Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2014 - The Hardest Year Yet

2014 was a hard year for me. I spent New Year's reflecting on this year and thought a lot about how different and hard this year has been. Let me start by saying that we are lucky that everyone is fairly healthy and I am grateful for that. When Conner was a baby and in the NICU for 4 months, came home on Oxygen, had to go to therapy to learn to roll, sit, crawl, walk, talk and eat, I thought I could handle anything. 

Conner's early years were hard for many reasons. He was clearly behind his peers physically and socially and his health was not the best (not terrible, just not the best). At some points, we spent 5 days a week in therapy of some kind and doctors appointments each week. At one point we were told Conner would most likely never walk. Conner didn't talk until he was 3 AT ALL and we were actually told by a doctor that if he didn't talk by age 5, he probably wouldn't talk ever. There were stressful days, doctors with no compassion, people who said uneducated things. But Conner was such a good baby, a good toddler. He smiled during therapy and for all those appointments. He did all the hard work that was asked of him at such a young age. Doctors said that his attitude was one reason why he was doing so well. He was happy and he was making progress every day so we were positive and had hope for the future. I felt confident that things would just get easier over time. And they did for a few years. 

When I reflect on years passed and even on the past year, I see the smiling pictures and remember some really great times but at the same time, I know that I didn't take pictures during the really bad times and there have been significantly less pictures this year. It's hard to pinpoint the moment things with Conner changed. When he was 5, there were times after school when I noticed anger and a meanness that had not been present before. I talked about it with Conner's teacher at the time and she attributed it to his being tired after a long day of school. Lots of kids are mean and grouchy after long days of school. We were glad that he was learning and that he had friends and his behavior at school was good. Last year, Conner was in Kindergarten and it was a little more of the same. While the behavior issues seemed to creep in a little more frequently, it only happened once or twice during the day at school and primarily was just happening at home. Again the teacher and all the support staff felt like Conner was keeping it together at school and just needed to let it out at home. School, with 25+ other kids in his class was all a little bit overwhelming for his system. On top of all the regular schoolwork and learning, Conner was also going to Occupational Therapy and Speech at school in addition to private OT, PT and speech. Of course, he was tired and we were asking a lot of him. So, we just dealt with things how they were but it really wasn't majorly affecting our life.

At some point during all of this, we started treating Conner for ADHD. It was pretty much impossible for him to be in a school environment without trying something. So the medication trial and errors began...and it was REALLY bad at times. We finally found something that seemed to work but the effects were short lived. After a month or two, we needed to increase and finally after about a year, we had to increase again and really we question whether some of Conner's behaviors now can be attributed to this medication. This year, we have been to more doctors' appointments than I think we have been to in the last several years combined.