As many of you already know, Ben has bipolar disorder on top of his ADHD. We can medicate him for the bipolar, but any medication we have tried for ADHD has made him very irritable, angry and manic, so we have learned to do our best and live with the ADHD as a child who can’t focus is better than a child who puts fists through bedroom doors.
I’ve been asked recently by a few of you how the neurological reorganization has been going. We have seen some progress, but not the miraculous changes that others have seen or what we hoped to see. For those who have asked me about NR work, I still believe in it, but also believe it has its limits. For us it hasn’t been the “be all end all” that others have claimed it to be. Maybe we haven’t been dedicated enough to do the entire program each day but for those who have done it, you know how exhausting it can be. One mom on an NR group that I am in, put my feelings into words one day when she said, “I hate NR. I hate it more than my kids hate it. It consumes my life, it makes me fight with my kids, and it is just downright exhausting!” It is indeed exhausting because it is hard work and most kids resist doing the tummy crawling, creeping on hands and knees, etc, that is required day in and day out in order to see progress. For a mom with a resistant child, it is emotionally exhausting to say, “No, you can’t: watch TV, play outside, play videogames, ride your bike, etc., until your exercises are done”, knowing full well your child is going to “lose it” that he has to do those dreaded exercises yet again. Surprisingly, however, Ben has actually been more compliant with his program than Micheline has been. He is the one with more issues, and yet he is the one who will do the work required; he will do it complaining every step of the way, but he usually gets the job done.
Micheline, on the other hand seems to always manage to find a way to slip out of the room to the bathroom, or escape outside while I am watching Ben do his patterns. Other times she pretends to not know what is required of her. The two of them do not do well both creeping or crawling at the same time, nor is it good to have them both doing patterns at the same time, so we usually have one crawling while the other does patterns. I’m not quite sure how Micheline manages to get out of doing exercises, but it seems I turn my back for a mere second and she has disappeared, or she does her best to whine and outlast me until I have to go make dinner or some other task that gets her out of my line of sight.
Well, her behavior has deteriorated over the past few months. Impulses that used to be more readily controlled are not. Shrieking loudly for no reason at all, bumping into people again, and intentionally trying to hurt another child or the dog have all surfaced again recently. She will deny what she has done immediately, and “I’m not lying” are three of the most common words out of her mouth lately, even as it is evident when she is indeed telling an untruth.
As much as I would like to have faith in NR, I don’t believe in putting all my eggs in one basket. I hate medicating children and wish there were another way, but her behaviors have really gotten out of hand lately and even with using the best counseling techniques, she is more and more impulsive to the point where it is causing problems with social interaction at school.
I have recommitted to doing this program because I saw huge benefits when she first started. Retained birth reflexes were going away, she was more aware of where her body was in space, etc. However, I also know that we need some help right now, not in two years when the NR may or may not have done everything that practitioners claim it can do. I do believe that some of the regressions we have recently seen are a result of starting back with the program, and that I need to have the faith to continue. In the meantime, however, Micheline needs to function at school, which she has not been able to do when she can’t pay attention in the classroom.
Micheline used to be on Tenex, but it made her so exhausted and didn’t seem to be working as well as it used to. So, this month we tried Strattera, hoping to avoid any of the stimulant meds, but she seemed even worse on it. So, back to the dr. we went today, where I consented to try a stimulant medication.
Already having another child on antipyschotics, I just didn’t want to go the stimulant route with Micheline. I feel like I have done everything in my power to avoid it, however, from diet changes to NR, to audiovisual enhancement training, herbal remedies and counseling. Each has helped a bit, but the puzzle that is my daughter requires more than one piece to be complete, and I do feel that there are times that the medication component is necessary even though it may be hated and dreaded.
So, tonight I go to bed, wondering and worrying how she will be tmw after being given a stimulant. Will it help to control her impulses? Will it make her feel like she can finally focus on the task in front of her or will it merely give her stomach aches, and perhaps make her irritable as stimulants did to her brother?
I will say I’m very grateful for a pediatrician who doesn’t push meds. We have taken quite awhile to get to this step and tried so many other options along the way, that I feel that we are proceeding cautiously rather than rushing into this choice.
She also told me today that should the generic methylphenidate not work for us, that there are other options. I don’t even want to think about it. Anyone who has had children who build up “med fatigue” where meds seem to quit working, hates to hear the words “medication change.” When it comes to Ben, those two words rank right up there with similar two word phrases such as “firing squad” and “death wish”. Forrest Gump had it all wrong. It’s not life that is like a box of chocolates, but rather med changes that are like a box of chocolates because you truly don’t know what you will get when you start playing around with brain chemicals. Sometimes you find the perfect match and the med is a life saver. Other times, it is horrible, and you pray non-stop for 8+ hours as you wait for it to wear off.
I know there are some who might not agree with our decision, but with both kids, I never resorted to meds until I felt that we had exhausted all other options. Meanwhile, it’s back to the grind with more neuro work with Micheline. I have faith it can help. As Nina, one of the practitioners has said, we can do two years of he** or we can not do it and do many more. My vote is for two years.