Life as MommyMo

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Catching Up

The more people I hear about that read my blog, the more I realize that it's not just me talking to myself (I'm quick that way, huh?!) It also means that I catch myself sometimes wondering just how ready I really am to spill my guts. I started blogging as a journal, but I find that there are things that I struggle to put into words. It's as if committing them to paper (or a screen) makes them a real part of my life and our family's history. Sometimes I'm just not ready to admit things right away.

One of those realizations has come to pass since I last blogged. I have probably talked before about the possibility of Sam having ADHD. We've always known he was more than a bit exuberant, but the older he gets, the more we realize he just can't control it. He's not being disobedient or stubborn as much as he's just unable to contain his energy and emotions. His pediatrician, his teachers, his Sunday School teachers all admit that he's beginning to fall outside what's typical for any other child his age.

A quick example that for some reason really got to me: When it was the week to practice writing the letter "c" in school, I saw the papers of the other kids in Sam's class. Each one wrote (somewhat wobbly) letters in a pretty decent row. Sam, however, only seems to get the overall shape of the letter and wrote little arcs in all directions all over a page. Similar things have happened with other lessons and his teacher says that she's already learned that there are times when Sam simply cannot learn if she forces him to sit still at a time when he's not ready. That means he doesn't end up practicing things nearly as much as other kids might.

I have cried off and on about all of this for weeks now. I don't want Sam to face any more hardship than he needs to. No one wants that for their child. I want him to be able to make great use of the obviously brilliant brain he was blessed with (I'm not biased, of course.) I wonder how he'll be affected when the new baby arrives. I don't want to jump to conclusions about what might really be wrong. I want to believe that his struggles are a phase. I get totally confused about what might be attachment related, what's nothing, and what might actually be a real issue for him.

And to be perfectly honest with myself, I am completely Type A and have a really hard time dealing with things that are outside my control. I pray every single day that I'll figure out the right way to cope with everything without worrying about what anyone else says or thinks. That last part is -- by far -- the hardest part for me. The few people that I've had real conversations with about all of this usually immediately ask about medication and finding any other way to deal with what may turn out to be a lifelong issue for Sam.

I swing wildly back and forth about all of this. My gut instinct is to say that I need to find ANY way other than real drugs to deal with this once/if he's formally diagnosed soon (and I fully admit I'm totally dragging my feet. I need to pull myself together, but I am not feeling quite ready to get the formal diagnosis.. That makes all that I've written before sound like I've already made a diagnosis that I'm not qualified to make. In some ways I suppose I have. I don't like to admit that for real, but he's got more than enough signs and I'll explain in a minute what brought it all together for me.) I don't like the idea of psychotropic drugs in a 33-lb. body. I also know that ADHD is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I would not deny him real treatment if he had another disorder.

My stopgap measure comes in the form of morning coffee. Caffeine in general, really. I have been doing a lot of research (big shock, I know) and have found numerous studies that say caffeine can have the same effect on dopamine levels in the brain as low doses of Ritalin without the other side effects. It's counterintuitive to give caffeine to a hyper child, but it's like magic when you see how it works. It completely levels him out and helps him focus. Once I told his teacher, she said that he had been remarkably better during lessons and was managing to sit still with the other kids to practice, and his writing already shows dramatic improvement. We've also been accustomed to NEEDING two adults to manage Sam in a place like Costco. Well, since the addition of caffeine to his diet (low doses, I assure you... I did that research, too) he sits in a cart and has a nice chat with us while we shop. It's a completely different experience than what we used to face, which was a whiny, climbing, screaming, bouncy child for the duration of any given shopping trip.

Now that all of this is off my chest for the moment, I'm off to take him to school. I have to admit that I'm far less anxious since we started testing this theory. It's so nice not to dread the feedback at the end of the day. Most days, we know that they're going to tell us now that he's a happy, active kid who's making great progress in school.


Anonymous said...

You know I am here for you and you are doing all the right things looking into this before he starts "school" (grade school). Parents are the best advocates for our kids and you are doing all things he needs. Love you, KB!

Melissa said...

I know that you are just trying to do the best you can! I certainly don't have any experience with this, but I am sure that it is difficult to come to terms with, and I'll be praying that you'll know the best direction to go.