She swallows the spoonful of applesauce in one motion and I’m happy she didn’t try to chew the beads of medicine on top. Now we wait. We wait twenty minutes or so. We wait for what I don’t know. Something. Some kind of change in Princess.
Imagine a single pill that could minimize or even extinguish most of your problems.
Would you take it?
Many would say yes without hesitation.
What if it changed the essence of who you are as a person?
I bet fewer would take a pill that changed who they are.
But, if it made most of the challenges disappear, it would be tempting.
This is what I’m grappling with right now. To medicate or not medicate.
Princess meets the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. She has for a while. It’s only in the last couple of months, though, that the conversation of medication has come up. It’s only in the last couple of months that her attentional difficulties have caused problems for her at school. As a kindergarten student, there are more demands placed on her academically than there were last year in pre-k, when the issues first began to surface in a consistent pattern. So, we discussed the idea of a medication trial. Try out an ADHD medication to see what happens.
The idea of using stimulant medication on my 6-year-old daughter makes me uncomfortable. The idea of giving her a drug that could drastically change her personality terrifies me.
If you met her, you would see that she has more spunk in her tiny fingernail than most do in their entire bodies. She is exuberant and vivacious. She doesn’t walk; she skips. She doesn’t talk; she sings. She doesn’t breathe; she buzzes. She is a force. When Shakespeare wrote, Though she be but little, she is fierce, he certainly had Princess in mind. It’s scary to think about how this medication could potentially change her. I fear losing our quirky little girl to this medication.
Yet, we are trying it out. We are considering it. We wonder if, perhaps, it will make her feel more settled. If it will help her to focus better at school and on her work. If it will make her somehow happier. Right now she hates going to school. Could it be that this medication makes it so that she begins to enjoy school because she’s better able to “do” school? Maybe she can’t help skipping or singing or buzzing. It could be that she literally cannot settle herself. This could provide her relief that she doesn’t even know she is looking for. We aren’t sure.
And that’s what makes this decision so difficult.
We just aren’t sure.
We are making a decision for a 6-year-old who doesn’t know any different way to be. Maybe we will give her the first dose and notice how much calmer she is and think it’s a good thing and continue with the medication. But maybe her calmer ways are a good thing for us. Maybe it is more convenient for us to have a calmer child. Maybe she is happiest just as she is. But we see a calmer child and equate that with “better” and continue on with administering the medication. How will we know we’ve made the right decision: to medicate or not medicate? How will we know if we are doing what she would want us to? I have to hope that some intuition will kick in in the coming days and weeks as we see how this all goes that guides us in this decision.
What’s hard to ignore is the anecdotal evidence gleaned from families who successfully use these medications every day. Their children actually report feeling happier on the medication than off. The statements about overall improved quality of life are hard to ignore. That certainly counts for something. Right? If Princess could be happier, shouldn’t we give it a try? Shouldn’t we do it?
And so, we wait.