A little over a year ago Matt and I made the decision to put Cameron onto ADHD medication. We were both very cautious about making this decision. We firmly believe in taking care of things without medication if we are able to. In the case of Cameron, we really felt that we had examined all other options before finally deciding to put him onto the medication.
Once we did we went through the difficult time of trying to find the correct dosage. Our pediatrician believes in starting at the lowest dose possible, 5 mg, and making our way up to the right dose. While I think he’s got the right idea, and I’m certain that we aren’t giving Cameron any more medicine than he needs, going through that entire process was extremely frustrating for us. He said that most kids react well to dosages about 15-20 mg. We started at 5 saw no change, and moved up to 10. That still did nothing so he skipped over 15 and went to 20. At 20 we began to see a little improvement right after we’d give him the medicine but it was almost hard to pinpoint because it wore off very quickly. I won’t continue to bore you with the details but we didn’t see marked improvement until we put Cameron onto 30 mg a day.
But this was not without consequence. One of the side effects of the medication we put him on was that when it wore off in the late afternoon Cameron would crash. Our pediatrician explained that it was similar to coming off a sugar high. When you crash off that you feel cranky and irritable. The same thing was happening to Cameron and he was spending his evenings angrier than I had ever seen him. After consulting with our pediatrician some more we put him onto a second dose of the same medication. It was a smaller dose than his morning pill, and instead of being a slow release it was a quick release pill which allowed him to not come crashing down off the high dose pill.
And although we had spent many of the months prior to putting him on medication working with a psychologist to help Cameron with his sleep problems another side effect of his medication was to create the same problems over again. This time the sleep techniques we’d learned didn’t work to resolve the issues so it was back to the pediatrician we went. His suggestion was not exactly to medicate Cameron more, but that’s exactly how it appears to Cameron. He suggested that we pick up some of the herb Melatonin. He said just a few milligrams of that would help relax Cameron enough to help him to sleep better. And he was right, mostly. Cameron is still up a good chunk of the night but at least he’s relaxed enough to stay in bed and not be up wandering all night long. And what sleep he did get seemed deeper and more refreshing for him.
So that’s where we’ve been for the past year. Poor Cameron has to take medication 3 times a day. Right or wrong we have done all we could to make it as pleasant for him as we possibly can. His slow release pill, since its such a high dosage, is too large for him to swallow so we have to break the pill open and give him the pellets without him chewing them. We’ve done everything from applesauce, to pudding, whipped cream, and frosting. Healthy? No. But it makes him take it without a fuss and he’s skinny enough that we figured a few more calories wouldn’t hurt. Same with the other two pills. Yes we probably could and should make him take them with water, but instead we give him something sweet to drink to help the bitter pill go down. To be honest that’s partly because I can’t stand to take medicine with water either and I don’t want to make him do something I wouldn’t want to do, and partly for the same reason we do the treats in the morning we figure extra calories can only benefit my skeleton of a boy.
And it turns out, we were right to do so. Last month Cameron did a follow up with his pediatrician to make sure the medicines he was on were still working well for him and that we didn’t have any concerns. It’s standard practice for our pediatricians office to weigh the kids at every appointment. When I mentioned to the doctor how skinny Cameron appeared to be lately he pulled up the chart and made note that Cameron has not gained any weight in the past year despite growing two inches taller. He then recommended that we give Cameron yet another medication, this time an appetite enhancer.
My first instinct was to say no way! He’s already on medication 3 times every single day. Adding this would mean that Cameron would be taking medicine 6 times every day because he’d have to take it before every meal. But upon further reflection Cameron really needed to do it. There were a great many meals where Cameron ate no more than one or two bites before he would say that he was full.
Which brings us up to now. After just a few days on the medicine Cameron’s appetite increased greatly. The most notable day was when he ate 3 hot dogs and about 1/3 of a bag of chips for his lunch. In fact his appetite increased so much that we wondered if he just needed a jump start and stopped being so diligent about giving him the medicine. It took a few days to see the difference but soon after we stopped giving it to him regularly his appetite decreased significantly again. That was enough for us. We put him right back onto the appetite medicine and slowly but surely he’s eating more food again. We haven’t seen much in the way of weight gain yet but it’s only a matter of time.
And there are other benefits as well. It seems now that Cameron is eating more there isn’t the major mood swing at the end of his morning pill. More often than not lately we will either be late on his afternoon pill or end up skipping it all together because he doesn’t seem to need it that day. It will be interesting to see if being cooped up in school all day again this fall changes that trend, but at least for now we have some improvement. Long term we are looking to get him off all of these medications and are always looking for alternatives to them. But in the meantime I think we’ve made the right choice by Cameron. He’s more loving, more talkative, and less shy than he used to be and I really think we have his medicine to thank for that.