Saturday, December 15, 2007

No Rest for the Weary

Gosh, there's so much to catch up on here in the blog world. I've managed to read a few blogs here and there since we've been back, but other than that, I've been lucky just to keep my head above water. We got back last Saturday - back to our own little bubble - and enjoyed dinner out with friends, which left us Sunday to unpack, launder, and put away clothes, etc.

As Fate would have it, H started complaining of a really bad toothache on Sunday. I checked out her gums, and yep, two of her adult side molars had already cut through, despite the fact that the baby teeth were still there -- OUCH! An emergency dentist appointment on Monday resulted in 3 of her teeth getting extracted and $125 getting extracted from my wallet. On top of this, my students' final papers were due the next day, so you can just imagine how many of them were e-mailing me or wanting to meet for a conference to discuss revisions to their drafts. They really have no clue that I have a life outside of teaching them, do they??

On Tuesday, I turned my attention to revising a Statement of Research I'm submitting as part of an application to attend a faculty seminar at Big Early Modern Research Institute. It just so happens that the seminar topic is focused on some of the exact same questions that I investigate in my dissertation, and it's being directed by a scholar whose work is foundational to my project. This is all well and good, you see, except for one tiny thing: I'm not a faculty member. My university is part of the Institute's consortium, and they've occasionally admitted an advanced graduate student to a seminar, but it's a rarity. The Institute's Director reviewed my statement, however, and had lots of positive things to say with *no* recommendations for revisions, and I'll have two letters of recommendation from committee members who've led or will be leading seminars there as well, so I think my application packet is about as good as it can be right now. I'll hope for the best, but expect nothing....Keep your fingers crossed for me though!

H's medication had been taking effect, and we're generally quite impressed with the changes we've seen. Here is a sample of the new and improved H:

- on the flight back from Big NE Town, she did 4 homework sheets, back-to-back, on her
own! She searched the text to find answers by herself, she didn't feel the need to take any
breaks, and her work was accurate! I've NEVER seen her do work like that before; it was
simply amazing!

- when we got back last weekend, we let her invite a friend for a sleepover. This friend is one
she often bickers with quite a bit, because the two of them are a lot alike in some ways. This
time, though, H was willing to compromise with and even accommodate her friend on things
like which movie to watch at bedtime or whether or not to sleep with a night-light. Usually
when they argue, it's like WWIII and H is so sensitive that she gets her feelings hurt at every
little thing.

- She remembers what she's been asked to do!! When I ask her to go brush her teeth, she
goes right to the bathroom, brushes, and it's done. She doesn't get sidetracked by the
commercial on t.v. or her sister playing with a toy in the floor as she walks by. She
remembers what the task is and finishes it.

Now, this is not to say things are perfect. The one main issue we have now is The Wall: the period in the evening when her meds start to wear off (usually around 7:30). Because this is also the time when she finishes up homework, takes a bath, and gets ready for bed, The Wall effect has been a nightmare at times. Thursday night I ended up in tears in the bedroom because I was so spent after having argued/explained/tried to talk to her about a homework assignment. She didn't have any questions, and the task was very simple - write an introductory paragraph describing the special person you've chosen to write a story about - but nothing I said was what she wanted to hear. And worse, nothing much of what she said was making any sense. It's become a regular habit for her, during these Wall effect battles, to tell me she hates me, that I'm the worst mom ever, or that she wishes I weren't her mother. I know she can't control what she's saying. I know it's the meds wearing off, and I know she's sincerely sorry almost as soon as she hears the words come out of her mouth. Nonetheless, it hurts. It hurts every time, and it gets really tough to be patient and gentle and forgiving and pretend like it's okay.

There are obviously other medication options, but they each come with their own disadvantages (peaks and valleys, for example). She goes for follow-up visits to both the pediatrician and the psychologist this week, so I plan on talking with them both to see if a)this is something that can be helped at all by the meds and b)what kind of response to this behavior would be most effective. I can't believe that I'm just supposed to sit there and take it, but I also can't imagine punishing my child for something she has relatively little control over.

And just when I thought a Break was near, losing the past two weeks of dissertation work time - on top of Christmas week, when I'll have 2 sets of houseguests - means that there will be no Break for me. I'm ready to get back to work, but the thought of having no Break in sight is a bit depressing right now, because I really am tired. So tired.

5 comments:

M said...

Try to find some time for yourself--either to do work or just have fun--in the next few weeks. It really sounds like you need to recharge your own batteries.

mom said...

Wow -- you describe the meds and H so well, it's as if I'm really understanding the condition for the first time. Hang in there.

Mad Grad Mom said...

The meds wearing off has to be frustrating but it sounds like you all are making progress. Good for you!

It sucks to lose that work time, but maybe you can find some pockets of time here and there to just chill. I agree with M!

Psych Postdoc said...

Really glad to hear that medication is helping your daughter!

Behavioral strategies alone might work best. I realize this is a tricky issue for busy academic parents, but is it possible to structure your daughter's afternoon/evening so she does her homework after school or at least well before 7.30? If the homework is done and she's playing/relaxing when the meds wear off, then maybe there will be no need to fight?

I'd recommend that you track the time at which this happens each day. If it starts happening earlier, it might signify that her med levels require an adjustment or that "layering" might be helpful. It's possible to "layer" longer-acting meds with shorter-acting ones in order to maximize coverage. This probably wouldn't be ideal yet, as the meds are already wearing off rather late in the day.

I'd also ask her doctor about the moodiness when the meds wear off. Everybody's different, and your daughter might not have this side effect with a different med. When I did a trial of Adderall, I felt terrible whenever it wore off and on the weekends when I didn't take it (e.g., sad, achey, tired, and blah), but have had no similar problems with ritalin.

Good luck!

AcadeMama said...

Thanks everyone!

Psych: I talked to both of her docs, and they agree that it's still too early to know if this will be a permanent side effect. Her psychologist also recommended that we give her that hour to just chill: no responsibilities, no obligations. So, we're going to do whatever we have to do to adjust our schedules so that the homework, chores, and/or projects get done before The Wall kicks in.