Monday, March 04, 2002

March 4-8, 2002

MARCH 4, 2002

Tonight, one of the few TV shows I make it a point to watch comes back on the air, finally, after a long seven weeks. That show is "Once and Again," the life-after-divorce drama starring Sela Ward and Billy Campbell, and it's moved from Fridays to Mondays for a last-ditch attempt at finishing its third season, much less starting its fourth. If you're not already watching this show (and judging by the ratings, you're not), here are five reasons why you may want to start:

5. In the last new episode, a major character was hit by a car and ended up with a shattered pelvis. Tonight's episode (and future ones, no doubt) will involve a lot of physical therapy. Something we know about!

4. The show has one of those dream psychiatrists who's smart, funny, perceptive, caring, and not actually existant in real life. He's helping one of the show's central teen-agers deal with her anorexia, and now with her mother's injuries as well. The fact that he's played by one of the show's producers means there's probably some wish-fulfillment going on for them as well.

3. In addition to anorexia, the show features ongoing story lines on schizophrenia, depression and learning disabilities without suggesting that these things can be resolved with warm family hugs all around.

2. There's a blended family, but it ain't exactly the Brady Bunch, with jealousy among stepsisters and romantic attraction between a stepsister and stepbrother. Particularly interesting, for those of us dealing with children with special needs and siblings without, is the way one stepsister feels the other gets special treatment because of her eating disorder.

1. Hey, you have to fall asleep in front of something at 10 p.m. Billy Campbell's not exactly the worst thing to be looking at at the time.

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MARCH 5, 2002

Do kids with ADHD really just need more sleep? That's the conclusion suggested by a recent study by a University of Michigan neurologist and sleep researcher. Out of 866 children studied, those who snored were significantly more likely to be diagnosed as ADHD. This appears to contribute to theories that sleep disorders can create hyperactive behavior, since (as we all know from years of bad bedtimes) young children often react to tiredness with wiredness. It may also explain why stimulants like Ritalin sooth kids who appear overstimulated -- gives them a nice wake-up call.

It's an interesting thought, anyway. The researcher suggests that the removal of tonsils may improve ADHD behavior in some cases, and I'm always happy to hear of any solution that doesn't involve medication (beyond anesthesia, I suppose.) My son doesn't snore, but his sleep habits are something of a mystery because since he came to us at age 2, he's never cried at night while awake, just laid in his crib or bed rocking and singing and talking to himself. Could be that he doesn't get enough sleep. When he actually does sit still and stay quiet during the day, he often gets sleepy, and I've always thought that his hyperactive behavior was really an attempt to keep himself awake and alert. So it will be interesting to see if anything comes of this latest study. Though, the way research seems to work these days, the next study coming out will undoubtedly refute it.

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MARCH 6, 2002

My daughter, age almost-12, is making the big step up this cold-and-flu season from liquid medications to those in pill form. No more measuring antibiotics by the teaspoonful; this time, for her ongoing, never-ending, hair-raising cough, she has a neat little vial of blue pills. It's a grown-up thing, and she couldn't be prouder. There's only one problem: Getting them down her.

She's had some success swallowing Advils for menstrual cramps, but those of course have that neat candy coating that make them melt in your mouth a little slower. The antibiotics, on the other hand, are just pure, raw, naked medication, horrible-tasting from the moment it hits your tongue. The first night we tried having her take it with vigorous gulps of water, but it was a disaster. She started gagging as soon as the thing was in her mouth, kept spitting it out and putting it back in in various stages of dissolve and making faces and gagging. Finally she went ahead and threw up the pill and her dinner and that was that.

She was pretty much convinced, understandably enough, that she'd never, ever, ever be able to swallow that awful pill, but moms don't give up that easy. The next morning, we tried again with juice instead of water, in the hope that it would block the taste at least for a moment, and to both of our amazement, she downed the pill on the first swallow. At dinnertime, it took two swallows. I hate to say anything to jinx this, but it appears she's got this pill-swallowing thing down. Which means she really IS growing up. Dang.

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MARCH 7, 2002

You hear from time to time that antibiotics are becoming less effective, and one of the culprits listed is always the fact that parents demand them for their children, and thus they are overprescribed. There's an image of pediatricians as not being able to bend the will of overbearing parents with mere medical explanations of why antibiotics will not be effective in any particular situation. I gave my opinion of how utterly ridiculous that scenario was in the very first dispatch on this Web site, and I still think it's bunk. Consider three recent doctor visits in our family, two for my daughter and one for me.

The first time my daughter went to the pediatrician, she'd had a cough for about a week. No fever, no congestion, no symptoms of sickness other than a periodic hard, barking cough that left her red-faced and light-headed. The pediatrician checked her ears, her throat, her chest, and said that although there were no obvious signs of anything, there were probably some bacteria involved, and so my girl should take a one-week course of antibiotics. Two weeks later, antibiotics long gone, the girl is still coughing. So back to the pediatrician. Again, not much to find, but another antibiotic prescription. In neither case did I demand meds, unless the simple act of bringing your child to the doctor is considered a demand for drugs. In neither case was there a raging example of bacterial infection (although on visit two the doctor did notice some "white tenacious mucous" when examining my daughter for post-nasal drip; maybe I've been reading too much Dave Barry, but all I could think of was that "White Tenacious Mucous" would be a good name for a rock band). And in both cases, the antibiotics were given freely. They might as well have had a bowl of them out in the waiting room.

Now, I'm not saying the pediatrician was wrong, or prescribing too loosely. I trust my kids' doctor and if she feels they need antibiotics, antibiotics they shall have. But I did find it somewhat curious that when I finally caught my daughter's cough and went to my own physician, I was told it was a viral thing and antibiotics wouldn't help me out. I left with a prescription for cough syrup, a handful of decongestant samples, and get-well wishes. Maybe he missed something, or maybe pediatricians are more cautious with children -- but at any rate, somebody should stop blaming pushy parents for all those pills. I would only have been pushy had I said no.

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MARCH 8, 2002

I had another one of those "Jekyll-and-Hyde" experiences with my eight-year-old son yesterday, where I see him at his best and worst within a short period of time. The best occurred when we were walking down the sidewalk to the car after school and saw a grandma and mom pushing a baby carriage walking toward us. My son walked right up to them, said "What a cute baby! Hi, baby!" and asked, "What's his name?" He then introduced himself to the baby by name, cood to it for a bit, helped the mom put a hat on the baby's little head, and said a very polite farewell. "What a nice boy!" the grandma said to me. And I thought, she'll probably tell her friends she saw the best-behaved little boy during their walk.

Whereas in fact, behavior is the area in which he's generally considered least likely to succeed.

A little while later, we had a similar meeting with a small dog. Things started out the same; he politely inquired as to the name of the little dog, and then properly introduced himself. He petted gently and talked to the pooch. But it was like one of those movies where you keep cutting to a gauge that's showing something getting hotter and hotter and hotter, until the needle's twitching away in the red zone. By degrees, my boy got more and more excited. First he was petting quietly. Then he was kneeling with his face on the ground so the dog could sniff his hair. That must have made him feel like another dog, because then he started barking a friendly sort of bark. Then he started barking not-so-friendly and lunging at the pup, who must have been completely panicked by that point. Our sweet little dog-petting episode ended up with me holding him in a bear hug from behind and urging him to calm down, calm down, calm down.

He's getting better with modulating his level of excitement, better and better every day, but doggone it, we're not there yet.

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