The Lazy Susan of Medication

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One woman shares her story of her child's ADHD treatment.

“Let’s try a new med”

Those were the words the doctor said when we came in for our 3-month med appointment.  I didn’t want to hear those words.  We had been on Straterra for 6 months, slowly increasing the dosage every month or so.  Most of the behaviors would even out, but insomnia and impulsive decisions showed zero improvements.

I handed the doctor the letters from the school and our observations at home.  He then visited with our kidlet alone.  After about 20 minutes, he called us back in.

He said, “Sometimes non-stimulant drugs aren’t effective in children with severe ADHD.”

He went on to say that he felt our child has severe ADHD, and that we need to change meds.

So, the doctor spun what I call, the lazy susan of medication, and picked another one to “try”, as he reminded me that there is no magic pill, that it can take up to a year to find a med that is a good fit for him.  He went on to say that the largest number of meds a patient “tried” was 11.

And then he broke it to us that he would like to try Adderall XR.

After our appointment, I spent a good part of the day researching exactly what could happen while “trying” Adderall XR.  I read the horror stories, I read about all of the extremely rare side effects.

Adderall XR is a stimulant.  Stimulants work by increasing the level of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is the chemical that communicates feelings of pleasure and enhances motivation. Increased dopamine levels improve your brain’s ability to respond to signals outside your body.  This is why stimulants make you feel more alert.

As with any medicine, side effects can happen. Common side effects of stimulant meds include:

  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • increased body temperature
  • trouble sleeping
  • decreased appetite

Now, these are the COMMON side effects.  These are the side effects that probably will happen for the first couple of weeks, while the body gets used to the medicine.

The side effects that you should seek medical attention immediately for are:

  • Mood swings
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychosis
  • Kidney disease
  • Seizures
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Stroke

And you know what conclusion I came to?

That the benefits outweigh the side effects.

And some of you are probably sitting there with your jaws on the keyboard.  So I’ll explain my reasoning in this.

There is serious, life-threatening side effects to EVERY medicine on the market.  Our child has no underlying medical issues.  We have an amazing doctor, who, if I called his emergency line at 3 am, he’s going to answer.  I trust our doctor, and I trust that my child is going to tell me if he feels anything out of the ordinary.

My only fear is that this new med turns our child into a zombie, or he’s going to lose his personality.

We don’t want him to be a zombie or lose his personality.

Once the news was broken to the teacher, she was ecstatic.  (Because she wants a zombie, in my opinion.)  I’m saying she couldn’t keep from grinning.

So, with hesitation, we started his meds that next morning.

Now, just because you’re on a different medication, doesn’t mean the result is going to happen overnight.  That next day, I get a phone call.

“Did you child have his meds today?”  And I asked why.  And I was told that our kiddo was having a hard time keeping still, maybe we should talk to the doctor about upping the dose.

Lady, he just took the 1st pill 3 hours ago.

(Moms & Dads, I sincerely hope this isn’t the way it goes at your child’s school.  I hope with all my heart the staff is supportive and understanding.)

It’s been 2 weeks since we started the new meds.  At home, we started to notice a difference 2 days ago.  He takes his time on his school work, and he reads the instructions!  This is a huge improvement.

Now, because those with ADHD have a smaller frontal lobe in their brains, medicine isn’t going to cure everything.  Those who suffer from ADHD will most likely still struggle with poor time management and difficulty with interpersonal relationships.  Frankly, the medication is meant to increase focus, and reduce impulsive decisions.

But for us, this is a start.



One thought on “The Lazy Susan of Medication

  1. A high school Eagle Scout friend of ours hated the side effects of his meds. His grandmother taught him to crochet, and he brought his hook and Yarn on camp outs for after the younger guys went to sleep. It is very calming for him. Naturally.

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