Momwithastethoscope's Weblog

August 21, 2008

Tales from ADD land

Filed under: ADD — momwithastethoscope @ 7:12 pm
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 Appointments with patients and their parents about attention deficit disorder can be like Alice staring into the looking glass.  I never know what the agenda may be on the part of the parents or patients. Behavior is a subjective thing, and what is well-behaved to one parent may be holy-terror to the next.  Teasing out the various expectations takes some skill, and truthfully, some days I have it and some days I don’t.  Late afternoon appointments for attention can be soul wearing after a day of wrangling rambunctious toddlers. 

For example, I was puzzled by the tween with significant side effects from her stimulant medication.  According to her mother, this patient endured six months of roller coaster emotions ranging from happy, focused student to raging, mean dervish.  This follow-up had been long overdue – rescheduled several times.  The encounter left a prednisone –like aftertaste in my mind- bitter and lingering.  Prior to their arrival, I received an email from the mother and teachers detailing the changes.  The patient was failing at least one class and doing poorly in another.  Red flag in ADD land especially at the end of the school year.  (It’s not unusual for me to have desperate parents in the office at the end of semester trying to salvage the school year with a trial of medication) The email also described aggressive tendencies like grabbing the patient’s younger brother. The mother speculated that all of these differences were due to the ADD medication

About to enter the exam room, I flipped through my chart to see when the last medication evaluation took place.  Last office visit was five months prior with no visits or phone calls in between.  A lot had happened in the past five months, and I wondered why all of these new concerns had not been on my radar before today. 

Starting ADD medication is no small feat in this day and age.  With FDA warnings and ECG recommendations, stimulants come with baggage. I have a spiel that I give families about the risks and benefits.  We are a team on this, I tell them.  If you don’t like the way your child acts on the medication, stop it and call me.  There are alternatives.  I want the best possible outcome, and every child is different.

So why did it take five months of problems for this patient to step back into my office?  Why did they continue to ask for monthly refills?  Puzzled and concerned, I entered the exam room.  The situation between parent and patient was volatile.  Each lobbed accusations at each other.   The teen had the aura of a black rain coat covering an arsenal of weaponry to protect her soul.

Not wanting to put her on the defensive, I poked around with small talk questions about how school was going.

“Fine.”  She says. Lots of one word answers to follow each of my questions.  I was wary of putting her in an even more defensive position by asking “Why did it take you so long to come back when you were having problems?”  As her mother detailed some of the more violent encounters, I flipped between the last two visits.  Her weight caught my eye.  She was down 17 pounds from her last visit five months ago. 

“You’ve lost weight.”

“Yeah.”  She beamed briefly.

Aha, I thought.  A small door suddenly opened to the window to this patient’s mind.

“Do you like being thinner?”

“Yeah, I do.”  Another brief ray of light.

“Have you stayed on this medication because it’s helped you lose the 17 pounds?”

“I guess so.”  At least part of the mystery was solved about why she had not been to see me for almost half a year.

I had always thought that the appetite suppressant properties of stimulants were pretty weak in the pediatric population.  Sure, I had kids that had lost weight, didn’t eat lunch, and stopped taking meds in the summer time to reverse this side effect.  But I had never had a patient continue on a medication that seemed to debilitate her family life to pursue this side effect. The drive to be thin is extremely powerful, and a force to be reckoned with.

 I took her off the stimulant feeling like I needed to eliminate medication as a variable in her chaotic family life.  I bargained with her to try counseling which she had refused so far.  She hasn’t come back to see me – lost to follow-up.  Her mother appeared one day in my office recently.  The patient’s behavior hadn’t changed so we agreed that stimulants didn’t contribute to the unpredictable and wild mood swings.  But this encounter has taught me to be very wary of stimulants and my teen girls. 


August 20, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — momwithastethoscope @ 6:06 pm

Dying seems to affect my life in threes.  So maybe it seems fitting that I tend to go into three-year-old mode when I am affected by the demise of another.  So far this week a wonderful forty year old internist at my hospital died of brain cancer and left behind an incredible wife and five small children.  His hospital ID and white coat were laid next to his golf clubs and soccer ball.  We will miss his quiet, competent demeanor in our hospital greatly.

A second passing was LeRoi Moore, the saxophonist of The Dave Matthews Band.  Not sure what the actual complication from the ATV accident he had earlier in the summer was, but it took his life which makes me think sepsis, pulmonary embolus, pneumonia.  Guess the post mortem exam will reveal the cause.  He was an amazing talent – hard to describe in mere words what kind of picture the man could paint with a horn.

Now waiting for the third life to pass on.  We Southerners like to use any manner of euphemisms for death.  Somehow it softens the blow to say someone has passed, left this world, kicked the bucket or checked out.  My internal three-year-old wants to know why.

Why did they die so soon? Why did they leave us?  Did they go to heaven?  Why them instead of me?  Why?

It’s always easier to leave than be left,” Matthews told the crowd last night at his concert in LA. 

Still my internal three-year-old asks, “Why?”  not content with Dave’s or anybody elses’s answer to the question.

August 16, 2008


Filed under: Organic — momwithastethoscope @ 6:46 pm
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At first glance, it looks like this word means eating crazy.  Actually it means those who eat locally – within a 100 mile radius of home.  Coined by some Californians, locavore was the 2007 Oxford American Dictionary word of the year.  Okay I guessed I missed that proclamation – but it describes my fascination with locally produced food.  I’m a locavore, yup, that’s me.  It’s not easy to do year-round but this time of year is a locavore’s dream.

Here are the top ten reasons I like the stuff grown near my home:

10.  Produce is picked when it’s ripe not when it needs to go to market.

9.  Local farmers and local economy benefit when I shop here.

8.  Prices of produce and food have less to do with shipping costs.

7.  Food is alive when it is fresh – okay this sounds gross – but I’m part of the food chain and I’m no scavenger.

6.  If I get E. Coli or Salmonella – I know where it came from.

5.  It’s easier to find reasonable organic goods.  Paying higher prices for organic shipped from across the country is counterproductive to eating well – food may be grown without chemicals and pestcides but coated with diesel exhaust?

4.  At least in the spring and summer, there is constant variety as different crops come into season.  I’m never bored. Shopping local is a feast for the eyes.

3.  Local produce has given me a new appreciation for preserving and canning.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m interested.

2.  Buying local is a good lesson for my kids.  They enjoy the Farmer’s Market -free samples, homemade ice cream.  What’s not to love?  It’s my subtle approach to getting them away from junk and back to the fruits and veggies.


August 14, 2008

Celebrity Moms Behaving Nicely

Filed under: Parenthood,Skin — momwithastethoscope @ 3:54 pm
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Marcia_cross_cbbjpgBravo, Marcia Cross!  Not only is she protecting her fair skinned babes from the sun, she is modeling good behavior by wearing her own hat.  Keep up the good work!

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