Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Checking In

I haven't had much time to blog recently. My husband usually works second shift and gets home at 11:30 pm, leaving me plenty of time for blogging after the kids are in bed. Last week and this week he's been on day shift, with a couple double shifts thrown in. He doesn't like to see me spend much time on the computer when he's home in the evenings, since that's a rarity, as is our time alone together. So, this will have to be short.


Timothy, my four-year-old, is having a language explosion. Suddenly, big words are all the rage for him. He doesn't always get them right, which makes for humorous moments. This morning, when annoyed with his brother, he said, "Stop it! You're advertising me!"
Translation: antagonizing

Driving home the other day, he brought up a math concept, and for the life of me I can't remember which one, but I do remember him saying, "This one is really complicated." For a long time, when trying to convey the same thing, he's used the word "tricky". I had to smile at him slipping that "complicated" in there.

There's one more I've been hearing lately, and that's ridiculo - translation: ridiculous


A few posts ago I wrote about Daniel's ADHD symptoms, and my fellow Google Blogger, Ashley, suggested in the comments that caffeine calms the ADD/ADHD nervous system. As well, it is much less dangerous than the standard ADHD drugs, if given in small, child-safe doses. I had wondered about this a year or so ago, but never did any research. After reading Ashley's comment, I decided it was time to look into it, especially since Daniel is very symptomatic right now. God help me!

It has indeed been shown that caffeine calms those who struggle with this neurological disorder. As Ashley has found, it not only calms, but also induces sleep. Doctors aren't exactly recommending it, but I'm sure that has something to do with the pharmaceutical companies and the profit sharing they do with physicians. I don't have proof of any profit sharing, but I've read stories about it. The ADHD drug business is very lucrative. We won't consider prescription drugs, unless our world really seems to be falling apart. We aren't there, thank the Lord.

Yesterday, I gave Daniel a three-quarter cup of tea, blended with vanilla ice cream and chocolate. The flavor wasn't masked enough, but he managed to get down a half to two-thirds of it. That was at 12:30 pm; forty-five minutes later, I thought I definitely detected slight sleepiness, as well as a reduction in the amount of time he spent in his needy mode (in my face, expecting to be entertained). Twice he said he was going to take a nap, but he never actually followed through and fell asleep. I would guess the effects lasted maybe three or four hours. The fact that it didn't hype him up proves, to me anyway, that his body chemistry is not the norm. He has never consumed caffeine on any other occasion, except what is found in chocolate cake or other such desserts, which he has about two or three times a month.

I don't know if I will try again; it's definitely something we have to pray about. IF we try again it will be with a cola, as trying to mask the flavor of tea is too difficult. I don't let the kids have any cola, so I don't know to what extent I'll have to mask the flavor. One study I read indicated a couple ounces of tea or other caffeinated beverage given every few hours, reduced symptoms the best, without turning the child into a zombie. The sugar/carbination factor in soda is upsetting, as it's definitely been proven to cause decay. The kids all have great teeth, so far. I wonder if caffeine comes in any other acceptable, more benign form, and in small doses?


I absolutely hate the idea of giving him anything, but it has become clear lately that the other two children, as well as my husband and myself, are all adversely effected by Daniel's symptoms. There are side effects from caffeine, and certainly they aren't something we want Daniel to have to deal with. At some point, though, it comes down to this. Is it really acceptable for him to emotionally and mentally drain the other four members of the family, essentially holding us all back from peace, as well as from the full pursuit of our goals, both personal and collective? Having ADHD may mean he won't be able to accomplish as much as we would all hope for. He is very bright and creative, and I have no doubt he could potentially make a nice contribution to society, if this condition doesn't interfere. If we don't treat it, the effects on the family could mean that the other two children may not reach their fullest potential either. And Don and I certainly wouldn't be able to reach our fullest potential as parents. ADHD can be so exhausting to deal with, that the emotional and mental energy one starts the day with is quickly eroded.

Studies show that kids who receive treatment fare better than those who don't, both in the short term and in the long term. Much of this, I believe, has to do with the self-esteem issue. Having everyone around you annoyed at you half the time can't be good for one's self-esteem, yet that is what these kids deal with. They don't understand that they are invading people's space, and even when trained to recognize the signs, they don't always have the impulse control to stop the "bugging".

Of course, there are days and weeks and sometimes a couple months when his supposed condition doesn't effect us much at all. The emotional outbursts improved last fall, and although those haven't returned, there are other symptoms that are very draining as well, but to a lesser extent. When his ability to control his emotions improved, I thought we were home free, but this winter has taken its toll. ADHD kids NEED to be outside, experiencing nature (green therapy) and exercising. Both of these activities have shown improvement in case studies. Not surprisingly, the most marked improvement we've seen occurred last summer and fall, when Daniel spent a LOT of time outside, catching insects and frogs and playing with his brother. We also went hiking a fair amount, with Don having the poison ivy cases to prove it. lol

Sticking to a fairly rigid daily schedule helps tremendously as well, but that is hard to maintain day after day, especially with Don's work hours changing somewhat frequently. In summer, in fact, he will work day shift every day, returning to night shift when school starts in the fall. I am doing my best to come up with a homeschool, play and chore schedule that works for the baby, the boys, and myself, during the typical week. However, when Emily goes down to one nap rather than two, it will need to be revised again. Life with kids is always in flux.

The ideal plan would be to use the natural remedies, in conjunction with family therapy, if we can afford it. Family therapy, in conjunction with drug treatment, yields the best results, according to most studies. But then again, how many of those studies were sponsored by pharmaceutical companies?

So much to pray and think about. I sure didn't mean to blog so long about this, but this does help clear my mind.


Ashley said...

Hi Pam,
I'm glad you felt you had some progress with the caffeine, whether you choose to try it again or not. I understand how it would be tough to decide whether or not to treat Daniel's ADHD with medicine, caffeine, or anything. My dad read a book on the differences in the ADHD brain, and the author made a wonderful point. We wouldn't hesitate to give a paraplegic a wheelchair or insulin to a person with diabetes, because we know that a person isn't defined by the obstacles they are given. Instead, those interventions can help a person become "more" of him or herself. The author pointed out that there are physical and chemical differences in the brain of a person with ADHD, and those differences can sometimes hinder the desires and goals of the person because they cannot concentrate or respect social boundaries, even though they would like to. You pointed out the Daniel is bright, sweet, and creative, and the author of this book argued that giving Daniel some kind of treatment would help him be a more accurate version of himself as opposed to a changed child who isn't really himself. I know you will make a prayerful decision that is truly God's will for your son and your family; I just wanted you to know I don't think you have to feel guilty for wanting to give Daniel extra help, be it green therapy or caffeine. Also, I've e-mailed my dad asking for the title of that book since I can't remember.

Evenspor said...

Pam, to answer the questions you asked me: We live just outside of Elko, NV. We paid around 220K last year for a 13-year-old house (3 bedroom, 2 bath, very large shop out back). That seems like a lot to me, but with how inflation has been going all over the country for the past couple of years, I don't really know how that compares to other places (except that we did also look at houses in Redding, CA last year, and they were about the same, and I know Redding is on the lower end of the California housing market). I think housing closer to town is a little cheaper; the elevation there is also a little lower (we're over 5,000 feet out here, I think). As for outside time, if you're looking for a semi-rural setting where you don't have to worry about your kids being kidnapped, this is the place. If you're looking for good weather, I can't recommend it, as the snow is finally melting that has been on the ground since the beginning of October, and I'm sure summer will be plenty hot (although, coming from Redding, anything under 110 sounds cool). If you're looking for a state with great homeschooling laws, Nevada is very good for that (I understand Utah is too). If you like shopping and/or cities, I would definitely not recommend Elko. Elko also doesn't offer a lot in the way of community activities and classes for kids. There is a swimming pool in town, and there is rumor of a rec center being built out here in the next couple of years (although, I now the guy who is supposed to be building it, and he can be a bit flaky). Also, we are in the desert, so there is a lot of dust, mud and sagebrush. Not a lot of trees. Except in the nearby mountains, which are beautiful and offer hiking, camping and picnic opportunities.

Also, if you do decide you are interested in this area, I can recommend a good realator who will make sure you live as close to us as possible. :-D

Evenspor said...

I just posted this on my blog, but in case you don't see it there:

If it doen't feel right, I'd say don't do it. It may not be right for you, even if it is for others. You know if you follow that voice, God will support you in whatever happens. :)

I would suggest looking at Magna, UT and Eagle Mountain, UT. I believe they are both in the lower price ranges. Some parts of Magna are safer than others, but Eagle Mountain (at least when we lived there a few years ago) is a very safe and friendly community and very Christian (mostly LDS). There are a lot of young families there, so there would be plenty of kids for yours to play with. We even knew some homeschooling families. It is a bit up in the hills, so it's a drive if you want to do any shopping (when we were there, the closest grocery store was 20 minutes away, even), but it's only 45 minutes out of Provo, so there is access to the amenities of a bigger city when you need them. There are four seasons there, but I recall them being a bit milder than other places we've lived. I think you would like it there.

Another thing I forgot to mention there is that since Eagle Mountain is right in between Salt Lake, Provo and Tooele there would be a lot of job opportunities for your husband (I don't know what he does). The commute would be long, though (at least 45 minutes to anywhere).