Monday, December 10, 2012

Wait, what?

Wow, it's sure been a while since I posted.  I'd like to be able to say that it's because I've been overwhelmingly busy (I have).  I'd like to blame it on "no news is good news" (it's not).  I'd like to blame it on a LOT of things, but the truth is painful.  The truth is....the apple didn't fall too far from the ADD tree.  Yeah, I forgot the web address to my own blog.  Shut up.

So, let's play catch up, shall we?  When I last vented...err....posted, Connor had just been diagnosed with ADD, and we, as a family, were ready to do battle.


We decided to not medicate him over the summer.  It seemed unnecessary.  We waited until he was a couple of weeks into the school year.  We wanted to get a baseline of behavior for his new teacher (who is awesome, by the way) and then begin the meds.  We thought that would be a great approach to gauge how he responded to the meds.  I was stoked, and ready to go.  Bring it on, success is ours!  I'm glad we did it this way, because....

They didn't work.  By that I mean, .5 mg of Adderal worked for about a week.  The first couple of days were AH-MAZE-ING.  Total turnaround for Connor.  In fact, you'll forgive me for getting all touchy-feely about this, we had a breakthrough moment, he and I.  The third morning he was on his "smart pills" something extraordinary happened.  For the first time in our life together, my son held my eye contact while we spoke.  I know that for those of you with "normal" kids, or no kids, this seems ridiculous.  It would to me too, except in the 9 years I've had this little package of awesome, he has never looked me in the eyes while we spoke.  He'd look past me, around me, at his feet, at his hands, at shiny things in the room, but NEVER directly in my eyes.  I cried.  Yes, me....shut up.

But then, not so much.  It just...stopped.  Except that he still had some of the side effects, one of them being "aggression".  If you know Connor, you understand how ridiculous a statement that is  If you don't know my son, I'll qualify.  Connor doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body.  I'd actually like him to be a little more ballsy, particularly with his sister from time to time.  "Aggression" in Connorland translates into "uncontrollable crying and meltdowns when facing an emotional obstacle".  It was awful....he was frequently inconsolable and out of control over simple things like, "no, you can't watch TV before you finish your homework."  Back to square one.

So, against my gut, the Psychiatrist prescribed the dreaded Ritalin.  I have HUGE issues with Ritalin, but most are seeded in the past, so I put them on a shelf.  Connor went from .5 mg of Adderal a day to .5 mg of Ritalin twice a day.  With no results.  None.  In fact, his attention span seemed to get worse daily.  He was on it for two weeks, and I had more notes home and impromptu conferences with his teacher during that time than we've had the rest of the year combined.

I let the Ritalin run out, and we're waiting to meet with the baby head shrinker tomorrow to discuss options and dosage.  I'm frustrated, Lance is frustrated, and Connor is getting tired of detentions and disappointment.  I try not to show the disappointment, because I'm afraid he'll think it's in HIM.  It's not, but he's a kid.  He won't understand that I'm just disappointed in the situation, and in myself for pinning my hopes on a magical and instant solution, when I know damned well it's going to take time and effort.  I can't help but think to myself, damn it....I've tried everything I can think of, and stuff that other people have thought of, to help this kid succeed!  We've modified diet (with HUGE resistance), sleeping habits, time plugged in....everything!  Now why can't the rest fall into place?!  I want an oompa loompa NOW, Daddy!  I digress....

So that's where we are.  I apologize, loyal readers (all two of you) for the long lag between posts.  I've written my login information down so it won't happen again.  Oh crap, where did I put that slip of paper....?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Well, the results are in.  As suspected, and generally assumed, Connor was found to have the characteristics of ADHD.  No shock there.  We'll meet with the experts on Thursday to determine the "what next's" of this.

I've mentioned this in previous posts, but I'll say it again.  Our fear is that Connor will be treated differently, or poorly, because he now carries this label.  It was really more of an intangible fear for us....a general dread.  Until....

I was sitting with a relative the other day, and the subject of the evaluations came up.  This relative, rather brusquely, announced that there really was no such thing as ADHD, it was just an excuse for parents to, and I quote, shove more pills down their kids throats and medicate them to death.  Well, sure.  Of course, aren't all parents out to do just that?  Isn't it our secret goal to create zombie kids?  AMEN, testify!!  Seriously??  This attitude, while I have admitted to having had to some extent early on, is precisely what I am afraid of.  And disturbed by.  I gave myself the benefit of the doubt and did some research, though, and found I was wrong.  Yes, I said that....shut up.  But that's the thing, isn't it?  That is an attitude that a LOT people take.  And that is precisely why I'm writing this blog.  To share the experiences we're having, so that those who take the "see no evil" position maybe can get a little educated.  And to continue to educate myself.

Peace out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

We Are Family....I Got All My Sisters In Me....

....well, brothers, anyway.

If you don't know me well, you may not know that I am the youngest of five children.  Ah, the joys of practicing Catholics.  How my parents handled five smart, articulate, headstrong hot messes like my brothers and me without drinking....wait, scratch that; nevermind.

One of the things I've learned about ADD is that it is hereditary.  The feeling is, I've found, is that this is more nature than nurture.  Environment certainly comes into play, but from what I understand, it only exacerbates the gene.  Yay me!  It's not ENTIRELY my bad parenting skills...woohoo!  But instead, just another thing I can blame on my parents.  Just kidding, Mom and Dad - this isn't your fault.  This time ;)

So this revelation got me to thinking.  Could I have ADD?  Nah, I'm more OCD and AA than ADD.  However, I have this brother....

My "next sibling up", we'll call him Mark*, was pigeon-holed, err...sorry, diagnosed, as hyperactive when he was around five to seven years old.  Please keep in mind, this was the mid-seventies, and advances in psycho-science weren't as, well, advanced.  Mark* has a brilliant mind.  At four, he was reading encyclopedias for light reading.  He has a photographic memory, and is wicked smaaaht.  By smaaaht, I mean MENSA smart.  Rocket scientist smart.  He coulda been a contender, Stella.  My parents were faced with a dilemma.  Medicate brain-boy, or put him in Special Ed.  In looking back, clearly he was ADHD.  He had all the classic signs.  The only problem is, back then, there were no "classic signs" to speak of.  His teachers couldn't handle him because he was so far advanced, he was bored, but yet acted out so impulsively, he'd disrupt the class.  Given the limited, somewhat dangerous pharmaceutical options of the day, my parents said not no, but "HELL no" to the medication.  My brainiac, uncontrollable brother was unceremoniously dumped into Special Education Purgatory.  I don't mean the "gifted program."  I mean short bus stuff....he was put into a classroom full of mentally and physically challenged children, with the expectation of just quietly coasting him through elementary school until he was someone else's "problem."  He then drifted through adolescence and into adulthood rather lost.  Before I get a whole bunch of comments about my parents' decision, stand down.  There was only one option for them with regards to medication at the time, and I am pretty sure that they now only prescribe that medication to euthanize horses.  As a parent, I would have done exactly what they did.  In fact, it's a huge contributing factor in why I am a little "gun shy" about putting Connor on meds.  They didn't want a zombie child where once a gifted and exuberant boy stood.  I wonder....if they had then what they have now for kids with this, know....knowledge, how much different Mark's* life would be today.  Because now, while he has a decent enough job that enables him to be creative, he struggles with anger management issues, authority issues, accountability issues, addiction issues (no do I) and a myriad of other "issues", including sticking with any one thing for very long.  This is what drives me.  While I love my brother, I don't want my son to be my brother.  He could have been anything.  He could have done everything.  Music, science, art.....anything.  All the stuff I want for Connor.

But whatever....those are just my fears.

On the ironic side, I'm still waiting for the results of the psych eval.  Connor's EEG came back fine.  No seizures.  He has a perfect little brain up in that noggin of his.  The behaviorist apparently misplaced the surveys.  Yeah, I thought the very same thing.  We were promised results today, but.....not.  Sigh.

On the sad side, I apologize for not updating this blog.  A moment of silence for my grandmother, Carmen Hunt.  We miss you already, Grandma.  Carry on.

Peace out, yo.

*Names have not been changed, because we're all grown-ups, and, besides, Mark isn't talking to me anyway.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Me: I don't know how to reach him. Tim: do you know what you're trying to reach? Me: no. Ow.

Baby, You're a Firework!

You don't have to feel like a wasted space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

- Katy Perry

I heard this song on one of my many long drives for work, and this verse brought me to tears.  It made me think of Connor.  

He is scared about all of this, and rightfully so.  Not just because of the unknown, and not just because of his struggle with the ordinary stuff.  But also, kids are mean.  Kids say cruel things.  Kids can be colder than even I am at times.  He's afraid that he'll be picked on, left out or have some sort of stigma put on him.  It's kind of a catch .22, really.  I tell him to be strong, and to be proud of himself and who he is.  I talk to him about this not being some sort of bad, affliction type thing, but just simply a trait.  Like blond hair and gorgeous blue eyes, this is just something he may have been born with.  But now, do I teach him to hide this, to keep it quiet?  Isn't that sending the message that he has something to hide?  UGH!!    Where's the balance?  What do I tell my son?  One of the things I've learned in my "immersion" is that children with this "disorder" tend to be on the more sensitive side.  Good and bad, Connor is highly sensitive, and uber-empathetic.  Good times are on the horizon....gooooood times.

He is clearly relieved that the testing portion is over.  I think he was starting to feel like a lab rat.  In the meantime, I've been overwhelmed with ideas and practices to put into place to help, and I am still meeting almost daily with his teacher.  We're still waiting for the definitive answer.  That will, fingers crossed, come soon.  I may have mentioned....I don't "do" waiting.  Perhaps my son's mamma has a little ADD in her, as well?

So far, aside from the waiting, the worst part of all of this has been the EEG.  If you've never seen your child pass out, you really don't want to.  During the hyperventilation exercise they do to trigger a seizure (if the child is prone to them), Connor fainted.  If you know me well, you'll understand that I became completely unhinged.  STOP DOING THAT TO MY BABY!!!!!  While security wasn't called, it was close.  Fortunately, the technician knew some wrestling moves and was able to "calm me down" a little.  Just kidding, no mothers were harmed during the event, it really was beyond my vocabulary to describe how watching that felt.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait

"The waiting is the hardest part."  - Tom Petty

So, the past week or so has been a blur, to say the very least.  After the conversation that started it all, I've basically immersed myself in an effort to get educated.  I have learned a great deal, but my spidey senses tell me I've only just taken the first of MANY steps.  I'll go into what I've learned in another post.

In order to properly identify ADD / ADHD, some thought and due diligence needs to be done.  Our first step was a complete physical work up.  This is to ensure that there isn't some underlying metabolic or physiological  condition that masks itself as the trait.  Check.  

The next step was an extensive and grueling evaluation with a Psychologist / Behaviorist.  We met with a well respected head-shrinker in Schaumburg, answering questions for 2 and a half hours.  How was my pregnancy with Connor?  hahahahahaha!  He was ten and a half pounds at birth, how do YOU think it was?  Does he eat well?  hahahahahaha!  He eats well.  See previous question.  How does he get along with his sister?  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  After that, Connor went in to speak with her alone, answering even more questions.  I considered holding a glass to the door.  I didn't.  He also was required to take a test on the computer, which (don't ask me how) established his levels of concentration and distraction.  Check.  

After that, his teacher will submit her info package to the Behaviorist for further evaluation.  I gave her until Wednesday to fill it out, but if my past history of returning things signed in a timely manner is any indicator of paperwork Karma, I'll see it sometime mid-May.  Just kidding, she's great!

Our next step is an EEG.  I know you're asking, "Why, Megan, pray tell, would they need to do a brain scan?"  I know this because I asked, too.  They want to rule out petite mal seizures.  Often times, when Connor "goes away", he's staring off into space, almost trance-like.  He'll actually do it in mid sentence, or in the middle of writing a letter on paper from time to time.  He snaps out of it after a few seconds, but this does simulate a petite mal seizure.  It would be a huge mistake to treat for ADD if, in fact, the issue is neurological.  Big mistake.  I doubt that he's having these seizures, but err on the side of caution, I always say.  That appointment is scheduled for tomorrow, bright and shiny early.  

So, the waiting....

We hustled to get this ball rolling.  I've made all the appointments necessary, pushing to get them done as quickly as possible.  But now, we wait.  All of the results have to be interpreted by all the doctors involved, and then the "diagnosis" can be made.  If you know me, waiting isn't my strong suit, especially not with regards to my kids and their well-being.  This will take, apparently, weeks.  Weeks?!  What?!!  I want an Oompa Loompa NOW, Daddy!!  Ugh.

So, we wait.

Before I sign off, I'll share my favorite Connorism of the day.  Kinda broke my heart.

Me:  Hey, Con, I wanted to see how you were feeling about all of this stuff.  I figure it may be a little confusing, huh?
Con:  No, yeah, kinda.
Me:  Wanna talk about it?  Is there something that scares you, or is bugging you?
Con:  I'm just worried.
Me:  About....?
Con:  Well, see, if they say I have ADHD, then I'll be sad, because it's like I'll be in a different group or something.

What he was saying there is that he is afraid of the stigma, afraid of being "titled" and afraid of being considered different.  Sigh.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wanna Ride Bikes?*

Only a select few in my inner circle will "get" the title of this blog.  For those not in the know, I'll explain....

But first, I must make a confession.  I have never really subscribed to the whole ADD / ADHD "thing."  This, of course, is the result of having perfect children.  Snort.  I always pessimistically viewed this "diagnosis" as a lazy excuse for parents who had out of control kids.  Why do these people not get it?  Control your child!!

Ha!  Which brings me to the title of my blog.  Before I knew what I am beginning to know now, one of my favorite jokes was (is):

Q:  How many kids with ADD does it take to change a light bulb?
A:  Wanna ride bikes?

I still like the joke.  It's just that now, I am living with it. If you can't laugh at your life, what can you laugh at, really?

Technically, I don't really have an ADD / ADHD child.  We're just at the very start of this process.  He hasn't been diagnosed with anything, yet.  What I know is, Houston, we have a problem.  My son, Connor, is amazing.  AH-MAZE-ING.  He's eight and a half, and pure awesomeness.  He is freakishly (in a good way) smart, highly empathetic, playful, exasperating, tiring and simply beautiful.  He is in second grade, and reading at a sixth grade level.  He has the ability to break down a problem and solve it quickly, and can put together a complex Lego kit in under an hour.  He is sensitive, loving and can't keep his hands off you if he loves you. When he sees me cry, he silently hugs me.  It's how he rolls.  

He also can't concentrate on any one thing for longer than 90 seconds.  I've dubbed this as his "going away."  

In First Grade, I received weekly, sometimes daily, notes home from his teacher stating her opinions of his behavior and lack of focus.  We had occasional conversations about it, but I didn't take a lot of it seriously.  I was arrogant, and was sure that she just couldn't keep my uber awesome son engaged.  I figured this was all age appropriate behavior.  I spoke to his Pediatrician, and she agreed.  He wasn't behind academically, so no worries.  Plus, I had his sister ahead of him.  Suffice it to say, I have alarmingly intelligent children.  What I am learning is that how one learns and performs isn't necessarily how the other does.  Duh.

But, lo...Second Grade dawns.  Apparently, not all improves with age.  However, we were blessed with a really proactive, engaged teacher.  We met regularly to discuss not what was wrong, but what could be done.  Together we came up with a plan.  And then, together we came up with another.  And another, and another....and so on.  We changed diet.  We changed sleep.  We tried positive reinforcement.  We tried loss of privileges.  We let Connor decide what would help.  We tried EVERYTHING.  It.  Just.  Got. Worse.

We had a conversation at school this past Monday.  In three and one half hours, all Connor was able to accomplish, due to distraction, was to write four sentences.  Four sentences.  What is that?!  When we discussed this, I burst into tears.  Not because I was disappointed in my son, but because I was completely and literally out of answers.  I was tapped out.  I had no more ideas.  I was ashamed.  Good Moms always know what to do "next", don't they?  I was relieved that his teacher had no more ideas left.  For a minute. It didn't help, because regardless of what she said, I still, in my heart, knew I was failing my child.

So, suddenly, I maybe wanted to know more about this ADD / ADHD.  I had to bitterly choke down the notion that it was, somehow, an excuse for poor behavior or lazy parenting.  I know that I have tendencies toward lazy, but with regards to my children, I am often a Tiger Mom.  More than once, and with more than one person, I have been accused of being too hard on them with regards to discipline and expectations.  I will not make an apologies for this.  If they had "C" brains, I'd accept "C" grades.  I also have zero tolerance for poor manners.  But this goes beyond that.  Connor does not exhibit poor manners.  To the contrary, he is exceptionally well mannered and caring.  He just can't get shit done.  I digress..

I had to have a conversation with my ex-husband, a task I typically dread, about this issue.  I was pleasingly surprised that we were on the same page.  We aren't always, but I have learned to nod and smile, and then do what I know is right, regardless.  But together we (I) came up with a game plan, and made the necessary appointments.  I'll let you know how they go as the results come in.

I am grateful to the friends and family and teachers that have rallied.  I was not expecting it, and am humbled by it.  I've gleaned a TON of advice and knowledge about ADD / ADHD, and I am optimistic.  I've had several "light bulb" moments in the past few days, and I'm trying to organize it.  Stay tuned....

* the title of this blog comes with special thanks to Tim Tunnell.  I needed a name that reflected not only the blog, but my sense of humor as well.  Sometimes, when you're in the thick of an issue, you need someone to remind you of who you are, and I thank Tim for that.