Thursday, August 22, 2013

Reinventing.

It seems we are perpetually reinventing the wheel here at our Crazy Castle in Mooselandia.  If it's not creating someone small's education from the ground up, it's his medical health.

See, Monkey exhibits nearly every sign of ADHD. Both inattentive and hyperactive - as well as most of the commonly corresponding traits children with ADHD often display. With his annual checkup, I brought this up as concerning to his pediatrician, as his reading lags behind his other skills - largely due to an inability to focus.  The pediatrician brushed us off with an admonishment that these types of concerns need to be addressed in a separate behavioral appointment - as if she had told us this before.  So, I nodded, told her I'd book the appointment, and she gave me a card for a website to go fill out a survey (the survey from the CDC wasn't good enough).  So, I took the card, we left the appointment, I booked the behavioral appointment for the following day, and we went home - me chasing Monkey, who was running top speed through the doctor's office as if he were on the playground, completely oblivious to me, the people around him, or what the rules of behavior might be in an office setting.  We went home and filled out the survey, which was emailed straight to the doctor, then we went about our day.  That evening, Monkey filled out the website's "Youth Self-Reporting" form, with things like "I want to focus on books and games, but I can't" and "I can't stop fidgeting" and "I often get up and leave my seat when I shouldn't."  These things indicate a problem to me, and one that is not inherently a simple fix.  But, I crossed my fingers, and we went to bed.

The next afternoon was the behavioral appointment. Skeeve came with us, so I could have him take Monkey for a walk if need be - I wasn't going to have Monkey sit in a room while I told a veritable stranger how difficult it is to parent him, and how we are rapidly reaching a point where we love him to bits, but none of us like each other very much right now.  That seemed needlessly cruel to me.  I'm very glad for this bit of forethought, in retrospect.  Because, quite honestly, the pediatrician had made up her mind about us from the first day she saw us. We came in with these same concerns, and she scolded us for letting Monkey ride her wheeled stool through the exam room while we waited.  She wasn't even there yet, and then she promptly proceeded to scold him as well.  Okay, weird, but whatever. She told us at that point that she believed he had an attachment disorder, and that we could take him to the child psychiatrist to have our concerns more thoroughly addressed, but really what we needed were parenting lessons.  Now, bear in mind, this was a child who, at the time, still nursed away boo-boos, slept 50% (or more!) of the time in our bed, and came running to us to share and talk about everything.  He had about as much attention disorder as he did naturally occurring blue hair.  The psychiatrist agreed on that front. Which was something, because he didn't do a very good job with anything else, determining from a 35 minute office visit talking to ME that Monkey was not at all gifted, nor did he have ADHD, he was a perfectly normal little boy. 

Anyhow, back to the behavioral appointment. Skeeve took Monkey for a walk, and I explained the situation to the doctor. The running - for an hour or more, continuously. The well below age level meltdowns over things like "holding hands in traffic."  The "talk his way out of anything, right down to insisting he'd kill anyone who tried to take him away from us."  The complete lack of focus.  Her diagnosis? "He seems perfectly fine in the office. The psychiatrist agrees with my assessment, and I suggest you look into parenting lessons."  Now, bear in mind, she's seen Monkey in her office, when he was well, for a grand total of 20 minutes. In the last year. To assess his behavior that day on having observed him for quite literally less than five minutes, while discounting everything I've told her - that was bad enough. But then to write off what we're experiencing as being due solely to poor parenting?  Excuse me?  Obviously this did not go over well, and an argument ensued, including mentioning that the day after we'd seen the psychiatrist, Monkey had come down ill - as in fever of 102*+, spent all day in a nest of blankets watching a movie and utterly miserable. She looked at me as if I'd implied the psychiatrist had poisoned my son. Apparently, one can now be a pediatrician without knowing that being ill will throw a child's behavior off for days - both before and after.  Anyway, as Skeeve brought Monkey back and entered into the melee, the doctor told me she never said Monkey had an attachment disorder (I, apparently, made that one up), and that while she would never intend to belittle my professional training as a teacher, "It's different when it's your own child."  Monkey's opinions carried exactly no weight. My opinions, Skeeve's opinions, none of it made a difference. Our experiences did not line up with her original assessment of poor parenting, so they were invalid.

Monkey's primary care has been moved to my own doctor, a lovely Family Doctor who listens to me, engages me in conversation, and is glad that I take an active role in my health care. I have also called the local children's mental health outreach (they have a 4-6 month waiting list for services), to start that process. My question, however, is why is this even necessary?!? Why on Earth would a doctor look at a family obviously in distress, with a strong genetic predisposition to attentional disorders, with an assessment on file stating that attentional disorders are very likely with this child... Why would a doctor look at all this and say "nope! You're just shitty parents, that's all!"  Why should I have to make all the calls, set up all the appointments, force my way into and through the system, just to have someone take a serious, genuine look at my son's troubles? Something is wrong here, and since we were all doing just fine from Monkey's birth until about age three, I suspect it's not our parenting. We had NO terrible twos! It was easy, everything was calm and nice, and we all got along, and everything was fine and fun. So, what, we lost the ability to parent the day he turned three? Somehow, I suspect not. But something went amiss, and we've spent the last two years trying every behavioral option we can, to no avail.  Why do we need to reinvent the wheel? Why should it be such a struggle to listen to a child and his parents about what is going on in that child's head? Why should ANY parent have to fight AGAINST their child's doctor to get the care that is in the child's best interest? 

It makes no sense. It's an embarrassment to the profession. And it happens far too often.

So if you're out there, and you feel like you're taking two steps back for every one forward, and you're fighting uphill for the things your child needs...  Know you're not alone. You're not the only one fighting this battle. It sucks that this seems to be common, but it kind of helps to know that it isn't just one person, one family.  There's more out there, going through the same battles. And if you can find those people, give them a shout. It's always nice to hear a friendly voice.