Sunday, August 31, 2008

a difficult decision

so. i'm sitting here, listening to death cab for cutie's "i will follow you into the dark" (not that that is in any way indicative to what i'm going to write), fresh off of work. still in scrubs (winnie the pooh bandaids and pink pants, since you asked. they go nicely with my pink crocs covered in pirate skulls. very pediatric.). and i'm coming round to a decision i never thought i would make, and one i'm certainly not making lightly.
i am going to medicate my child. perhaps permanently, though i hope he outgrows the need for it.
let me explain.
carson is a bundle of energy, and always has been. i had bruised ribs/cervix all thru my pregnancy, he cried so loud at birth that my family heard him in the waiting room down the hall and around the corner, and has been going balls to the wall ever since. and that's fine. he's an active, quirky, AWESOME little boy. i treasure him and his spark and his silly questions and fart jokes. but he's having difficulties; has had them for a while but i wasn't sure if it was something he would outgrow.
in kindergarten at the School of Hell and Teaching Ineptitude, he had a really rough start. he was so excited to go it was painful to see...he woke me up every day for months with a hand on each side of my face and whisper "is it June yet?" June was when summer school started. in fact, he fell on a tent stake (i know, that's the face i made, too) on a camping trip with grandma the week before and the first thing he screamed was "oh-mi-god-i'm-hemmorhaging-and-can't-go-to-summer-school-cause-i'm-dying!!!" (guess that is my fault for reading him nursing textbooks, eh?) so he went to his first day of kindergarten with a huge smile and a light step (and a scar on one knee). my biggest fear was that they wouldn't recognize him for how special he was, see his spark and personality, somehow crush his spirit with their conformity and judgements.
i was right.
his teacher there had been a teacher for over twenty years, and i requested her. she knew jason's family, was a nice lady. but a bad fit for my child. carson became her whipping boy...not allowed to sit with others, silenced. flipping cards every day, never having a good day, never able to do show and tell or get toys from the treasure chest. he had nightmares and wet the bed and cried, begged me to not send him to school. he was under constant stress. he got pneumonia three times...she wouldn't send him for his breathing treatments, you see, and his asthma escalated into pneumonia quickly with that neglect. he has his ears pierced, and every day they would be bloody and bruised from a little boy who yanked them mercilessly on the playground, yet was never punished. a child punched Carson, who punched him back, and only carson got sent to the office. it was one thing after another. they said he couldn't be in the Christmas program after they suggested occupational therapy to calm his impulsivity; the OT said his impulsiveness was like a diabetics blood sugar...nothing he could help at this time, but it would get better with treatment. yet the continued to punish rather than redirect. we started deep compression therapy. but the thing with pressure vests is, you can only wear them for an hour at a time....she was leaving it on him all day long. he was sore and tired. then he hit his head on a steel bar in music and got a huge knot (can you say closed head injury?) and came home and had a focal seizure. i was so livid i was honestly afraid i would lose my nursing license (assault charges can cause that, you know) so i said nothing at that time. but i was horrified. and so fucking pissed. and so hurt for my child...he was enduring this from a teacher I had CHOSEN. i am writing this with eyes full of tears, remembering his suffering.
we moved in February and his new teacher, his new school, was so much better. SO MUCH BETTER. we met with the OT, he didn't qualify for services here due to no medical diagnosis such as ADD or ADHD, but he could use all of her stuff in class, and his teacher incorporated deep compression therapy for everyone so he wouldn't be singled out. he got treasure chest toys and good days and quit wetting the bed at night. the nightmares slowed. he loved school. i took a deep breath and thanked God for it.
this year has been good and bad. good because some of the issues of kindergarten are behind pressure vest to keep him seated, he does it on his own. but he's having nightmares again. and he wet the bed last night, apparently. and i worry this is my fault. he's been very difficult lately. he's always been very impulsive, loud, distractable. it's escalating and escalating and he feels ashelpless as we do. he told me in tears, "mommy, i hear you stay stop but my brain is broken. i can't quit when you ask me too." the guilt reared up and ate me alive as i tried to reassure him, to calm him, to tell him his brain wasn't broken but wonderful.

but he is such a handful anymore. he makes noises for literally 14 hours a day. straight. he can't sit still. you ask him to do something and remind him 7 times and find him in the front yard, surprised that he's there and hasn't gotten what you asked him yet. i feel like we are doing nothing but yelling or getting onto him. redirecting isn't working anymore. i am at a loss. he was, in many ways, an easier child at 2 and 3 than he is now.
and how do i ignore his obvious cry for help?
i feel like a bad mother. again. i'm worried we'll medicate and he'll have horrible side effects. no appetite, tardive dyskinesia, excessive weight gain or loss. hyper-irritability or somnolence. i don't know what to expect.
but i do know this. he's my son, and i love him. would do anything for him. including answer his cry. and it's ADHD, not cancer. i need some perspective.
but how do i make the fear and helplessness go away?
here he is the night of the christmas program i INSISTED he be included in. and he did magnificently. even though he has pinkeye in both eyes (way to go, peds nurse) and the kid he stood next to pinched and kicked him when he thought no one could see him (wonder why he as nervous and fidgety on the risers, o teacher of supreme ignorance?).


Anne/kq said...

You know, I'm not usually in favor of medicating kids. But there are some kids who REALLY need it. My best friend's kid is on meds for his ADHD and I see a marked difference when they wear off to when he's on them. Really. It's not like he's a different kid-- it's like he's falling when he's not on them, out of control, whereas when he's on them he is on an elevator and can push the buttons himself and get off where he wants to.

As for that school, I would have SUED. and I am not the litigious type.

xstefferdoodlesx said...

First, you're son is absolutely adorable. Second, my little brother is the same way. Always on the go, talking a mile a minute, like the energizer bunny on crack. My mom has chosen not to medicate him though, since I was on medication and lost my appetite almost completely (and both he and I have Cystic Fibrosis, so loss of appetite generally isn't glorified with this disease). Hopefully your little one doesn't have any reactions to the meds though and maybe you can have a bit of a break from the chaos. I wish you the best of luck!

Regarding all of the things that happened in the school he was previously in, my brother is still continuing going through similar situations. One day my mother had to go pick him up from school because a play ground aide had found him hiding in a trash can because some boys were chasing him around threatening to beat him up. He got in trouble for going into the trash can... Not at all right, in any way, shape, or form. And teachers are always forgetting to let him get his medications and inhalers when he needs them... Some schooling systems are seriously going to hell these days.

tif said...

thanks, guys. i agree, stef, CF does not respond well to no need to add tube feeding to your already busy schedule. :) while i think that a lot of kids are medicated unnecessarily, i truly do believe carson needs it and it's nice to not be raked over the coals for it. thanks again.

Sprite's Keeper said...

My sister is going through this now with her son. My nephew is one of the sweetest kids you would ever meet (Your Carson's smile is a lot like his.), but so misundestood in his intentions and actions. My sister feels the need to defend him on a daily basis and is constantly warring with the school system over how to help him and discipline him. He was diagnosed with ADHD 3 years ago and has been on medication for about 2. His doctor just changed his meds so it's almost like he isn't on any at all, so he just keeps suffering through the changes until they finally find the meds that will keep him regulated and bring back the boy we all love so much. All we can do is support him and support my sister in her efforts. People like you need to be applauded for loving your kids enough to DO something to help them. Meds or not, you're taking action to help them through a tough life cycle. You deserve credit for that.

Jenny said...

Tif, I just discovered your blog a couple of days ago. I understand what you are going through. My (step)daughter suffered through kinder, and worse in 1st(with a teacher we requested!). We finally were able to get her diagnose ADHD (we suspected that since it is in my hubby's family). We put her on meds, pointedly ignoring everyone, including my sister (who thought Bree had relationship problems). And surprise, surprise, Bree is a happy 4th grader now. She enjoys school, doesn't get in trouble for her impulsivity, inattention, and inability to sit still. I only wish we had done everything sooner--her academics suffered because she couldn't pay attention. Now she is playing catch-up.

I know that your sweet, adorable son will be helped for being on medication. I hope and pray for both of you. Thanks for writing this post. I almost cried, too, when I read what happened to your son. I would have sued, too. And I am a former teacher. :)

tif said...

gosh guys, thanks so much. i'm not kidding. your support kicks ass.

kristina said...

Hi, I agree. Sometimes medicating a child is the best thing. Carson sounds like a wonderful boy, and I'd hate for him to fall thru the cracks because bureacratic institutions (i.e. schools) don't have the adequate or appropriate resources to deal with kids of all sorts.

One thing I want to address is that I KNOW you are not a bad mom. I feel like I know you from the past year, with all of your comments at MOMformation and exchanging personal emails. So please know that!

Thinking of you, take care, Kristina

momma's heart said...

My six-year-old son has this, though he's never been officially diagnosed. I homeschool him, because as a former teacher I know he's better off getting one-on-one instruction. We too agonize over the medication decision, especially during flare-up times. So far, we've used nothing.

I had morning sickness for several weeks a few months ago, and he was nearly unbearable, with other quirks showing up that seemed to point to OCD or Tourette's. When the morning sickness went away, he was like a new kid. I fear what will happen when the new baby (my fourth) comes in Dec. Daniel just can't take ANY change without becoming VERY symptomatic. When everything is smooth and routine, he appears to suffer from the ADHD only mildly. Problem is, life happens. It's up and down. We'd have to live like robots to achieve the predictability and structure he thrives on. We're working on it.

Homeschooling means I can't work, so we are nearly at poverty level, which isn't fun, but due to God's grace, we are making it. One day at a time.

ADHD is a very cruel, very stressful disorder. We can try to gain perspective and think of all the things they could have instead, but it's hard. I've heard this described as being every bit as stressful as autism, for the parents.

I will pray that the right medication is found right away, and that your son has no significant side effects. Best to you! I'll check back to see how he's doing.


9ndhouse- Katie S. said...

Hang in there!! Praying that the medications help and not hinder. Your not a bad mom, your doing your best. He is adorable! Hugs your way, Mother of 7

Kate said...

This post made me want to cry. The hideousness of our public school system frightens me sometimes. Kids like your son - kids whom are bright and excited about life and bring a zest to every situation are so often given the smack down by the teacher who can't handle it. Oh. That poor thing. To be so excited for school only to be ripped to shreds by it. I'm so glad you were able to move.

Mama P said...

Tif, your gut is RIGHT ON. The only thing I'd say is to go with Diet changes first if you're at all concerned about pills. Gluten free, sugar free, everything raw and natural. It made a night and day difference in Stink. again, if you are ready to medicate, do it and let us know if we can help with some virtual ears. Thinking of you.