Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dear back, you are stupid and I hate you.

I mean honestly, how do I go from "hmm, my back is bothering me, I must be sitting too much, let me get a little more active this weekend" to "oh wow, I can't get out of bed without crawling"? Should there not be some sort of in-between step there? Like a warning light that comes on right before my back gives out? Some sort of computer voice doing a countdown to a chiropractor visit?

And "getting active" did not exactly mean running a 5K. Which trust me I will never in my life be doing. I picked up some plants at a plant farm, and then went to BJ's. Granted pushing a cart around at BJ's probably qualifies as resistance training for football players. But I'd done it before with no problem, until now. So much for stocking up on cereal and roasted almonds.

So I went to the doctor, started physical therapy and went back to the chiropractor. The doctor (naturally) gave me medication. The physical therapy facility has way better heating pads than I do, and they're all nice, and they have me do particular exercises to stretch out the areas that need stretching. The chiropractor did not approve of my doing gardening without a back brace, and so now I own one. A back brace. It attaches with Velcro. Perhaps I can get a walker for the next breakdown and then have the complete "I'm an Old Fart!" set.

Next I'll be eating dinner at 4 p.m. daily and complaining loudly about kids today.

(Side note: While DH and I lived in Florida, we for whatever reason opted for an early dinner at a restaurant -- and were the youngest people in it by about 40 years. I make early bird special jokes because they're true.)

I am starting to feel more normalish again this week, although I'm still in physical therapy. I also switched out my purse, since according to Oprah, certain types of bags are better for the back than others. If Oprah says so, it must be true. Thankfully I don't have to carry the children around anymore, as much as they would like me to do so. Still it's aggravating to have to shut down horseplaying and overenthusiastic hugging with, "Not now, sweetie, Mommy's back hurts."

Stupid back.

I was so sidelined by this that I almost didn't get to send out the letter I wrote to kiddo's new teacher, explaining who he is, what he has and what techniques work with him. I got it in the mail today. (No, school hasn't started yet here. Yes, we do start late. I agree, it is strange.) I'm hoping the letter does something -- anything? -- but we won't know until after school starts, I guess.

I also sincerely hope kiddo wasn't meant to have finished that entire summer typing program before September, because that is not happening. Mainly because he thinks practice-typing the same two letters over and over is torture. (I can see his point.) Speaking as someone who types for a living, and has worked with lots of other people who type for a living, I'm pretty sure hunt-and-peck is the preferred method anyway.

He has been typing, though. So, credit for that.

I got all his school supplies before my back gave out, so we're set there. We just need to pick out a first-day outfit, and show him his room, and hope he doesn't get overstimulated or oppositional or otherwise act out. A normal first day of school for us, in other words.

In the meantime, my old-fart back and I will continue the healing process.

Friday, August 16, 2013

I thought about being offended

when I saw this movie review which says, "If the original felt like it was designed for adolescents, however, this follow-up feels like it was made by an adolescent, one with a whopping case of ADHD." The good folks at The Wrap liked that line so much, in fact, they used it again under the headline. I thought about being mightily offended, because ADHD is a neurological condition and not a lazy slang term meaning "poorly organized filmmaking."

It's also a fairly ill-informed thing to write, in that folks with ADHD tend to be extra-creative and frequently end up working in the arts (see my previous post on that); someone with ADHD isn't necessarily going to be a bad storyteller. They're more likely to be a wonderful storyteller who forgot to pay their electric bill five months in a row. Or a genius filmmaker whose clothes never match because he can't find the clean laundry.

This is additionally a pretty obnoxious thing for someone with ADHD to read, since the condition they've struggled with for a good chunk of their life is now being played for laughs in the service of trashing a summer movie sequel. Frankly trashing a summer movie sequel shouldn't even require so much work. If the movie were any good, it wouldn't be released in August. All you really need to write is "It's August and this is a sequel. Half a star. Moving on."

(Bear in mind, I liked the first "Kick-Ass." I thought it did a pretty good job being meta right up until the end when it didn't, and I love Chloe Grace Moretz because she is the coolest and I'll even go see her in the "Carrie" remake. But not even my liking for the first film can justify the existence of the second film.)

I'm not loving the fact that my son, who can read, and who's been known to read what I'm reading right over my shoulder, could stumble upon such a sentence right up there in a movie review. What's he supposed to think, the first time he sees something like that? Or the second or the third?

So I debated being offended. I considered going into full all-out self-righteous mode and trashing the writer eight ways from Sunday. And then I considered some more.

I'm not a huge fan of some people's tendency to get hysterically offended over every little thing. I don't necessarily want to be one of those people. It's no fun to be around, for one thing. They tend to get a "cry wolf" response after a while; people stop listening to them. For another, there are definitely better things in this society/this world/this century/etc. to get worked up about than the use of a word.

It's clueless and obnoxious to use "ADHD" like it's some sort of goofy slang word. But it's also a pretty good indicator of someone who isn't worth listening to. For instance, I will never seek out this writer's movie reviews again. And I think that's what I'm going to tell my son, the first time he sees or hears something like this: Now you know not to bother listening to this person, because they are ignorant.

You can't change the ignorant people. But you can decide how to respond to them, or whether to respond to them at all. And that, in a way, is sort of freeing. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Catching up on ADHD news

I was on vacation. Well actually, I was on vacation the previous week and spent this past week being exhausted, because long road trips apparently wreck you when you have arthritis, even if you take your lumbar pillow with you because you have become an old fart. I'm going to have to change the name of this blog to "Angry Old Mom With Arthritis."

We went to the circus at Lake George, and then left the kids with MIL (thanks, MIL) and went to Burlington, Vt., overnight. It's a lovely place and totally crunchy. Vegan everything. Sarongs for sale everywhere. Extensively used bike parking. A ton of breweries seemingly. (I'm guessing that's a necessary thing in the winter.) We also hit up the Ben and Jerry's factory tour, and I guess we should've felt guilty about doing that without the kids, but uh, no.

Anyhow. I'd still like to weigh in on the FDA approving the first brain wave test for ADHD a couple weeks ago. The test involves an EEG and sensors hooked up to a child's head, and measuring the brain waves, which appear differently in an ADHDer. The FDA says using the test helped doctors make a more accurate diagnosis. The commenters on the Times article, of course, are saying various variants on "The FDA is ripping people off and all psychiatrists are snake-oil salesmen and parents should let their kids be kids!" (paraphrasing, of course), rebutted by the adult ADHDers and parents of ADHDers who say, "Oh yeah? You deal with this for a while and see if you think it's made up." So, the usual back-and-forth then.

Then ABC had this story about experts' skepticism about the validity of the test and their belief that they can diagnose just fine on their own, thank you very much. Sorry -- two experts' skepticism. I guess all the others were busy. Anyway one of them said this about general practitioners using the test:

"They can charge for it and it gives you a pseudo-scientific basis for the diagnosis – a piece of paper with little wiggles and you can say they're not the wiggles you expect," she said, adding that she hopes parents "understand the limitations of the test" and "realize they don't have to rely on commercial promotions."

The company that makes the test, says this article, is a tiny start-up in Georgia and they've been working on the test for seven years. The (uninsured) cost to parents for the test would be $300, it would take about an hour and the company's president said they're looking to sell it to clinicians and hospitals. He also said the ABC News article hurt, and called it misinformed, adding:

"While there are some upfront costs, NEBA is worth it because of the increase in accuracy it brings the clinician and the overall costs associated with misdiagnosis."

Here's the thing. I don't especially expect the test to be perfect. I don't have any especial need to have my son tested. (Believe me, we already know what he's got.) But I'm glad the test is around. Because if there is such a test, and it works at all, then people can't keep snarking that ADHD is made up and blame kids' behavior on lousy parents, incompetent teachers and money-grubbing psychiatrists. A test takes the emotion and knee-jerk moralizing out of it. A test puts things on neutral ground.

The other piece of this is, and I've said this before, that general practitioners shouldn't be diagnosing. They don't have the experience, they're probably not up on the research and, at least in my experience, they're way too quick to throw a pill at a problem and move on with their lives. Medicating ADHD, which I'm generally in favor of as necessary, is a fairly delicate process -- finding the right drug at the right dosage, figuring out how to handle the side effects -- and that's a specialist's job. It's such a fraught topic, and causes parents so much angst, that it shouldn't be the automatic solution. It should be the last resort after other methods -- OT, behavioral therapy, classroom accommodations -- have been tried. Yes, that takes time. So does doing anything right.

And frankly ADHD is on occasion misdiagnosed, per my various readings. Sometimes the child actually has bipolar disorder. Sometimes it's purely sensory processing issues and not hyperactivity/inattention at all. Some of the things my kiddo does, a child with Asperger's would also do, or a child with SPD. So getting to the right conclusion is crucial. The wrong diagnosis means the wrong treatment, means, most likely, the wrong medication and then a worsening of the situation. Anything that could prevent such an outcome is welcome, as far as I'm concerned.

Though I will note that $300 is a lot of money and it would be nice if that cost could be offset somehow to ease the burden on families. Offset by insurance, say.

In other news, that Charlotte Observer series appears to have reached its conclusion. And it's a lovely conclusion. The writer (actually guest blogger on the paper's website), in part, said this:

"I realized that my son John, my forever challenging son, had immeasurable gifts, maybe some as a result of his unique brain. As I reflected on his perpetual insights about people and behaviors, I knew that if I could just safely guide John to adulthood, he would do great things."

Well, yes! I think kiddo will too. He's smart, he loves telling stories, he's totally charming (he has dimples. Seriously), he builds fascinating things with Legos, he's sensitive to other people's emotions, he's wonderful around babies. He plays very nicely with his little sister, even though their "playing" sometimes consists of bonking themselves into the (closed) basement door, falling to the floor and yelling "Ow!" then giggling and doing it again. Yes, really. I figure they're not strong enough to give themselves concussions. (This is still an improvement over their previous game, in which they said to each other, "Let me smell your foot. Eww!" "Let me smell your foot. Eww!" Honestly. They are like the world's littlest fraternity, minus the beer.)

And they appear to be awake, since kiddo has unlocked the gate and I can hear them chattering downstairs, so that would be my cue to go give them breakfast.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/07/30/4200702/life-as-a-mom-of-a-child-with.html#storylink=cpy