Thursday, April 12th
Tim and I are sitting in the office of the boys’ general pediatrician. We’ve just handed her the Vanderbilt Parent Assessment for ADHD. After a phone consultation the day before with Howie’s developmental pediatrician, I downloaded the form from the internet and brought in to the doctor.
The doctor looks at Tim. “Did you fill this out together? Do you agree with the answers on this sheet?”
Yes, Tim answers.
“Wow. Well, I don’t even have to officially score it. His numbers are so high. We’re clearly looking at adding an ADHD diagnosis here.”
I knew that already. In addition to finding the assessment on the internet, I also found the score sheet. Because I’m that mom now.
“So,” the doctor said, “let’s talk about what’s next. You already have all the behavioral supports in place. It’s time to talk medication.”
Again, we knew that already. We had done our research. The conversation was not if medication, but which one.
I was grateful to have Lewis sitting on my lap. I could focus on him and fight back the tears.
My friend asks me later that day through e-mail if I’m relieved to have this new diagnosis. She’s referring back to when Howie was diagnosed with autism back in December 2009, when I said how relieved I was to finally have an understanding of what was going on with my son. “It’s not like that this time.” I said. “It’s more like : okay, now what.”
Acceptance starts at home.
Friday, April 13th
I am supposed to meet a friend at dinner time for a political meet and greet. Lewis and I had spent an hour that morning running around, trying to find a place to fill Howie’s prescription. I sat at the kitchen table, fumbling with the medicine bottle.
I write my friend the following e-mail:
So…I can’t do it. I am a mess. I can’t go tonight. Getting the meds proved to be more of a trigger than I thought.
I know this is the right thing. I know this is the next path. Rationally I have no second thoughts. But I am terrified, anxious, worried…and sad. Really really sad.
I can’t get my game face on tonight knowing what tomorrow brings. Or might not bring. I kinda just want to cuddle up with Howie tonight as he thrashes around in his skin before everything changes.
So I’m sorry. I hope you get it. Well, I know you’ll get it. I really really wanted to go. Really really really.
Acceptance starts at home.
Saturday, April 14th – Saturday April 28th
I see the change right away. With one dose. He’s calmer. Clearer. Words and thoughts and feelings are coming out that never did before. His first week on the medication was our spring break week. We are able to problem solve and work things through. His clothing anxieties are gone. I don’t have to sit in the room when he played with his brothers to facilitate play. I wasn’t sure if I was just seeing something because I wanted to see it, but others saw it too. When Howie returned to school, he had his best week in months. School work was fun again. He’s interacting with peers, taking turns, and playing games. He has two amazing soccer practices.
Acceptance begins at home.
Sunday, April 29th
Things begin to unravel.
Anxieties are back with a vengeance.
Meltdowns are powerful.
I pull him kicking, screaming and crying off the soccer field.
Acceptance is getting harder to swallow.
Tuesday, May 1st
His aggressions return at school.
His beloved bus driver quit and he refuses to get on the bus to go home, instead screaming and flopping to the floor in the principal’s office. I’m called to get him.
He tears at his clothes for two hours before finally falling asleep.
He tells me he wishes he wasn’t human.
I can’t accept that.
Wednesday, May 2nd
I keep him home for a personal day.
We make the world’s best marble track and have cupcakes for lunch.
He has his best home therapy session in weeks and spends the evening at a friend’s house making homemade pasta.
I confirm our appointment with his pediatrician for the next day.
Acceptance is falling apart.
Thursday, May 3rd
I tell our pediatrician about school. She examines him and tries to talk to him about how he’s feeling.
He stares at the red airplane with the number 6 that hangs from the ceiling.
The doctor looks worried. She turns to me and says “This isn’t Howie.”
We agree to take Howie off the medication.
We pack up our stuff and she looks right at me. “We’ll figure this out. It will be okay. You’re doing fine.”
I’m trying to accept that.
I went downstairs to get a snack.
I slid to the floor and cried.
I cried because I believe that my son needs some medication in addition to all the behavioral supports he has. But I don’t know how to find the “right” one.
I cried because for two weeks I felt like my kid was back. The one that was all full of awesome when preschool ended last year. The one who laughed and ran and played and loved school and everything about it. That is my kid.
My kid is not the kid who hits his teachers and screams at his teammates on the soccer field or erupts in a fit of rage when someone takes his toy.
I refuse to accept that.
We will figure this out.
We have to.
“But I do believe
That not everything is gonna be the way
You think it ought to be
It seems like every time I try to make it right
It all comes down on me
Please say honestly you won’t give up on me
And I shall believe
And I shall believe” – I Shall Believe by Sheryl Crow