Monthly Archives: December 2011

Beginning our Adventure, Part 2

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In the beginning of 2005, we moved from Montgomery, Illinois, to our new home in Lowell, Indiana.  Closer to work for me (I was teaching 1/2 day kindergarten at the time) and closer to our families.  Boyo was born in December of that year, and it was a normal, easy pregnancy, birth, and early days.  Our only adjustment with him was the jaundice, but I’ve come to find out that it’s a A+ bloodtype thing, and no matter how many children we have, they will all have A+ blood and start their lives with jaundice.  So Boyo came home with a biliblanket and got to glow like ET for a few days, but other than that all was well.  He was a very clingy baby, a big Mama’s boy, but extremely loving and cuddly.

Around this time the doctor wanted us to think about testing Squirt for ADHD, but with a new baby in the house and her only being 2, we thought we should wait a little longer.  We went through all the “rule it out” testing; hearing, vision, even a sleep apnea test overnight!  She was still participating in gymnastics, and we had a teacher there prepare a questionnaire for the doctor, who decided she DID have ADHD, but was too young for medication.  We instituted behavior management plans at home, tried sticker charts, toy time outs, and so many other plans I can’t remember them all, but nothing really helped for more than a day or two.

In 2007, Our third bundle of joy, Booga, joined the family with a normal birth just like his brother (and a biliblanket, just like him, too!)  Squirt was in preschool, I had 2 little boys at home, and life was crazy, but fun.

By the time she started preschool at 4, we knew we were looking at needing medication to smooth out the symptoms so the behavior plans could work.  She had more energy than most preschoolers, an enormous temper, and had absolutely NO tolerance for transitions.  For those who don’t realize, transitions are every single time you change from one activity to the next.  It’s hard to understand this until you see it; she would actually throw a fit if we said “turn the tv off so we can go play at the park” or “finish eating so we can go to Chuck E. Cheese”.  I had to tell her exactly what we were doing when we left to run errands, and if we had to add an extra store to the list, she would have a total meltdown.  It was confusing and very hard to deal with.

The doctor sent us to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis for an official diagnosis and medication plan.  It was a full day of evaluation, 1/2 with her alone, and 1/2 with us.  It was interesting that they pointed out things we never connected to ADHD, like bumping into people and lack of eye contact.  We started her on medication that week, and went through 4 or 5 different medications until we found one that worked well and didn’t make her a zombie.  It definitely helped; she was able to control her temper better, she seemed more focused, and we could actually get through most days without the total meltdowns that had been ruling our lives.  Better?  Yes, 100 times better.  What I was hoping for?  Not really.  She still didn’t seem to be able to stick to anything, had no sit, and didn’t seem to come out of preschool having learned any more than she had gone in with.

By the end of the year I had a preschooler who was easier to take out, but still needed a stroller or she would wander (or just run) off everywhere we went, a toddler who was slightly OCD (if you put the green lid on the blue cup, you can’t just switch lids.  You have to pour the milk back in the gallon, put it back in the fridge, wash the cup, put it back in the cabinet, and start over…) and a baby who (if you can believe it) seemed to have even more energy than his sister.  By 6 months he could tackle his brother to the floor as he ran past, was into everything, and never seemed to get hurt, no matter what he crashed into.  He also never slept.  Squirt was now taking Melatonin every night so she could fall asleep faster, Boyo was sleeping like a rock, but Booga was never, ever in bed before 11 or midnight.  Not that we didn’t try, but he was a jack-in-the-box, and waking up the other 2 just made it worse, so we quit trying.

Kindergarten began, and Squirt was very happy to be in the class with her best friend.  She was actually making some progress, but it was slow.  She was still reading at pretty much the same level she could read at when she was 3, and didn’t like it at all.  Her handwriting was atrocious, and didn’t seem to improve no matter how much we practiced.  She could add, but only conceptually, anything requiring memorizing she fought like a bear.  On the other hand, she had memorized most of the presidents, could name every state on the map, and knew more about animals than either of her parents.  So obviously the kid could learn!  It was a year full of frustration, as I got the weekly phone calls; “Squirt cut her hair in centers today” “Squirt was upside down ALL DAY today” “Squirt was eating pieces of the garbage can today”…

It became obvious to us that there was something else going on with her.  It also was becoming obvious that first grade probably wasn’t going to work.  I knew from others that the first grade reading program had very little phonics in it, which I could see she still needed, and the math program relied heavily on already memorized facts.  Put together with the fact that she still hated any kind of writing, and I knew first grade at school would just be more trouble than it was worth.  We decided to home school first grade and see what we could figure out.

About the same time we were noticing some crazy things going on with our little man.  The day he learned to walk, he stood up on the couch, walked off face-first onto the floor, and got up and did it again.  He had taken to running directly into the wall and bouncing off laughing, just to do it again.  We were learning to guard ourselves when he came at us, because nothing was EVER done gently; hugs were bear hugs, head butts were common, and jumping into our arms was never done with warning.  I also had a photo diary of all the places I had found him climbing; on top of the stair rail, the table, the counters, the higher the better.  No fear, no dizziness, no stopping.  And he only ever slept when he was completely exhausted, so we were really wearing thin!

Next week in Part 3, I’ll talk about discovering SPD, finding a diagnosis, and the therapy that became part of our lives.

Dear McDonald’s Workers,

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When I ask you kindly to put the ketchup on the bottom and the cheese on the top of my dear son’s cheeseburger, please do not look at me like I’ve sprouted 3 heads.  It’s so much more important than you realize: ketchup + cheese = slippery.  And slippery is something he CANNOT eat.  No, he’s not being difficult, he’s coping.  And I’d like him to eat more than french fries today!

In the world of SPD, I am very lucky as far as food issues go.  Booga actually likes most every vegetable he’s ever met, and he loves protein bars, so even when we’re having a bad day, I know that he will get everything he needs.  But we do have our little “preferences”.  I actually don’t like to use that word, because it makes it sounds like he could choose to ignore those preferences and just try it like any other kid.  Those of you with kids like mine are laughing, because that’s just not possible.

Actually, when we eat at home, he does very well, and we don’t make special plates for him; he is expected to eat what we eat.  We make adjustments when possible.  Booga doesn’t like anything slippery, slimy, stringy, or that will make his fingers messy.  Leftovers are a dream come true for him, because they are either cold or slightly warm, and will not bother him.  Coffee filters are my best friend, because they keep his fingers clean and he can eat tacos and other messy things.  So, all in all, he eats VERY well for an SPD, texture-sensitive child.

But eating out is a different story.  And in a family of 6, with several sports, church activities, etc., eating out happens more often than it should.  For the first 3 years of Booga’s life, he really only ate french fries at restaurants.  Unless, of course, they were too salty or too greasy.  Then we discovered *why* he was turning his nose up at food we knew he liked, and started making small changes.  Like making sure chicken nuggets are not fresh; he’d really prefer to take them home and eat them cold or slightly warmed.  Or making sure his ketchup and cheese do not make his burger slide around.  Seems so simple now, but I still get those looks…

So, yes, I am the strange mom asking you to make a cheeseburger a different way.  But at least my boy will eat his lunch today!

Beginning our Adventure, Part 1

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Today I’m going to start at the beginning.  It’s quite an adventure story.

Many years ago, in a land far away…ok, not so many years ago, in Illinois…my hubby and I had bought our first home, gotten settled in, and were expecting our first, long-awaited child.  (the long-awaited is part of another story, we’ll save that for later)  Pregnancy was great, everything seemed perfect, until about 30 weeks.  Suddenly my blood pressure went sky high.  Diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, I was put on bedrest at home, started swelling like a balloon, and got very, very bored.  Week 36 brought about a hospital stay, as my pressure kept climbing and my protein levels were jumping up, too.  It was quite comical to kick every doctor that tried to test my reflexes (another symptom of pre-eclampsia was these huge reflexes!) but other than that, just more boredom.  We were hoping to make it a few more weeks, but after the protein test came back 400% higher than the week before, I was induced at 37 weeks.  My beautiful daughter, Squirt, was born on a very cold day in March.

Squirt was 6 lbs. 11 oz., a tiny little peanut, but seemed healthy and happy, and we were sent home on a Friday to enjoy our little girl.  She nursed well, but seemed to fall asleep right away, and we tried everything to get her to wake up and eat.  By Monday, the whites of her eyes were yellow, and we were back to the hospital with jaundice.  Squirt spent 4 days under the bililights with her little gauze sunglasses on, and was positively orange when we finally got to go home again.

By 9 pm the next day, we were back at the hospital, getting ready for me to have surgery to remove a very large clot.  Since we were on the women’s floor, baby was able to stay with me, and again, we thought this was the end.   As the nurse was discharging me the day after surgery, she went to look at the baby and told us we should see the doctor again, because she thought Squirt had RSV.  Having no idea what that was, we followed her advice.

Forty-five minutes after leaving the hospital we were right back where we started, as Squirt’s pulse-ox level was down to 78!! (anything under 94 is worrisome…)  Squirt had stopped breathing in the car on the way over, but choked it out before I could pull her out of the carseat.  In the hospital we listened to things like, breathing treatment, oxygen tent, helicopter flight to Children’s hospital…After a very, very long night, they were a bit more positive, and told us we were staying put, but she was still one sick little girl.  During the next 2 1/2 weeks I learned more about hospitals, IV’s, numbers, and breathing treatments than I ever wanted to know, but we finally got to take our little girl home the day before she was 1 month old.  Welcome to parenthood, huh?

Squirt had multiple breathing treatments a day, including steroids, for the first several months of her life, and grew like a little weed.  Our tiny little baby was not so tiny after that!  She was a happy, busy, crazy baby, and kept us on our toes.  By the time she could walk she was overactive, seeming to get into more than most toddlers, but she was our first, so what did we know?   By 18 months we had her in baby gymnastics, because it seemed to us like she had more energy to burn than most kids we knew.  By the time her brother was born when she was 2 1/2, the doctor asked me if we had ever considered that she might have ADHD.  Two and a half??  I thought they didn’t diagnose that until 7 or 8 at the youngest?

Fortunately, we had a doctor that listened well, and knew that we were trying all types of discipline plans, motivation charts, and STILL this child had too much energy.  At age 3 we went to Riley’s Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, for a formal diagnosis, and our first attempt at medication.  At this point her symptoms were disruptive and hard to contain.  I couldn’t take her anywhere without a stroller with 5 point harness, and didn’t understand parents whose children just walked quietly by their side.  That wasn’t real, was it?  Well, not in our world, anyway!  After 3 different meds, we did find one that worked, and some of the major disruptive symptoms seemed to be controlled.  By now Boyo was almost 1, and it was a relief to think that things were going to get better.

In Part 2, I’ll fill you in on Boyo, Squirt starting school, and the birth of Booga!