Saturday, August 28, 2010


I've had a couple people ask me about my new ADHD diagnosis, so I thought I'd share a bit more about ADHD. The following is based on my understanding of talking to my doctors and my reading, but I'm not going to cite any sources. If you have anything to add or correct just chime in in the comments.

Currently, the official diagnosis is ADHD, which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, whether or not you are hyperactive. ADHD is a bit of a misnomer. It is not that you have a deficit of attention but that you have reduced control over your attention. Everyone is constantly bombarded with varying stimuli -- sights, sounds, smells, thoughts -- all day long. In a normal brain, the frontal lobes perform a series of functions called executive functions which control and regulate the other actions of your brain. They help to determine which stimuli are important to attend and respond to, and also are involved in being able to monitor your behavior, and being able to make and execute plans, among many other things. In a brain with ADHD, the executive functions are impaired to one degree or another. This results in the classic ADHD "attention deficit." The individual can't easily screen out extraneous stimuli and so tend to get distracted. However, they can also become "hyperfocused" and become so focused on one stimulus, such as the computer or a video game, that they can't easily switch their attention to other stimuli in the environment that they do need to attend to, such as the toddler over there dumping out the contents of the pantry.

One of my doctor's described the executive functions as the conductor of the orchestra of the brain, they coordinate all of the other brain functions so that things work smoothly. Without an effective conductor, the other elements of the orchestra don't come together to function as a whole, and the result is chaos. Stimulant medications work for ADHD because they "wake up" the conductor, and the individual then becomes better to direct their attention, to plan (short and long term), to control impulsivity, and much more.

In my case, I really hadn't expected to find out I had ADHD. I had recurring bouts of depression, and once I had children that become bouts of depression and struggles with anger management. My therapist initially though that perhaps I was bipolar, but we did extensive testing and the results were quite clear that I had ADHD, inattentive type. I started medication for this, and the change has been drastic. Before the medication, I spent much of the day flustered, frustrated and overwhelmed. Once I was so flustered, the smallest thing, such as simple noises from the children or the pets, could set me off and I would explode. Housework was usually undone, and instead of working on it, I'd look at what needed to be done, feel completely overwhelmed, and go read a book or surf the 'net. On the medication, I get overwhelmed and flustered much less often. I can look at a busy, overwhelming or difficult situation and figure out how to handle it, instead of getting emotional. I am better able to switch my attention away from things I'm engaged in, even absorbing things like the computer, to take care of other things, without getting angry or frustrated. I can interrupt a task and then remember to come back to it. The difference the medication has made has be phenomenal. I still have done a lot of work in building good habits of thought and behavior, and I still have plenty of more work to do, but I feel like I'm able to do it now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pizza Joes

I made these for the first time last night, and they were a big hit with the family and were super easy. The recipe is originally from the Saving Dinner Summer Frugal e-book, but I made some changes.

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (the recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon)
6 whole wheat hamburger buns
12 slices Mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown ground beef, onion and garlic. Drain off any excess
fat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add tomato paste, tomato sauce, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir, then simmer for about 6 or 7 minutes. While meat is simmering split burger buns in half and place open side up on large cooking sheet or baking tray. Place under hot broiler for just  a moment, just until the buns are barely toasted. Spoon some of the pizza filling onto buns-bottoms and tops. Put a slice of Mozzarella cheese immediately on each bun half. We had some extra sliced olives from our salad that we put on top of the cheese for a few of the halves at this step. Don't sandwich bun tops and bottoms back together. Briefly broil sandwiches, just until cheese is thoroughly melted (and slightly browned, if you like that).

A serving is two halves.  Not many veggies here, so we served it with a big salad and some carrot sticks. Everyone actually ate dinner! That's a success in my book.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Good Friend

One of my good friends from high school, Jill Caputo, was killed in a motor vehicle accident earlier this week. That hurts even just to type it out. I want to post a proper memorial, and see if I can find some pictures from high school to scan and post, but I wanted to post some thoughts now since I don't want to forget them. I spoke to my therapist this morning, and he asked me about Jill, and these are some of the things that I remembered.

She was one of the strongest people I have ever known. She had to work hard for everything -- things that we simply take for granted could be an ordeal for her. Her disability, which resulted in partial paralysis and decreased mobility, affected much of her life, but she worked through everything. Those who went to high school with her might consider how much effort she had to put into simply going up the stairs at the school! She was not willing to let her disability hold her back from anything. She found a way to make things work.

She gave me so much. I tend to be shy, and left to myself I just spent time at home. Jill was the driving force behind most of my social activities my junior and senior year of high school, and I think that was a very good thing. She pulled our little group - which also included Ray, Laura and Shawn - together and was the one who made plans and made things happened. She helped to pull me out of the shell that I tended to retreat into. I really needed that at that time, sometimes I still need it.

There is so much more I could post, but I'm getting scatter brained. Jill, thank you. Thank you for your friendship, and for introducing me to so many other friends. Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone, and sometimes getting me to push back. Thank you for keeping me going, caring about me, and giving me a great example of strength, courage and indomitable spirit.

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them (as their God). He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, (for) the old order has passed away." The one who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."
-Revelation 21:3-5

Monday, August 09, 2010

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

We actually did something this year! We just got back from a two week vacation. I had been dreading the trip, actually, as I thought that traveling with four kids would be torturous, and that we'd all be dying to be back home long before we were. As a matter of fact, we really enjoyed the trip even with a few traffic jams along the way, we had some good visits with family and friends and we saw a lot of the country that we'd never seen before. We visited/drove through/walked into fifteen states besides Kansas. PLUS when we got back home, our house was still standing and our pets were alive! (Thanks Mom, Dad and Stephen!)

The family standing on the New York/Massachusetts border

Bash Bish Falls

On the Way Home