Symptom Alleviation

The other day I stated just how tired I was dealing with Baby and her symptoms while un-medicated.
I have never liked giving my daughter a stimulant, but I must admit that I noticed the medication alleviate a lot of her symptoms.
Unfortunately, I do not want my daughter on medication for the rest of her life, and so we are taking a summer long break. I have decided that “something’s gotta give”
I cannot keep my sanity and continue doing my Mom Duties while teaching her to manage her symptoms without medication.
So, while we are taking the break I have decided to try some other methods that are supposed to help the symptomology of ADHD.
The first of which, might be easier to ‘test’ then the other option. I am going to cut out dairy out of her diet to see if that helps with her symptoms. ADHD symptoms have been known to be triggered by a food sensitivity, dairy being a primary culprit. Another culprit could also be wheat. Therefore if her symptoms do not lessen with a dairy-free diet for 2 weeks, then I can try a wheat free diet for the next couple weeks.
Cutting out food can sometimes be easier than adding in supplements, but sometimes it is not a food sensitivity that causes the symptoms. Sometimes it is a nutrient deficit. Therefore my final option will be to include an omega-3 capsule in place of her stimulant medication. We know now that we can remember to take a pill every morning; so why not have that pill be a nutrient instead of a stimulant.
Also, because I am an academic at heart, I will likely try all three of these options even if I find that the first one works. This way, I can build up an arsenal of tips and tools as Baby grows and develops.

Death of a Kitty

We have a nursing queen with four kittens that are about 4 weeks old now.
image

The other day I received a text message asking if I would be willing to take on a 2 week old kitten, in the hopes that MamaP would surrogate. I figured, it was worth a try.
The kitten was abandoned at birth, and left to starve to death. She was found with her brother, who had already died before they were found and her sister who only lasted a day or two before we were contacted.
image

Little Orphan Kitty, as I have been so fondly calling her, came to us, and she was so weak, she could not move. She was hiding in the corner of a box and didn’t make a move, or a noise. Both the gentleman that brought her and I thought she had died on the way over.

When you picked her up she was stiff as a board and not once when we had her did she relax. Her bones were visible even through her fur and she had an infection that caused her eyes to have so much gunk she could barely open them. I gave her a bath shortly after she arrived, and she was so dirty that the sink water was brown by the time I was done. Throughout the whole ordeal she laid in my arms and did not put up a fight. She had a surprisingly loud meow for her size though, and it is this meow that haunts Husband.

Unfortunately Mama P did not accept her and even went so far as to scatter her own kittens around the house, away from her. Which left me and Husband the task of ensuring she was fed, and warm and loved.

Now, one thing you need to know about my husband is he has more respect for animals than he does for most people, or even society as a whole. He is a logical person, and rarely allows his emotions to guide his actions.
image

Little Orphan Kitty took to him quite naturally and they slept together on the couch all evening. When it came time for bed, I ran through our options. We could bring her to bed with us, or one of us could be on the couch with her. We felt it was safer to stay on the couch to lessen the risk of rolling over and squishing her. This is a common occurrence with our own kittens, but THEY have the strength to fight, and meow to get us to move.

My husband volunteered to do this task, and I should not have let him. He is a sensitive person, even though he tries to hide it behind his logic.

Needless to say, the outcome was not one that we were hoping for. And now, my husband is stuck dealing with these emotions that are so foreign to him. Logically he knows that it is silly to be mourning the death of a cat that he knew for less than 12 hours.

Unfortunately, emotions don’t listen to logic. Subconsciously he was trying to protect this weak, fragile, little ball of bones and fluff. And, in his eyes, he failed.

As sad as this story is, it does make me very proud of the man that I married. I know that he is a good person because he will devote all his time and attention to a little kitten that should not have survived as long as it should have. I know he has a heart because it is broken as he learns to accept that he did all that he could have. And I feel, in my heart, that this small creature knew just what type of home she had come into. She clung to him in her final moments because he was the only to show her a love so unconditional. The greatest act of love came from the smallest little mouth, and she meowed her final goodbye to the man that saved her soul. She knew love, in her final moments instead of meeting that fate that would have befallen her had Husband not stepped up and loved this little bundle of joy. We were only blessed with her for a few hours, but it is her love for us, and love my husband showed to her that will live in our hearts, and our homes, for years to come.

Summer Vacation

This summer Husband and I have decided not to medicate Baby for her ADHD. I knew that it would be a challenge for everyone involved.

Baby is going to have her challenge of attempting to “turn her brain on” and learn the necessary Life Skills to help her succeed in Grade 2. All without the aid of medication.

Kid is going to have to learn to not push his sisters buttons, and how to talk to her so that she will hear him.

Husband and I are going to have to deal with task of TEACHING her the Life Skills that she needs to learn this summer

And then there are countless camp leaders that are going to have to deal with the Hurricane that is my daughter. So far this summer, she has only been a part of 2 summer camps, but I have at least 3 more lined up – one of which is a week long, overnight, camp. For many of these camps, the leaders are teenagers with little experience dealing with children with behavioural issues.

Why would I make this decision, you might be thinking? Wouldn’t the social and education advantages outweigh the side effects that we see?

There are a number of reasons on why we made this choice. Some of them are good reasons, others are reasons that are not really reasons per say, but advantages of this decision.

First of all Baby lost 6 lbs being on her medication. This scared me. 6 lbs is not a lot of weight, but when she is already underweight and only 6 years old, 6 lbs is intense. It got to the point where her ribs were visible. I wanted to get her weight up, but since she was hardly eating on her medication this would prove difficult while she was still taking them.

Another reason was the “kickback” we were dealing with. Sometimes, her mood swings were 10x worse as the medication wore off then they were had she not taken them all day. I was getting to the point where I wanted to deal with small mood swings 100% of the time versus HUGE mood swings only 15% of the time.

It was also getting to the point that after about 6 weeks of her ON the medicine, we were seeing no difference in behaviour between her on the meds and her off the meds. The first time we saw this plateau, we increased the dosage (much to my dismay). When it happened again, I knew the doctors would want to increase her dosage again, and I have to say, I just was not comfortable with that.

Honestly though, the biggest reason why I made this decision is probably in conjunction with my “anti-medication” viewpoint. I never liked putting her on the medicine, and I definitely do not want her on medicine for the rest of her life. I am not the type of person who would see the medicine as a “fix-it” solution. I KNOW that it is merely a safety net, an aide so that she can learn the Life Skills. But I thought, if she does not have the opportunity to USE these Life Skills without the meds, then it would be almost pointless to spend so much time teaching these skills to her. So I figure this summer would be the BEST time to take her off the medicine and teach her the skills all while giving her the opportunity to use these skills.

Halfway through the summer, I regret my decision. Teaching an ADHD 6 year old girl Life Skills is HARD! I am both mentally and physically exhausted. ALL. THE. TIME. I wake up in the morning, and I am ready to go back to bed. I drop them(both Kid and Baby) at camp and I don’t even want to do the “mommy” things that I have to do, such as laundry and cleaning. I go to class and I can’t focus. Some days, I just want to let Baby have her meds just so that I can take a small break to regain my sanity.

/Le sigh. As much as I want to change my mind, I know this will benefit Baby in the long run. My job as a mother isn’t supposed to be easy. And so I trudge on. Reciting the reasons over and over in my head, as I search for the light at the end of the tunnel.

 
On a completely separate note, I did not in fact get into the Social Work Program for September, and so I am done school as of next month, and currently on the hunt for a job. Potentially more on this in my next post.

Side Effects of Motherhood

Baby has been on her medication for almost 4 months now. While I have been blessed with the fact that the first medication we tried has provided us with relief from her ADHD symptoms, it is also causing her appetite to be suppressed. I can usually coax her to eat at home, but I am not there at school during lunch hours and I am noticing, with increasing frequency, that she is bringing her lunches home.

This has caused my six year old daughter to lose weight. She is down approximately 5lbs in 4 months. Now, to an adult that doesn’t seem like a lot. In fact we all probably wish we could lose that much weight. :p but to a six year old that’s a lot. I took Baby to swimming lessons today and she came out of the stall in her bikini, with her ribs clearly visible.

I watch her with all her energy jumping around in the pool and it takes great effort not to cry. I feel like i have failed as a mom
But then again, she has energy. She isn’t unhealthy. And as soon as I noticed the weight loss, meal replacements were purchased so she could have an after school snack. High protein bars were brought to the school so she could have one as needed. Porridge has replaced cereal. Homongenized milk has replaced our 2%. I am increasing her calories where I can. And I have to realize that it took us 4 months to lose the weight…. She won’t put it back on over night.

Until then I keep repeating to myself “I will not worry, I will not worry, I will not worry.

Perspective

Me and Baby have had a roller coaster of a day. She woke up in a good mood, for the most part, but then when I dropped her off at school she didn’t want to leave the car. I ended up getting two EAs to come out and try to persuade her to come to the classroom.

Meanwhile, it was Sports Day at their school, and I had graciously decided to volunteer. However, because Babys class had more than enough volunteers, I decided to go to Kids class to help. This did not really go over all too well with Baby. While I went to check on her periodically throughout the day, and she had her EA with her, she still had a pretty rough day that left her rather clingy. Thank goodness it was only a half-day.

Afterwards, Kid went to a friends house so I took Baby out for lunch. That was a mistake. Her attitude took a swan dive as soon as we got to the restaurant. I didn’t know if I should leave, or stay and try to get food in her stomach. Seeing as how she is already down three pounds in as many months, I opted for the latter. Once getting food in her, she seemed to improve immensely, but the afternoon was far from over.

Over the course of the next 3 hours we went from happy to mad to sad to defiant to tired to sick to sleeping in the car. The mood swings were enough to make anyone dizzy.

But then I thought about all the other horror stories that I hear from other parents of ADHDers. Some stories where their kids are violent, aggressive, and even abusive. Stories where parents get a breather maybe once in a blue moon. Where EVERY day is a day from hell. And I realized that at Babys WORST she is still BETTER than some of these kids at their BEST. That made me really thankful. Yes we have rough days, but to be honest they are so few and far between. Yes she has mood swings, but the biggest issue I have is that she is clingy which makes sending her to school more difficult. She has never been abusive, or mean. She has never hit me.

She has, however, told me that I am ruining her life…. but I feel that way too when I am sent to clean my room.

Yup. I really am blessed to have such amazing children. <3

2014/2015 School Year

I just had a very informative meeting with the principal of my children’s school. Here in Canada, we are winding down our school year. The kids will have July and August off of school and head back at the beginning of the September.

While I can’t say TOO much, as nothing is official yet, and I know I have some local readers, I can say that 2014/2015 school year is going to be the best school year ever!

Baby, who was diagnosed with ADHD in February has had horrible luck with teachers. She starts Grade 2 in the fall, and in her short educational career has already been through SIX full time teachers!! In Kindergarten, even though she was attending for half days, she saw 3 teachers come and go.  One had a surgery and had to get a substitute for 3 months, and then we transferred schools half way through the year. Then for Grade 1 the poor girl went through another 3 teachers. Her regular teacher took a medical leave just before Christmas, and we all expected to see her back afterwards. A substitute was hired on a temporary basis. Well, the medical circumstances took a turn for the worse and the teacher decided she couldn’t come back. Unfortunately the sub had already made plans to travel overseas, so she had to take her leave and the school called in yet another substitute. I worry about Baby’s Grade 2 year as she seems to have a curse that follows her. :P

Turns out Grade 2 is looking to be a pretty stable year. Baby will have a .6 and a .4 teacher. (which means that she will have one teacher in the class 60% of the time and another 40% of the time). This is ideal for Baby as she has been primed to see ‘some action’ as the principal phrased it. Also, a little birdie told me that there is a good chance that Baby’s teachers will BOTH be teachers she has seen in the past! I have also been told, on the down-low that she will have the BEST EA assigned to her!! I am more than excited to see the growth in her next year!

As for Kid… in the scuffle that is his sister, I am ashamed to admit that sometimes his needs and desires got pushed to the back burner. I have been proactive in the sense that I have kept his teacher up-to-date on the happenings at home, and there has been one particular EA who has taken a liking to my boy and makes a point of checking in with him sporadically to see how his emotions are being handled. He also sees the school counsellor regularly, so he is not being neglected in any way. I have just had to delegate his needs to outside resources. /hangs head in shame.

However, his Grade 4 year is going to be smashing! The little birdie told me that my son will be in a 4/5 split class, as he is ‘academically advanced’. This worries me a bit as INTELLECTUALLY he is fully capable of grade 5 work. Hell, that kid is capable of learning some university material and requests that I teach him more 2000 level neuroscience. However, he has a few issues applying that intellect into his work. I am also under the impression that teacher that is coming in is OVER-qualified for the position. Her education and experience is through the roof! I am told that she will be able to stretch his intellect and help him apply himself to the work! Yay!

I am also told that the same EA that has made a point of checking in with him this year will also be the EA that is in his classroom on a full time basis. So while he doesn’t have an official EA assigned to work with him, he will have  a familiar face in his class :)

As for me? Well, I am still waiting to hear back from the University about my Social Work application. However, I am not stressed. I know that I am fully capable of being the best Social worker, and am already working on gaining experience and education to better assist me in the position. Hopefully I hear back soon though. Other than that, I have been elected to be the secretary of Parent Council for the 2014/2015 school year!! Super excited for that, and what a wonderful opportunity to utilize my Office Administration Diploma!

The next year is going to see some tremendous growth for everyone in my family and I am so excited to see what the future holds, and incredibly blessed to have an amazing school that is helping me raise my children into wonderful, beautiful, compassionate adults!

Transitional Meeting

It has been awhile. But I guess that is what happens when a mother of two tries to attend university full time, run a small business, all while maintaining friendships, and trying to keep a healthy relationship with her husband.

 

Today, I had a transitional meeting for Baby. She finishes up Grade 1 in about 4 weeks. The school she attends wanted to have a meeting with her teacher, the principal, the school psychologist, and me to discuss her IEP. (which, I am STILL awaiting on receiving, but that is neither here nor there.)

We discussed the goals that we made way back in February and whether or not she met them. We talked about where she is academically, and where we want her to be before September. We brainstormed ways in which I could help her reach those milestones.

I mean, all in all, it was a really productive, and positive meeting. I love the fact that the school is staying to proactive in Baby’s education. It definitely isn’t a “here’s some meds, now that she is drugged she can follow along with the other sheep” that many parents of non-ADHDers think happen. They want to see my little girl succeed.

But, I must say that even though it was a positive meeting, I left feeling overwhelmed and drained. Things have been going decently well over the past few months. The weekends are tough because she doesn’t take her medication so that means self regulating her emotions are behaviour are much harder which leads to more emotional outbreaks and WAY more redirection. But as a family, we are aware of the hardships that come with the diagnosis, and we work together to stay patient with her.

So why then, did I leave this meeting on the verge of tears?

Perhaps it is the fact that it is yet another reminder that my “perfect little family” dream is all a façade. Never again can I dream of having a happy, normal, family because the cloud of a neurobehavioural disorder is always looming overhead. While I have come to terms with that fact time and time again, its never a happy feeling to have that reminder. Success in school came easy to me when I was a child. In fact, I was that student that got bored with school because everything was TOO easy. I taught myself to read when I was 3, when I was in grade 1 I was reading books meant for Jr HIgh students. In Grade 2 I was doing Grade 4 math, in Grade 6 I taught myself basic algebra, in Grade 8, I was doing Grade 12 math. Having to sit down and brainstorm ways in which my daughter can be successful academically is yet another reminder that a mainstream childhood is out of the question for my girl.

Perhaps another reason I was on the verge of tears was while reviewing the goals, I was shocked to actually hear how she actually was doing. When Baby was first diagnosed, she was paying attention to the teacher about 20% of the time. Our goal was to have her paying attention 60% of the time by the end of the year. I reviewed this goal, and thought to myself, Good luck. But I didn’t say anything because really, that is what a goal should be. Something to reach for, something to work hard towards. It shouldn’t come easy, and if you fail so what? At least we tried.

I was told this morning that Baby is paying attention in class 70-80% of the time. And for any 6 year old that is pretty dang impressive. That is a huge success, and I wanted to shout for joy for my Babydoll.

Or perhaps the fact that I was in attendance at this meeting is just yet another glaring reminder that I am in fact Mom, and there is no escaping that fact. I will be mom for the rest of my natural life. No matter how long I fill that role, it scares me every single time I am reminded of it.

The Black Hole

It never fails to happen. I go to drop Kid and Baby off of school, or pick them up for an appointment and I end up trapped in the hallways, unable to leave. Even in the mornings, its “Mommy, can you stay for the singing of Oh Canada?” or, “Can you help me carry my homework into the class?” Then once I’m in, I am forever prisoner of the hallways of the elementary school.

And let me tell, you there are worse places to be imprisoned. The entire staff is amazingly wonderful, which is part of the problem. Even if I can escape from one of the classrooms, I end up running into another teacher and we get talking for five, ten, fifteen minutes. Then I remember something that I had to tell the secretary and I end up in the principal’s office gabbing away for half an hour. You know you spend a lot of time there when the principal asks if you have received your own parking stall yet.

I end up walking out, my face sore from laughing and overcome with love and joy. Too many times I hear of stories where a child with ADHD is outcasted, and typecasted by the staff of the school. Too many times I am told that a child’s school is unsupportive in the journey that we as parents of ADHD children undergo. And every time I have to stop and say a silent prayer for the staff in my children’s school.

I have been known to grab a cup of coffee and sit in the staff room where I do my homework. I find it good time management, especially if I have to be around to pick the kids up within an hour for lunch, appointments, or just for home-time. I enjoy wandering the hallways of the school because I pick up on things. Not only certain techniques that are being used for my kids, but on things that the school is doing as a community. This provides me more of an opportunity to get involved.

I have said it before, and I made sure to say it to THEM, this journey that I am on with Baby would have been so much harder to deal with had I not had the support of the principal, counsellor, social worker, teachers and school psychologist. I am thankful, each and every day for every person in that school, even those that do not deal with my children on a day-to-day basis. I have had one special needs teacher take my children, both of them, under her wing. She provides them with “fidgets” and makes a point of checking in with them at least once a day using her 1,2,3,4,5 scale to evaluate their moods.

Kids teacher, knowing that I am have had this journey with Kids younger sister has taken it upon herself to watch out for him, and to let me know if he has had a particularly sensitive day so I can follow up with him at home. More often than not, Kid and Baby are quite shocked to find out how involved I actually am in their school life, as I do it mostly behind the scenes.

So, it is with pride and love that I declare that my children’s school is a black hole. One that once I enter, I do not leave.

 

Reading Week

It is reading week here. A week where everyone has off of school, myself included. My ex husband and I agreed that the kids could go up to visit him for this week. Which means that I took the whole week off to hook, sleep and avoid every possible homework assignment.

It wasn’t a complete waste. I did manage to get some studying done, and a few homework assignments complete, making next week that much easier. I have been intending to do a crochet update as well, but the path of good intentions, right?

While this week has been relatively quiet for me, I have hate almost every minute of it. I wonder, how anyone without kids find the reason to get out of bed in the mornings. That thought scares me a little, so for the time being, I will leave it alone. If anything though, this week has taught me that my life as a mom has become very important to me. Not something I thought I would be saying 5 years ago.

It has been hard to let Baby go. I didn’t know if my ex  would remember to give her the medication, or if he would remember to give it to her on time. Time, itself, does not matter… But if he gives it to her too late, she will not sleep at bedtime – leading to a very cranky Baby the next day.

So far though, its been ok. I was told that in the first day, they (being him and his wife) noticed a huge change in her from the last time they visited. From my understanding they have been able to handle any kickbacks that she has, any mood swings. I did recommend that they keep her off the meds for a day or two, just to be able to see first hand what a difference it can make. I find out today if they did in fact take my advice.

I have tried very hard not to call the kids this week. I  right don’t know if that is the right thing to do or not. I remember as a child, and going away to visit family, I hated that my mom would call almost every day. Isn’t that the reason for a vacation? But then again, my kids are a lot younger than I was. So its hard to determine exactly what they needed this week. Either way, today is the day that I get them back and I am very excited to hear all about their visit with their dad and little sister. And to see how Baby is doing on her second week of medication.

Day 7

Day 7

Today marks a week that Baby has been on her medication, and no one is dead yet!

Having her take her medicine and give me a high five has just become part of our normal everyday morning routine. Things are going okay. Apparently she has made leaps and bounds in school. She is able to sit and stay focused on her work, except when she doesn’t want to… and for Baby,  that can be often. But according to the teacher, a simple reminder to sit down is more effective now than it ever has been.

She has also been accident-free for the majority of the week. One whole week, and we have only had one accident! This is one symptom that I am not very open about, mainly because Baby is embarrassed about it. Even though she is potty trained, and has been for years, we go through moments where she regresses. And the regression moments far outweigh the other times. I spent many a day frustrated with finding her dirty, stinky laundry hiding in the corner of her room. Many times, hiding my face in shame when I got yet another call from the school saying she needed more clothes. The only solace I found was finding out that this was a symptom of ADHD… yet another clue that she does in fact have it.

The school is still throwing around the ODD label though. I agreed to have her coded as a 42 (which, in school terms means she is severely behaviourally challenged) only so that the school would have success in obtaining funding for her to get an aid. However, I do not believe in my heart that my daughter has Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Yes, there are times that she will dig in her heels and refuse to do something the teacher has asked… what kid DOESN’T do that? Baby is a sweet, compassionate young girl who WANTS to make people happy. She is just strong-willed… which, to be honest, comes as no surprise given who her Mama and Brother are. This will is strong in this family.

I have come to terms with the ADHD label being attached to my daughter. I refuse to allow her to grow up thinking that she has ODD as well. We, as a team, will just have to learn behaviour modification techniques to deal with someone who has a strong-will. That is one thing that I do not want to see disappear in her.