Saturday, April 09, 2011

Moody Over Chemistry

When I was in high school I took chemistry like everyone else did. Science was my strength, and the thought of actually manipulating things in the lab appealed to me.

Our teacher was a man by the name of Currier. A short, skinny, curmudgeon of a man, Mr. Currier personified grumpy, but he knew his molecules. He quickly gained the nickname "Moody"...not "Mr. Moody" mind you, just plain "Moody" he would grumble and gripe his way through class each day.

And despite his disparaging name, Moody seemed to like the way our class would make him smile in the face of his every effort to frown. We may have even got him laughing for a bit, just for him to get all grumpy and holler at us for the chuckle. He was the type of person that you could tell was soft and --gasp!-- cuddly down under layers and layers of prehistoric rock.

I really loved Moody. He probably was one of my favorite teachers in school. He helped me to even like the complex nature of chemistry. Which, beside my scientific leanings, really whipped my backside and confused me to no end. I very much looked forward to his class and dealing with his sour antics.

But I didn't get the best grades. I definitely wasn't going to be a chemist someday.

I wish I could tell you where that man is now, but for all I know, he passed away years ago.

The concepts of high school chemistry have been at the forefront of my mind lately. I remember analyzing structures of molecules and everyday substances, trying to figure out how the atoms would dance with each other, or how they wouldn't. Studying cryptic lines and geometric figures with little letter/number notations all over them. Trying to make sense of things I couldn't see, but just had to trust really worked the way Moody was describing.

Trusting in what you can't see, can be an important life lesson.


Have you ever picked up a prescription at the pharmacy and opened up the pamphlet that comes in the box? Have you ever noticed that it opens up into a huge sheet that can cover an entire dining room table? Isn't it amazing how much monotonous and boring information they can squeeze onto that paper?

Did you realize that there are chemical diagrams on those things?

I have.

And truth be known, I have READ a prescription pamphlet or two in the last 10 years.

Ya, I know. I'm a geek.

But it's what's ON those little (huge!) pamphlets that is the kicker. All the side effects, all the interactions to watch out for, all the ways it affects your body. The info is vast and overwhelming, and frankly, can be quite scary.

I just usually throw them in the trash.

Trusting in what you DON'T see, can be an important life lesson as well.


Back when I started having kids, you wouldn't hardly catch me giving them medicine. Not that I was diametrically opposed to medicine, per se, but I just didn't see the need for it in many of the circumstances people would use it for. I mean, it started before I had kids. I went to birthing classes that focused on "natural labor and delivery without drugs." It just was important to me to keep chemicals out of my kids' systems, and I wouldn't even use some common drugs myself.

And I trust that I wasn't a snob about it. I don't remember being so incredibly die-hard that I would criticize others if they chose differently than me. It was more a personal thing, a mantra, a way of thinking that I subscribed to.

Some of those convictions are still with me today. For example, I haven't owned a thermometer since 2003 when my dog destroyed our last one. Actually, I just bought one a few weeks ago. But seriously, it's the first one since Libby was a baby. The reason being, is because I just didn't feel that I had a need for it. I don't give my kids medicine until they show more signs than a fever, so why care if they have a low-grade fever? And by the time they have a higher one, it's obvious. I mean REALLY obvious. So then, I give them a little something to help them sleep or not suffer too much. But otherwise, a low-grade temp is not on my radar as far as meds go.

I can have a bottle of children's Tylenol in the pantry for a year before it gets used again. Easily.
And we go years at a time without so much as an antibiotic in the house. So yeah, this is just my mentality on it. It's kinda how I think and how I handle these things.

I mean, think about it: what really IS in these chemicals we're putting in our kids' bodies?

I wish Moody were here to break it down for me, because I sure have a hard time feeling ok with it all.


Which leads me to my point:

I am feeling REALLY irritated with the fact that I now have not one, but TWO kids on serious levels of medication. Michaela has been on constant meds since 2000 (much to my perpetual annoyance), and Gabe just started his new regimen that rivals his sister's.

Quick fact:

When Michaela first started having seizures, they put her on a drug called Tegretol. Tegretol needs to be increased steadily until you reach the right dose for your height and weight. Back then, they increased the dose 3 times over a period of about 3 weeks.

We saw negative side effects after the first increase. She started not walking right; bumping into walls.

And I about freaked. I remember vividly where I was when I called her pediatrician and hollered at the nurse who took my call, "I don't even give my kids TYLENOL! I am not interested in giving her chemicals that are going to hurt her!!"

She tried to smooth over my ruffled feathers, but I was adamant. We would NOT be upping the dose anymore. The seizures were controlled at the previous dosage, and that's where we would stay, no further discussion.

That didn't last long.

I was soooo naive.


And now, here we are, over 10 years later, and the child "I don't give Tylenol to" is now so jacked up on meds that I don't even see the real child that much anymore. She's on 3 seizure meds, 2 anti-psychotics, a prescription laxative, and a chemical to keep her g-tube stoma healthy. Nevermind the vitamin that she really needs (despite her balanced diet) in order to help with side effects. Or the creams and nasal sprays to counter-act side effects as well.




Arg. It rubs me raw.


And then there's Gabe. With his hacking episodes, we've now seen our pediatrician more times than I can count, a pulmonologist, a speech pathologist, a gastroenterologist, an otolaryngologist, and soon an allergist/immunologist. He's had 2 barium swallow studies, an upper endoscopy, and in May will have his second bronchoscopy. Never mind the x-rays. I can't remember how many anymore.

Between Michaela's issues, and all these doctors scratching their collective heads about what's wrong with Gabe, we've got half a pharmacy at my house: he alone is on 2 different breathing treatments for asthma, a reflux med, an allergy med, a sinus med, and next week he goes on a long-term antibiotic for chronic sinusitis.

The Lord only knows what the allergist will find.

God help me.

Did you count it all?


15 different meds/therapies that these two children need daily.

I'm thinking that I need some Tylenol.


And you're probably thinking, "Now hold on, Kelly. 15 seems like a lot, but there are lots of people out there that take that much all by themselves! You shouldn't complain!"

Yes, I know that's right. In fact, I personally know someone, a young child, that likely takes more meds than both of my kids combined. I'm not downplaying the severity of other's daily regimens.

I know it could be worse.

But I'm venting here. Me. I'm venting about MY situation.

First of all, I don't like drugs for me.

Secondly, I don't like drugs in my kids.

Thirdly, at the very least, I don't like multiple drugs in my kids. Polypharm and I don't get along very well. Ok, how about "at all."

Lastly, I have two children on so many drugs that I have to write everything down to keep track!

This is annoying. This is exasperating. This is maybe not even called for.

And frankly, I'm fairly Moody over it.


But I don't have much choice in the matter. So we do blood draws to make sure Michaela's liver isn't about to choke on us, or that the levels of drugs in her are not at toxic levels.

Ummmm, that's up for debate. I would argue that they ARE.

But I'm no chemist.


And with Gabe, we keep trying something, anything, to see if this kid can get some relief. Maybe this will work. Maybe that will work. Something. Anything.



And then how do we know which one IS working when it works? And not the other which one?



So I'm fairly Moody right now.

....I hear that's a chemical reaction.

....but don't take it from me. I'm no chemist.