Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Balancing Act

Safety Guy with his buddy B.C., a year ago.

I'm grateful that I haven't taken much flak about our son Safety Guy taking anti-anxiety medication.  He's taken a couple different medications over the years, since he was about 8.  Maybe it's because his anxiety was obvious to everyone around him from a young age that we didn't get much disagreement or judgment.  The people who knew him apparently realized that the medication was a necessary help for him.  Still, it was not an easy decision for us to make as parents, and we revisit the meds/no meds/which meds question regularly with his counselor and his pediatrician.  Today was the semi-annual conversation with his pediatrician.

I have to say I LOVE his pediatrician.  Dr. L. GETS Safety guy, has compassion for him, and treats him as a reasoning young adult, as a participant in his own health care decisions.  Even better, he just plain likes SG, and SG is comfortable with him.  Thank God for physicians like Dr. L!

The upshot of our appointment today was the decision to make no changes at this time.  We hashed over the difficulties of the past winter, the mood swings, the bullying, the anger issues, the anxiety, and the side effects of the med SG takes, and we decided that we would stay at the same dosage with the same med, and continue to address some of the issues through counseling.  

But the good doctor also gave us a little extra ammunition to use with the school:  he suggested writing a letter to them as his physician to say that Safety Guy requires breaks when he's getting upset/angry, without penalty - that he should be allowed to leave a classroom and to go to a safe place (like the counselor's office) to calm down and regroup.  That's actually part of SG's IEP, but he rarely takes advantage of it.  It turns out that a couple times in the past he's asked to leave and been denied by the teacher (as if he's making up his need for space and dodging work, instead of trying to get out of a situation where he's afraid he'll lose his temper).  And, he doesn't want to make a scene or draw attention to himself.  So, hopefully, when I take the letter to the school psychologist, she can help Safety Guy implement this strategy more consistently.  

SG has been doing better the past couple weeks, but he's been so up and down for the past year that I'm not expecting this to last.  I'm always waiting for the relapse.  I'd like to give his current calmer frame of mind a chance to go on for a while, and I'll take all the help I can get.  And, this letter will follow him to his new school in the fall, so that safety net can be put in place from the first day.

And if we try all these good things, and he still needs his meds revisited, we'll do that too.  We go back in three months.  It's a balancing act.  Sometimes we get it right and walk over the abyss; sometimes we don't and we fall.  Thank goodness for the people who understand and show compassion to us, and help us get up and try again.