Did you ever have to make a decision that breaks your heart? One that, no matter what you do, makes you feel like a horrible person?
Oren's school work is going downhill, as has his behavior. Today was the worst day he's had at school in a long time - comparable to before we started him on medication. A brief history for those that may not remember or didn't know...
Oren was diagnosed with ADHD, plus some ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and CD tendencies (conduct disorder). In short, he is hyperactive, cannot focus on things and when he is focused is extremely hard to break him out of it. He is very defiant of authority and hasn't got a very good concept of socially acceptable behavior and would spit on, kick, punch, stab, lick his classmates. We had a hard first 2 months of school, then got him diagnosed and on doctor's recommendation and my own personal feelings put him on medication. Night and day difference. We moved him to the morning and suddenly he had friends. His handwriting improved because he could sit still and focus on it. He shot way up with his reading and math because suddenly he could concentrate.
But now, he is backsliding. He has trouble cutting in a straight line, his handwriting is barely legible some days. He constantly defies the teacher, and will refuse to do his assigned tasks. Having outbursts in the class. He hasn't started the physical aggression towards his classmates yet, but that's only a matter of time. We are watching his diet since he is sensitive to artificial colors and sweetners, but we have cut most of those already. He has had a growth spurt, so it's possible he needs a higher dosage now.
And here is my debate. On one hand, his schoolwork is very important. We need to stay on top of his problem because next year is full day 1st grade and they expect even more out of him. Diet isn't working as well as it was and neither is the meds. The logical thing would be to give him a higher dose so he can follow his classmates. I have already observed that at the correct dosage he acts like any other normal child, and is very bright, catches on quickly and is proud of himself and his ability to work hard. He feels good about himself and has friends that accept him.
On the other hand, how can I stuff him full of more drugs, when I didn't really want to have to in the first place? It won't make him a zombie/vegetable, but isn't there something more I should be doing as a mother? Am I wrong to let a medication take over for me? I still feel like I have to justify him being on meds to people, how can I increase what we are giving him? And Mark is against upping them, he thinks Oren is just sneaking candy or something, and needs more sleep. Do I listen to the teachers who work with him and others like him and trust their expert opinion and the examples of his work right in front of my own eyes? Even when it is against what my husband wants to do?
This is my big debate. I have been struggling with this for a while, and my feeling is that this is something no mother should have to deal with. But there it is, I have no real choice. I can up his dosage with the doctor and let him progress normally in school but struggle daily with my guilt that I am still doing something wrong, or I can leave things as they are knowing that his behavior will get worse but keeping peace with my family and those who judge me. I know the meds help, but I hate that I had to "stoop" to giving them.
And what really hurts is that I will have to make this decision constantly. Just when I am comfortable with how things are and feeling better about my choices as his mother, someone will turn around and point out that he is going back downhill, he will change, and I will have to go through this all over again. It is a never ending struggle, and I can only pray that he is the only one I have to do this with.