I hope I've told y'all this before, but just be sure I'll tell you again: You are the best. You. And you. All of you. I'm making swirly-type all-inclusive hand motions at my laptop screen. Thank you for all being so polite and kind and encouraging this week, in comments and emails. I've read every single one and hopefully can start plowing through some replies soon.
(As for the TwitBookFace thingies, I hope you'll forgive me for being too skittish to look over there right now. Everything is too calm and reasonable! The crazy/mean people must be hiding somewhere else! Let's...not go looking for them.)
Anyway, I'm not entirely sure what to write about next. It's been a lot to process. I guess let's start with some blunt talk about ADD/ADHD medication. What could go wrong? That's not controversial at all! Ha ha! Man, it's too early to be this drunk.
Noah started his medication yesterday morning. We waited until he could see his regular therapist on Monday, who guided us through the conversation about ADD and what it is and what the medication does. And what it doesn't, since Noah was very scared that it would change him or make him "different."
(She read selectively from a great book called Help Is On the Way. A little long for Noah's attention span, but he really absorbed the main points that ADD is not his fault, lots of other kids have it too, and that he's surrounded by people who can help. Very nice, if you're looking for something like that.)
Noah was not alone in those fears, once upon a time. Back in kindergarten, when we first suspected Noah also had ADD/ADHD in addition to All The Other Acronyms, Jason was very much against the idea of medication. For the "usual" reasons: That it's a cop-out, an excuse, a way to make our lives easier by doping our kid up. And yes, he worried it would change Noah in some fundamental way. Diminish him. Fade him like a copy of a copy.
I have only given out two doses so far, so I am far from an Informed War Weary ADHD Med Veteran here, but I can already give you my opinion on those reasons: HAHAHAHAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
It was Noah's ability to describe what his brain "sees" and "feels like" that made us realize that no, it wouldn't be about US at all. It's about making his life easier and easing some very real suffering. Noah's confidence and self-esteem were crumbling; his anxiety about being "bad" or getting in trouble all the time was giving way to depression. This is for him, not us.
(Not to mention that the medication doesn't kick in until he arrives at school, and wears off like clockwork not long after he gets home. You're welcome, rest of the world! Enjoy my calm kid and send him back once he starts bouncing off the walls again.)
I picked Noah up at the bus stop yesterday and resisted the urge to just blurt out, "WELL? ANYTHING TO REPORT?"
He was in a cheerful and chatty mood — his lost library book had been found (he did return it; he just forgot that he returned it), they learned about newspapers in social studies and he wanted to make one at home.
And then, no fucking lie:
"Thanks for giving me that medicine, Mom. My ADD is gone and I figured out that I'm not a dumb kid. I'm a smart kid who is good at school now."
Just like that, all matter of fact. Are you kidding me?
My questions poured out almost all at once. Really? REALLY? You could tell? (Yes.) Things felt different? (Yes!) Any headaches? (No.) Stomachaches/dizziness/dry mouth? (What? No.) Did you eat all your lunch? (Yes.) How do you feel now? (Fine.)
(Mom, why are you crying?)
He told me that he still chose to play alone at recess, preferring the company of an imaginary Olaf the Snowman from Frozen. He seemed relieved about that, though, and confessed that he'd been afraid that his imagination would go away with the ADD. Aw, buddy, no.
Over the next couple hours, I watched and listened. I took notes. Noah was still doing his usual nonstop talking talking talking Star Trek LEGO Movie Lord of the Rings etc. But he was talking at a lower volume, and not quite as fast and breathless. He was not spinning around the room. He had a snack and I told him to do his homework. He didn't want to do his homework, but before his shoulders rose too far in protest, he stopped and said okay.
"Can I take a break halfway though? I have a lot of homework."
"Did you see that, Mom? How I calmed down and said okay?"
I absolutely did.
We high-fived. Noah beamed at me.
Over the next couple hours, I scanned for evidence of a crash as the medicine wore off. He worked on his newspaper (he called it School Bus News and filled it with gossip and much intrigue), and started fidgeting a bit more. He asked for another snack, but said okay when I told him it was too close to dinner. He again asked if I noticed his lack of a tantrum or protest. I gave him a thumbs up. Hell yeah.
Then...he grabbed a therapy chew to gnaw on. I had to remind him not to stand on the couch, and he didn't seem to hear me the first time. Jason sent him to retrieve Ezra from a neighbor's house and we watched him through the window as he stimmed and spun and hollered for no particular reason. Yep. Right on schedule.
At dinner he told us the ADD was back because everything was distracting him again. Could he have more medicine?
Tomorrow morning, I told him.
He hung upside down over the arm of his chair and groaned. But he said okay.
Later, he briefly complained of a stomachache. I wrote that down too.
Over and over and over again, I've been reminded and warned that it can take a few tries and some time to find the right medication and dosage, so don't get discouraged. The last thing I expected was any sort of immediate result right out of the gate. I tried to stay skeptical and detached last night, but ultimately failed miserably because I was too busy being absolutely charmed and delighted by my happy, confident child.
Obviously, I don't doubt there's a hefty placebo effect going on — we told Noah that the medicine would help, and his confidence level was already on the rise once he had a name for what he has, and understood that he wasn't a "freak" or "weird" — he has ADD, like a lot of other kids. We'll see what happens today, and tomorrow, and so forth.
But for now, day one, done. And pretty damn okay.