Queen of the Distracted

Imagine life in a house with 6 kids - now imagine if 5 of those kids and their father have ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - that is our house! Welcome to an inside view of my life and our home dominated by ADHD... THERE IS NEVER A DULL MOMENT!

Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls!

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls!"

Those were our oldest daughter Rachel's first words, from the time she was a toddler she would belt them out proudly standing on the arm of the couch. At the time we had no idea what ADHD was or that it would play such a central roll in our lives.

Since then we have learned a lot, not the least of which is how many individuals and families suffer in silence. We have experienced first hand how misunderstood and misrepresented a disorder can be.

As a family we decided to take action - to risk embarrassment and labeling to get this important message out to the world. Come join our family, share in our lives, and see ADD/ADHD as we see it...
A gift with a heavy price tag.

WELCOME to life in the ADD/ADHD House!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Great Migration

We're moving.

Does that thought just make you tired?  Because the thought of loading up our household, our 7 kids, and 4 dogs makes me exhausted.

It's not a planned move. We got notice the other day that the house we have been renting for over 3 years has been foreclosed on.   It's one of the reasons that I've been absent for a little while.  I had to process the thought, we had to make some decisions, we are still making decisions.

In the meantime, I have had this image floating through my mind that I just can't seem to shake.

The image of the Turkey Vulture.  See, the Turkey Vulture has a very unique way of flying.  They ride the thermals in the air so instead of flying neatly and orderly like geese when they migrate they fly in circles.  Circles and circles and circles all they way to their destination.  It looks like a chaotic mess from the ground.  A little intimidating, even scary.  It leaves you wondering what died nearby.

I am pretty sure that is what we look like right now, like a bunch of Turkey Vultures circling our way to where ever we are moving.   We pack, then we realize that we have packed our most favorite item in the whole world, that we can't get to sleep without, and unpack.  We obsess about the change.  We label boxes, excessively.  We throw ourselves into anxiety attacks with the unknowns.  Then glory in the thought of not living with free range cattle intruding into our space and yard all the time or closer to town and a social life.

We are excited about the possibilities and overwhelmed by the unknown.  Desperately trying to make the transition, mentally.  We all know how hard that is for people with ADD/ADHD and we have a whole house of it.

The more I learned about Turkey Vultures the more comparisons I saw.  For example, they rarely flap their wings.  Flapping their wings is awkward and expends an extreme amount of energy so they flap them as little as possible.  Usually only to get started in flight.  Well, that is certainly true about ADD/ADHD.  Getting started is so difficult and often awkward.

Getting anyone in our house started, especially on packing, expends a tremendous amount of energy. 

Once they get started in flight they catch a thermal and ride it for as long as they can, flying higher and higher until they start to descend.  They will glide down until they catch another air thermal and ride that back up.  They basically repeat the process over and over.

You seeing it, I'm seeing it.

And not just in regards to packing.  Though it certainly applies to packing.  It took most of the day to get everyone going and then they started packing and rode that air thermal as long and as far as they could.  They wanted to pack just about everything in sight.  We must have packed 15 or 20 boxes.  Then they hit the descent, caught another air thermal, and one by one they were gone.

It may appear as if we are making no progress as we circle in the air.  We are certainly not as fast, organized, or effective as geese; but, rest assured we will get there.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tales of Tails

Interesting conversation over breakfast this morning.  Four or five of the kids were in the kitchen getting breakfast.  This is one of the times of day when we have the most interesting conversations in our home.  Mornings and evenings.  There are not filters on the brain because meds have not kicked in yet or they are long gone.  One of them will get on a subject and it just rolls forward from there.

There is no rhyme of reason to where the morning discussions come from or where they go.  They have gone as deep as religious questions.   They have heatedly argued the merits of white bread vs. wheat bread.  They have waxed intellectual and explored history going into depth about Napoleon's conquests and down falls.  Today, it was tails.

What would life be like with a tail.  How would it feel to sit if you had a tail?  How would you have to alter clothing if you had a tail?  What if all your clothes had to have a hole for a tail?  Would you have a short tail or a long tail?  If you had a long tail, would you have control of it?  Could you wrap it around yourself?  

I can honestly say I have never thought about what it would be like to have a tail, ever.

The conclusions were varied.  It would be awesome to have one, a third arm.  Another tool if in a fist fight. It would definitely get in the way.   A nuisance, you would have to cut holes in all the nice underwear.  Uncomfortable to sit on, certainly.

I can hardly wait to hear tomorrows morning conversation.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Please, No Memorial Day Repeats

As we are approaching the 4th of July I can't help but find myself pleading with Heaven that we don't repeat our Memorial Day mayhem.  The injury was not all that bad but the drama surrounding it wore me out.

It all started with a little obsession.  Weed eating.  My son had made a deal with his father; a video game in exchange for weeding around the house.  This was a big deal.  Hunter became the very definition of hyper focused.  I would never have guessed that, as a parent, I would have to tell a child to stop doing a chore but he was obsessed.

No, Hunter, you may not weed eat in the rain with an electric weed eater.  No, Hunter, you may not weed eat at the crack of dawn.  No, Hunter, you may not strap a flash light to your head and weed eat in the dark.

He was freaking out.  Late rains in the season and weed eater malfunctions were tripping him up.  He was sure that the weeds he had already whacked were growing again.  Finally, all things combined in his favor and we let him back at the yard.  The problem, once he started he wouldn't stop.  We were trying to keep him hydrated, and make him eat.  We finally had to pull the plug and make him stop.  He was very upset.

I consoled him by sending him to the shower, one of his favorite ways to calm down when overstimulated, and telling him to get a snack when he was finished.

He took his shower and headed straight for the peanut butter.  He and his oldest sister are obsessed with peanut butter, they could both eat it all day.  She, however, is much taller and to preserve it for herself stashes it on the top shelf of the cabinets in the kitchen, high above the counters.  Hunter is used to jumping up on the counters to reach it.

This time his aim was off.  He gouged his head on the cupboard corner.  Heads naturally bleed easily and his hair was still dripping wet from the shower.  Blood went everywhere.  Screaming filled the house.  It should be mentioned that Hunter, in addition to ADHD, is very obsessive.  In fact, he has self proclaimed "safety issues."  This is the boy that told me he saw the jaws of life on a TV show and thinks we should get a set for the trunk of the car "just in case."

This is the wrong child to have blood pouring down his head.

We spring into action.  Mark, the first aid guru, goes to look at the wound.  Fernie is trying to help calm Hunter down.  Jaren, who has quite a history with stitches, is lending his support.  I am trying to find my shoes, phone, keys and thinking about how long the ER wait is going to be for a minimal head wound on Memorial Day.

In the mean time I catch wind of an argument brewing.  Hunter's two oldest sisters are arguing over who is going to the ER with him.  Rachel is complaining that Mariah always goes.  It's true, she does, she hates worrying about people that are hurt and not being there to know what is going on.  Waiting is bad, waiting at home feeling helpless is worse.  Consequently, she has been present at nearly everyone in the houses traumatic moments.  It is a favor, really, to all those that would have to sit at home with her and endure her freaking out if she were left home.

Rachel, is so socially deprived by living in the secluded foothills, that the ER on Memorial Day seems like a great way to interact with society.  Clearly, I need to get her into town more.

I hesitated to take them both, the last time I did that was when Rachel went for torn ligaments.  She was so annoyed by her sisters inability to wait that she tried to safe surrender her to the workers in the ER.  "Is there an age or size limit on the safe surrender?"  Rachel asked the man at the admissions desk.  He looked very supportive and understanding as he started to explain the policy. "Cause, I want to surrender her."  she said as she pointed to her then 16 year old sister.

Both girls are now following me around pointing out why they should be the one to go with and how they have Hunter's best interest at heart.  Mary runs by with electrical tape.  Mark is applying direct pressure.  Hannah is serving up cheese cake and peanut butter, feeding the traumatized masses.  Mary is looking for paper towels.  The girls are still arguing.  I don't think Hunter wants either of them to come at this point.

He wants his Dad and Fernie.  Fernie, went with us when he had to have his eyelid stitched up because he ran into another scout.  Fernie, attentively talked about different weapons for hours while we traveled to the ER for that set of stitches and kept Hunter calm. 

I keep telling to girls to stop arguing, it doesn't matter who is going at the moment.  I am trying to call a friend who is a nurse to see if she can look at it.  I am thinking, I really don't want to go to the ER on Memorial Day, spend hours at the bottom of the injury totem poll, and contract some other evil illness that is waiting patiently for me there. 

Mary announces that she has fixed the cupboard, making it safer.  Hannah, hands me cheese cake, that is my weakness, definitely a comfort.  She hands Hunter cheese cake and a huge spoonful of the elusive peanut butter.  The girls are still arguing.

Donna, the nurse, answers the phone.  Thank goodness, she had just gotten home to our remote neighborhood, divine timing for sure.  The girls are still arguing as we pull out of the driveway to have her check his wound.  It is small, Mark tells me, but a little deep. 

Thank goodness she was home, she spared us an ER visit with sound advice and good instructions.

No one went to the ER.  Mariah didn't have to worry.  Rachel missed the stimulating social interaction, but lived.  Hunter's head stopped bleeding and he happily ate his peanut butter.

Everything went back to our normal dull roar of chaos.  Soon you could hear me say, "No, Hunter, you may not weed eat with a head wound."