for refill dates to approach, fights with the insurance company to approve a dose that worked best, and so on and so forth. We eventually found it, the perfect dose. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor questions. One of our biggest fights with our son was trying to get him to take his pill. His gag reflex was in overdrive and the only way that we could get him to take it was to open the capsule and pour it into some applesauce. If we didn't ask her if it was ok, she wouldn't researched it to find out that it was and our fight for something better would have resumed.

       His teacher said that he's a model student when he takes it. He still participated in class and is still extremely creative. He is still him, but more focused. We had worried that when we gave him the medicine, he would disappear. The doctor and the social worker, who also has ADHD, assured us that medication is different from years ago. It is made now so children don't go bonkers or be plain and boring. It's designed to work with your child's brain so they can focus and that's it. They will still be creative and be themselves. It was a relief to see that it was true. In fact, I think it made my son even more creative because he could focus on the task at hand.

        Do you remember when I said that my son and I are alike in many ways? It's very true, but there is one thing that is different, besides the fact that I'm 30 and a girl while he's 8 and a boy; ADHD is more difficult to diagnose for girls. When I was younger and even in college, I had a tough time remembering to do my homework and also had anger/behavioral issues. I just looked like a lazy, bad kid, kind of like how my wonderful son was perceived, but really, those are just common issues with kids with ADHD. My son has gotten the chance to be able to learn and get good grades. He's able to control his frustration with change and gets to be a model student. I didn't have that option because ADHD was still sort of a new concept and a question was never raised about me having it. I recognize it now as I'm older and I watch my son. I used to play house with my pencils and during math, my numbers were assigned genders and I daydreamed all of the time. I never remembered homework until the teacher asked us to turn it in. It took me longer to learn to read than other kids, but once it clicked, I loved to read and I love to write. I still jump around from point to point and when I clean my house, you can't tell because I don't focus on one room, I jump from one task to another. I have to make a point to get working and focus my energy on getting things done. Inviting people to my house is a big motivation.

        Having my child diagnosed with ADHD wasn't the end of the world. It was actually a relief. It gave me some answers and now I know that my child's poor behavior wasn't because I was raising him wrong, it was because of his biology and thankfully, there is something that we can do for him. He's going to be able to learn better and behave better because he's going to be able to focus. He's not going to get frustrated every time a subject is changed or something out of the norm or unexpected happens. He's going to be able to adjust to things and he's going to be able to succeed because he doesn't have the lack of focus holding him back.

       Don't be afraid to advocate for your child. If you suspect that your child has a mental block of any sort, don't be discouraged. Learn about it and start looking for ways to help. Medicating your child doesn't mean that you're a bad parent, and having your child on medication doesn't mean that they are broken or that you've done anything wrong. Biology happens and in my case, I am probably the parent who gave my child that gene, but with support, great things can happen now that we know.



Thursday, December 7, 2017

Getting Turned Away

     I knew that it could happen, but it has never happened to me before. My son had a dentist appointment today. They were going to put him under so they could fill a couple of his teeth (one hazard of nursing your child for over a year).  In order for them to do that, they wanted us there at 8:00 AM so he would be sleepy or sleeping by 8:30.

     I've driven to this office before. The first time that I drove there, I was an hour early for the appointment. This time, however, I arrived at 8:30, in time for the actual scheduled appointment, but they turned me away because they said it could take 30 minutes for him to fall asleep and it would put them behind schedule. It didn't matter that I had already driven an hour and a half to get there. It didn't matter to them that the appointment was scheduled at 8:30 and that there was no one at the desk when I first came in and had to wait an extra 5 minutes saying, "Hello?" They didn't care because it was going to put them behind.

      I try not to get angry for things like this, but boy did I get angry. My drive was only supposed to take 40 minutes at most. It did not. For some reason, my GPS thought it would take me away from the road construction that was happening and instead, I had to wait for trains to pass, lights to turn green, and average morning traffic. I have only used this GPS one other time and used it this time because my husband told me that it had never steered him wrong.... I could have screamed, and I definitely yelled in my car and thumped my head against the seat each time I got held up at another stop light. If it could have gone wrong, it did.

      If I was there early and had to wait because another person showed up late, I would be upset, but I would understand. If I was a business and I knew that someone was coming from way out of town, which they did, I might have tried to work something out in a way better than they did today. It took me an hour and a half to drive there and I made it back home in 40 minutes. The traffic was the same. It wasn't like I was unprepared. I left earlier than my gps and mapquest said to leave, but it didn't matter.

     You know, many, many years ago and man and his pregnant fiancĂ© were travelling to get their taxes done. They were going at the pace that they were allowed to go in their condition and they were turned away several times. There wasn't any room in any of the inns and they actually had to find a place to stay in a stable with the horses and animals. This woman was very pregnant and ended up having her baby next to some cows or horses. The place was a cesspool for germs and probably smelled awful. Despite all that, they were grateful and they were used to fulfill a prophecy about a man who would die for our sins. When it's put that way, I guess that getting turned away isn't so terrible.

      Maybe we were supposed to get there late today. My whole household has been sick on and off. Maybe if he were to go through the procedure, he might have gotten an infection or became more sick. I don't know what could have happened, but hey, I guess, on the plus side, my son gets to go to school, today.

Monday, December 4, 2017

What They Didn't Tell You About Pregnancy- Love

     

I haven't made it a secret that I didn't want kids as I was growing up from recent blog posts. Whenever I saw a baby or held one, I was one of those people whose eyes were huge and panicky. I never knew what to do with babies and couldn't wait to pass one off. If I ever told you your baby was cute, in the past, I was probably only saying that to be nice and really didn't mean it. "Wow, Brittany, that was really harsh". Yeah, probably, but that was just who I was. Somewhere along the line, probably when my maturity started to set in, I was tolerant of babies and thought that maybe, just maybe, I would like to have some of my own.

      As a first time parent, let me tell you, it's terrifying! The thought of, "What did I get myself into?" as I was pushing my 8lb baby out of my body occurred a few times, but when I had that baby and he was placed into my arms, I looked into that ugly, smushed face and thought, "Wow, this is the most magnificent thing I've ever made. He's so handsome. Squished, but handsome." ("Brittany! What a terrible thing to say about your baby!"-Um, hello.... babies come out squishy and looking like E.T. Give them a couple of hours to dewrinkle and turn a flattering shade and place them into those cute little hospital gowns and blankets, then you will see a cute baby.)

       So, you figure that you'll love your child, but you're never fully aware of how much until they are with you, in your arms. That love just overflows and you can't stop looking at your baby. Every few minutes, you look at them and place little kisses on their tiny, head. It just envelopes you and you know that if anything were to happen to your baby, you would avenge anyone who did them wrong.

      Having babies is addicting. There is that unconditional love and when your baby gets older, they don't need you as much. Then, when you see someone else's baby, your womb literally aches. When you look at your spouse, they say, "Don't even think about it," because when you look at them, they see your hopeful eyes, the ones that say, "Let's have another," and they are thinking, "Woman, we just had one." Babies are addicting, almost like a drug. When they are new and shiny, you're tired and euphoric; an odd combination that works.

       There's not always a logical thought when it comes to wanting to have another baby. Some blame it on hormones and that seems right to me. I didn't use to cry at every movie or commercial that I watched, but those hormones turned me into my mother and I used to make fun of her for doing that. Oxytocin, adrenaline, endorphins, all hormones that make you love, feel excited and happy, those are all in overdrive when you bond with your baby and they NEVER go away.... Ok, so yes, they do, but you've experienced motherhood so everything reminds you of your child so you talk about them to all who will make eye contact with you.

      "Well, I think I know what it feels like. I have nieces and nephews and I love them to pieces." Well so do I, and I do love them to pieces, but it's not the same special bond that you have for your children. Your children are a result of something that love made. They were made from scratch and at the end of the day, they're yours. It's just more special. I'm sure the feeling is the same for adoption. You can like-even love your brother's car, but it's not your own. If something happens to your brother's vehicle, you're not going to be heart broken or stressed out about it like you would if it was your car. However if you take over payments and start driving your brother's vehicle and it's become yours, it's going to hurt if you get into a fender bender or see that someone has dinged it up in the parking lot. I know that this isn't the best analogy, but hopefully you get what I'm saying. Having kids that are your own, is just... indescribable.

       I knew that if I had kids that I would love them, but I wasn't prepared for the love that I could contain. I didn't know that having kids would make me a better person because I wanted to be better for them. I didn't know that having kids was going to make me so proud of them. I didn't know that having kids was going to change me, my likes and interest. I didn't know. I suspected that I would feel love for them, but I didn't know that it would be so consuming. I didn't know.

Edit: I had a friend who made a very good point. Don't feel bad if love isn't instantaneous.  It doesn't happen to everyone the same way or right away. For some mom's they don't always get that chance to bond with their baby right away. Ex: My friend's daughter was taken to the NICU right away. The baby had contracted an infection or something that caused her baby to be incubated and the mother wasn't able to bond with the baby right away and that first skin to contact is important in those first moments. Imagine the fear and worry that she had for her baby. I can't speak for my friend, but to be a hormonal, emotional, worried wreck, it probably caused anger or a little bit of resentment towards the baby. It just sometimes happens that way.

      Many times when someone gives their baby up for adoption, it is recommended that the birth mother not hold that new baby because that skin to skin connection is so powerful that someone who made an informed decision beforehand can get emotionally attached.

      Those are a couple of cases, but daddy's don't go through the hormonal and emotional battles that mommy's go through, but they still love their babies. It can take time, but that skin to skin, holding, hearing, experiencing baby gets you invested and eventually, that love seeps in, kind of like the same way it happens when dating. Love isn't always instant and at first sight, but once you get to know them, it becomes apparent.


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