September 27, 2009 by Marj Hatzell
It’s no secret that I’m sort of anti-medication. I hate taking pills. Despise it, really. This Domestic Goddess tried unmedicated childbirth, y’all (dang C-section). When it comes to my kids, I’m just as militant. That is, until my kids need medications.
When a parent has tried every sort of therapy imaginable and has even tried all sort of crazy dietary interventions (to no avail) and is embarrassed to admit they even tried goofy supplements and such (again, to no avail), there is only one thing left to do. When a child has a raging temper, can’t eat and sleep, can’t play or act like a child, can’t smile and laugh and can’t communicate, what else is left? Medication. As reluctant as we were, we were desperate. We just wanted our children to smile again. We just wanted one night of peace, one night when we didn’t have to restrain or fight or cry or feel so sad. I cannot even BEGIN to express the guilt I had even contemplating it. When you realize your parenting just isn’t good enough and you are going to become one of “those” controversial parents, you feel like total crap. You feel like you suck at the most important job on the planet and that you’ve failed, somehow, even though you don’t sleep a wink, haven’t showered in days and you’ve been by your child’s side, counting every breath. You feel like your kid is going to hate you for forcing them to put this vile crap in their teeny little bodies. But you don’t have a choice. Especially when they start having seizures. It was almost a relief, because I didn’t have to decide anymore. The decision was kinda made for us.
The thing is, as much as certain things can improve on medication, some things get worse. Every med, even the “magic” pills, have side-effects. For every medication that takes away OCD and anxiety and manic mood swings, there is an equally bad reaction (like, refusing to eat). Every time one of our children FINALLY begins sleeping, one of them begins ticking or stimming like crazy. And when some of the medications wear off, FUGHEDDABOUDIT! Their behaviors return with a vengeance, sometimes five-to-ten times worse than they were before they took the med to begin with. But what are we supposed to do? Ignore the blisters on my son’s hands from anxiety? Ignore the fact that he counts his steps or separates his food and has to eat with a clean utensil for each pile of food? Ignore the fact that the other one cannot sleep a wink without a pill (I mean, not one wink)? Ignore the fact that they cannot even sit through meals because they are literally crawling out of their own skin, they are THAT uncomfortable?
Lately we’ve begun a new round of medications. The past few months we’ve tried a few approved ADHD medications for the boys. We’ve had mixed results. While Bug Boy was excelling at school and much more focused and happier, Bugaboo wasn’t doing well at all. He had another disastrous summer and we finally tried a stimulant. The first day was glorious. WE READ BOOKS, Y’ALL. He played with toys. And then a few days later, it would wear off faster and faster. So we added more. And it lasted for two days. And then we increased it again. And in an hour it would wear off. So six weeks go by and he’s taking a dose every four hours and it isn’t working at all. So we stopped it. And a week of pure hell goes by and I can’t take it anymore and call the doctor.
And we try a new one. And I concede to trying the new one for both boys, because this one has virtually no side-effects (although it tends not to work as well as some others) and is extended-release, which means they only have to take it ONCE a day. And it’s sooooo much easier to administer. What have we got to lose, right? The past week was pure hell…
And the past two days have been paradise. Our kids are FUNNY. And FUN. And CUTE. And witty, charming, silly, boyish, energetic, creative, intelligent and sensitive. Who knew? I know it might not last. But this gives me a glimpse of what our lives can be like. I can take naps and cuddle with them and go out to lunch with my family. And I LIKE IT.
So, even if it only lasts a few weeks and they get too used to it and we have to start all over again? It was nice to have paradise. It was nice to get to know my boys. Here’s to hoping we get to know them even better.