Hi everyone! I’m back finally. 🙂

Having been sick for the past three weeks with the Norovirus (AWFUL bug, look it up), my plan was to rejoin the blogging world today by posting something a little lighter and happier. The picture above is an indication of how I intended to start this Spring-related post. 😛

However, after reading one of my favorite blogs this morning Fashionable People, Questionable Things, I decided to post what I was really thinking. Thanks to L-A for the inspiration.

Check out her post on What Not To Wear Wednesday and then check out my comment below…

“AMEN, sista! You know what else annoys me? Preteens who are in shorts and t-shirts at this time of year. WHERE ARE THEIR PARENTS?! Dress your children, so I don’t have to listen to mine complaining because he’s the only child at his school (a great school, might I add) wearing a jacket when the temperature is -10. Seriously. Parents. It’s calling for +5 LATER today. There was frost on my windows this morning. This isn’t “shorts weather” for your kids. Cover them up already. Arg. There, done. ”

Ah, it’s great to be back! 😉


Trials and Eliminations

February 24, 2011

Seeing as I get so many questions from other ADHD parents about food allergies and sensitivities, it seems like a good time to share what I have learned so far on this issue.

So many parents are now having to ask themselves some difficult questions when it comes to feeding their children. Food allergies and sensitivities are becoming more prevalent than ever…or are they? The debate rages on about whether food allergies and sensitivities are becoming more common or whether we are simply armed with more information now to recognize that our children’s symptoms are affected by what they eat.

This is not a debate I wish to enter into. What I do know is that within J’s family and mine, there are many factors that increase the chances of Baby Q having food allergies and sensitivities like his big brother D.

It is an incredibly difficult situation when a small child is sick and you need to suspect foods that you have carefully chosen for their vibrant colours and nutritional value. Suddenly the comforting cup of milk your 4-year-old is drinking could be the culprit in your baby’s recurrent ear infections. The delicious whole grains that you chose for your little one may in fact be causing their immature guts great discomfort. It’s all very overwhelming and most parents feel like they no longer know what to feed their children.

I have been there and I am still there. Nearly 9 years ago, I changed D’s diet based on MANY MONTHS of trials and eliminations and now I have a baby that I hope to protect from a similar fate.

With D, I eliminated nearly everything except rice and then slowly and carefully reintroduced the different foods, while watching for symptoms of a Type I, Type II or Type III allergy. I also watched for signs of suspected sensitivities to extras like colourings and additives. It was a LONG and difficult road and we were both exhausted (and hungry) by the time it was over.

In the end, D and I switched to a dairy-free diet consisting of only natural foods and basic recipes. And though I believed that we were eating a healthy diet before this all happened, this new lifestyle was drastically different from the traditional North American diet.

No food pyramids here and I wasn’t giving D any big glasses of milk to accompany his cheese sandwiches, like the moms in the commercials were. Actually, I frequently had to answer questions about why the kids in the commercials got to drink milk all the time or why they got cheese on their broccoli and he didn’t. I still have to answer these questions when talking to parents, teachers or D’s friends because they don’t understand why I feel the way I do, when society tells them I am wrong. I’ve grown accustomed to the reactions and cynicism and I don’t let it get to me anymore.

I felt so alone and depressed back then, trying to manage the situation without any support from my family (whose notions of parenting were simple – “If it didn’t kill you, it won’t kill your kid either”). Can’t argue with that flawless logic, now can I? Even our doctors were sceptical (ok that’s generous) of what I was trying, until they witnessed the results for themselves. Then I had their attention but they still had very little data and resources to recommend to me. I had to spend hours searching databases, libraries and websites to find what I needed. Then I had to cross reference the information I had found to ensure I was making the best possible decisions, backed with the best science available. I wouldn’t wish that experience on my least favorite person. It was, and still is, exhausting.

Even after we removed the culprits from our diet and earned the support of our doctors, it was no easy road from there. I had little to work with in terms of substitutes. The little that was out there was expensive, only available in health food stores and often tasted questionable. So I started reading labels, buying fresh foods, going to the local markets and just avoiding anything in a can or box. It worked but left us with little to choose from if we got bored.

It ALL paid off in the end. The recurring ear infections and bouts of tonsillitis and strep stopped. The colds and sinus infections stopped. His asthma attacks significantly decreased and became manageable without medication. His stomach upsets stopped. More importantly though, his behavior improved significantly within 3-4 weeks and consistently over time. It made the many bowls of rice worth it.

I am happy to say that we’ve come a long way since then and there are much better resources, more support and better alternatives to ensure we can still prepare and enjoy delicious foods at home and when we’re out.

This is great news for parents facing this issue today.

Our little guy, Baby Q, is nearly a year old now and still on a very restrictive diet, closely based on what Canadian expert Dr. Joneja’s suggests (see resources below). We have successfully avoided dairy, gluten, egg, nuts, citrus, all berries (except blueberries), spinach, tomatoes, etc. Slowly and over time, we will continue to introduce new foods and we will carefully monitor any possible reactions. With any luck, we can prevent many of these allergies from occurring. Regardless, we are better prepared to deal with whatever comes our way. I hope the same will be true for any parent out there, whether their child has ADHD or not, because there are options and we do have choices.

To help you get started on your quest for information, I wanted to share a few resources that have helped me with Baby Q’s diet this past year. So if you have a baby and want to prevent sensitizing your child to allergy inducing foods (and you can!), the resource below may be helpful for you too.

Introducing Solids to Your Baby

If you already suspect an allergy, the resource below may be helpful in understanding the different types of testing and their accuracy.

Diagnosis of Food Allergy

If you would like more information, I would  highly recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Joneja’s book, Dealing with Allergies in Babies and Children. I found this book TREMENDOUSLY helpful when planning for our second child’s introduction to solid foods. It allowed me to not only recognize the foods to avoid but also to understand the science behind each decision I was making.

PS – Want to learn more about the author and why she cares so much about this work?

Read Her Story

Good luck to all the loving parents out there dealing with this stuff everyday! You are not alone. 🙂

My Anxiety About Tonight

February 9, 2011

Tonight is supposed to be my first Al-anon meeting.

I’ve been planning to attend for some time now and was all set to try it out. I did everything I could to prepare for this. I chose an evening and location that worked for me. I read the welcome information to get a sense of how it works. I felt good about all of it. I was actually excited at the thought of addressing my recent feelings. I hoped to overcome all the turmoil brought back into my life over the last few months by a family member who has a serious addiction.

It isn’t like I have never sought help or support to deal with this issue before. I have been in therapy since I was 14 years old and over the years have embraced individual therapy sessions as well as group processes to help “reset my compass”. I have missed out on so much of the love and support that most people get from their families that I constantly question my direction in every aspect of my life. Even when I am succeeding, I can still hear the voices of my past telling me that I’ll never get it right enough and that I’ll never be good enough.

It’s a horrible way to live. I couldn’t survive another day if I didn’t keep “resetting my compass”. Over the years, I have paid a therapist to do what many people trust their families to do – to ask important questions, be there to listen without judgement, to validate my strengths and to challenge my insecurities before they take over and cause me to doubt myself and everything I have worked so hard for. A therapy session helps to keep me on the right path and heading in the right direction.

So I was surprised today when I started to develop some pretty serious anxiety about attending the Al-anon meeting for the first time. Each time I allowed myself to think about it, my heart would start to race and my breathing would become difficult. Just to give you a sense of how truly ridiculous my concerns are, I’ll share a few with you.

  • Too many people show up
  • Too few people show up
  • An opportunity to share
  • No opportunity to share
  • New information that may get me thinking
  • No new information and I leave feeling like I wasted my time
  • I run into someone I know
  • I won’t know anyone and how I wish I did
  • I’m worried my wall will come down and I’ll be vulnerable
  • I’m worried I won’t be able to let my wall down because it all hurts too much and becomes too real

Ironic how my thoughts gang up on me, despite the fact that they contradict each other. It’s no wonder I’m emotionally exhausted from all this. If ever a person needed this, it’s me. I know this because I can’t even bear to have the telephone with me during the day because I’m afraid it will ring and that I’ll get more bad news from home. On the one hand, I’m afraid I’ll hear confirmation that the alcoholic in my life is spending yet another day drinking their way into a vodka-fueled stupor. On the other hand, if they aren’t drinking, it could only mean they’ve been hauled away in the back of an ambulance. Those are pretty much the alcoholic’s options at this point.

And so, despite the 16 years of therapy I’ve had, I can so easily get sucked back into their world of chaos. I never stay for long, but I visit too frequently for my liking.

Nothing can be worse than what I’m dealing with right now. I have to believe it can get better. I need to go to this meeting.

My recent post on ADHD and Substance Abuse was THE MOST VIEWED POST I have written to date. 108 hits in 8 days for a little blog like mine sends a pretty clear message.

I have also received many emails asking me to focus more on this subject because so many in the ADD/ADHD community seem to be dealing with the issue in their own lives. Alcohol and drug abuse (illegal and prescription) are certainly a very real challenge for someone with ADHD, as it is for many others.

My favorite resource to share is an informational booklet, created by Al-anon Family Group Headquarters, and published just this year. It is current, easy to read and filled with the basics to get you started. Whether you’re a parent, a child, a spouse, a sibling or a friend of someone with a drug or alcohol problem, this booklet is a great first step to understanding what you can do to help yourself live a healthier life.

Al-anon Faces Alcoholism 2011

If you feel that Al-anon or Alateen could be right for you, please reach out to them and find out about meeting times and locations in your area. To check out their website, click here.

I will be writing a post about my personal connection to this disease, once I find the words. I’ve been trying for 3 weeks. It’s a great deal harder than I had imagined it would be. I’m working on it.

I found out this week that my little blog, less than a year old, has been nominated for a Canadian Weblog Award in TWO categories – Family and Parenting and Health and Wellness!

To be recognized and nominated is such an honour, especially for a Canadian award!

The list of nominees can be found HERE and there are some really spectacular reads, in each of the categories, that are not to be missed. I am especially enjoying the organizer’s blog – schmutzie.com .

Check out their blogs and show some love to my fellow Canadians, eh!

A big thank you for all the blogging love and support you’ve shown me recently! I so appreciate it.

I know…I know…it’s Wednesday. I choose to focus on the fact that I finished this post, and not on the fact that I am a day late. 🙂

So, what do I have for my loyal readers today? (Side note…I HAVE READERS!!! I actually looked at my stats yesterday and saw that there are 25-30 of you that seem to be checking in regularly to read my posts. I knew I had a few supporters out there because some of you send me such lovely messages or link your blogs to mine. Thank you so much for that support! But 25-30 readers?! I had no idea! A big hug to each of you. 🙂

Anyhow, now that I realize I have actual readers, I will do my best to be a better blogger. You can’t see me right now, but my hand is on my chest. I’d lay my other hand on the bible to make it an official oath, but I’m not religious enough to know where my bible is. Or if I even own a bible. 😛 )

Anywho…back to my tip of the week….

Check out the link for a Family Barometer Satisfaction tool I found, from the website www.ADHDSupport.com. I really like this tool for a few reasons.

1 – If you have a child on medication, you should really try to measure their progress and success, at home and at school, on a regular basis. This is the only way to objectively get a reading on whether the medication is helping over a longer term. (I haven’t been doing this, but I will be starting after our next appointment with Dr. M as we’ll likely be trying a slightly higher dose of D’s Vyvanse.

2-This document can be used, as is, by simply printing off several copies (4 for you, and 4 for your child’s teacher) and placing them in a binder to keep them organized. Easy!

3-You can also use this document to create a list of expectations for your child. Grab some big paper (newsprint, flip chart paper or bristol board) and write out the items you and your partner feel are important for your child to work on. This needs to be written in a way that is age appropriate for your child, supportive and with a little creativity and colour! 🙂  You can use the document as inspiration.

For example: In my house, my son has daily chores and weekly chores. He’s 12 so I took some colourful paper and wrote up what is expected of him each day (tidying his room, taking out the compost and emptying the dishwasher) and each week (cleaning his room, sweeping upstairs and folding some laundry). I used washable markers to make it more colourful and interesting and then posted them on the wall, where he can see them.

This makes it easier for him to remember what is expected of him. I still have to remind him that it’s time to do his chores, and I still have to check to make sure he is completing them properly but I don’t have to keep repeating what he needs to do.

Trust me, that’s something. It’s one less broken record playing at him all day. 😛

ADHD and Substance Abuse

January 25, 2011

Photo Credit

Though I like to focus on the strengths that come with ADHD, the reality is I wouldn’t be blogging if it was always smooth sailing, now would I? I promised to be real on here and the reality is that anyone living with ADHD knows that the condition comes with a fair number of challenges.

One of them is substance abuse and the statistics are staggering. It is said that between 30-50% of those living with ADHD will try drugs or alcohol in the hopes of improving their abilities, numbing their fears, decreasing their anxiety, and coping with painful issues and past traumas. Self-medicating may seem like a good idea in the short-term, but in the long-term it will result in a host of other addiction-related problems.

Wendy Richardson MA, MFCC, CAS, author of the best-selling book The Link Between ADD and Addiction explains, “The problem is that self-medicating works at first. It provides the person with ADHD relief from their restless bodies and brains. For some, drugs such as nicotine, caffeine, cocaine, diet pills and “speed” enable them to focus, think clearly, and follow through with ideas and tasks. Others chose to soothe their ADHD symptoms with alcohol and marijuana.

People who abuse substances, or have a history of substance abuse are not “bad” people. They are people who desperately attempt to self-medicate their feelings, and ADHD symptoms. Self-medicating can feel comforting. The problem is, that self-medicating brings on a host of addiction related problem which over time make people’s lives much more difficult.

What starts out as a “solution”, can cause problems including addiction, impulsive crimes, domestic violence, increased high risk behaviors, lost jobs, relationships, families, and death. Self-medicating ADD with alcohol and other drugs is like putting out fires with gasoline.”

That last part has been stuck with me since the first time I read it in her book. It makes so much sense to those of us on the outside, looking in. It is so easy to see clearly when you aren’t the one affected. It isn’t that simple for the addict though.

They can’t see what we see. Addiction is a disease that fools even the addict. It sits on their shoulder and tells them whatever they want to hear. It blocks out the ugliness they can’t deal with by covering everything with darkness, until they feel nothing. Their families and friends struggle to reach them and pull them back into the light but it’s never easy for either side. The brightness can be too harsh and the pain too much to fight with only good intentions. And so the struggle continues.

It doesn’t have to be a losing battle though. So many have overcome addictions using treatment plans that include medical interventions, therapy, 12-step programs and the support of the friends and families. There are so many inspiring stories out there and so much support to be found in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, from people who’ve been there and survived to tell about it.

So, where do you start if you or someone you love suffers from this disease?

The first step to dealing with a substance abuse problem is recognizing that there is a problem. To do that it helps to understand the disease better.

  • What signs should be looking for?
  • What might be causing it?
  • What part do genetics have to play?
  • What changes can be made to improve your situation?
  • What treatment options are right for you or someone you love?
  • How do you take care of yourself, if you love someone suffering with an addiction?
  • Etc.

I’ll be posting some helpful links over the next few weeks to help address this challenge. If you’re reading this and have any links to share, please feel free to comment below or send me a message.

Substance abuse is something I hope to teach both my sons to avoid. Given our genetic pre-disposition for it and the fact that D has ADHD, it won’t be easy.

I can use all the help I can get.

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