Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mommy's special pill

I take many pills each day, albeit a bit less now that my asthma has gone away. I take several pills each day for blood pressure, one for my sinuses when they're acting up and a couple vitamins to make me feel a bit more rounded at the end of the day. The best pill of all is one I don't actually take myself. It's Connor's pill.

For a few years now, Al has been trying to convince me that we should take Connor to a psychiatrist to have him evaluated for ADHD. I've been reluctant, especially since I teach Connor and his attention issues haven't bothered me. However, just before Thanksgiving, we started having some behavioral issues from Connor. We took away all his typical rewards---Nintendo DS, Wii, reading in bed, listening to CDs in bed, the privilege of staying up later than the girls, etc. After several weeks of having lost his privileges, we realized he didn't seem to care. He had no motivation to do anything. He no longer wanted to play piano, which he once loved doing. He became very emotional, we were always yelling at him, sending him to his room or threatening him to try to get any positive response

I broke down, I told my husband it was time. Fortunately, my husband knows a great doctor. Al, who has ADD, has been seeing Dr. Brody since he was a kid. And when Al's mother was being tormented by Al's behavior as a child and teenager, she started seeing Brody, too. So Brody has now seen 3 generations of Al's family :)

Brody was happy to schedule an appointment with Connor. He has a large TV on the wall and plays video games with his young clients. Within one Wii session (about 30 minutes), Brody walked out to say, "Yup, ADHD. We should start him on some meds." Voila! That's it, it was that simple?

Brody suggested the same meds that Al takes for his ADD, Vyvanse. Can I tell you how special this little pill is? Miracles are encased in this little capsule!!! Now it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, right away.

After leaving Brody's office, the guys went to the pharmacy and then home to see what happens when the pill is consumed. This part proved to be quite tricky. Connor was willing to try the pill, but when he couldn't swallow it, he panicked. Then Al and I panicked. We all yelled, screamed, argued and cried. After 45 minutes of promises, bribes and threats, it ended with Al having to hold Connor down while I forced it into him. It was not pretty, but it worked.

Within 2 hours, we noticed Connor couldn't stop reading. He had picked up a ThinkGeek catalogue and was reading it from cover-to-cover. When I realized what was happening (read: the medicine was working), I decided to test it a bit. I asked Connor to play piano, this really challenging piece he's been working on for months and typically gets so frustrated with that he can't make it through 2-3 measures without wanting to give up. He moaned when the piano teacher assigned it for another week. This time, when he tried to play it, he didn't get frustrated. He took his time, played each measure while actually reading the music (he once loved playing from memory because it took too much effort to look up and find his place on the sheet music). He persevered through the entire piece, no complaints, no quitting. I was so amazed that I asked him to play it again and he did. Willingly!

As he finished the piece, he turned to Al and I and said, "Thank you mommy and daddy for taking me to that Dr and getting this medicine. Thank you for everything." I was nearly in tears while he was playing the piano so I was ready to burst when he said this.

For 2 years I've been telling myself that Connor didn't need meds because I was OK with him and since I was the one spending so much time with him that it was OK. My husband finally clued me in by telling me, "The meds aren't for you, they're for him." I understand, now. And I was grateful for a husband who understood Connor's symptoms, his frustrations and his need to have some control over his actions. If it weren't for Al having experienced the same frustrations as a child, poor Connor would still be a sad little boy who on occasion wished himself dead (that was a hard one for me to 6 year old thought things would be better if he weren't alive).

Connor recognized the change in himself with the very first dose of his medication. He promised that he would take it willingly the next day because he was so happy with the results. And he did! And he's gotten better at swallowing it every day and Al and I haven't had to threaten him or yell at him since.

His improved behavior has changed the dynamics of our entire house! The girls are behaving better and the yelling has really calmed down. We had 3 hours of school yesterday! 3 hours, straight! That is a first. He did 7 pages of math (fractions) and never complained...he actually offered to do the 7th page when he had finished the 6th page.

When we were visiting my parents this past weekend, Connor was a bit bored. So he started cleaning. First he closed himself in their bedroom and started cleaning and rearranging the room, lined up the shoes, straightened all the decorative pillows on the bed and so on. Then he came to the living room where he lined all the shoes up by size, smallest to largest, then noticed things were dusty, grabbed a cloth and very systematically began dusting the furniture in the room.

The magic that this little pill creates has changed our lives! The only negative thing about this pill is Al's gloating. Thanks, Al, for being patient with me and for not rubbing it in more than once or twice a day.


erinmalia said...

that's great amanda. i totally understand your reluctance; i think i'd be the same way.

Summer Reedy said...

I have a son a lot like yours. He is eight. I actually had his third grade teacher ask if he had ever been tested for ADHD. I was not suprised by her question, but I still have not taken him in. I guess I thought I could do it with out medication. We've taken away all sugar, and I thought it was helping but now I don't think it is. I think after reading your post, I am ready to take him in and have him evaluated. Thank you for the post, my mom actually turned me on to your blog.

Amanda said...


I'm happy to know that my ramblings have helped someone :) Good luck to you and your son and remember, it's not a bad thing to have ADHD. My husband and son function very well with their meds and can really organize things when they need to focus on something. Be patient as you try medication and work with your Dr to tweak it for your son's needs.

I just wanted to point out that sugar was a trigger for Connor, but we also found wheat products tend to set him off worse than sugar. He's a bread-lover so this was causing quite a conflict.

And BTW, who is your mom? Is it someone I know?