Making the decision to medicate our son was probably the most painful decision that my DH and I ever had to make – it took us an entire year to make it. We definitely did not make the decision lightly – we reasoned, we discussed, we prayed, we consulted, we researched, we read A LOT. Yet, It still wasn’t an easy decision to make.
I often wonder if we would have felt the same way if there was less stigma attached to it.
I do know that we had to explore our own issues on the subject (I was also one of those ignorant parents who read the You magazine and decided that I would NEVER do that) and I do know that we first needed to come to terms with exactly what we were dealing with. To be honest, I was very, very sad about it and kept thinking about the fact that my child needed to take a tablet in order to do something that we all take for granted – something as basic as paying attention and remaining focused for a period of time. My DH was very practical and thankfully not as emotional and to him it was all about HOW we could best help our child.
We changed our diet which wasn’t too difficult – I have always been the type to read labels and my son went to a school where no sweets were EVER allowed – this made our lives quite easy.
We looked at routine – this was (and remains to be) challenging because although I like routine, I’m also relatively flexible. My DH on the other hand is NOT governed by time and routine.
We added certain things into his diet, things like flax seed oil, pumpkin seeds, we tried a number of over the counter stuff, one of them being Bio Strath . This was (and still is) extremely difficult. Child1 has sensory issues and is a VERY picky eater – hence the diet thing making no difference in our lives.
I sent him for kiddie yoga and I was exploring things like acupuncture – the only reason why I didn’t send him for it was because I could not see him NOT being freaked out by those needles – especially with his sensory issues.
The bottom line was that while we were experimenting and trying different things he was losing out on skills that he needed in order to attend school. HE was STILL struggling socially, he was STILL hyped up to an inch of his life and he was STILL very inattentive and even disruptive within the class environment. I’m pretty sure that natural remedies have their benefits but it does take A WHILE for one to see results. My DH and I were pressed for time and so we decided to act.
This is how we went about it:
We did some reading. It didn’t help because there is A LOT of conflicting and very scary information online.
And then we went to a Child Psychiatrist – one who specialised with kids who had neurological issues. Again. We paid SERIOUS money – these super specialists are VERY expensive. We were determined to get it right the first time and did not want to go back and forth with things like dosage/side effects etc
We told our Psychiatrist what we wanted, she did her own assessment on Child1 and gave us the facts about medication. She told us ALL the worst things that could happen while our child was on this medication. I know that she was only doing her job but I left there and decided that this would NOT be happening and that we would NOT medicate our son – that’s how freaked out I got. After a few weeks (once I had cried it all out and calmed down considerably) we went back. Just to talk. She assured us that if at any point we were no longer comfortable with this or even if SHE felt that it wasn’t working for her patient then she WOULD stop IMMEDIATELY and we would all go back to the drawing board.
So, after speaking to his teacher about our plans (we needed her co-operation to help with monitoring for side effects etc) we got a script, collected the meds (it wasn’t a big dosage but it STILL didn’t make me feel OK or anything), administered it and hoped for the best.
Well. I cannot tell you enough about how medicating him was probably the best decision that we ever made for him. We saw changes in his work IMMEDIATELY and his teacher told us that it was like working with a more brilliant version of our son. When I saw his books (prior to and after medicating) I wanted to cry for him. It was like a light went on somewhere. He was still himself but a more contained, ordered version. He really was a MORE AWESOME version of himself. There were ZERO side-effects and it was like that particular dosage was JUST RIGHT for him. How lucky were we?
We continued to consult with the Psychiatrist who I have to say was just phenomenal. She knew that I was struggling with it and really helped me through it all. As part of one of the sessions she went to the school to chat to the teacher and to observe him ON the meds within his environment. Of course I paid good money for this but it was absolutely money well spent.
We now have a new shrink (because Child1’s original shrink is now practicing overseas) and she’s even MORE awesome, because she has a son who is Child1’s age who also has ADHD and from the sounds of it, he is MORE SEVERE than Child1 – she told me that she and her son got thrown out of the Moms and Tots group! When we go to her it’s like talking to an old friend. She knows EXACTLY what are going through and understands it all sooooo well. We see her once a year to assess where we are at and occasionally more often IF we hit a wobbly and the dosage possibly needs to be reviewed. We haven’t seen her for 18 months now – but it is time for another visit.
Here’s the thing:
Most parents don’t just willy nilly put their kids on schedule 7 medications. A lot of thought and consultation goes into this.
Most parents won’t talk about it because of the stigma surrounding it – I don’t go around talking to people about it even though I’ve been in this game for long enough to not care what people think.
Chances are that one parent (it’s often the Dads) will not be supportive – this can make life VERY difficult. I am extremely lucky that this was not the case in my life.
Often things don’t go as well for other kids on the medication and there is a lot of trial and error to get the dosage right. To parents who are going through this I say, don’t give up – there IS something that can and will work for your child – get another opinion if necessary.
Most parents (me included) wish that they weren’t in the position where they had to make a decision like this for their child.
Most parents just need someone to listen.
Seriously. If you know of a parent who deals with this every single day, go and hug them. TODAY. They need it more than you know.
Do you have any questions on medications or anything that I’ve written so far?
Tomorrow’s post will be on myths surrounding medication. Stay tuned.