One of my favorite jobs I have ever had was as a pediatric specialist in a sleep disorders center. I love spending time with children, and that job wasn’t a job to me, it was play time. I loved talking to them and learning how their little minds work. Plus, kids are so much more fun than stinky ‘ol adults.
I would always read my patient’s medical histories before they would walk in the door, to ensure I had everything ready for any challenges we may face during the test. I have read medical histories that brought tears to my eyes, of children so abused, they had turned their rage toward foster siblings and pets. I often expected Satan to come walking through that door, not the adorable little 4 year old I would see instead.
These are the kids I would dote on, give them special jobs to do while I was attaching over 30 wires to them, interact and play games, and always tell them how they were the best kid I had ever had the pleasure of spending time with. I would give them freedom with clear boundaries. These kids always had one thing in common, they were starved for positive attention. I gave it to them and I received a very compliant patient in return.
I am not a professional in psychology by any means. I feel I have been around enough children to make some observations, that is all. I have always struggled with children being put on long lists of medications. My biggest struggles were while working in the sleep center, reviewing the lists of psychiatiric drugs prescribed to 3 year olds for “Bipolar” disorders. I don’t know any 3 year old who isn’t bipolar on a good day. The mothers of these children often did not work, and were people who used the system to its fullest extent.
I have had my own struggles at home. Kristy is 12 and incredibly creative. She knows her brain sometimes learns differently than the “boxed” kids brains do, and we work really hard to get through school work and get information into her brain in the way she can retain it. We have struggled for many years to help Kristy learn how to focus when needed and she has made the honor roll for the last two semesters. She is so proud of her accomplishments. We have made it without medication, I am not saying all children can.
I have been dating my boyfriend for about 2 years now and been friends with him for 3. We feel marriage is for when we can finally live together in the same state and we aren’t too worried about a piece of paper telling us what we both believe in our hearts, anyway. We are both very committed to each other and love our weird blended family.
While visiting Dane for a few days at the farm before Christmas, we all went on a little shopping trip. In the car, I noticed Bradley had an empty pill bottle sticking out of his pocket. Bradley, my boyfriend’s son, is a very active 60 pound lil spitfire of an 8 year old. He is just adorable and I love that little munchkin like my own. I asked Bradley if I could please see the bottle. He happily handed it up to me. It was a prescription for him. He explained school sent it home to give to his mom because it is empty and he needs more. He apparently takes it when he gets to school on the mornings dad drops him off, otherwise takes it at home at mom’s house before school.
I quickly googled the long name. Bradley is on one of the highest doses of Ritalin a HUMAN can be on. Dane has never been informed of this.
Working in healthcare as long as I have, I sat there fuming, thoughts of adverse side effects and inconsistent dosing, along with fear of cold medicines, etc we had ever given him having long term health effects…and so did Dane. I quickly explained to Bradley that taking that particular medication is ok, lots of kids need it to help focus better at school. Kristy, with her deeply compassionate heart, quickly chimed in that sometimes she thought she needed it. After Christmas and while Bradley was with his mom for a few days, Dane did some digging.
Dane took his divorce decree to the pharmacy where the script was filled. The pharmacist printed out Bradley’s entire prescription history from the past 2 years. Not only is Bradley on one of the highest doses of Ritalin, he is also on an antipsychotic, Risperidone, and the dose had just been increased from .25mg to .5 mg. Again, this information had never been shared with Dane by his ex.
Dane quickly made an appointment to speak to the medical director at the facility prescribing the meds, (NOT a pediatric specialty facility) and get a copy of Bradley’s entire chart. The medical director and nurse practitioner who prescribed the medication quickly defended the dosages to Dane, calling them “low”, even after he pointed out symptoms of overdose of Ritalin he had seen in Bradley. Apparently the Risperidone is prescribed because Bradley chews on pencils at school and chews on the collar of his clothing.
They informed Dane that Dina is now asking to increase dosing in Ritalin to twice a day so he can focus better in sports after school. Dane was very calm during his interview with them. He explained he feels Bradley is fine and exhibits normal child behavior while with him, and feels he does not need this medication, but perhaps some modifications at his mother’s home. The medical director told Dane they cannot force a parent to change their home environment. I am afraid I would have come unglued and gone mama bear at this point. Why doesn’t Dina focus on regulation and consistency before bringing on more drugs? I strongly feel Dina is thinking of Dina through all of this.
The medical director and nurse practitioner were shocked to be talking to Dane, because they were led to believe that Dane is not currently in Bradley’s life. Right after Dane’s divorce from Dina 7 years ago, the facility had a lot of information about Dane and had never returned phone calls when he called for information about Bradley. Dane thought their case with Bradley was closed, for many reasons too long to explain. I see so many red flags here my head is spinning. They didn’t have Dane’s extensive family history of high blood pressure, among many other things.
I have spent solid weeks at a time with Bradley over the past 2 years. Bradley is a loving child, loves and treats pets very well, loves to play sports and be outside and is just plain a KID. Dina has Bradley enlisted in as many sports as she can because he is good at every sport he plays, and brings home many trophies to her. She punishes Bradley if a trophy is left at his “biological father’s” house until it is brought to her house.
Bradley has times when he has trouble with emotions, but that is when Dane and I redirect Bradley, help him work through the emotion, and then all is fine. He is a child who needs love and attention and a lot of parental involvement. It’s just his personality. He is a very active BOY. I understand many kids need help focusing at school in order to be successful and sometimes that means medication. Bradley is 8 and I feel part of growing up means to learn how to make it through this crazy life by focusing on your own strengths and weaknesses, and learning to cope and thrive and deal. Medication should come into play when it is too hard for the child to deal, not the parent.
It makes me literally sick that Bradley is not being given this chance. That his mother, who has many narcissistic traits, is not concerned about Bradley, but about the way she looks and the image of her perfect little family she has created. Bradley shared with us that his “little brother” is on medication, too.
Dane has an appointment with his attorney next week. I feel helpless. So much for 2014 having less drama. Sigh.