Friday, July 13, 2012

The ADHD of our lives

I found out just before we left that Triple C was diagnosed with ADHD. I have no idea what her parents are doing about it, but it actually helped me out because she sort of scared me a few times with behaviour that just didn't jive with normal eight-year-old strangeness.

We went to Carrowinds amusement park which is a combination water-and-roller coaster park. It ended up being at that point a record breaking hot day, with, like, 110% humidity, so naturally by the time we were ready to leave, all of us were heat sick and dehydrated, despite our best efforts at buying tiny bottles of water for three bucks a pop every hour or so. Triple C put up a fight when her dad told her to drink water and would only take a few sips grudgingly while the rest of us were sucking that stuff down like it was liquid gold. Since my mom and Little Bit stayed in the cabana the entire time, they were actually the only ones who didn't get dehydrated, though they were both pretty heat sick when we left.

Triple C and I would go on a few water rides, and then I would want to go back to our cabana for some rest. Tripple C would argue with me and get really belligerent. It started to seem like she was getting more energy with every step we took instead of it wearing her out like the other kids around us.

Finally, my brother decided we were ready to go home, so I showered off and changed, and then my sister-in-law decided that she would ride The Intimidator with my brother because I guess he was giving her grief about how his sister would ride it but she wouldn't. I believe the word "chicken" was used. Anyway, Triple C decided that she wanted me to take her on a roller coaster while her parents went on theirs, so my brother said that we could.

By that time, I was actually water-logged and needed something with salt in it and I am actually still retaining water right now, though it's getting better now that I'm doing Yoga regularly again. But this is my niece. She is seriously the love of my life and I would do anything for her, so I said yes and we went to this ride. For whatever reason, Triple C started telling me that her daddy said we could ride the roller coaster as many times as we wanted. This was news to me so I said, "No, he didn't." She seriously started arguing with me. By that point, I was trying to figure out where she got the energy from. I mean, we had been at the park for six hours at that point, surely she had to slow down at some point?

I finally told her that I didn't care what her daddy said, I was going on the ride once and once only, and then we were walking back to the front of the park where Grandma and Little Bit were waiting for us. End of story. I felt like I was being mean, but there's only so much abuse a body can take and I needed to get out of the park and suck on a lemon with some salt for a few minutes. I get heat sick regularly, so I know the signs and how to handle getting water logged. I mean, I was starting to get chills, which is a hugely bad sign, so I knew I was probably only good to get to the car before I passed out. Unfortunately, Triple C had other plans.

"Aunt Heidi, I'm so sick!" she suddenly wailed while we were walking under the blessed shade of a roller coaster track combined with trees. "I just want to sit down in air conditioning!"

What could I do? If I sat down, I knew I could not get back up. I stood her on a park bench and took her on my back, walking towards the entrance until I saw a store. I figured the store would be air conditioned because the heat was just so oppressive. I was so wrong. This place was not air conditioned at all. There was, however, a fan by the door that was blowing moderately cool air, so I took Triple C there and stood. The minute I put her back on the ground, she left the coolness of the fan and started looking at the stuffed toys. I...I sort of freaked out. I mean, why was she acting this way? How could she possibly want the toys when there was a fan there? What happened to the kid who had just broken down and started crying not five minutes ago?

I got myself nominally better (I still had chills, but I had started sweating again which was a relief since I had stopped at some point) and escorted Triple C to the front of the park where my sister-in-law was throwing up more from heat exhaustion than The Intimidator, though it was probably a close call. My brother asked me if I was going to throw up, and I said that I honestly didn't know, but I needed to sit down in the car with the AC blasting. He poured water over my head, and I felt better for as long as it took me to get to the car and get the AC blasting. Triple C on her part, was suddenly refreshed and new again and begging to go on another ride. We all just stared at her like she was crazy, and my sister-in-law finally took her hand and said she could go on a ride in the car.

We had taken separate cars, so I didn't find out until later that she got sick on the ride home and that all of us stopped for drinks on the way. I alternated drinking tea with lemon, and Dr. Pepper. I figured the Dr. Pepper had sugar that could help my body heal, and tea is a natural diuretic while lemon has electrolytes in it. The big thing right now is coconut water, because it has all of that in it, but so does Gatorade. We didn't think to bring either of those things with us.

Anyway, the end here is that when I found out that Triple C is ADHD, it all made sense. The boundless energy, the distraction, the belligerance, the crashing the minute we had no stimulation around us. I know there are people who think ADHD doesn't exist, or that it's code for "My kid is a brat and I don't want to discipline him," but it's real. I saw it. I was scared by it. Triple C's mind is betraying her, and it can make her sick. I know how that feels, and I'm so glad that my brother and his wife will do everything they can for her.

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