We are no stranger to meds.
Want to know how anti-epileptics work? Give us a call.
Want to know how they metabolize in children? Yeah, we’re pretty much experts in that.
Want to know about reflux and constipation, cramps, and how to mitigate all versions of pukiness? We’re your go-to family.
Want to know which meds have a short half-life or a long half-life? Just ask us.
Want to know how anti-epileptic meds interact with each other? Done.
Want to know about adverse side effects? Here let me show you the book I’ve written on the subject. It comes with pictures and stories and a vial of endless tears.
Want to know about mood stabilizers?
Oh, wait. Gimme a minute, we’re just getting to that one.
For almost a year, we’ve been trying to decide between an antidepressant, a stimulant, or an anti-anxiety med…for my eight-year-old.
It’s taken four years of growth and mental development, anti-epileptic trials, and countless Vanderbilt tests to try and flesh out if Buddha’s behavior and emotional IQ is rooted in epilepsy, ADHD, anxiety, depression, or side effects from his anti-epileptics. It’s impossible. Because of course, it’s probably all of the above.
The question is, what do we medicate and what do we leave alone?
I told Buddha’s psychiatrist, “I just want to make his life easier”. “I just want it to not be so hard for him to get through the day. And we’re at a point now where the tricks and tools aren’t enough.”
We have so many tricks on hand to make his life easier we should have a Vegas Show, and I should be walking around in sequence, Vanna Whiting all over the place with Dave pulling rabbits out of hats. Seriously, we will try almost anything to ease this kid’s daily challenges. And we have some damn good tricks.
Meds are serious. But so is mental health, and we are performing our due diligence. We have been considering these mood meds for almost a year. For our eight-year-old! We’ve been collecting data, weighing the pros and cons, and consulting other parents. We have monthly follow-up appointments with his neurologist, his psychiatrist, and his psychologist to talk through the options. We are trying to foresee all outlier possibilities and be aware of all the pitfalls. Mostly, we just want him to have it a little easier. Isn’t it enough that he seizes every day?
Until recently I didn’t think there would ever be a scenario in which we would add one more med to this poor kids’ already overloaded system. But then, of course, life is harder at some moments than others and answers can present themselves before the questions have fully formed. So when second grade with more demands and fewer friends happened, developmental stepping stones ramped up, a new antiepileptic drug with major adverse side effects was tried and tried again, we started to open our minds to the idea. Then three trips to the ER, one admission, and one intervention in which they spoke of taking him to the psych ward…or whatever they call it nowadays, hit us over the span of just a few months we were more than ready to pull those magic mood shifters out of a hat.
It’s hard enough to diagnose ADHD, anxiety, or depression in children, but add epilepsy and four other meds into the mix and it’s a downright, ‘your guess is as good as mine, let’s just try it and see how it goes’, Frankenstein experiment.
On an eight-year-old!! My eight-year-old!!
The cruel irony is that it’s very common for kids with neurological disorders to suffer from other neurological disorders. I guess it all goes hand in hand, or synapse to synapse, as the case may be.
So, here we are. Lit up for the world to see on a stage I could never previously imagine standing, and I have stood on many many stages. We’ve hit our mark and we’re getting ready to experiment again in the hopes that this time we might create a life without thoughts of death, high-cost impulsivity, or major emotional dysregulation. Mostly though, we don’t dream that high anymore. Mostly, we just want to ease his challenges and help him get through the day with some moments of emotional freedom that aren’t scheduled, measured, timed, or earned.
So, we’re waiting to check a few more boxes before we add another bottle to the already filled pill drawer, and then we’ll capture some lightning and flash it through the audience to see what we get.
Please hold, for Act II.