February 1, 2011
When asked why she drew on herself with permanent marker, Anastasia replied: "I'm an Indian!"
Last week, we took Anastasia to a behavioral specialist. Miss A's sleep doc (the only one who will treat children in our area) refused to do more for her - even a sleep study - until she went to this doctor. I wasn't really excited about this because I knew that when Anastasia gets enough rest - rare though that may be - she's like any other kid. No true behavioral problems. Nonetheless, I do know there are some actual medical conditions where defiance and strong willed behavior are a symptom, so I didn't mind ruling out such stuff.
The behavioral specialist is a pediatrician with extra training in such things as ADHD. She seems like a nice enough lady; she's a mom herself and only works when her kids are in school. We spent an hour and a half with her, mostly just talking. We looked at Anastasia's medical and behavioral history from the time of her birth, and the doctor listened sympathetically and with apparent understanding. This was quite different from the sleep specialist; I don't believe he has children, and I never really felt he understood the difficulties we were going through in our family.
The doctor also did a routine medical exam. She was the first doctor to ever tell me Anastasia is hyper-flexible, which often accompanies poor gross motor skills. As she described it, the Miss doesn't get enough resistance, and that's why she's clumsy.
LEFT: Some day, we'll have lots of blackmail material for Zane. He's a boy's boy, but sometimes I discover him wearing the strangest things. RIGHT: Zane is nearly as tall as Anastasia and feels like he weighs more. It's hard to believe, just looking at him, that's he only 2.
Almost instantly, she also wanted to do a blood test for iron. She thought Anastasia's eyes showed signs of a deficiency. Indeed, that's how she's starting her approach: With a blood test to look at vitamin D and iron levels, blood sugar, and the thyroid. "Given that her diet isn't ideal," the doc said, "I think this is a good place to start."
It's true Anastasia's diet isn't well balanced. While I try to steer clear of processed foods and offer her balanced meals, more often than not, what she'll eat is high carb food and not much else. I'd also wondered about her D levels, since I know a deficiency can cause fatigue. We go in for the blood test tomorrow.
The doc also recommended staying away from red dyes in processed food because some people seem to have very negative reactions to it. I told her I didn't think Anastasia ate any, but then I came home and checked our fridge and discovered the GoGurt (yogurt in a tube; literally, I'd squeeze it into her mouth so all she had to do was swallow. It was the only way I could get her to eat before school.) that I fed her every school morning has red dye. When I threw out the box of GoGurt, Anastasia asked why. "Because there's something in it that could make you not feel well," I answered. "Then why did you give it to me???" was her reply. I couldn't have felt worse, but thankfully she understood when I said, "Because I didn't know it was in there."
The doc also said there are medications we may eventually try as sleep aids, which they've used on kids for years. (So much for the sleep doc insisting there was nothing else to try.) However, she says it's hard to tell if sleep is causing Anastasia's problems or if something else is causing her sleep issues.
Her method seems logical and she's not big on passing out prescriptions. So we'll see how it goes.
The week following this visit was a tough one. Anastasia was having extra trouble sleeping. Yesterday she was so exhausted, she told me all day she wanted to go to bed. (This from a girl who normally says she never wants to sleep.) I couldn't let her, because then she wouldn't sleep at night. She was also very pale and sickly looking, and couldn't eat much. Thankfully, she slept much better last night and did okay at school.
Zane has also been up repeatedly each night. Ever since we moved him into his toddler bed, he won't nap (which is typical for his age) and he's waking up in the wee hours. He does stay in bed, but he makes lots of noise. Enough to wake the whole household. At first, we didn't go into his room because we didn't want him to think he could get special attention from us at that hour. But after a week and a half, we'd had enough. A firm talk seems to help. Thank goodness Zane is such a typical, healthy kid.
ABOVE: We put Zane's new bed in the living room so he could get used to it before he slept in it. For a moment or two, he was scared of it. Then he hoped in and started making engine noises :) BELOW: How we often find Zane when we go into his room to check on him at night.
Here's hoping this week we all get more rest!
February 18, 2011
I finally heard back from the behavioral specialist. She had lots of good news. Anastasia's blood test showed good things. Her kidney and thyroid are fine, she's well hydrated, and her iron levels are good. Her protein level was slightly low. Normal is 6.2 and she measured 6.1. Her vitamin D levels were also in the normal range, although on the lower end.
So the doctor wants to try a safe, natural way to help Anastasia sleep. Lots of studies have been done on Valerian and Lemon Balm. In the largest study, the doc says, over 1,000 kids took it and 97% had "good" to "very good" results. This sounds so promising! But the problem is, the doctor is having a tough time finding anything with the right (low) dosage of the herbs. She promised to look around town this weekend, and I promised to scour the web. So far, no luck. We're aiming for about 160 mg of Valerian and 80 mg of Lemon Balm...and not much else in the pill or liquid.
Overall, Anastasia's been doing better. I've been feeding her a protein bar before school. She loves them (they are like candy bars) and it seems to make a real difference in her behavior at school. Last week, however, she was having more trouble sleeping and was coming down with a nasty cold and she actually got kicked out the classroom for several minutes because she was defiant with the teacher.
A few tid-bits:
* Miss A. to her Daddy: "I would stick my tongue out at you, but I don't want to mess up my lipstick." (i.e., lip balm)
* Zane is communicating better. He still likes to use sounds more than words, though. Last week, our neighbors had roofers working on their house and they were using a forklift crane. I discovered this when Zane said "Gook, Mama! RrrrrrRrrrr!" (engine noises)
* It's fun to see Anastasia and Zane's relationship developing. He tells her in his garbled way that "I uv u" and they are starting to have a lot of fun playing together now. The only trouble is he's a rough and tumble boy - and he weighs as much as the Miss. So sometimes I have to intervene when he starts accidentally hurting Anastasia. The other day I heard Anastasia scream and turned around to find her on her hands and knees. Her brother had a bunch of her hair in his hand and he was pulling her across the floor! Yikes!
* The Miss had a grand time at the Kindergarten Valentine's Day party. It was very simple: Just food, Valentine cards, and one game, but she said it was "the best day ever at school!"
* Anastasia has learned so much at school! She knows all her lower case letters in cursive, is adding, and has a special talent for her recitations. Not only are they a breeze for her to memorize, but she has an actress' flair for getting up in front of the class, speaking clearly, and standing still as she recites them.