While I may have to keep certain things to myself for OPSEC reasons, and I’m a pretty private person, there are some things that need to be shared. I’ve made no bones about the hardships of have a special needs child. In a previous post I showed how drastically my son has lost weight and the struggle to find out if it was due to his meds.
Now a few months later and me in tears more than once we have our answer.
Before I explain what’s going on lets backtrack for a moment. In my post Struggling I explained that my son has ADHD. This diagnosis is very common here in the US. In my son’s case I truly believe he has it. He shows the short attention span, poor short term memory, constant fidgeting, and other symptoms.
My family has a documented history of responding poorly to pharmaceuticals. I’ve noticed that often doctors here will prescribe something despite this; choosing not to believe me or perhaps not caring. I was very hesitant to put my son on anything as a result. I wanted him to learn meditation, use exercise as a means of controlling the extra energy and other options that didn’t involve pumping my son full of drugs. Especially ones that area a step below cocaine. After a year of him seeing a psychiatrist I gave in to putting him on Strattera. He had seen two doctors and both kept pushing every visit to medicate him.
A year after him being on Strattera he tapped out and needed to switch to something else. Enter Concerta. This is where things get boggy. As everyone knows what works for you doesn’t necessarily work for someone else. A nephew of mine thrives on Concerta. My son failed miserably.
He was at 56 pounds when he started taking meds for ADHD. Just before his tenth birthday he weighed 49 pounds. All of this weight had been lost while he was on Concerta. He had gotten so thin I was accused of abusing him, asked if he had cancer and a host of other ailments. Needless to say it was a stressful time.
Despairing I went to his family doctor, who was about to deploy, and asked if we could take him off of it. He was hesitant since it wasn’t his area of specialty. He felt more comfortable with my son seeing a child psychiatrist. I spent over a month trying to find one.
The one in town has a waiting list of over 20 patients.
The nearest one to us after that is an hour and a half away in the closest big city. Despite major airports, museums, zoos and more malls than any city needs they didn’t have a single doctor that we could get into in a reasonable amount of time. Some weren’t taking new patients at all, others had waiting lists spanning from two to six months.
Desperate I decided to call the base’s Mental Health Clinic. We got in the next day. I explained what was happening and that I couldn’t get into a psychiatrist. The psychologist was our only hope at this point. He immediately called my son’s family doctor and asked about side effects of taking him off Concerta.
We stopped him taking it the same day.
What happened next was stunning. My son gained two pounds in a week and continued to gain until he reached 56 pounds again. He wants to make it up to seventy which is the 50 percentile on the growth chart. I think it’s aiming too high but I’m also tickled he’s stopped losing weight. For the last few weeks he’s been maintaining at 56 pounds.
His new doctor is pro meds but ‘only when they work’. He was furious that a child who was continuously losing weight and suffering side effects with no benefits worth mentioning was still being put on this med.
My son’s side effects while on Concerta: severe weight loss, insomnia, nightmares, lack of appetite, combative attitude, loss of personality.
My son’s benefits while on Concerta: took edge off being fidgety and hyperactivity.
The lack of appetite led to weight loss and malnourishment. The insomnia led to bags under his eyes and crankiness. We didn’t even realize his personality had basically flat-lined until we took him off of it. He went from a cranky and combative personality to loving in less than 24hrs of being med free.
It’s hard to describe someone who is both combative and dead in their personality. He’d stare off into space quietly then become snappish when spoken to. We honestly though he was entering puberty considering he was so sassy. All that went away once the meds stopped. He was back to being loving. He bloomed again and it was like getting our child back. We now get spontaneous hugs and he seeks out our company verses behaving like a teen.
Don’t get me wrong not everything is now roses. He’s talking non-stop, even more than before. He’s a little more absent minded and he has a bit more trouble concentrating but it isn’t something we’ve never dealt with before. He’s also a little more hyper.
I’ve found that we switched back to premed techniques to cope. We exercise in the mornings before school to kill off some energy. If I need to talk to him I hand him something to put in his hand and tear up so that he can listen and not look around the room for something to get in his hands.
We’ve also added some new items to our arsenal. We started doing games that help with memory. The consequences for misbehavior are more severe as well.
Over all I’m happy. We have some new challenges to face but at least we ditched a lot of the old ones.
Most importantly my son is now happy and healthy again.