In my last post I talked about the personal experience of making the decision to change your child’s medications. We talked about the questions you should ask before considering a medication change and how to research and find information about the many possible choices of drug treatments. In this post I will give you a candid look at the lessons I have learned about this whole process. I am hoping that sharing my personal experience will help someone else who is going through the same thing.
Lesson Number One: Know as much about your medication options beforehand as possible.
When we finally had our appointment with my son’s neurologist, we had written down about four choices of medications we had researched for treating his particular symptoms. I am so glad we did because it saved a whole lot of time. Your child’s doctor is going to give professional guidance as to which drugs are safe and effective for your child. That time with the doctor is extremely valuable so you want to make the most of it. Here are some questions you may want to ask:
• How have other children fared on this particular drug?
• What are the potential side effects and when would we begin to see any of these side effects?
• What do we do if the side effects are too adverse?
• How long does this medication take to kick in (so we can tell if it is working)? What should we expect to see as far as changes in mood or behavior?
• At what point do we say it is not working? How much time do we give it?
• What is Plan B if these medications do not work?
• Are there any harmful interactions between these medications and supplements my child is taking? You want to be very up-front and clear about anything your child is taking including other medications, vitamins, or supplements.
Lesson Number Two: Keep a log of what symptoms and behaviors you were seeing before the medication change and after.
It is extremely important that you have a baseline of behaviors to look at in comparison to how your child behaves after the medication takes effect. Otherwise, you may have a difficult time in assessing whether or not the medication is working. Believe me, do not rely upon your subjective memory. Memories are faulty at best and in the case of making a medication change you want to be precise. Your data sheet does not have to be complex. Write down the behaviors your child usually exhibits; this may include hyperactivity, not being able to finish schoolwork, trouble sleeping and so forth. Take this same data sheet and begin to record behaviors after the medication change has begun.
In our case we have data sheets as well as a simple notebook log of how his day goes that we share with all teachers, therapists, and the doctor. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page and is aware of the medication change. These people should be on alert for changes in your child’s behavior.