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.
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!