Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ADHD and Fibromyalgia

It's been a long time since I've been able to write in this blog. I have been so busy it's incredible. But some of the "busy" I put on myself, because I've finally been able to DO THINGS! Yes, I am not kidding. Let me tell you what happened.

My son was having trouble in school. He had always been a great student. Suddenly, he couldn't start writing his papers, he couldn't finish anything, etc. He didn't turn in papers/homework. His teacher was getting very frustrated with him. I wasn't too frustrated, because I was used to I was also frustrated to constantly hear that he wasn't turning in work. It turned out it was ADHD.

I took him to a psychiatrist, who also diagnosed ME with ADHD. I am ADHD Combined Type. They divide ADHD into subsets now. It used to be ADD and ADHD with the ADD being the sluggish person and the ADHDer being a very hyper person. But now they don't use "ADD" and they just use "ADHD" and break it into the primary types. There is primarily Inattentive Type, Hyperactive Type, and the middle bear is named Combined Type. This one is juuuuust riiiight!

Well a lot of things make sense now. Why when I was in elementary school, and the teacher said it was quiz or test time, EVERYBODY ELSE knew about the test or quiz. I didn't remember anything about a quiz or test and had no idea why. Often, I'd feel as if I had been tricked. Like the rest of the class had had a meeting and I wasn't allowed to attend the secret meeting. But it wasn't that. I was there in body, but my mind was off in la la land.  My drawing all through classes was a form of helping myself focus and concentrate, and deal with painful boredom.

Women with ADHD often slipped under the radar, because people thought ADHD was "a boy thing," and girls tend to be quiet and not disruptive in class. Out of sight out of mind. Now, teachers are starting to get a clue. I was fortunate that the teacher who brought my son's problems to my attention was a teacher my daughter had had years before, and I knew that this teacher wasn't wanting to get kids on drugs to keep them under control. So I listened. It took me awhile, because I can be sluggish to act and make phone calls, but together we saw that my son was really struggling. Something was wrong.

Now, you may not believe in ADHD.  I already understand that people don't believe in things they can't see. Having Fibromyalgia, we are aware of this fact, yes? But as a famous scientist (whose name I can't recall right now) said, "The great thing about science is that   it is real whether you believe in it or not." How true that is!

My son started on a medication called Vyvanse. At first we weren't really sure if it worked well or not. Gradually the dosage was increased. We could see a difference. the drugs don't do all the work. the drug is like having a handicapped ramp outside a building for people in wheelchairs. It helps you get IN the building, but it doesn't do everything for you. It's just a tool, a helper.  Once the dosage was right, definitely a huge improvement.   What I like the most is that it leaves the body after 10-12 hours. It does not build up in a person's system. Also a big deal is that my son is confident. Maybe sometimes TOO confident. lol....but he is pretty bright. Most people with ADHD are very intelligent.

So then I started Vyvanse also. I was told it would take effect in approximately 40 mins to an hour. Oh yes it DID! I was so scared to take it, because I had bad experiences with psychiatric medications in the past. Effexor caused me to cuss like Tourette's syndrome almost, and Amitriptylene (sp?) made my heart race and I had to swing my crossed leg to work it out of my system. That was scary stuff. So I was nervous about the Vyvance.

However, when it kicked in, I did feel it, and it was a very nice experience. I felt lighter, as if a huge burden was taken off my psyche. My enthusiasm and positivity came back! It was as if I had been seeing life through a sheer curtain, but it had been lifted and now I could see again. Not literally about vision, but about the way we see the world. I hope I am expressing this right. It wasn't like a "drug trip," no double rainbows and kewl was just like I was normal again!

The pain of fibromyalgia has been greatly reduced, which is good. Because my medication for pain was Tramadol (ultram) and that is not good to take with Vyvanse. They both have a risk for patients having seizures, so to take them together would be bad. I can take a half of a tramadol late at night if I have night pain, but most of the time, I don't need any pain medication. I can feel some pain and I still have burning pains from fibromyalgia sometimes, but it is manageable.

I had been taking 1-2 tramadols a day, and on "good" days, I would take half a pill in the morrning and half the pill in the afternoon. I always wanted to stay at the bare minimum with medications. Some studies have determined that Tramadol use may actually make fibromyalgia pain worse later in life. Yikes, I hope that will not be true.  I would also need to take Flexeril muscle relaxant from time to time, but I haven't needed that in ages (but it's good to have on hand just in case I pull something).

Overall, I've been much more active. I have more muscle strength now. I can actually do home repairs and painting and I've been loving it. The only side effect I have from Vyvanse is that about an hour after taking it, I can be overly talkative (even drive myself a little batty over this) and it goes on for about an hour then it calms down. That is something to tell the psychiatrist about. maybe he will have me take the medication in split doses. But, if I get talkative, I should probably just get online and blog. you see how long this one is getting. haha!

So back to the pain. Pre Vyvanse, my Fibromyalgia pain was an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst pain ever. Now on most days my pain is about a 3.

Now I find out that they think that some 70% of Fibromyalgia sufferers may also have undiagnosed ADHD...which makes sense when you think about how it is mainly women who have Fibromyalgia. Remember, girls with ADHD are generally NOT disruptive in class!  So they slip under the radar and don't get help.  We need to spread the word.

If you wonder if you might have ADHD, find one of the many online diagnosis tools, just to see if you have even a slight chance of it then find a doctor who is knowledgeable about ADHD. We were lucky, we found a good psychiatrist who knows a lot about it. Also the ADDitude Magazine Expert podcasts online are free, and full of good information. is another source of good resources.

You may be a pretty organized and together person, even so, you could have it but perhaps developed coping strategies.  Most people with ADHD are high normal or above average intelligence.  It has nothing to do with how smart you are. It is about the frontal cortex of the brain, brain chemicals, how your brain works, etc. It is not a character flaw. A couple of problems typical of ADHD are numerous traffic tickets, car accidents, lateness. and so on.

Well, those don't apply to me. I've had my driver's license since about 1984 and I've never had a ticket or an accident. Oh I've run Stop signs accidentally...ooops. And being punctual is always a big thing to me. That has never been a problem. So I asked my psychiatrist, and he said I developed good coping strategies.

I went home and thought about what he said. Coping Strategies...Yes, I was trained well in driving by my father.  I was taught the importance of safety all my life, and being a defensive driver. I had a routine in the car. I wasn't haphazard there.

Confession: I have had moments when I was driving somewhere and didn't know where I was supposed to be going and who I was going to be meeting, and that was disturbing. I blamed that on Fibrofog. I also had times that I was driving and suddenly realized that I was the driver and not the passenger. I had been looking at the middle of the steering wheel and daydreaming as I zipped down the highway. Don't let my car insurance company know about that, please. lol

Regarding punctuality, that was very important to me.
I hate it when I arrive early or on time and have to wait for the other person. It is perceived by me as rude unless they have a good reason. But really it is because the waiting time is uncomfortable and because I have ADHD I need to have something to do to fill the time....I don't have enough time to do anything, but I can't stand NOT doing anything either. It is aggravating. So that's the real reason I don't like other people to be late!

Thinking about my grade school years, I was very shy and probably had social anxiety (probably still do have it, even though I do like people, and if you met me you probably wouldn't realize this about me, you'd think I am an extrovert.)   Anyway, as a kid, if I had to walk into school late or because I had a doctor's appointment, etc, when I walked into the room, every head turned. Of course now that isn't a big deal to me. The other students were just bored, and anything other than what the class was doing was a break.  But to me, the eyeballs burned into me, and I hated everyone turning and looking at me, it was so very uncomfortable. So what I had done in coping was to work to never be late if I could help it. Coping skill achieved.  That's natural consequences in action, folks!

My younger son probably has ADHD also, but his grades have not been hurt badly by it yet. . He will turn 10 in October, yet last night he jumped on the wing chair in the living room. Jumped, feet first. I'm like, WTH?!? Ten-years-old is way too old to be doing that. He is thin and always active. He drives his brother nuts just for entertainment (I used to do the same to my brother). He had some issues in school about talking too much but he had a wonderful teacher who helped him find the appropriate times to be able to talk or have movement. With a new teacher, I'm not sure how well he will do.  Sometimes, he will talk so much he drives ME nuts, and my husband gets a big kick when that annoys me, because I'm getting a taste of my own medicine. The kid is like me. But he doesn't have much social anxiety, he doesn't care if all eyes in class are on him. He likes the attention.  Impulsive...and that's why you really need to get your kids diagnosed and treated for ADHD if you think they show signs.

People are very scared of the medications, but the legal medications, prescribed by a doctor, are safer than letting your kid go out on their own with low self esteem caused by always getting negative feedback and doing poorly, they're smart but they think they're dumb and useless, they're impulsive, can get angry fast, have mood disorders, etc by not having treatment. Yet with treatment, their brains actually develop better. Medication started as an adult like in my case, doesn't help brain development. It only helps my brain work better the day I take it. But for kids, the medication will help the brain DEVELOPMENT.  Rather than your kid "getting hooked" on drugs, you and your child will be much LESS likely to have dependence on drugs (including caffeine). The doctor is the gatekeeper. You will not be able to get your prescription unless you see the psychiatrist monthly. 

So do your research, keep an open mind. Watch videos by Dr. Russell Barkley on YouTube about ADHD.

Take my word for it, if you do have ADHD and get treatment, you may get your life back. I did!
I'm not problem free, but this reduction of problems has been genuine and long lasting.

My current medications:
(Compare with my list from the previous post)
Vyvanse 70 mg 1x per day with breakfast
Paxil 30 mg at night
Zyrtec at night if I remember to take it! For allergies.

Blessings! :)

No comments:

Post a Comment