Monday, April 21, 2008

My big debate...

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.


Joseph & Ashley Danes said... have some big decisions to make. I think that what is important is that you and Mark come to common ground and make the decision together through fasting and prayer. It will make it so much harder if you guys aren't on the same page. Maybe (if you haven't all ready) both you and Mark should sit down with teachers and with the doctors and discuss your concerns. Don't worry about other people judging you. The only thing that matters is that you and Mark are doing what is best for Oren, regardless of what anybody (except our Father in Heaven think). I have had one instance in my life where some people did not agree with how I was handling a situation and they passed some very HARSH judgments. However, in my heart, I knew it was what needed to be done. Looking back, I am so glad I stuck with what I knew I needed to do, no matter what anybody else thought. Good luck on figuring it all out!

Karen said...

For sure the advice Ashley gave is what I would say. I had 2 kids on medication. No one else knows the hell you deal with making those choices and how your life is altered by meds or the lack thereof. You aren't locked in, regardless of what you choose right now. Take things one day at a time and be sure you include Heavenly Father...he knows each of our needs very personally. Also, don't be afraid to look into other methods of help. Homeopathic, chiropractic, different therapies. Remember also that no one cares as much about your children as you do, you are always their best advocate.

Stephanie said...

Have you considered discussing this with your bishop? I'm not saying that in a "you have sinned and must repent" way at all, but in a "you need guidance and spiritual counsel, and you need to learn that, yes, you are a good mother" sort of way. He can help you sort through your feelings, help you know what the church's stance is on medications for mental and behavioral issues, and basically provide some good counsel. This meeting could be with Mark in attendance as well. And I agree with the other comments so far - discuss with all involved parties what options you have, but in the end you and Mark are the only ones who can make this decision, mostly you because you're the one who deals with him more.

Rachel H. said...

Perhaps I am just naive--but I would think that if there is a medication that will help him FUNCTION and carry out as normal life as possible, it should be used. To me it is like being in serious pain--wouldn't you use a pain reliever? I think upping the dose is only natural since he IS getting older/growing. It is definitely hard since you and Mark are on opposing sides.

I agree with everyone else though--get on the same side and I think things will start to work out. Sometimes we look for a miracle like in the days of old--when really the miracle might just be modern day medicine...just a thought.

Kathy said...

I'll just ditto the other comments - they were very well said. The decisions we make regarding our children are always some of the most difficult. I'll be praying for you.