Starting on Ritalin
We started Ritalin the beginning of this month. “You’ll know within two weeks if this is working, it’s pretty fast acting,” said the psychiatrist. I am strangely excited and encouraged. Why can’t most difficult situations have a fast acting response time.
Last weekend my husband took the boys and the dog to stay in a cabin. One night, two days away, four creatures not around the house. Just the two of us left behind to deal with each other. The pair that has had difficulties tolerating and enjoying each other. We had a delightful time.
She had been on the medication for four days. We had tried another ADHD medication, a non-stimulant, for over a month and the only change we saw was irritability. Uh, no thanks, could we take that off the plate? So here we are, going into week 9 after that initial medication evaluation and trying out Ritalin. Our doctor told us that most kids respond well, most respond quickly, and most experience only a few side effects. Since our medical specialist informed us that her heart murmur is in no way a reason to avoid stimulants, we received the green light to proceed with this category of medications.
Off they went with a frozen pizza, sodas, Fruit Loops, pancake mix that requires only adding water, dog food, one change of clothes and toothbrushes. Not my choice of foods, his idea. Not my idea to pack so lightly, his choice. Have fun! I yelled. I braced myself for endless difficulties of being with my daughter. It’s not pleasant to feel this way towards your child. Sometimes I need to be nudged, if not pushed into certain situations. I really don’t think of myself as overly cautious. But I’ll admit, I am not eager to enter an arena of battles. I know that I need certain circumstances to be in place to make me deal with a problem.
I thought of activities for us, mostly to keep me sane and in a calm place. I worked on the yard while she played on the deck. She has progressed with her imaginative play in the past several months. No longer is she clueless; it’s her choices that still stump me. She collects grass, twigs, leaves and stones off the yard and driveway. She makes little piles. She can spend an h-o-u-r twisting a blade of grass into a knot. She chatters dialogues with her characters (?). I still don’t understand things about her. Is she brilliantly creative or simple minded?
I lined up a dinner out with a family we are just getting to know. They also have a special needs kindergartner– some similarities, many differences. We talked about the challenges of parenting, the battles to have IEPs completed at the schools, and the unusual behaviors that plague many children with histories of trauma and foster care. I giggled with enthusiasm as I informed them that a common side effect of Ritalin is decrease in appetite.
- Of course I realize that my child stealing food left and right and complaining of constant hunger is something other than an empty stomach.
- Of course I know that wanting to eat is her survival strategy to deal with emotional voids.
- Of course I understand that stealing and lying are common problem solving methods that kids use, especially those who lacked adequate parenting.
- Of course I nodded to show understanding when the psychiatrist told me this is the most common side effect, so I should be prepared. My nod included a silent prayer: please let her have a decrease in appetite.
We skipped home and talked about how nice it is to have friends so that you can do things like that together. She fell asleep so easily it was like a dream. I got to end my night snacking and watching two episodes of Girls.
The following morning, we went on a bike ride. She huffed and puffed through a twelve minute ride up and down residential streets. It was a beautiful sunny day. We ate lunch outside. We continued our activities in the backyard– I used the grass trimmer, she lined up her grass blades. Ahhhhhh, mother and daughter time. It was so pleasant — a handful of calm, enjoyable, uneventful moments. I felt giddy like we had a first date that went well. Did we get there, is this the light at the end of the tunnel that I had read about and hoped for? I am nervous to analyze what has happened during this thirty hour period. I had witnessed multiple negative behaviors on a daily basis for years. It was eerie to think that most could decrease in frequency.
The following week, I asked her teacher if she had noticed an improvement… She apologized: not really, just a few select moments. Hmmmmm, I hear what you are saying. We have another medication appointment coming up soon. Still, I smile thinking back on that weekend– I’m feeling hopeful.