Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Just the right Medicine

There was a period of time a few years ago when I had a nurse practitioner on call for all of our family's health needs. She was guiding me to treat our illness homeopathically.It was a new venture for me.

For the record, I should note that until that point I had spent my life as mainstream as it comes. For many years, I had intended to be a doctor, and I had no reason to believe that pharmaceuticals were anything but good. Very, very good. :)

Then, we became parents to a son with a system that seemed to react to everything it ingested. How do we treat his illnesses if he can't tolerate the medicines traditionally made for those illnesses? I couldn't see how I was ever going to get this child, and to a lesser extent, his younger brother, on his feet and thriving in this world.

I buried myself in research, which lead me to natural foods then to supplemets to stregthen their systems and, later, to natural medicine. I purchased books. I immersed myself in study. I joined a group to learn more about it.

At first blush, it sure was a departure for me. Oh, who am I kidding? It was completely a departure for me the entire time. But I dove in! I found myself envisioning white protective light around my kids and tuning my ears to listen to their bodies.

Was this a slippery slope? Would one day I find myself living atop a mountain, braless and in braids, on my own sustainable farm and shunning everything society had to offer? Yes, I know that this is a terrible stereotype. There is a place in the modern world for homeopathy. A great place.

This was my weakness, not a weakness of the practice. And, at that time, my weakness brought me to images of hairy armpits, natural deodorant and hemp clothing. Deep breath, mama bear! Plow forward in the name of a good cause!!

Only, it was TOUGH. So much of the treatment is symptom specific: is the pain on the left side of the throat or right? Does it pierce or throb? Does it respond to heat or ice?

With a nonverbal child, how was I to know?

Also, with many of the remedies based in lactose sugar, our son and his sensitive system started having one-man parties every single night at 3am. He couldn't digest the remedies, as minute as the doses were.

Perhaps I lacked the stick-to-it-iveness which the natural approach needed. In the end, I gave up. I went back to the big-business hospital in our area to the assembly line developmental pediatrician and said that I couldn't do it on my own. And, here I am, many years and many medicine trials later.

Are we better off?

For our older son, I believe that yes, we are. Had we not returned to mainstream medicine and really confronted hard questions about his gastric system, had we not had several gastric procedures in and out of state over the years, we would not have gained any control of his issues.

Behaviorally, who can say that path not followed at the fork in the road would have been better or worse. And, certainly, the road lined with behavioral medications is a bumpy one not meant for the faint of heart. Yet, when the right medication is found, sigh, life can really improve for all.

It was about a year and a half ago that I started wondering about medication for our younger son. He is so crazy, so nutty, so loud and can get wild so quickly that I usually have to be peeled off of the ceiling by the end of the day. This child put the "H" in ADHD. Besides that, he was overcome with anxiety. Something had to be done. His school at the time was begging me to put him on medication.

This was the same school where he was being bullied, and when we realized the extent of the poor fit, we removed him and chose to homeschool for the remainder of the school year. Yet, it isn't easy to quell some fears. For months after, our son's behavior, although slowly improving, was still off the charts. Organization, focus, hyperactivity and anxiety--they all needed to be addressed.

So, as soon as his evaluation process was finished, I put the wheels in motion for him to be placed under the care of our older son's psychiatrist. The process is slow, and once all the pieces fell into place, a new school year in a new placement was a week away.

"Wait until school starts," our psychiatrist said. "We need to see how he responds to his new school."

I am SO THANKFUL that we did this! Right now, our son is experiencing one of the happiest times in his life. He is getting the supports he needs. He has great kids around him. And, as a result, those things which we know he lives with and are a challenge to him are able to be managed in this great, controlled environment at his new school without the use of medication.

How wonderful to see the system work--even if for a while. And, how wonderful to think that the right educational environment saved this child--even if for a while--from being placed needlessly on medication.

In the end, we want our kids to be happy, healthy and thriving. If this had happened via homeopathy, a med trial or no medicine at all--whatever works. I've done it all with our kids. There has been no one answer for us, and I believe we will have to continue to re-evaluate each situation as it comes along.

I'll even venture to say that, the older I get, the farm on the mountain does not sound like a half bad plan.

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