Ryan’s sisters…

As I mentioned in this post, Ryan has a bit of a complicated back story that includes having two half-sisters that were adopted by another family. We don’t get together with them nearly enough, but we do meet with them once or twice a year. This past weekend, Ryan was having his last soccer game of the season, so his younger sister (she just turned 12), and her parents (Don and Laura) came to watch. The oldest sister is 21, and she has moved out of her parents’ house and did not make it, but Sara and I are both friends with her on Facebook.

Don and Laura live about 45 mins away from us, and they had some difficulties getting to the game on time, so they were not able to catch any of the game itself, but we did all go for ice cream afterwards. It was really nice to be able to sit and talk with them, and let Ryan spend some time with his sister (although I’m still not really sure if he completely understands the whole situation). Sara and I both (not to mention Don and Laura) think it is incredibly important for Ryan to get to know, and have a strong bond with, his sisters. Both of them really seem to enjoy seeing and talking with him, too.

We got thrown a bit of a curveball this time, though. I mentioned to Don and Laura that Sara and I were friends with the oldest daughter on FB, and that it seems she was doing well. She is set to graduate with a four-year degree from a pretty good university, she has a steady boyfriend, and a steady job. We also knew that she had moved out of their house.

Don and Laura started telling us, though, about how the last few months had been “a living hell”, and that things were “not good” with Sharon. Sara and I were stunned. We both looked at each other and I could tell that all sorts of things were running through both of our minds. Ryan and his sisters all have the same mom, but different dads (as far as we know). So we were thinking, maybe Sharon was taking drugs, or was sleeping around. Or maybe she was stealing things, or had gotten pregnant. Considering her background and the fact that Sharon and her sister had been removed from their mom’s custody about the time Sharon was 10 or 11, the things that could cause her parents to say they were going through “a living hell” could have been anything.

Sara and I were bracing for the worst. I asked what was going on, and Don starts talking about Sharon having a boyfriend, and that she had been “drinking” and “smoking”. He explained that she was also living with her boyfriend. A friend of  Sharon’s and her boyfriend were living there as well. She also had been pretty much lying about all those things for a few years.

Don and Laura are an “older” couple, and they are both very religious. Now, I don’t want to belittle the things that Sharon did. Underage drinking, and smoking, are not “good” things. They are also not, in my and Sara’s opinion, “a living hell”. I think Sara and I both were stunned just because we were expecting “more”. Sara even said at one point, “What else has she done?” Don just looked at her like he didn’t understand the question. Sara went on to say (half-jokingly), “I guess I was lucky that I lived in a different state than my parents when I was doing all those things.”

I know different parents have different expectations for their children.  I also know that Don and Laura grew up in a different time and place than their daughters, but if the occasional drink of alcohol and the occasional cigarette, are the WORST things that Ryan (or any of our boys) do, I will consider our parenting to be exceptional. Especially if our boys are about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree (a year early) and planning on going to grad school. In fact, to me, the worst thing Sharon did was that she lied about what was she was doing. Under the circumstances though, and seeing how Don and Laura reacted, I can understand her hiding those things from her parents.

I don’t ever want my boys to think of me as their “friend” before thinking of  me as their parent, but I also want them to understand that my love for them will not change because of the things they do, or the choices they make. I want them to always know that they can tell me ANYTHING and my love will always be truly unconditional. That doesn’t mean I will always like or agree with their choices, but their choices are theirs to make. I can only raise them the best I can and help them make the best choices possible. Everything else is out of my hands.

Meds or no meds Part 2: change is always hard…

Colin is 100% a creature of habit and routine. He craves it; needs it, really. If his routine (or what he EXPECTS to be his routine) is changed in any way, a meltdown can, and often does, occur. Something as simple as taking a different route home than he’s used to can cause heightened anxiety, and a load of questions. 

Over the last 4 months or so, Sara and I have noticed that Colin’s meds were not having the same effect they once were. When we first went to our developmental pediatrician, he gave Colin a “booster” dose of Ritalin in the afternoon to help with the “crash” he was having after school, plus he put him on, Abilify (as a mood stabilizer). For the first year or so, it worked wonderfully. He was having fewer meltdowns, he was nicer to his brothers (most of the time), and he was doing well in school.

At the beginning of this year, though, things started going down hill. We went back to our pediatrician, and he upped the dosage of Abilify. That did not help. In fact, it made things much worse. He would cry and meltdown at the drop of a hat, and was mean and violent more and more towards his brothers. We stopped the Abilify within about 2 days.

We have gone through a couple different combinations of meds, including trying Risperidone, but nothing has really worked so far. Our pediatrician recommended we try a psychiatrist that specializes in kids like Colin, so we started seeing him about a month ago.

He put Colin on a low dose of Clonidine to help him sleep, and that has helped him some. He at least goes to sleep at a decent hour, whereas before he would be up until 10 or 11 pm, then he would wake up any time between 4:30 and 6:00 am. I have always believed that Colin’s lack of sleep is a BIG reason for a lot of his behavioral issues. Even as an infant, Colin never napped.

I believe if we could figure out a way for him to sleep longer, a lot of his behavior problems would at least get better, if not work themselves out. Colin, on the other hand, has different ideas. Sara and I basically thank our lucky stars if he sleeps past 5:45 or 6 am, which can be  especially hard on Sara.

She is with Colin, without help from me, during his most unmedicated times of the day because I work nights (10 pm to 6:30 am). Trying to get herself up and ready for work in the morning, while also making our three boys breakfast and getting them ready for school, all the while having to keep Colin in line, is probably too much to ask of one person. But, she does the very best she can, and fights through the challenges like a champ.

We are hoping that putting Colin on something stronger (and, hopefully, longer lasting) will help put an end to the roller coaster of hyperactivity he goes through on a daily basis. To that end, we have started him on Adderall, with an eye towards moving him to the extended release version once we get the dosage worked out. 

This presents a few challenges. First of all, like I said before, Colin does not deal well with change. Seeing the new pill brought up a bit of anxiety, plus a whole host of questions (What is this pill for? Why is it blue? What happened to my circle pill (that’s what he called one of this other pills)?  Etc…

Secondly, since it is a new med, we have to start on a very low dose and work our way up to the optimal dose. This causes problems dealing with his behaviors both at home and at school. We also have to file paperwork with the school so that they can give him his afternoon dose. I have yet to do that since we are not sure we will stick with this medication, nor are we sure we will even need the school to give him his afternoon dose once all is said and done.

So, for now, I go to the school every day at noon and give him his afternoon dose myself. The one benefit of that is I get a mid-day report on how his behavior is that day. It is not, however, optimal conditions for me resting during the day.

But these are the sacrifices we make for our children. Sara and I just want what’s best for Colin, and we are still not sure if Adderall is going to work for him or us. The first few days were not good, as his behavior at school was terrible (thank goodness we have some wonderful teachers and administrators here). Thursday and Friday were better, but still far from where we want to be.

This weekend, we upped his dosage once more, landing on 20mg/twice a day. This is roughly half of the total dosage of Ritalin he took for the entire day, but spaced out in two doses. His behavior was actually pretty well regulated today. When I left for work at 9:15 pm, however, he was still having trouble going to sleep (insomnia can be a side effect of Adderall). Plus, he was up by 4am Sunday morning. I KNOW that will not work for us in the long run. We’ll just have to see how it goes…

to be continued…