Wednesday, February 22, 2012

when the medication is right

Last night I got a phone call from two excited 6 year olds.  Their mom tried to hook us up with Facetime, and I got a brief glimpse of their bright smiles before my crappy internet connection failed.  So we talked on the phone, and put the speakerphone on so Stevie Wonder and I could hear their news at the same time.

They wanted to tell us about their accomplishments at school.  Maddie went first.  She told me about her grades and that she can read 106 words a minute.  She had several 90's, and a 100 or two in other things like spelling, language and math.  SW and I told her how proud we were of her.  Her teacher had written something along the lines of A+++ on her paper.  SW and I were both grinning from ear to ear.

Then it was Duncan's turn.  My stomach clenched, waiting to hear his results.

Duncan has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder, a learning disorder).  It has been a months long struggle, plus a lot of tears for Jenny (his mom) to find the right medication.  It took her weeks to decide to try medication.  Then weeks and weeks, three different medications, plus adjusting the doses.  The first medication, Intuniv, made him too sleepy.  He couldn't stay awake.  After a couple weeks of that, the pediatrician tried Vyvanse, another medication for ADHD.  The medication was adjusted after a few weeks.  And it turned a happy little boy into an aggressive, angry, unhappy child.

The problem with the medication was that when it wore off, Dunc had withdrawals.  Every evening Duncan was angry, and hated everything and everyone.  And if you knew Duncan, you would know what a personality change this was for him.  Polar opposite.

Jen would call me from time to time, and I'd listen as she despaired ever finding the answer.  She questioned giving him medication at all.  She worried he would be held back.  She worried what it would do to his self esteem if his twin sister went to second grade and he got left behind.  She worried what the medication was doing to his body, and the turmoil he was in.  She worried because he struggled, struggled, to do his schoolwork.  She worried what it was doing to Maddie because Duncan required so much time and attention.

We shared information we found back and forth with each other, trying to figure this out.  And I listened.  And provided moral support.  Encouraged.  Bolstered Jen's flagging spirits.  Provided the optimism I knew Jenny needed.  Worried myself sick when I wasn't talking to her.  Prayed, lots of prayers.  I knew Duncan was trapped inside his own mind.  I knew there was an intelligent, bright boy in there waiting to show us what he could do.  Wanting to learn but unable to process the information being given to him.  Struggling, struggling to learn.

Third medication, Focalin.  We all held our breath.

Duncan started doing better.  Suddenly.  The doctor had told Jen that if the medication was right, she would see immediate results.  And there were, but he was still having some trouble.  Jen talked to the doctor on her gozillionth trip back to the pediatrician's office with Duncan.  She increased the dosage.

And now here we were, on the phone.  I waited to hear the results, and held my breath.  Duncan started talking.  He was so excited I couldn't understand a word he was saying.  Jenny started laughing.  She told me not only had Duncan passed all his tests last week, but he made dramatic improvement.  My stomach fluttered and I took a deep breath as she told me just how much he had improved.  An 85 in math, 93 in reading, 80 in spelling and 70 in language.  Jen said she had hollered in amazement when she saw the math grade.  Duncan had been failing math.  Failing.

The best thing for us?  Duncan is Duncan.  His personality hasn't changed, and we see no aggression in him.  He's our happy, loving child again, giving us lots of hugs and smiles.  I asked him last weekend if he felt any different when he takes the medication.  He told me no, he couldn't tell he was taking anything.

That is the way medication should work.  When you get it right, you have a child who can learn, who gains self esteem from his accomplishments, and leads a normal, happy life.

Way to go Duncan.  Way to go.
Duncan and Maddie, first day of 1st grade

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Monday, February 13, 2012


Friday was one of those weird days you hope you don't have to experience again for a long time.  It started out strange and ended on a bizarre note that no one would believe, if I didn't have the evidence.

We'd been out getting Stevie Wonder a high octane checkup, had a nice lunch out and of course, the requisite Starbucks (I can't go to Birmingham without getting a Tazo Chai Latte).

At home that evening, SW went to bed early because the stress test had whipped his butt (it was a Thallium stress test, and let me tell you, walking a treadmill is nothing to getting zapped by medication to stress your heart).  That was when it started.  I saw movement from the corner of my eye, and looked at the floor in front of the TV.

There sat a mouse, looking back at me.

I screamed.  Don't ask me why.  I had a pet rat when I was a kid and I wasn't afraid of a mouse.  I think he just startled me.  I heard Steve roaring "WHAT THE HELL'S THE MATTER?" behind his CPap and I hollered back:


I heard him grumbling as he got out of bed.  I won't set traps.  That's his job.  I tell him about the mice, he sets the traps, and disposes of the DBs.  (That is Dead Bodies for those of you who don't watch CSI.)

I had reported the mouse.  There was a trap in the kitchen that had been sprung.  He came in and reset it.  And set two more in different parts of the house.  I was laughing out loud by the time he finished.  What is funny about setting traps?  It isn't the traps.  It's watching a grown man in his underwear try to set the trap, and having it snap on him, and hearing him cuss.  Pretty entertaining stuff from my perch on the couch.

While he was setting them, we watched the mouse run from room to room.  I figured he was hungry and would get trapped pretty dang quick.

Nope.  He ran right by those traps like they weren't even there.  That is when I realized he was different.  Unique.  Weird.  Scary.

I watched him run right out into the living room and look at me.  He just sat there, staring.  I screamed.  Stevie Wonder cussed.  And got up.

I said: "Look, he's sitting right there, and LOOKING AT ME."

Steve said: "Hit him with a damn shoe."

I said: "I have crummy aim.  You do it."

Steve said: "Oh hell, give me a shoe."  (in a disgusted voice)

He grabbed his shoe and I told him to wait, the mouse would come out.  And it did.  Straight out in front of Steve.  He drew back like the best big league pitcher I've ever seen and threw his show at that mouse.  It had to be doing 90 miles an hour when it hit it.

The mouse turned and ran.  Steve looked a few more minutes, chased it out from it's hiding spot in my future laundry room, and got a couple more shots off.  It WAS moving slower though.  And stopping in weird spots, like the middle of the room.  No decent mouse stops in the middle of a room.  It just isn't safe.

Steve finally said he was done, and going back to bed.  The mouse had hidden by that point, and I figured the traps would get him sooner or later.  I was thinking about that other half hamburger from Red Robin I had brought home from lunch, and decided to warm it in the microwave and eat it.

Big mistake.  The lingering aroma of burger not only brought the mouse OUT of hiding, it brought him straight to the couch.  I had my legs wrapped around my head by this point and was hollering at Steve, who refused to get back up at that point.  The mouse stopped at the edge of the couch, and leaned UP on it and looked up at me.  We were both staring at each other bug eyed by then.

I knew I would have to take measures.  SW was useless by this point, and I knew it was up to me.  I braced myself and the race was on.  I chased the mouse from room to room, and got a couple shots at it with SW's tennis shoe (those things weigh about 10 pounds each).  But never could stop it.  At some point in the chase, I decided to get my iPhone and capture the evidence on camera.  This is what I got:
mouse running
mouse still running

mouse running some more
This went on for quite a while.  The reason the photos are blurry is because I was running with him, and kind of jumping up and down at the same time.

I finally cornered lost him, and sat down to catch my breath.  Then I heard a commotion in the kitchen.  And saw the cord swinging that hung down from SW's coffee grinder on the corner cabinet in the kitchen.  I looked around, and spotted him.  He was catching his breath too.

Just in case you doubt me, here's a close up:   
mouse at rest on SW's coffee grinder
I looked at him, he looked at me, and that was when my mother took over in me.  I grabbed a fly flap (you call them fly swatters), and chased him to the edge of the cabinet.  Just as he was about to jump, I finished him off.  Slam dunk.

I think this is the first time a mouse was slain with a fly flap.

Being me, I left the DB for Stevie Wonder.  Who didn't notice it the next morning until I pointed it out.  (Pffttt, some hunter he is...didn't even see what was in front of his nose toes.)

Then I told him it had been all over his coffee grinder.  And turned around and walked off.

I drink tea.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

spring in the south

A few days off to think and regenerate, to refill the creative well, and share an early spring haiku with you...

this is the magic of the southern spring...soft seasons, flowers suddenly thrusting through the ground and reaching gladly for the sky like enthusiastic children excited to be alive.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Saturday, February 4, 2012

caught between worlds

This month I will revisit some of my favorite posts.  Since I have accumulated more than 300+ posts now, these are buried kinda deep.  I decided they were worth a repeat.  Today I am sharing one of my favorite photo captures of all time, first posted on 12/20/2010.  I hope you enjoy it.

~cath xo


winter moon

Tonight as I arrived home I saw the moon in the east and the setting sun when I looked west.  It was such a dichotomy, yet so yin and yang, that I rushed for Big Girl when I reached the house to try to capture just a few shots before the sun disappeared.

night before the winter solstice

lunar jewel


When I am shooting photos of the sky, I always feel a bit pressured to try to capture it.  At the same time I feel a need to absorb it, to soak it up and sear it on my brain.  Each sunset, each moonrise is so unique, and I know as I look at it and shoot the photos, there will never be another one like it. 
la luna

I still remember a spring evening years ago, when we were in south Alabama on the Alabama river, fishing.  We had finished for the day, and had returned to our hotel and were going to the restaurant next door to eat dinner.  I looked up, and stopped walking.  I just stood there staring for long minutes at the deepest azure sky I had ever looked at in my life.  Lighter near the horizon, where the sun had just set, it deepened as I looked upward toward the first evening stars twinkling in the sky.  Not a cloud marred the perfect velvety texture of the expanse above me.  I knew then that I was looking at something created by a being much greater than I.

night dawns
Tonight I had many of the same emotions rushing through me.  Maddie and Duncan had joined me outside and were playing in the last bit of daylight left as I stood and looked.  I looked left, then right, several times.  I felt caught between two worlds, one passing from existence, and one being created as I watched.  I was awed and silent.  After several photos, I just stood silently, thanking God I had been allowed to really see, to be present in the moment.

Life's moments happen constantly.  Whether you choose to be in the moment, to experience what is around you, is up to you.  All you have to do is open your eyes.

Heaven surrounds you.

halo of trees