12 of 12 – august ’13!

On the 12th of the month, some people snap 12 pictures throughout the day and blog them. Here are my pictures from August 12th, 2013!

Winnipeg-20130812-00286.jpg

10:44 am – bathroom. Yeah, glamour. Didn’t take enough pictures so this one had to be included, which I took to send to a friend.  So, I take two of these a day to basically prevent me from dying, instead of their intended purpose of preventing babies. So, I was not paying attention at all and ended up snapping my first pill of the pack out of the wrong day–since I take two a day, i usually start on the corresponding day of the week [sans stickers usually] and pop AM out of row 1 and PM out of row 2 for the first week, then do the bottom row all screwy like. So I tried to reverse what I did this round, and now everything is confused.

Winnipeg-20130812-00290.jpg

10:55 am – kitchen. Candy and Concerta. Which, you know, reminded me of the Green Day lyric from Jesus of Suburbia “the bible of, none of the above, on a steady diet of / soda pop and ritalin . . .”

Winnipeg-20130812-00291.jpg

12:34 am – kitchen. “Let me write it on your hand / so you won’t forget.” (Write It On Your Hand, Marvelous 3). NEED bus tickets.

Winnipeg-20130812-00293.jpg

1:05 PM – bus stop. Trying to get across the street but there are too many freaking cars. Don’t jaywalk, kids.

Winnipeg-20130812-00296.jpg

1:42 pm – bookstore. Why are the chem books like this, and the physics books not? THIS IS ALL PHYSICS. Also oh my goodness fancy.

Winnipeg-20130812-00297.jpg

2:03 pm – annex. About to meet Bryan for lunch. He and I are known to discuss the people who clean the floor in this building 80 times a day, so I tweeted this picture to him. [80 times is probably not an exaggeration].

Winnipeg-20130812-00299.jpg

2:42 pm – boon burger. Super simple vegan burger from Boon. To see Bryan’s mountain of meatlessness, click here.

Winnipeg-20130812-00301.jpg

3:15 pm – boon burger. This is how they remember where the order goes to :D.

Winnipeg-20130812-00302.jpg

3:19 pm – bannatyne ave. Bryan and I taking pictures. Except, you know, he wasn’t ready for this one but I HAVE TO INCLUDE IT BECAUSE I DIDN’T TAKE ENOUGH PICTURES. At least he looks like he is laughing, right? :]

Winnipeg-20130812-00303.jpg

3:20 pm – bannatyne ave. There we go! :]

Winnipeg-20130812-00304.jpg

5:05 pm – grandparents. Bryan dropped me off at my grandparents’ place, where they were outside and thus not answering their door. I figured it out and then sat here for awhile.

Winnipeg-20130812-00305.jpg

7:16 pm – grandparents kitchen. Late supper, which was all good due to getting boon’ed so hard. [Thanks for the variety of uses for Boon, Bryan!]. Grilled cheese, yay!

starting concerta

Resistance was a major thing I felt in regard to the last point in the Recommendations section of the report of my psychoeducational evaluation.

It is important to recognize that though an ADHD diagnosis cannot be made based on the results obtained, the possibility of an ADHD diagnosis has not been ruled out. Considering that [Kerri] does exhibit some ADHD traits, she may consider discussing with her physician the possibility of a pharmaceutical intervention to alleviate her ADHD symptoms.

(Wang, p. 8, 2013)

It wasn’t a decision I had to rush into. However, given the realities of the Canadian medical system, I gave myself time to think on it, but talked to my primary care doctor pretty quickly on the subject of medication. I know of a handful of primary care doctors who are comfortable prescribing ADHD meds–mine wasn’t, which I was more than okay with. Instead she told me she could refer me to a psychiatrist–which for me was a much better solution. Because of the inconclusiveness of my “diagnosis”, I wanted to be sure that somebody with actual expertise in these things was working alongside me in the decision process surrounding medication.

That appointment came on Thursday. Wednesday, I didn’t want to go–the resistance returned when I screwed up dosing times for all but one of my asthma meds which resulted in waking up at 4 AM when the Zenhale and Atrovent simultaneously wore off, and forgot my pill at dinner until the next day at lunch. At this point, I had growing resistance to going on yet another medication.  I psyched myself up by reading the treatment chapter from Delivered from Distraction the night before–which helped because it made me realize, unlike my other meds, if I try meds and either a) they don’t help or b) I simply don’t want to be on them . . . I can stop this one. So, I went into the appoitnment a bit more open minded.

Fortunately, the vibe of the appointment was really good, too. I was definitely nervous, which is typical of whenever I see any new doctor, but I had zero idea what to expect from this appointment. I filled out three more pages of assessment questionnaires then waited a long time. Things got better when I walked in to the doctor’s office to neutral colours with the lights off, natural light coming in from the open window, and the doctor’s bike propped up underneath the window. By the time three minutes had passed, she had told me about picking blueberries in her front yard and having “eight thousand mosquito bites”–between that and the bike, I figured things would be good.

After she glossed over my report with a highlighter, we did an hour of story of my life–all the typical intake stuff like I did with assessment. Through that and the new questionnaires she confirmed the ADHD stuff they had uncovered in my original assessment–that I experience significant inattention and impulsivity (but not so much hyperactivity aside from fidgetiness). The impulsivity thing always throws me for a loop–I don’t see myself as particularly impulsive (but maybe that’s part of the problem?). Her final “diagnosis” was that things were still inconclusive, but she was strongly leaning towards ADHD-PI (primarily inattentive).  Story of my life not fitting into boxes (not sure I’d want that any other way :]).

Despite the inability to confirm a diagnosis, she concluded that I do have significant symptoms and medication could be a constructive way of dealing with them. Some discussion, explanation and demonstration with a wicked cool model of a tablet later, I walked out feeling a lot more confident about a lot of things . . . and a super intense looking prescription for Concerta tucked amongst some brochures in my backpack.

Winnipeg-20130808-00258.jpg

So, I then exchanged super intense prescription for innocent-seeming bottle of controlled substance [which at the time was totally freaking me out haha]. In reality, the extended release meds [like Concerta] are manufactured in a way that they’re basically impossible to snort/inject.

slide043.gif

(Slide 40 – Credit to Medscape)

So, this thing allegedly lasts for 12 hours (which really means from like, 8-14 hours depending on what your body does with it). The outer layer starts working within an hour, then as it hangs out in your stomach, water gets absorbed into the capsule and pushes out the rest of the medication in a controlled-y manner or something. Fancypants. The #1 most well known ADHD med is Ritalin–all Concerta is, is extended release Ritalin (methylphenidate). “Did it on Ritalin, I got me some good grades . . .” / “On a steady diet of / soda pop and Ritalin . . .” / “Cause I’m worth more than this / so stop writing prescriptions for my Ritalin…” [Matthew Good, Green Day and Katy Perry all off the top of my head… there we go!].  Methylphenidate is a stimulant medication–as my doctor explained it, people who have ADHD have brains that don’t know how to “put on the brakes”–stimulate meds “wake up” the part of the brain that helps put those brakes on–focus attention, control impulsivity, and decrease hyperactivity.

DSCF3112.JPG

It’s all a game of playing with dosing. Day one was like magic–I wasn’t fidgety, I had one thought in my head at a time. Day two wasn’t quite as good, but I also didn’t drink as much water throughout the day, so I’m trying to work at that. I’m at the kick-in point on day three now, and mostly I’m trying to keep really close notes on my symptoms and how the meds are working–after three weeks, I can either increase to a 36 mg dose in the morning, or split it in two [the bonus of splitting is that I get longer coverage from the meds–11.5h doesn’t really cover a productive school/work day if I’m studying until like 10 PM or something.

But it’s good. It’s another step that is hopefully in the right direction. It’s another tool that hopefully helps make things better.  Every step, each modification means a bit more work . . . but also hopefully more success, too.

If you’re interested in the day-to-day bits, I’m tweeting on #startingconcerta.

diagnosis: it’s not a label, it’s a bridge

Seven-plus months ago, I started what was an arduous journey. I’d known in myself that something was off for a long time with how I performed educationally. Until university, I didn’t have any exceptional struggles [unless we count that I could never master the multiplication tables, or that even being tutored through grade 9 math I still came out of there with a C]. Then university came. I’m sure I’ve probably dropped nearly as many classes as I’ve taken–I couldn’t get through the readings for the most part [and, let’s be honest, that C in intro psych could have probably been at least a B had I read any of the textbook!]. When anatomy came, I shrugged off the first F–especially after I found out how many people in med school fail anatomy. The second one? I’d put so many hours in. I’d spent countless hours with a tutor, I’d made a stack of flash cards, I’d coloured the colouring book, I wasn’t leaving labs early. I’d failed or near-failed tons of tests, yet by balancing them with papers, I was mostly rolling out C’s and B’s, with a few A’s thrown in in the classes that really gelled with my learning style, my interests, my quirks, and my academic gifts.

When I went through the educational assessment process last Winter, of course there’s all that associated doubt: I’ve gotten this far in school, why am I bothering with this now? They probably won’t even find anything helpful. But, the what-if’s kept me there.  While they were unable to diagnose or exclude ADHD in me, they did nail down a bunch of things: a bunch of things that had lead me to question my abilities at just about everything.

For me, a lot of it lies in my processing speed and working memory. I can’t say I believe in “normal” too much, but in psychology, everything is about deviations from the norm. My processing speed is definitely one of those–it’s only higher than 2% of females in my age group. It also means I’m probably more inattentive and distractible. My working memory deficits makes it more difficult for me to manipulate information in my head. And you know what? That’s nothing that I didn’t already know. It just gave me more knowledge about myself and how to work with what I have.

In the last several years though, I’ve worked with a lot of kids. I’ve worked with a lot of kids whose parents knew something was different and acted on it to help their kids be the best they can be. And I’ve known some kids whose parents chose the other route.  Are their children struggling more than they need to? Are they being denied access to proper supports, both socially and educationally? Is the fear of a diagnosis hindering the child when having more knowledge could be helping?

Diagnosis: it’s not a label, it’s a bridge. Learning about how I learn, about how I have what might be called a learning disability? It’s made all of my struggles make so much more sense. It didn’t start anything new, it just underscored what we know I’ve always excelled in or struggled with. It’s help me maximize on the things I’m good at. It let me know that I’ve struggled for legitimate reasons with a lot of things . . . and I’m not dumb and it’s not my fault.

I have new plans. I have support at school. I have resources that can help me with my outside-of-school life–because that requires a lot of organization that I don’t rock with, too. I have new determination that I can do this.

But I can only imagine how much more settled I would be, how much more successful I’d have been at certain things, if I’d had this knowledge earlier.

My perspective, and this goes especially to parents: if you suspect you or your child may be experiencing specific struggles involving learning, attention, development or socialization. . . do something. Diagnosis of a learning disability, ADHD or a developmental problem is NOT a bad thing. It doesn’t change who you are, it doesn’t change who your child is. It just helps in acquiring the right resources to maximize success, not only academically, but in creating friendships, cultivating creativity, and reducing stress or anxiety.

It doesn’t define me–it helps explain me.

disclosure update + new my identity doctor post

A little over a month ago, I entered into a blogging agreement with Jon, the owner at My Identity Doctor. While I updated the official disclosure page at that time, I held off on the official announcement until I got going blogging.

The deal: Jon offered me a position blogging 6-8 times per month. He’s paying me and has offered product discounts.

What this means: For this site? It means from time to time I’ll probably let Kerri on the Prairies readers know of new posts I’ve written for My Identity Doctor if i feel they’re relevant to what the core themes of my blog are. Otherwise, it means very little for what I do here, which is chronicling my life. For the My Identity Doctor blog? It also still means that my views on my own–however, science is science–which is what my primary focus will be–and I believe strongly in the necessity of medical ID jewelry, which I’ve communicated before on this blog.

If you have any questions about the agreement, shoot me an e-mail and we can chat–transparency is a big deal to me, and I want to be sure that anybody reading my blog or having any concerns still feels that transparency.

Otherwise, if you’d like a fresh primer on who I am, head on over and check it out!