“I wish that were my problem.”
With all due respect to the people who uttered those comments to me today, my responses are “No, he’s not,” and “No, you don’t.”
This morning I had to bring my seven-year-old son Edgar to the doctor’s office–not for flu-like symptoms, an ear infection, or an ache or pain but because in the last two months he has lost nearly ten percent of his body weight–a familiar side effect for many people taking medication for ADHD.
And while I remain grateful that was ALL we were in the doctor’s office for this morning, this is not an insignificant situation. A lack of growth is antithetical to childhood–a time when we expect, encourage, even demand growth on all fronts.
That Edgar has experienced successes with the medication he’s been prescribed cannot be minimized or overlooked. He has been able to do more than he ever has before, been able to engage with others at previously unforeseen levels. All medications have side effects of one kind or another, so after weighing (no pun intended) the benefits and the costs, perhaps we should have just accepted this as one of the costs for a tremendous benefit.
But watching your already-small child seemingly shrink before your eyes does something to a parent. Our society champions weight loss, puts those who lose weight on the covers of magazines and proclaims them “success stories,” heroes even; but there is nothing glorious about losing weight because you can’t or won’t eat, and there is not a single thing to celebrate when it’s a child in this situation.
Today we switched medications and designed an incredibly high-calorie regimen for Edgar. He will get weighed again in April.
Do we want it all–effective ADHD medication with few side effects and a healthy move up the growth chart? Yes, we do. Is it possible? Time will tell. It’s what we will pursue because it’s what he deserves.