Friday, November 27, 2015

Week in review - First week on Concerta

So this week was Monster's first week on drugs.

Monday

This was Monster's pediatrician appointment, where he was prescribed Concerta to be taken once each day.  The doctor explained it to him that it wouldn't change who he is, but would help him make the decisions he wants to make.  "You can still choose not to do your schoolwork if you want, but it will be because you're choosing that, not because you're not able to focus on it."  He seemed fine with this, and didn't really ask any questions.

Tuesday

This was the first day.  The first challenge was actually swallowing the pill.  It's a tiny thing, only about a centimeter long and half that wide, but it didn't go down his throat without a bunch of complaining.  I tried explaining it to him the same way I learned a pill: "Just put it on your tongue and use your finger to push it to the back of your throat."  Then we tried water, and yogurt, and then back to the finger, only now the pill is starting to dissolve, so it tastes awful for him.  Finally I convinced him that he had to push it just a bit past the gag reflex, and it went down.  A bunch of water to wash it down and he finished his breakfast.  I had officially begun drugging my child.

It was a bit cold, and there was about 15 cm of fresh snow on the ground, so very few people had shoveled their sidewalks by the time we walked to school.  Also it was still snowing.  This made it a lot more work for the M&Ms to trudge through all this than it normally would be.  They were troopers though, and didn't complain too much.  Monster seemed a bit tired and/or despondent on the walk to school.  I'm not sure if it was the medicine, or the fresh snow (the first real snowfall of the year) or just the extra effort required to walk through the snow.  Whatever the case, naturally my mind instantly jumped on the idea that I screwed up by  medicating him, that he's going to be horribly depressed and screwed up because of the decision, and it was all my fault.  So, I dropped him off at school worrying about this, and then walked Monkey to his school, where he proceeded to alternate between being excited about getting to stomp through snow and being cranky that he had to walk through all the deep snow.

I was pretty tired during the afternoon, and I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I let Monkey watch a few extra YouTube videos in the afternoon so that I could laze around on the couch.  We drove to pick Monster up from school, me fearing the worst.  Would he have accomplished anything?  Was he horribly depressed?  Was he still completely unable to focus?  I got there, and asked Monster how his day went, and he said "good" and that's it.  I talked to his teacher, and asked how his day was, she told me that it was good, that he had finished most of his work, but was behind on some math work and asked that I help him catch up.  OK, so it wasn't the magic cure-all that everyone always hopes for, but it didn't seem to have destroyed him as a person.  Yet.

We went tobogganing after school.  It was a bit interesting to watch him, and compare him to himself in the past.  As this was the first snowfall of the year, he hadn't actually been tobogganing (or other outside play in the snow) since last year.  But he did great.  He was having fun, even though he got frustrated that the sled wouldn't go where he wanted and he kept veering off course.  He went down the hill once, and was upset that he didn't go straight, then he went the next time, went a bit straighter, and was upset that he didn't follow the same track as the first time.  Then there was the issue with Monkey walking in Monster's trails and wrecking them, and then he wasn't going as far as he wanted to.  But the amazing thing was that he stuck with it.  At no point, not even the one time he was on the verge of tears because it wasn't working properly, did he ask to go home.  I'm not sure how much this can be attributed to his other recent experiences with success after frustration in Cub Scouts, and how much can be attributed to the medicine, but it was wonderful to see.  Last year it would have been two slides down the hill, gotten frustrated that it wasn't working the way he wanted, then get mad/frustrated/beg to go home.

We finally left for home about an hour and a half later, and started doing homework.  First up, flashcards.  I've been working with him on these, and helping him stay focused from start to finish for a while now.  I don't know whether I'm happy or not to report that he did no better or worse than is typical, as far as staying focused.  Most likely the medicine was wearing off by this point though, so this was probably to be expected.  The rest of his homework went similarly, not significantly different from how it's gone in the past.

Wednesday

The second day with his new pills.  They went down much easier, still a bit uncomfortable though.  It was a bit warmer for the walk, and Monster and Monkey were both more energetic, running to and fro as we walked.  Whether this was because of the warmer air, the fact that most of the sidewalks had been shoveled, getting used to the medicine or just random mood fluctuations, I don't know.

Monster had another decent day at school.  Nothing spectacular, but not a bad day by any stretch of the imagination.  We again went tobogganing after school, with similar results but a bit less energy than Tuesday.  Homework was largely similar to Tuesday.

Cubs was fun, we brought in an old computer to dismantle.  Monster wanted to keep the motherboard and a few more pieces as a play area for his Lego.  His focus was about normal during the dismantling, and he had a lot of fun.

The most interesting part of Wednesday was story time.  To explain, just before bed, we lie down and I read Monster a story.  We're currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  Well, this night Monster couldn't sit still for anything.  He was up reading his posters and art projects on the wall, climbing around to look at his Lego, grabbing the bookmark to try to read what it said.  Basically completely distracted and completely fascinated by everything around him.  I don't know what to make of this: just really excited after an interesting time at Cubs, rebounding as the medication wore off, or something else entirely.

Thursday

Thursday morning both Monster and Monkey were up about 45 minutes earlier than normal.  Monster woke up first, and I'm not sure if he woke Monkey up, or if Monkey managed that on his own.  No matter, they were both in reasonably good spirits, though I worried that they would be tired and cranky by the time we got to our plans for the evening.  Today the medicine went down with almost no reaction.  Awesome.  Project teach Monster to swallow pills: Success.

The walk to school was uneventful, and Monster had another good day at school.  Maybe a bit better than the last couple of days.  Homework had a few frustrating moments as Monster wasn't paying attention.  This may have been more about my lack of patience at this point (still needed to make supper in order to get out the door on time) than his performance.

After supper, we went to the Festival of Trees downtown.  It's a big fundraiser held every year for the University Hospital Foundation.  The M&Ms had a blast, and kept having fun even though Monster's friend who was meeting us there was running late.  We did a scavenger hunt together (Monster read all the clues for us), played some hockey, decorated some cookies, and Monkey bought me a Christmas present.
Me and my stylish Christmas present from Monkey.

2014
2015

One other thing we did was to get the same picture this year as we did last year, with Dr. Deer.  Check out the difference in the M&M's moods this year, compared to last.

Friday

Friday morning, Monster was again up bright and early (I wonder if he's less exhausted from trying to regulate his behavior all day) and in good spirits.  Since Friday morning is pancake breakfast at our house, and Monkey was very disappointed that he didn't get to help last week, I woke Monkey up to give him the chance to help this week.  To my surprise, both M&Ms decided to help make pancakes.  Monster took his pill without even a comment, and it was off to school.  It was much warmer, and the kids had a lot of fun on the walk.  The Ex texted me to say she had spoken with Monster's teacher, and that Thursday and Friday were better than Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Seems like it's been steadily improving all week then.  He even finished his art project today, not something he's normally known for doing.

Parting thoughts

I don't know how much of his improvement at school can be attributed to the medicine.  Ever other time we've taken him to the doctor and discussed his ADHD, it's improved for a bit at school, simply because he was more aware of it.  Only time will tell.  I'm going to try to post weekly updates every week on Friday or Saturday, time permitting.  I'm sure there will be plenty of times I don't finish it, and it gets posted along with the following week's updates.