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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Repeat of Childhood--Battling this One Alone

I think I may be on to something…..

I have a child who struggles. He doesn't struggle in school or at church, but he definitely struggles at home.

For the past two-plus years, I've been begging our pediatrician to test his blood…..I have a suspicion.

Why his blood, you ask? Because this isn't the only boy I've known who struggles like this…..I was raised with a boy who dealt with similar issues.

Let me describe these "struggles….."

What I'm referring to is aggression, violence, and just downright meanness. Not all the time, mind you, but enough that it disrupts everyone and everything in the home.

This started for my son when he was about four or five (possibly younger). This is when I recall it becoming very noticeable. For my brother, I started to notice it when I was about six.

LDS missions are huge blessings in many ways. It's funny how often missionaries, during that time period, will find answers to some of the major obstacles from their earlier lives--I know I did. It's almost like God says, "Well, you're willing to serve me? I will reward you with this answer."

Such was the situation with my brother. I may have the facts wrong here because I'm going off my memory, but he was serving in an area and encountered a woman who noticed something about him. She recognized that he was struggling with something she had a lot of experience with. She took him aside and said, "I can help you." She pricked his finger, took a couple blood tests, and found that he had hypoglycemia. This would cause huge mood swings--Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type behaviors.

With my son, I have waited for him to outgrow some of the behaviors he's shown. I just thought they were part of him and part of his growing up, but those behaviors haven't decreased, if anything, they've increased markedly.

Some of the things he did were very familiar to me….He was also Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like.

Like I said, I approached the pediatrician about this a few years ago. She refused. Why? I'm still not sure, but it seems that a diagnosis of hypoglycemia is somehow attached to diabetes and since my son has no other symptoms that might lead that diagnosis, it was ridiculous to do a blood test on him. I'm thinking hypoglycemia was over-diagnosed in the '80s, so they got rid of it as its own thing. Nowadays, they diagnose many with ADD or ADHD who might have originally had more of the symptoms of this other disorder.

I finally got a counselor. It was all I could do. The first counselor was HIDEOUSLY BAD!--maybe this will become a future post. When a counselor for your child asks to see you without your child for the first appointment, run the other direction as quickly as you can. Ugh! The new counselor is delightful! She has helped us deal with many of the behaviors, but the underlying cause remains. I think it's because we've been able to handle his outbursts better that we've noticed the pattern that seems to be taking shape.

What was happening was within 20 minutes of eating, this kid would become crazy--usually family clown or quite aggressive. Up until breakfast, things would be going great--sweet boy comes in, snuggles in bed, hugs, etc. Just your regular, everyday wonderful child, but within moments of breakfast, craziness would ensue. Without fail, he'd be late to school and would be only partially together--backpack? Left at home. Homework? Also, at home. Jacket? Guess where….Yup. At home. The leaving of things was only part of the battle. It was the meanness, the destroying of others' self-esteem that really HAD to stop.

This went on day after day. Time would pass, and he'd calm again. On weekdays, I don't see him after lunch, but he has a very balanced lunch, for the most part, and goes to recess immediately after, so I have received very few comments from anyone about him and his behavior. After dinner, though, on some nights, it would happen all over again. Some nights were WAY worse than others.

One day last week, it hit the lowest point EVER. This was IT!

What I finally decided was to tweak his diet. With this pattern coming into focus, this HAS to be related to something he's eating or something he's not.

Now, I'm not one of these new age food people--I have no desire to live THAT long, but if you've read other things I've written, you know that I steer far away from openly artificial ingredients. In short, my kids'd say that they were deprived. We don't do soda, most chips, a lot of junk, or even juice.

For my brother, with the hypoglycemia diagnosis came a change in diet--eat smaller meals more often (something you hear frequently these days anyway), more protein, less sugar.

I spoke with my mother by marriage yesterday to bounce these ideas off of her. As we talked, there were two ideas that came to light that I think we're going to try…..First, for three days, we're going to feed him as few carbs/sugars as humanly possible and go way heavy on the proteins and track what he's been fed and how he's behaved both before and after meals. Second, I'm going to set up an appointment with the pediatrician. I'm going to see if we can go in in his normal, everyday sweet-self state and meet with her for five minutes. At the end of that time, I'm going to feed him a candybar. I
Okay, maybe a bit extreme,
but you get the idea.
will ask the doctor to come back in 20 minutes later to see if there is any difference in this child. Will there be a difference? I don't know, but at least it might shed a little light on the current status of things for both of us.

This morning, we started the day with a high protein breakfast--
eggs and bacon. Oh, and just to be absolutely sure to throw as much protein as I could at him, I let him have a half of a pepperoni stick (the breakfast of champions, no?).

I am overwhelmingly happy to report that we had NO ISSUES this morning--not a one. He was at school on time with everything he needed.

Could I be on to something? I guess time and experience will tell.


Melissa said...

THis sounds like the exact same issue we have at our house. I'm curious how it goes, I think it might be helpful to us too. We have been to counseling for a year with some improvement but sometimes we still have MAJOR flipouts. He has a dr. appointment next week to dicuss all this because I'm about to go batty! We already do no Red 40 and generally eat a junk free diet too. Every day though I think, What am I going to do with him!? Let me know how it goes.

Alyson said...

I really hope - pray - that you find the answer. I really think you're onto something with yesteryear's hypoglycemia and today's ADD diagnoses. And I think diet is probably to blame for many things that we choose to medicate. Or ignore. Go Julie!

Crystal said...

Glad you are getting it figured out. One thing we often forget in our society is that our doctors are hired by US. We pay them for their service, and if that service isn't satisfactory, we have a right to demand the kind of service we feel like we need. If a doctor isn't willing to do a simple blood test, I would find another doctor.

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