Wednesday, January 5, 2011

neurology and the Beatitudes

Peter's neurologist today confirmed what the pediatrician and I have suspected over the last two years--Peter has OCD, Tourette's Syndrome, Hyperactive/Impulsive type AD/HD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (all related in terms of brain chemistry).  He suggests keeping Peter on 10mg Strattera for the hyperactivity/impulsivity.  He wants to order an MRI and stress test to rule out ominous reasons for the onset of migraine headaches in Peter.

Several research articles I read tonight indicated that MRI is called for in children who have chronic progressive migraines--migraines that are increasing in frequency and severity, and in children with migraines who also have an abnormal neurological exam--possibly indicating brain tumor or increased inter-cranial pressure (i.e. hydrocephalus).

Peter's physical exam results were normal and his headaches are not increasing in severity or frequency.  We both feel the MRI and stress test are unreasonable in Peter's case--probably ordered to protect the doctor in case Peter later dies from an undiagnosed brain tumor.  Without a doubt, Peter would probably refuse to get into an MRI machine.  We are going to hold off on this test and the stress test until Peter's headaches increase in severity or frequency, or he begins to display other possibly-ominous neurological symptoms

I have daily migraines that I wake up with or get by 10:00 a.m.  Excedrin taken at the first sign of pain takes care of the headache before it becomes debilitating, 90% of the time.  I believe the frequency of mine are due to overuse of acetaminophen over the years, which causes rebound headaches.  If you use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain several times a week, you are likely to get chronic rebound pain as a result.   Multiple pregnancies and subsequent nursing periods have prevented me from using other migraine medications.  When Beth stops nursing, I will start using a preventative migraine medication instead of over-the-counter Excedrin (my Excedrin is a combo of acetaminophen and caffeine).  This preventative strategy should over time eliminate my rebound headaches.  No one has ever ordered an MRI on me!  There is a strong family history of migraine and even though mine didn't start until age 26, I do have cousins who started migraines in grade school/middle school.  Migraine is less common in boys, which is why we won't rule out the MRI indefinitely.

The Strattera (a non-stimulant AD/HD medicine) can aggravate Peter's anxiety at times, but without it he isn't productive.  He won't sit and read a book long enough to enjoy it, or build a train track or anything else for more than a few minutes.  When the hyperactivity goes untreated, Peter can't fully live his life or pursue his interests or do his best in school.

He is too young for psychiatric drugs, so treating the OCD isn't desirable at this time.  Only in debilitating cases would drug therapy be used in children.  I believe that as an adult, if Peter controls stress in his life, his OCD and Generalized Anxiety will be manageable without meds.

Tonight I read the Beatitudes in The Message (Peterson, 1993).  The text reads as follows:

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule."  

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you.  Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you."

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are--no more, no less.  That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought."

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat."

"You're blessed when you care.  At the moment of being 'care-full', you find yourselves cared for."

"You're blessed when you get your inside world--your mind and heart--put right.  Then you can see God in the outside world."

"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete and fight.  That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family."

"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.  The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom."

"Not only that--count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me.  What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.  You can be glad when that happens--give a cheer, even!--for though they don't like it, I do!  And all heaven applauds.  And know that you are in good company.  My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble."

When I read this and think of the life Peter will lead because of his special-needs status, I am far less panicked.  I am encouraged.  He is already very close to God, for his age.  I believe because of his struggles he will remain close--after God's own heart, even.

Also, as the mother of a special-needs child, I know coping effectively means that I must remain close to God--our entire family must, for that matter.

Taken this way, disability is not a curse, but a blessing.  It's a life of grace--received and given, renewed every day.


Sandi said...

oh friend, I know this blessing/hardship you speak of. I am glad that a "professional" acknowledges what you have known all along. Not that we need them too but in one way I felt relieved that I wasn't imagining what we were facing. Though anyone living in my home would never think I was making it up. :o)

I will keep praying.

Have you heard of a book called "Helping Your Anxious CHild" by Ronald Rapee. It is not Christian but practical. I haven't finished the entire thing but I did get it from my local library. I have been reading this becasue we have discovered that a big part of my guys issues on top of the autism is a large dose of anxiety. It is helping me make sense of some of the out of the house anxiety etc. You probably know most of what is in the book but I have found it helpful especially the detective thinking part. He likes solving a mystery. And as always you may not agree with it all.

And if I may encourage you to not be too hard on yourself. You are so great at dealing with your sin and struggles with God. I believe he loves your heart to please him in this and live for him with all you are. The same grace you desire and do extend to Peter is the same and much more grace that God extedns to YOU.

Hugs and love to you

Ann Kroeker said...

A load to bear, yet you bear it with such hope...for yourself and for Peter.

I have had migraines and taken OTC Excedrin for migraines, which has worked well. I'm grateful for your warning about rebound migraines...though I know that's not what this post was about, I'm glad you included that.

Most of all, though, I share the weight of this with you in these moments reading your story. This is where the work of parenting and our faith in Christ need to be inextricably linked, or else looking ahead to the future can overwhelm.

May you find hope and strength for today (and tomorrow...and the next day...and the next...).

Ann Kroeker
Content Editor

Andrew & Terri said...

I found I was getting rebound migraines from taking Excedrin and otherwise medicating my headaches with caffeine! When I cut all that out of my life, they decreased markedly in frequency. Just what worked for me...but I know every migraine sufferer has different triggers.

My nephew also suffers from frequent headaches, but his were found to be thyroid related.

Christine said...

Thank you to all for writing in today.

Ann, it is nice to meet you!

Sandi, I appreciate the book tip. I will check the library for it this weekend. I definitely need to be equipped to support him as best I can.

Terri, what did you use for pain as you weaned off the meds? Did you just go cold turkey? Good to hear from you! Thank you!

Rachel said...

White Flower Oil ( was introduced to me by my mother. During one of my headaches, she gave me this tiny bottle of oil and told me to massage it on my temples and forehead. Amazingly, it worked! Somehow the oil penetrates into the affected area and relieves the pain.