Let’s Talk About Medication

The text from my pharmacy lets me know that my METH is ready for pick up.

It’s an auto-generated notification that includes the first four letters of the medication name in capital letters. I chuckle about this immaturely when the refill is made every few weeks.

In seriousness, I’m talking about methylphenidate – the generic drug more commonly known as Ritalin – which T started to take last July, shortly after receiving a diagnosis of ADHD.

I wrote at the time about feeling torn about the decision to start T on medication, including struggling over the potential stigma that may be attached with taking medication.

My apprehension grew during the initial weeks when we noticed T having rage moments and trouble with sleeping at night.

After consulting with his developmental pediatrician, we removed the third dose in the afternoon, which largely reduced the side effects.

Then it became routine for T and us – as well as his school and daycare, who administered the medication with our consent.

Over the last year, we adjusted the dosage, increasing the amount based on his weight and height.

To be honest, the hubby and I often discuss the efficacy of medication. On many days, T is still very hyperactive, impulsive and hard to focus.

We’ve inquired with his developmental pediatrician about doing a GeneSight test, because we’ve read on forums about parents who’ve done these tests which helps inform a medication plan best suited for the child.

We were advised this is likely not an effective route for kids with prenatal alcohol exposure.

I’m not an expert – and I encourage parents that read this post to consult with your pediatrician based on your child’s needs – but the hubby and I definitely notice when T is not on his medication; the rare time one of us forgets to give it to him.

A few weeks ago, T’s child and youth worker was not at school and T’s teacher sent an apologetic email saying she forgot to give the medication, a task the CYW looks after.

Let’s just say the teacher will never forget to do that again!

We are aware T’s response to medication will change over time as he gets bigger and that we’ll have to adjust and tweak along the way.

A methylphenidate pill (left) and a biphentin pill (right).

Last week, we consulted once again with his developmental pediatrician and explained the challenges T has been having around hyperactivity, focus and impulsivity.

So we decided to start T on a different medication: biphentin.

Our developmental pediatrician advised that it’s the same medication and dosage as methylphenidate. The difference is that T only needs to take it once a day and the medicine is time released over a 10-12 hour period.

So there won’t be the usual up and down in the middle of the day between his former two doses.

He suggested taking this earlier in the day to avoid potential sleep issues later in the day.

So another change is that we give the medicine at home in the morning and there is about an hour for it to kick in before T is in class; rather than giving it to him just before class starts.

We are just under one week into the new medication.

It’s way too early to tell its long term impact and I always remind myself that medication is not a one-stop magical fix. It is just one component of a larger toolkit to help T maximize his day.

But there are some early signs that make us feel hopeful.

This past Sunday, T decided he wanted to work on the “Everyone Is Awesome” Pride 2021 Lego set the hubby had purchased in the Spring.

We hadn’t opened the box, because the idea of T having access to 346 small Lego pieces made us nervous, as our living room often looks like a tornado had flown through it with debris of his toys scattered everywhere.

T is capable of functional play but he also enjoys just throwing his toys randomly everywhere! I suspect it’s related to his impulsivity and a self soothing mechanism.

But T sat down for over 30 minutes working on the Lego set, with guidance from the hubby.

And he finished putting it together! There were no rage moments or sleep issues throughout Sunday and the day before when we first switched medication.

The school week has been ok so far too.

His CYW and teacher noted on the first day that he was sitting better during circle time.

After school daycare staff reported he sat down at the table during “work play” for the first time.

We will continue to monitor, adjust, support and stay hopeful. We’re realistic that the challenges will continue but it’s about trying to maximize the good and minimize issues.

As T reminds us everyday, even during the very trying moments, everyone is awesome.

It’s also true that some individuals may need help with medication and, speaking as a parent with some lived experience, I think that’s ok too!

T’s work sits on my desk at home. I look at it throughout the work day and it makes me smile.

16 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Medication

    1. Medication is definitely not for everyone and it was not an easy or quick decision to start it. We tried and used other methods, such as behaviour therapy, before deciding to start.

  1. Thank you. It is not easy to share our stories either about ourselves or Family needing medications to go through life, it’s challenges and normalcy. Many people still don’t understand it or are sensitive about it. Medications whether for medical, emotional, mental and functional reasons are more important than ever. We need to discuss it freely, be open to it, be accepting and understanding. Inspiring motivation Ab. Thanks.

    1. Thank you! 😊 I find anything related to mental health or seeking help, whether it be counseling or medication, is often not talked about because there is so much stigma or misconceptions about it. It’s certainly become routine for us and I want to continue to do my part to normalize these conversations for others who may be struggling with it.

      I appreciate the word of encouragement! It certainly helps make talking about these things easier! 😊🙏👍

      1. Mental Health is even worse in Healthcare Workers. We take care of patients but it seems we are not allowed or made afraid, or shamed or guilty for taking care of our own mind and emotions. Saying “no worries,” “don’t stress out,” “everything’s okay,” or all dismissive of what a person is really going through in a highly challenging , anxiety provoking working environment. I was reading reason for workers leaving their job is “lack of empathy” from management and co-workers. It’s hold true the saying, “money can’t buy us happiness.” Self care and self priorities are more important than ever. Thanks 🙏

      2. Empathy seems to be lacking these days for sure. Especially true when we think of the healthcare profession. You and your peers have mg utmost respect and appreciation.

  2. Medication, like life, is all about trial and error sometimes, and having to make adjustments as we go. There’s never a one size fits all solution. Having patience, adjusting expectations and staying positive seems to be a good approach that’s working for you and your family. That and having a sense of humour! P.S. that everyone is awesome lego set is pretty awesome!

    1. Thanks Linda! Yup, for sure, trial and error and adjustments. I think that’s also been the slogan for the last 18 months. 😆

      The Lego set is indeed awesome. I’m not much of a Lego person but the hubby got it cuz of the rainbow prettiness and I’m glad that he did!

      Happy Friday. We made it another weekend! Hope you have a nice outing and hike planned!

  3. Isn’t it strange how the same meds in a different form can make so much difference? I commend the person that made a mistake (as we all do) and forgot to give T his meds. The fact that he admitted to it instead of not saying anything and flushing the pill speaks highly of his character. Luckily T wasn’t hurt as a result.

    1. Thanks Diane! It’s still early days, so we’ll see. But just the change in routine alone, such as once a day only and having time to kick in before school starts, makes a difference.

      We’re very lucky to have a great teacher and CYW. We didn’t mind at all that she forgot because we’re all humans. I just chuckle though, because she definitely noticed the impact. Thankfully, T wouldn’t likely have gotten hurt. Just had more excess energy to burn! 😆

  4. Your doing such a great job. None of us are trained in these areas, we just pick it up. With Hawklad we were offered medication. One Doctor thought it was right for him, but then the next said no. Even they can’t be certain on the right course

    1. Thanks Gary. Yes, for sure, every doctor has their own perspective. As the parent, even though we’re not experts, we make the best decisions we can with the info we’re provided. 🙏 I can see and admire that you do this very well for Hawklad. 😊👍

  5. I love the “Everyone is Awesome” theme you’ve reinforced in this post. And you cracked me up with the “let’s just say the teacher will never forget to do that again!” and giving T access to 346 lego pieces.

    It constantly amazes me how all of life is an adjustment here and an adjustment there and it sounds like you all are doing a wonderful job of walking through that with T. So glad the early results are promising.

    Great job on the legos, T!!

    1. Thank you, Wynne! Life is definitely an adjustment. It’s interesting the word “toolkit” was a common thread in both our posts today. Because that’s really part of getting through life is building up your toolkit and knowing which one to use to get through the day! 😊🙏

      We had a moments yesterday and today, so that’s a reality check for us. But we’ll keep moving forward. Onward we go!

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