Monday, January 31, 2011

ADHD Meds and the Pharmaceutical Racket

Our two older kids have ADHD. Maybe you think that condition is over-diagnosed or you don't believe in medication. I'm not trying to open a can of worms. We definitely do believe in behavior modification and that there's no magical pill that will solve anyone's problems. But for our kids, medication is a necessary tool. When school work began to suffer we began the medical intervention.

Until recently Tyce and Mary were both taking the same med, non-stimulant Strattera. Their prescriptions cost $80 each a month, until Tyce's dosage increased and doubled to $160. The price, coupled with everyone's increasing dissatisfaction with the medication (more on that later), led us to seek a new option.

After meeting with the neurologist, he prescribed Metadate, a 12-hour stimulant, and a tiny 5mg pick-up for homework time later. These meds have worked wonders for Tyce and seem to be a great fit. He is more "himself" on the Metadate and can really concentrate when he needs to. He seems positive and less aggressive. When he took that 5mg one night he wrote the 20-page novella, something I'd never, ever seen him do. Another benefit of this drug is that the prescriptions are only $5 each because there's a generic. Talk about a financial blessing.

So feeling energized with that recent success, I took Mary in for the same reason. After hearing my concerns he prescribed a popular new med, Vyvanse. When I went to pick it up at the pharmacy, guess how much it was . . . $179! For one month! That's like $6 a pill. I told the tech I wasn't going to pick it up until I talked with my insurance company.

So for now she's on the same ineffective medication and she's almost out. I am so frustrated. A lot of people report an increase in aggression while on Strattera, and I've definitely seen that in both kids (but manifest completely differently). For Mary, I don't even think the Strattera helps much with focus or concentration. However, if she's late in taking it, or--heaven forbid--skips it, that's when all the major, major blow-ups happen. So I feel like I can't just take her off without something else to replace it.

A friend at church has a teenage grandson diagnosed with ADHD and his insurance paid for a brain scan. Those are extremely effective in literally pinpointing the areas of increased and decreased activity so the proper medication can be prescribed. Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not cover brain scans. They prefer that you guess over and over until you find the right fit or give up.

Who gets to say what is and isn't covered? My younger boys receive Medicaid, since they were designated a special needs adoption*. I am so grateful for the Medicaid. But it makes me see the disparity in the options for health care between the younger kids and the older; the twins' care is 100% paid for and they can see anyone they want, while the older kids go to the physicians who take our insurance, and we get nickel-and-dimed for $30 here or $50 there. Is that fair? Maybe it's unfair that our twins get such a good deal. Maybe I'm unwittingly advocating for universal health care . . . I don't know. We all want it but no one wants to pay for it.

Remember that short time Cameron was on Intuniv? I think that ran about the same price as the Vyvanse. Anytime you get a whole booklet of literature with a pharmacy discount card inside, you know it's going to be a bank-buster. I think it would be nice of the doctor to say, "By the way, Mrs. Jones, the price of this med will be roughly the same as your car payment." But if it's the right fit for your diagnosed medical need, why should it be cost prohibitive to get it?

Sometimes I get the feeling the drug companies are in the physicians' back pockets. Every time I'm in a doctor's office a pharmaceutical pretty-boy breezes in, dropping off pens and packs of neatly-boxed pills. One time one of the kids' doctors was late because he'd been at a drug company's luncheon!

But on to a practical matter: Have you ever fought the insurance company? Is it worth it? Should I ask about a better rate for medication or is that like asking the airline company for a $5 seat? Should I ask if they will pay for a brain scan, and if they say no . . . should I hound them or just accept the answer? Does anyone know?



So you're probably wondering what my new calling is. Well, they didn't sustain me on Sunday. So mum's the word for another week. Sorry to keep you on the line; I really thought it would be this week. BUT! You can guess and I'll tell you if you're right. Just kidding. Kind of. No, that would be wrong. Or would it?

To end with something happy: The kids all went to school today without drama or tears. Hallelujah!

*  Children considered special needs adoption need to fit two or more criteria, including being: racial minority, over the age of 2, a sibling set, physically or mentally challenged, or medically fragile. There are more but I can't remember them all. Kids who are considered a special needs adoptive placement usually receive either a state or federal subsidy to help defray the costs of their specialized care, sometimes including Medicaid.

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Feelings about Young Women

The reason I love the youth is because they have so much potential. They still have that enthusiasm for life and all the milestones coming up in their lives. They are flexible and malleable and really do want to choose the right. Sometimes they are misguided in their attempts to find happiness but when they make mistakes there is time to correct their course; there is time to change.

I wish young people could see how wonderful they really are. Their worth as children of God goes beyond what they've done, what they look like, what grades they get, or what they have. They are sons and daughters of a King and heirs to all He has to offer.

I have seen judgmental girls turn kind-hearted. I have seen troubled girls straighten out. I have seen awkward girls blossom into lovely young ladies. There have been disappointments too, and surely will be in the future, but no one's story is finished yet. There is always hope for a better tomorrow.

I will always love the girls. I will always love the ladies I served with. I am thankful for my time serving with such wonderful people! I hope the other leaders know that I loved and valued them, though I had much to improve upon in my performance as a leader myself.

Last Mutual the Laurel class visited me (and the other two classes visited Libbie and Jolene). It was so thoughtful of the new presidency to deliver thank-you gifts to the former presidency; I received a cute jar filled with caramel Hershey's kisses and a page of hand-written shout-outs from the girls. The personal notes were so special to me that I bought a frame for the page, so I can hang it in my closet next to my Young Women quilt.

Thank you, Young Women, for bringing me such fulfillment and happiness. It was always my joy to serve you.

So now I wander aimlessly at church trying to figure out where I belong. Just kidding. I enjoyed going to Primary sharing time and then to Relief Society last week, though. I guess this Sunday I'll graduate to going back to Sunday School. Baby steps, you know.

(Please do not point out I should have been going to S.S. this whole time.)

Now I am on to my next adventure, which I will tell you about on Sunday. Holy cow, I will need some help on this one. What could it be? Hmmm . . . Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mary's New Room

Now it looks like the dwelling of a happy tween instead of the hovel of a disheveled hobo girl. 

There's really no good "before" picture, but I'll tell you that she had tan walls with hundreds of holes--pin holes and larger--and several places smeared with glue, lotion, or chocolate. She broke her wood-slat bed by jumping on it so she had a bare mattress on the floor with whatever bedding she could find. She had a dresser that had once been cute, but now had missing knobs and peeling paint.

But as you know she asked for a re-do for Christmas. She had a budget and she picked out everything you see--the paint, bedding, desk, nightstand, book case--everything is new. She is a very budget-conscious girl and knows how to stretch (her own) dollar.

It helps that Grandpa Al made an Ikea run for Mary; that's where much of the furniture-type things came from.

Above her desk is a magnet board. I especially like these because they started out plain white but she got some wall stickers at the $1 store and customized them to match her room!

She is very, very happy with how everything turned out and is keeping her room very clean these days. In fact,I took the picture before school one day and she's still in the bed! So you can see she went to sleep with a tidy room. All I did was straighten her bedding.

She also decorated her closet with pillowcases and is enjoying her little cave.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Flat and Scrunch

Think of the inchworm. First it's 3 inches long, flat to the ground. Then it gathers momentum, uses all its strength, and scrunches up to a quarter of its length, proud of its accomplishment. And then . . . flat. Poom. You can't sustain that pose forever.

But it does it again. And in doing so, it moves forward.

Are you good at analogies? Yes, you are. Do you see how this inchworm is like my blog? Hiatus, and then burst of energy!

Flat and scrunch. And lucky for you, it's scrunch time. Yo, yo, here we go. Catching up on the happenings around here.

1. Football games! Bryce and his dad have BYU football season tickets, even though we live a day's drive from Provo. The kids all took a turn going to a game; some kids love the sports action, others love the cotton candy and nachos.

The kids loved their special trips up to Utah to spend time with their dad and Grandpa Al.

2. New Year's Eve! Like every year, we went to Chuck E. Cheese's. We brought a few Shapiro kids with us and everyone had a blast. I didn't bring my camera but you can imagine the scene.

We had to be back a little earlier than normal to get Tyce to a party and then off the the regional New Year's Eve dance. Guess who got to chaperon the activity . . . oh my goodness, you are correct. I spent my night watching hundreds of young people dance, eat ice cream, and flirt. But I must say that it was quite fun.

Tyce had a blast meeting new people and dancing the night away. But the best part of the evening for me was when he asked me--his mom!--to dance the last song of the night.

3. Mary's Birthday! Can you believe Baby Mary is 11 now? She can be a challenge also extraordinarily delightful. She went out to breakfast with Bryce before school. At lunch I brought her Subway and ate lunch with her. I even got to go to recess!

BFFs Nikki, Mary, and Sara

Then she invited Taylor over and we had a family party. She wanted Little Caesar's pizza and instead of a birthday cake, an ice cream sundae bar.

Taylor is a neighbor and friend.

Birthday girl!

She got some very nice presents.

We love our 11-year-old!

4. Star of the Week! Cameron was given this week-long title in his kindergarten class. He got privileges such as being the line leader, choosing his seat for the day, preparing an All-About-Me poster, and bringing an item for show-and-tell.

He loved being Star of the Week! But then there was . . . the incident.

The show-and-tell instructions said to bring something special from home, but no pets. Cam asked if he could bring his new Nerf gun that he bought with his own money; I said sure.

What I didn't know is that I had sent my child to school with what is considered A WEAPON.

All I know is that it ended in humiliation and embarrassment, with Cam forced to keep his Nerf gun concealed and having a chat with the assistant principal.

I'm sure it was very low-key and they were just following procedures when one violates a school rule; but all I know is that my sweet little guy came home crying and I felt horrible. I'm the one who sent him to off with the Nerf blaster in the first place. He probably would've gotten less busted for bringing a cat.

On Monday he brought an alternate show-and-tell; Bryce suggested he bring a bag of cotton balls. Cam brought his tiny stuffed horse with a BYU helmet, which passed the non-violence test.

6. D.A.R.E. Graduation! The 5th-graders completed their drug education program with a visit from local weathermen Kevin Janison (in the role of motivational speaker) and the graduates' performance of a sassy song about resisting peer pressure. A person from each class was elected to read his/her essay to the entire 5th grade and their families at the ceremony, and Mary was chosen from her class!

7. Visit from Grandpa Al! He came for the long weekend. One day he and some of the kids went rock hunting and exploring in the desert.

8. Tyce and I have joined a community choir, Henderson Choral Artists, which is super challenging and so much fun. We have an amazing director and pianist and I'm really looking forward to performing with the group.

9. Other than that, things have been very, very good and very, very the opposite, depending on the day or minute.

10. Oh!!! I was released from my calling in Young Women, which was terribly bittersweet. I knew it was time and I am thrilled about the new leaders for the girls. But I will miss my associations with the young women and the ladies with whom I served. Those last three years have been tiring but so rewarding. But more on that later.

11. Maybe you would like to see a picture of me? It's been a while.

Pretend I'm smiling. This new high-def camera is a little too realistic for flattering self-portraits.

Okay, that's all for now. Must run and get kids to school.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This is Why I Haven't Blogged Lately

This is a typical weekday.

6:00 a.m.--Go walking with Carmen (3 days a week).

7:30 a.m.--Get three kids up and dressed, with an attitude somewhere between cheerleader and drill sergeant.

9:00 a.m.--Kids arrive at elementary school.

11:45 a.m.--Twins return home from morning kindergarten.

1:30 p.m.--Pick up Tyce from high school.

3:30 p.m.--Pick up Mary from elementary (though most days she walks).

4:00 or 4:30 p.m.--Volleyball practice for Tyce, Activity Days for Mary, and friends over to play.

6:00 p.m.--Dinner.

It's a good thing I have that 2 1/2 hour break while the kids are in school. That's when I do errands, cleaning, and visiting. The days I blog my house is a mess; the days I clean I don't have time for the computer.

It's not that I'm so incredibly busy as it is that I am jumping in the car every other hour.

I only have a moment now before I have to get Tyce early from school to go to the neurologist. Tomorrow the twins have dentist appointments. Just the usual stuff that moms do, of course.

You know how I told you that Mary is writing a story? Well, Tyce is writing one as well and it's really good! I have never known him to write for fun but he's hand-written about 20 pages so far. It is set in the medieval times and deals with themes of controlling parents (!), joining the army, physical prowess, and romance.

I went to Deseret Book and they didn't have what I wanted I wasted my short free time for nothing. At least I got to get out of the house, which didn't happen yesterday.

All right, shoes are on kids and now we're getting in the mini-van. Wish us luck that the boys will be good at their big brother's appointment.

That's all for now.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Confessional

1. I only have one New Year's resolution: to become perfect. Haha. I recently read something that really struck a chord with me though, about goal-setting. The author said to set goals that are within your control; for example, instead of "Get my novel published by a big publishing house" (out of the author's control) write, "Send my manuscript to three publishers a week" (within the author's control). The likelihood of the getting published is greater if you widen your net.

Another thing that meant a lot to me was the "Just for Today" creed adapted from the one they use at the Al-Anon 12-step meetings. Life is made of a thousand tiny decisions every day.

Okay, for my real resolution (and I do only have one): To live my life more in tune with the Spirit, and to feel closer to my Savior. So that means meditation, personal prayer and study, physical exercise, awareness of my relationships with others . . . in other words, to be better than before. To become closer to the person I want to be. It's nothing I can cross off a list but rather a reminder to stay the course (with more energy and enthusiasm).

2. I think I have abandoned sending out Christmas cards. I haven't made that absolute declaration to myself but the last few years have been been card-less. I love receiving cards though. I guess that is hypocritical of me, to hope for cards without sending any myself? Do you know I love you even if I don't send holiday greetings? Or do you assume I've essentially unfriended you by snail-mail?

3. My goal is to take down all the Christmas decorations before January 5th, Mary's birthday. This is not because I'm an un-decorating superstar or anything. It's because one year our tree stayed up until the end of January and I was so sick of looking at it I wanted to cry. In fact, I tried to disassemble it myself but all I could do was take the top third off, which left me with a stumpy reminder that I was not done yet.

4. My bedroom, which was looking so awesome, has taken a turn for the worse.

5. My citrus tree only produced one lemon and one orange this year. I've got to figure out how to prune that thing.

6. My leather couch has a rip between the cushions. I can't decide if it's just wear and tear or someone took scissors to it.

7. I want to make my own papier-mache glitter letters in a vintage frame with blinking lights with the word "SIMPLIFY".

8. And then right next to it a piece of notebook paper with the marker-scrawled word: "IRONIC".

9. I don't really want to do 7 or 8. Or maybe I do?

10. Mary won her class's D.A.R.E. essay contest and got to read hers along with the other class winners. People said to me, "She's a great writer! She takes after you!" but the reality is that she is a better writer at age 11 than I am at 36.

11. She had a birthday! She's 11 and we had a little family party where she requested an ice cream sundae bar instead of a cake. I was a bit sad to not make her a cake because I consider my baking a gift to the birthday person, amateur though it may be. But I must say I am a pro at grocery shopping, so maybe this ice cream idea actually plays to my strengths.

12. Cameron is his class's Star of the Week! Bryce looked at the "all about me" poster I was working on and said, "That's right, starve the weak!" I looked at him like he was crazy. What did he mean by that? Survival of the Fittest was destined to knock Cameron off? And then it occurred to me: He said "Star of the Week" just like I had. But my mind heard an entirely different phrase. Kind of like "this guy" and "the sky" . . . they sound just the same when you use them in a sentence. (The sky is blue / This guy is blue.)

13. I'm excited and nervous to have Donna and Angela come over tonight to babysit. I have PTSD from other babysitting experiences but I'm trying to focus on being positive and grateful.

14. I find this new laptop a little difficult to type on. But I love it.

15. I wish I could spend the whole day in my room watching TV today. No feeding kids, no cleaning up, no dealing with drama. But I guess that would shoot down my "just for today" mantra, wouldn't it? Unless I changed it to "Just for today....I will suspend my goal to do anything productive". Haha!

16. Today is my dad's 61st birthday! I love you, Dad!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

O Happy Christmas Day

We wrapped presents on the 23rd instead of the 24th this year but we still stayed up until midnight doing all the last minute preparation. I think Bryce and I could have slept until noon on Christmas day . . . but no kid would ever let that happen!

The big family presents this year were a Wii that Bryce bought at a pawn shop and and Xbox 360 (that he bought at Best Buy). So we went from having 10-year-old hand-me-down systems to two up-to-date ones that they still make games for. The Kinect system for the Xbox is really fun--your own body is the controller. We need to do more of that river rafting game! But right now the Xbox is being monopolized by Tyce with his brand new beloved "Black Ops".

I have loved playing Mario Kart with the kids on the Wii but I am sooooo bad!

Santa brought Tyce a video game, Mary a "real" lion cub, Cameron and Harrison both got Playmobile knight/castle sets. Bryce also got a video game (NCAA Football '11). And I not only got a laptop but also a new camera (Canon s95). Guess who's been good this year? Holla!

After stockings and Santa gifts we ate breakfast. Then we moved to the front rooms for the rest of the festivities, i.e. ripping open the rest of the presents. Later in the day the Shapiro kids came over here and our kids went over there--back and forth, back and forth. It was a great day!

Goofy shot but cute. On the stairs Christmas morning! Can't wait for family prayer so they can see what Santa brought.

Try again for a better shot? Nah, let's just get this show on the road!

Here they come!

Mary and her lion. It really purrs and blinks its eyes.

Chiaroscuro, light and dark. I should paint this. Tyce got his Madden '11 game!

The twins were anxious to play with their new knights and castles. They even got a real-sized sword and shield.

Phase 2 by the Christmas tree. Harrison got a tool set!

She has the most expressive face! She was excited to receive this beautiful set from Dave and Brooklyn and the girls.

Tyce got a gift card for clothes.
Smiley Cam.

Harrison loved his little car.

The white ninja from G.I. Joe!

Tyce and Harrison were the present-passer-outers.

This is what Mary bought for Tyce: a ceramic eagle. This exchange really warmed my heart, because he gave her one of his favorite books.

Spencer and Tyce played video games.

Check out these new cool shoes!
BBQ pork, Velveeta, and corn heating up for all-day grazing.

Harrison likes playing the Lego games on the Xbox--I think this is Lego Batman.

Thank you to our families who blessed us with their thoughtful and generous gifts! We are truly grateful to have such loving people in our lives.