Friday, December 7, 2012

Crap. I may have a real problem.

I wrote that I could hardly handle it the last two years because my daughter didn't sleep well:

and especially

After complaining to the family doc about this every check-up, he finally referred us to a specialist. To the specialist we said, we have a girl who sleeps like some of her relatives that have some serious mental health issues. We think she's fine, but also know enough to realize she has some risk. We want tips on how to parent to make her more resilient, should her biology be unkind to her.

Specialist started asking questions about Girl and they were all yes, yes, yes.
She turns to me and says, "Have you ever had a diagnosis?"
"Me? No, not MY side... I did get medicine once for ADD, but it think my thyroid was off or something". "Hmm. Your daughter is far too young to have a diagnosis, and we wouldn't dream of medicating her, but the sleep problems are a harbinger of SOMETHING neurochemical being off. You need to watch her for AD/HD"

Holy crud. I thought it wasn't from my side, but Her Cuteness may have a focusing problem. From me.

Look back at this post:
In which I describe how I can't perform well in a lab like "successful scientists" because I can't focus.

and this
In which I nearly diagnose myself.

Can't figure out for the life of me why I can't get done what I have to.

Can't make myself write to save my life.

OK, before you get in a huff about Girl, here's our plan: 1. NOT be hypersensitive to ADD signs, just going to let her be 2 years old (and 3 and 4 and 5). 2. Not going to tell her teachers anything to avoid unnecessary labeling. 3. Going to follow the Doc's plan about getting her to sleep. 4. Going to dig in our heels against any kind of medicine until it is very clear she would benefit, and we have exhausted ALL cognitive methods. If, *IF * she *certainly* has a problem.

Now, ME. I have finished developing. I got a Ph.D by using cognitive methods only (though there may have been some unnecessary struggle there). We can discuss cognitive style versus pathology if you'd like. But I can say that I have reached the limits of my capacity. Maybe I will start to take that bottle of meds I've been ignoring for about 3 years. What do you think?


  1. My sympathies with the lack of sleep forever, my oldest (now 5) was like that. Absolutely terrible. Better once we did the CIO training at 4 months (ok, so it was all my husband, I wasn't strong enough). He was also always really active, running and climbing everything, and extremely sensitive to lack of sleep. Aka, a ton of long, horrible tantrums every day from 2.5 to 3.5 yrs old.

    So, I can tell you what worked for us, and perhaps it might help you a little. My son snored/breathed heavily when he slept, and we almost had his tonsils out. Then I got him tested for allergies, and he is allergic to dust mites. His dust mite allergy enflames his tonsils at night, causing trouble breathing and lack of deep sleep. I covered his mattress, bought new pillows and pillow covers, and wash his bedding weekly. It's almost like he's a different child now that he's getting enough sleep.

    Good luck with your little girl, and I hope her sleeping habits get better! There are plenty of highly intelligent people with ADD who manage it with and without medication, and some even credit it as a source of their creativity. I'm sure you won't overreact if she ever is diagnosed.

    1. We tried Benaryl at your suggestion. It helped, but didn't clear up the sniffles she constantly has. i think it was just the soporific effect of the medicine.

  2. I don't know what the Doc's plan is, but your plan for her seems reasonable. I would mention that the differential between gifted and ADD can be complicated (and impossible to make at a very young age) and that brains do run in families. Offspring is barely on the charts, and definitely had periods of issues sleeping, and has always needed less sleep. And this is typical for kids like her.

    Did they investigate other aspects of her developmental profile?

  3. They said she was " doing great" and " has an impressive vocabulary" and that any symptoms she hints at having are " seriously small time compared to what we usually see".

  4. Mommyprof's comments about the line between gifted and ADD is interesting. Neither of my sons seem to need as much sleep as their peers, and my older one never really napped -- he had maybe a 20-30 min nap that he gave up around 16 months. I never worried much because they don't seem to be excessively fussy or hyperactive. So maybe Girl just doesn't need much sleep (very unfortunately for you).

    As for you -- I'm not advising that you ignore your symptoms or not to take the medication, but at the same time, recognize that you've been chronically sleep-deprived and incredibly stressed for the past 3-4 years. I don't know anyone in your situation who wouldn't have problems focusing! You may feel much better once you start your sabbatical and have some time to sleep and sOme help with the kids.

  5. About the kid: I think there probably are some 2-year-olds who have serious problems already from ADD, but yours doesn't sound like it; they change so fast at that age (my now-almost-4-year-old was, for example, the world's most shy and retiring child and now he chats up complete strangers everywhere) and I think waiting and seeing is a good strategy. Other things to consider for her if you haven't already, related to sleep: 1) allergies? 2) melatonin, TJs has a chewable kid-sized one, it's fantastic.

    About you: if the meds help and make your life easier, why not? Better living through chemistry. Why suffer if you don't have to? Unless the side effects are intolerable, of course, then it's no help.

    1. Yes, Melatonin was one of the doc's suggestions. So far, no drastic improvement. Allergies? Hmm. What would that look like?

    2. Allergies in kids: varied! 'Allergic shiners' = chronic dark circles under the eyes, congestion, sniffles (hard to distinguish from perpetual-small-child-cold), tendency towards rashiness/eczema, trouble sleeping, perpetual scratching at the ears.... My friend Nicole's son didn't sleep for a couple years due to dust mite allergies. If they do skin-test her I'd suggest you advocate for dust mites, seasonal pollens, and molds.

    3. Thanks to you, we have been keeping an eagle eye on this. As I mentioned above, we tried Benadryl. Though she fell asleep, her snotty nose never cleared up.

  6. Update. Spring 2013: I have been taking a very low dose of methylphenidate during the work week for about a month. There is a clear improvement in my life. 1. I CAN concentrate better. It is not a panacea, it still takes effort of will. That balance of drug/effort eases my discomfort with the idea of a "crutch". 2. I don't just crash after work into a short-tempered, unmotivated mess. And I can still sleep. 3. I'm losing weight. I don't think it's the drug per se, since I was losing weight before I started taking it. I think it allows me to have a bit more energy to exercise, and a bit more cognitive power to resist comfort foods and fast foods. 4. It actually outs me at ease, since I don't rely on coffee anymore to help me work. Coffee makes me really irritable, and there are times after drinking coffee that I just hated everybody.