The decision to take my son to the neuropsychiatric office on Tuesday was made at a moment’s notice. My husband texted me and told me they could see us as soon as the next day on Monday and we had an appointment at an office that I had chased for weeks, but it wasn’t until the next week. I called them and made the appointment. Why go to an office I had to chase down when someone called us and offered us a next-day appointment right after receiving our pediatrician’s referral? We just needed some stability for our son and changing medications might just do that.
On the way there, Squeaker talked very little. Mostly, he picked at his shoe. Suddenly, I heard his voice from the back seat. “I do want a shot, Mommy. I do,” he said.
“You do?” I asked. “Why?”
“I don’t know,” he answered. “I’m not feeling well. I can’t sleep.”
I felt sad for him in that moment. My son asked for a shot. He hates shots. We’ve gotten to this apex now. He can’t sleep. He hates it. He hates it so much he wants a shot so he doesn’t have to feel this way anymore.
He asked me repeatedly about that shot all the way there. Every time we stopped at a red light for longer than usual and when I had to stop for gas and again in the waiting room at the doctor’s office he asked for his shot. “Will the doctor give me a shot?” I just answered him the best I could. “The doctor will tell us what he feels like will help you the most.”
I answered all of the questions during intake, and I told the nurse about his question and cried for the first time in a few days. I want my son to feel better. I want my family to heal. I want my children to get along better and for Big Guy not to feel fear when his brother approaches him. I don’t want Squeaker to think a shot is his only answer. My heart broke for him.
The doctor came in a few minutes later. He took his time with us, asked a lot of questions, looked over Squeaker carefully, and, I feel, pinpointed the issue exactly. The stimulant medication is too strong. It’s making him pick more at his skin during the day and the dopamine levels are so high in his brain that he’s acting out more aggressively during the night and it’s affecting his sleep habits. The lightbulb went off in my head. What can we do? Counteract with another medication and eventually take him off of his current stimulant medication. Maybe he won’t need a stimulant. We can treat his Autism symptoms to help him, and maybe he won’t need the ADHD medications. He wanted to put him on a medication we’d already tried and didn’t like. After talking it over and realizing our options, I told him I’d try it again since it had been a couple of years.
He also wanted to investigate what had been done at the old neurologist’s office. We had done some genetic testing and he wanted to see if we had tested for Fragile X because we have a lot of autism in our family on my side. I need to get records from that office and if he wasn’t tested, we’re going to get that done so we will have a clearer picture of what we’re looking at. I think we may have done that already and everything came back okay, but if we didn’t, I guess we should check it out so we know our prognosis and how best to handle things.
In the meantime, we’ve tried the medication and he’s sleeping again. Not only that, but he’s been less violent the past few days. I can see him again. My son. He’s in there. When I snuggle with him, he touches my face gently with his hands and kisses my cheek and he hugs me tight. It’s like he’s really snuggling with me. It’s not like before, where I just went in there and we counted and then I left and he came back out to the living room again and again and eventually we had to fight to keep him from hurting himself or us. No, he’s snuggling with me and then he’s sleeping. He’s showing me love. He’s showing me himself again. I can easily get lost in the beauty of these moments. Sometimes, now, I don’t want to leave his side because he’s so peaceful and I want to watch him sleep.
Every day, more than ever before, I can tell him how proud I am of him for listening, having green days at school, being gentle with us, and keeping his room clean. And it’s not that I was not proud of him before, because he heard how proud I was every time he did well at school (often), but now he feels proud of how he does at home too. My son has returned. I knew he was in there all along, but now I can see him again. No shots required.