Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Clearing out the Clutter

December is crazy.

I know this isn't news. The holidays take it out of the best of us.

But to me - for me - it's more than the holidays. It's the fact that the holidays coincide with exams. The weekend before the weekend before Christmas - you know, that time when you should be running around finishing things up so that the focus the weekend before Christmas is on family and not on wrapping, baking, or shopping - is now the focus of intense study. With Dylan's grades such as they are, that meant A LOT of studying. So there went that final bit of shopping. No, I didn't get my wrapping done. And forget about baking.

Don't get me wrong - it was the right thing to do. I can't say that the effort was directly proportional to the results, but it was still the right thing to do. But it made for a somewhat frustrating weekend, a bit a nightmarish week, and then a truly frantic weekend preparing for Christmas.

Were there ways I could've avoided all that? Many blogs and websites will give you a resounding "Yes!" I could've done a lot of that shopping and wrapping and even baking much earlier in the fall. But the fact of the matter is that I was completely buried with work earlier in the fall, so that really wasn't realistic in the life I was living.

So. There we were. Or I was. Weekend before Christmas. Craziness. Wrapping. A little bit of leftover shopping. Christmas cards (I'll admit, they are not even done yet!). Church activities. Family activities. It was nuts.

Again, it was well worth it and this time, the effort was much more in proportion with the results on Christmas morning. (Big sigh!)

We are now left with the detritus of Christmas day surrounding us. Bags, baubles, and bits. Legos scattered far and wide. Boxes half opened everywhere. Time to clear the clutter.
Note: This is NOT my house!

The thing is, I know that it's time to clear out more than the physical clutter, although that is a big part of it. It's amazing to me that seven years after losing almost everything to Katrina, we have SO MUCH stuff. Today, I cleared out some of it - a massive amount of clothing I wasn't (or couldn't) wear. It was sad and felt good all at the same time. Our church's homeless program will benefit from it greatly.

And I know it's just one step. There's more - much more - clutter to clear out. Clutter that's holding me back physically. And clutter of mind that's holding me back mentally. It has to go. 2013 has to be a completely different year than 2012. I need to parent more effectively. I need to tend to my own needs better. We need to manage our funds more closely. We need to eat more healthfully and get more activity, all of us.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Four-Legged Problem

Something I haven't talked about much here but is intimately connected with me is my sheer, unadulterated love of dogs.

I have loved dogs for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, our next-door neighbor had a super mean German Shepherd who would come running up to the fence growling and snarling.

As soon as I could walk, I would go right up to him and scare my mother half to death in the process.

As I set out on an independent, post-college life, I got a dog and a van and traveled cross country (more on that some other day).

Within six months of getting together, RockStar and I had adopted a Golden Retriever and our husky arrived less than a year later.

I am physically unable to avoid meeting dogs wherever I go. I joke that my mission in life is to meet every dog on the planet. I'm literally drawn to them like a magnet.

Which is why it is so incredibly disconcerting to have adopted a dog and to not be in love with her.

This is Cassidy:

(along with RockStar and Dylan).

We adopted her two weeks ago. Best guess is that she is a bloodhound/basset hound mix. I want to love her.  But she bites and when you tell her no, she stands up to you and barks indignantly, like "Who are you to tell me what to do." We've been doing everything recommended, but nothing takes. She is as defiant as ever. 

Keep in mind that I did NOT want a puppy. I like to adopt dogs who are a little bit older.  For one thing, everyone adopts the puppies. They don't last in the shelter! For another, when they are a little older, they've worked these puppy issues out.

Admittedly, it's more than that. This just isn't the type of breed mix I would have chosen. I like a BIG dog, the bigger the better. Although her feet suggest size, her little legs tell you that she will only ever get so big. I want a big lug to lean on me.

With everything we have going on here: a hyperactive kid who is failing and falling behind, a rock 'n' roll schedule to deal with, scouts, etc., a biting dog who wants to be Top Dog is so not what we need! I didn't pick her out (RockStar did) and while I was "consulted" it was not in a "let's talk about this, what kind of dog do we want" kind of way. It was a "here's a video, isn't she great, I'm in love with her, Dylan really wants a puppy" kind of way.

I feel like an idiot for going along with it all. But like so often, I do just go's easier being Switzerland and not having too many opinions or being selective in the things I do have opinions on. Still, who do you think is coming home at lunch to let her out? Who took her to the shelter for her final puppy shots? Whose been calling breeders and trainers to ask about her wild ways?

I want to love her.  If she would just stop biting everyone and everything and - more importantly - trying to be the Alpha dog, maybe it would be okay. I have never abandoned a dog and I do not want to start now.

(c) The Argonne Chronicles 2012  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

It's never easy to know the right thing to do when you are an ADHD parent. Okay may be good enough, but doesn't there always seem to be something better out there?

Like most kids with ADHD, Dylan has been on a variety of medications since he was first diagnosed. Daytrana, Metadate, Focalin, and Vyvanse. He was actually on Vyvanse twice. The first time we tried it, he had terrible letdown when the meds wore off. This time, it seemed to have worked adequately well. Not as well as the first month of Metadate, but that's a nirvana we will probably never see again.

So the Vyvanse would keep him relatively focused and lasted a fair amount of the day, but something was still missing. His math and social studies grades have remained in the D-F range, and his recall for what goes on in class has been minimal.

Now, I fully realize there is no drug to address executive function deficits, but I cannot help wondering if he could just focus better and longer, maybe he could remember a bit more and better understand what he learns.

Finding a psychiatrist has been something of a challenge. Our pediatrician, whom I love, didn't seem too enthusiastic about our going to one (afraid of losing the business? I don't know.). The first one we went to would routinely be two to two-and-a-half hours late for appointments, which was unacceptable. We were ready to see a psychologist with prescription privileges until she left the practice. And no one - no one - seemed to be on our insurance.

So we went with a recommended doc not on our insurance. Sigh...

As expensive as it is, she's been wonderful. We've only seen her twice but she is very straight-forward and includes Dylan in on everything in a very age-appropriate way.

Her approach is "Let's try it and see." She would rather try something to find a better choice than stick it out with a less-than-ideal option. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and you can always go back is the way she operates. I like it.

First, she had us try a higher dose of the Vyvanse. You would think dose A is good, bigger dose B is better, right? Not so much. He was less focused. The same thing, actually, had happened when we had upped the Metadate.

Two weeks ago, we were set to try Straterra. She said it doesn't work for at least half of kids, but for those whom it does work for, it works great. Worth trying except...we couldn't get Dylan to swallow pills. It's mental rather than physical, but you can't exactly make someone swallow something.

A week later, she put Dylan on Tenex compounded by a local pharmacy as a liquid. Dylan balked but we were able to get it in him. As expected, he was very sleepy the first few days. Just as he started feeling better, the dose went up to two times a day and it was back to feeling tired and out of it. The doc encouraged patience...but in the end Dylan couldn't take it. He said he felt "dumb" and that he did worse in class than when he was on no medication.

So, we're back to Vyvanse. Only by the time we pulled off of the Tenex it was a Friday and we only had TWO capsules left. I didn't realize it until Saturday when one of those was gone. So we went the whole weekend without meds (challenging but doable). Today, I gave him some short-acting Ritalin I had from an old bump-up afternoon prescription for him. It seemed like a good idea...until we got home when the scream fest began. NO homework got done tonight and we had lots of yelling, drama, and accusations.

Tomorrow, he'll have the remaining Vyvanse and tomorrow afternoon we see the psychiatrist again and can get a refill prescription. It seems like "halleluia" but the reality it's just back to what we have had. We want better, but it could be that all we can have for now is okay and good enough. It's not fair that a bright boy with so much potential can't focus, remember, or retain enough to have even a moderate amount of success; that he daily feels like the "dumbest kid in the class."

It's not fair, but I guess right now not fair but adequate has to be good enough.

(c) 2012 The Argonne Chronicles