Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mom, Mom, She's the Bomb

Where's Dr. Momsie? Yes, I haven't been posting much lately. It is an extremely busy time of year, with the pre-holiday peak at work (yes, even children get depressed at the holidays), holiday traveling, and cold and flu season in full swing.  Between caring for my hubby through his stomach bug, rocking Jr. through the night as he battled a nasty virus, planning for holdiay grief groups, preparing for upcoming internship interviews at work, and traveling to Kansas for Thanksgiving, I haven't had much writing inspiration.

At times like these, momsie's need some normalization. Have you seen The Parent Rap video yet?  If the holiday busyness is starting to wear on you, you deserve to know you aren't the only mom whose home is a mess despite constant cleaning, who's makin' it rain coupons and baby wipes, who's consumed with potty-training, and who looks back with  nostalgia at your pre-children years.

Mom, Mom, you're the bomb :)


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Are Your ADHD Meds Working?


Last week I went to an excellent conference by the Holiner Psychiatric Group here in Dallas, where I learned a ton of cool new information about psychopharmacology (medication for psychiatric illness).  The wise doctors of the Holiner group talked about treatment resistant depression (fascinating!), medications during pregnancy (pregnancy is always a favorite topic for me), marijuana (quite timely, given my previous post), and medicating adult ADHD (um . . . . boring).

Let me be honest and say that usually when the topic of adult ADHD comes up, I get sleepy.  Truthfully, even the topic of childhood ADHD bores me to tears.  I try to pay attention, but when I start to realize that nothing really has changed in our understanding of ADHD, I get the overwhelming urge to catch up on Facebook. 

Part of my resistance to the subject of ADHD is due to frustration.  So many times, parents and teachers seem to immediately want a magical medication to fix a hyperactive or inattentive child's difficult behaviors.  Then, if the medicine doesn't immediately turn their little rascal into a zombie-like angel, they act as if all hope is lost.  I'm really more of a proponent of managing ADHD through behavioral modification paired with medication. So, if the medication doesn't turn out to be an immediate cure and multiple medication trials are necessary, parents and teachers can still manage ADHD symptoms through modification of environmental variables.  And, it's really rare to get the medication perfect in the first trial.  Parents really do need to be patient and communicate well with their child's doctor.  Unfortunately, I hear more complaints that "the medicine ain't workin'!" then efforts to try different strategies.

So, I wasn't very excited to hear more about ADHD medications.  But, as I was flipping through the Powerpoint handouts the wise psychiatrist shared, something caught my eye.

Does your child drink orange juice, eat a Poptart or down a bowl full of cereal before or after taking his/her meds?  Have you noticed your child's medications not working as well or have believed they have never really worked?  It could be that the most important meal of the day is actually preventing your child's medications from doing their job!  Citric acid, which is found in orange juice, gatorade, kool-aid, fortified cereals, some granola bars, and Poptarts can actually prevent the absorption of ADHD medications. If the medication is not absorbed into the blood stream, you will not get the expected effect of the drug.  It essentially just passes through the body and exits, unnoticed by the brain. 

Citric acid may be in more foods then you realize.  If your child's breakfast is "vitamin fortified" or has extra Vitamin C, choose something else (eggs, toast, waffles, etc.).  These Vitamin C rich foods should be avoided an hour before and after your child takes his/her ADHD meds.  This goes for most types of ADHD meds, older and newer varieties.

Remind your child's school nurse, counselor, teacher, and cafeteria workers.  Many of them, in my experience, are not aware of citric acid's mighty absorption-prevention power!  You may find that the medication you thought was another disappointing failure is actually the magic elixir you were looking for all along!  This really could prevent the need for more medication trials, and help a parent move on from a hyper-focus on getting the right med, to helping their child learn some behavioral strategies to compliment the medications effects.

Or, at least we can hope :)


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Real Dope on the Effects of Marijuana

Holy Reefer!

Did you all see that citizens of Colorado and Washington voted on Tuesday to legalize marijuana use?  Proponents of the law claim that states can make millions of dollars in tax revenue from the sale of "recreational" marijuana.  Marijuana has been legalized in many states for medicinal use, increasing it's social acceptability.  Many argue that marijuana does not cause significant impairment or addiction in users and is safer than using alcohol.  One pro-marijuana website states,
"The dangers of marijuana use have been exaggerated for almost a century and the modern scientific record does not support the reefer madness predictions of past and present." (The Top Ten Reasons Marijuana Should Be Legal, www.alternet.corg/story/60959)
Wait!  Don't toke up just yet!  I'm very familiar with the "modern scientific record" regarding marijuana use.  I've seen the brain scans.  Let me share the straight dope.  Just a quick search of the scientific literature in this area from the last two years yields titles such as:
How Marijuana Impairs Memory

Cannabis Use Doubles Chances of Vehicle Crash, Review Finds

Gene Implicated in Schizophrenia Risk Is Also Associated With Risk for Cannabis Dependence

Cannabis Use Mimics Cognitive Weakness That Can Lead to Schizophrenia, fMRI Study Finds

Smoking Cannabis Increases Risk of Depression in the Case of Genetic Vulnerability, Study Finds

How Cannabis Use During Adolescence Affects Brain Regions Associated With Schizophrenia

Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms Might Have Clinical Importance

Marijuana Use Implicated in Pregnancy Problems

Schizophrenia?  Depression?  Memory problems?  I'll pass. 

And, this is only the beginning. I believe cannabis use in teenagers can be quite dangerous, though most teens report they believe it is harmless.  Teens are starting to use marijuana younger and more often. In fact, teens are now more likely to smoke weed than tobacco. I know many teens in the high school where I work that smoke weed every day . . . at least once.  I don't think they realize that this "recreational" drug use can have long-term effects.

Let me share the results of a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesResearchers looked at 1,000 teenagers who used cannabis early and often throughout their teen years.  They found that by age 38, the pot-smoking teens had sufficiently lowered their IQ by 8 points.  Quitting smoking marijuana did not reverse or prevent this cognitive decline. Not only was IQ impacted by long-term marijuana use, but memory, processing speed, reasoning and visual processing also showed impairment. Friends and relatives routinely interviewed as part of the study were more likely to report that the persistent cannabis users had attention and memory problems such as losing focus and forgetting to do tasks.

THC, the chemical in marijuana, affects the brain by binding to and activating specific receptors, known as cannabinoid receptors. These receptors control memory, thought, concentration, time and depth, and coordinated movement. THC is especially rough on one's hippocampus, where memory is processed, and limbic system, where emotions are processed.  That is why many marijuana users report memory problems and mood swings (uncontrollable laughter, paranoia).  Doesn't sound too fun to me.

I think the research is becoming pretty clear that marijuana can be harmful.  So, if this issue finds itself on your ballot anytime soon, please take a "blunt" stance against marijuana legalization!

***I apologize for way too many corny puns in this posting.  I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Talking to Your Child About Hope and Politics

Two questions that I can't resist discussing  today:

Are you full of hope and joy this morning? 
 
I see all over social media this morning both those who are full of joy and optimism following our presidential election and those who are discouraged and ready to prepare for the end of the world.   I completely understand the emotions surrounding this particular election year.  Both sides feel the future of our country is in the balance, and maybe, just maybe, this man, this president, can lead our country into change.  Maybe he's our hope, our only hope.  Or, maybe his opponent was our hope, and now we find ourselves deeply discouraged.

Well, friends, may I suggest that all this hope is misplaced?  Instead, Psalm 33:18 reminds us that,
"But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love." 
Our children are watching our every reaction to this election.  If they see us placing our hope in a man, they will learn that hope is found in men.  And, then, they will be disappointed by men.  Because that's what we do as humans.  Many times we mess up and disappoint those who love and trust us. 
Please remember this post-election season, that the Lord is still in his strong tower, watching over us and working out his will in his creation. That doesn't change every 4 (or 8) years. So, if we teach our children that our hope is found in the never-changing, loving God, who has promised to work all things for the good of those who believe on him, they will have a firm foundation to stand on when a friend, parent, or president disappoints them.  And, if they learn to trust in a God who watches over and cares for them, they won't be shaken by disappointing events in this world.  Instead, they will wake up the morning after election day saying,
"For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth." Psalm 71:5
 
When should you start talking to your child about politics?
 
Again, our children have been watching us this election season.  And, they may have questions.  Of course, young children do not have the cognitive capabilities to fully grasp politics.  But, as soon as children start asking questions, learning about politics in school, and hearing about political mess on television, it is our job as parents to help them understand what they're experiencing in a developmentally appropriate manner.  If we avoid discussing the topic altogether because 1) we don't think they'll understand, or 2) we want them to develop their own views, we may leave our children with fearful, anxious, or warped beliefs.
 
For instance, many schools have been discussing the election and many even  hold mock elections.  This is a good opportunity for schools to teach children about our election process, the political parties, the role of the branches of government, etc.  On Monday, as I was picking up a third grade boy for counseling, I noticed he had an "I Voted" sticker on his shirt. 
 
"Oh, wow!" I exclaimed.  "You got to vote today! How neat!" 
 
Now, I didn't intend to infringe on the child's privacy and ask who he voted for, but he immediately said with a grin, "I voted for Barack Obama!"  "
 
"Well, you seem pretty confident about your vote.  Why did you make that decision?" (I'm thinking I'm going to hear some points his teacher shared about policies or party platforms.  Helping the poor, lowering taxes, etc.)
 
"Oh, well, President Obama has a lot of money and his wife is good-lookin'."  Same proud grin.
 
Hmm.  Not what I expected.  "Well, what about Mitt Romney?  Does he have a lot of money?  What does his wife look like?" 
 
"I'm not sure.  But, I  know he was the president of something already and some people didn't like him." 
 
"Oh, you're right!  He was Governor of Massachusetts.  And, I'm sure some people didn't like him.  But, did some people like him?"
 
"Yes!  Some people did!"
 
"So, why didn't you vote for him?" 
 
"Because Barack Obama has a lot of money and his wife is pretty!"
 
Oh, right.  Duh.
 
This cute little conversation got me thinking.  Where did this young man learn these points about Barack Obama that shaped his voting choices?  His teacher?  His mom?  The television media?
 
Can you see why it might be important, at even a young age, to talk to your child about politics?  Wouldn't we rather our young children start thinking about what REALLY matters in a candidate to rule the country?  You can discuss this in age-appropriate language.  Plan on beginning  around third grade when children's brains are able to process these types of concepts a little more fluently than in earlier years (though it's never to early to start).  For instance, you might say, "God loves babies.  This candidate shows his love for babies in how he votes."  Or, "You know how Uncle Joe is in the Army? Well, this person believes in helping the Army become stronger."  Or, even, "This person would have the government help poor people more.  God wants us to help poor people." 
Ask questions like I did with the third grade boy above to help them explore the issues.
 
When a topic comes up on the news or in conversation, explain in child-friendly terms.   For instance, "That person is upset because many people in our country don't have jobs right now.  Without a job, they don't have money to buy food, clothes, medicine, or toys!  Some people think President Obama should have more time to help people get jobs.  Other people think Governor Romney should have a chance to fix the problem."
 
Remember, Proverbs 22:6 advises parents:
"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

While always remembering to do as in Hebrews 13:17:
"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority."
 
 Be joyful and full of hope today!  And, share with your children the reason for your hope.  Resist showing disrespect for our leaders, while demonstrating a peace that passes all understanding of our country's political drama.







Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fighting Sleep: Guest Post By Jr.

Hello everybody!  My momsie's a little under the weather, so she's asked me to guest post today.  I'm only 19 months old, so I don't know much about much.  I do know how to sing E-I-E-E-O, but I don't know if any of you would really be interested in that.  So, today I'm going to write about something Mommy says I'm a real expert at  . .  fighting sleep!

Now, what do babies and toddlers need most in their life?  Fun and play! 
This is fun . . .
 
Yay! See how I'm standing and jumping on the bed?  Laughing, smiling, having a blast!
 
Now, this is booooring. . .
No laughing, no jumping, just boring.
 
Fellow babies, I am really not a fan of sleep.  I really don't recommend it at all.  And, by now, I am quite an accomplished sleep fighter.  I'm proud to say that even from the moment I was born I was avoiding sleep at all costs.  My momsie tried all types of tricks those first few nights, but even then, I knew that staying awake was much more fun.
 
So, friends, if you'd like to be like me and have as much FUN as possible, let me give you some of my best sleep fighting tips.
  • First, as Mommy always says, "No one ever fell asleep with their eyes open." Keep your eyes wide open as long as you can.  The more tired I get, the wider I open my eyes.  But, beware of the super momsie trick of stroking your head ("forehead to nose, eyes will close"). You also have to watch out for the blankie-over-the-head trick.  It is almost impossible to keep those eyes open if there is nothing to look at but a dark blankie. 
  • Next, you must keep moving.  When I start to drift off to sleepy neverland, I immediately move a toe, flex my foot, or even stick my arm straight in the air.  Those darn swaddle blankets used to keep me pretty tightly bound, so watch out for those if you're still pretty young.
  • Also, don't underestimate the power of vocalizations.  Scream out as soon as you start to drift off. That will wake you up.  Or, just hum a little.  I've found a little "mmmmm" just as I start to drift off will keep me from falling into a boring sleep.
  • Throw everything out of your crib.  Then, cry because you miss it.  That will take a good half an hour.
  • If you want someone to come play with you, try calling out to them.  What works best for me is "Mommeeeee."  Mommy can't resist that.
  • If your parents place you in their bed out of desperation, or you're a lucky duck that gets to sleep in the big bed, you must resist the comfy-ness.  You must move more.  Try beeping your mom's nose.  Or, play with her mouth.  Kick your daddy's face.
  • Usually these tricks will work.  But, if your momsie pulls out the white noise, swaddle blankets, swings, or rocking chair, you may ultimately lose the battle.  Don't give up.  There's always tomorrow night!

Ok, babies, thanks for the chance to share my best skill with you!  Now, get up and have some FUN!
 

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