AJ’s very wired and tired day

AJ’s very wired and tired day

Wherein my wife and I describe a day without meds, without sleep, and concluding with a horse tranquilizer. For AJ, that is.,


So my son has a pretty severe case of ADHD. And lest you nay-sayers pooh-pooh that notion, let me say that even when merely undermedicated both his pediatrician and psychiatrist remark that his is one of the more extreme cases of hyperactivity they’ve ever seen. Yet when properly medicated with methamphetamine salts he’s calm, collected, and controlled. (Mostly.) When completely off his meds? He’s a a wildcat on crank. But once in a while, even under meds, AJ will space out for a few seconds and lose time, lose his thread of thought, and just stare off into space. When he resumes he carries on with whatever catches his attention first. The docs thought, at first, that this would pass with time. But, really, it hasn’t.

So his doctor finally decided to prescribe an EEG for our little boy, just to check on things. But, thing is, the EEG requires that he be sleep-drived, hungry, thirsty, and completely unmedicated.

Boy, what a trip!

Here’s what my wife has to say about the day.

Jennifer’s Tale

So, Thursday I woke AJ up for school at 8:00 am. Went to school, came home, day goes on … time for bed. But I couldn’t give him his sleeping pill per Dr.’s orders. So, at 9:00 pm he’s in bed. At 4:00 am, we planned to wake him up because they wanted him sleep-deprived. But — he still wasn’t asleep!!!!

So, I took him downstairs where he ran around and goofed-off and played computer puzzles and made random noises with his mouth non-stop for the next 2 hours. Finally, I woke up Rich to take the next shift. He reports the same behaviour. Finally, around 7:30 am, they went to McDonalds where AJ had his breakfast and then ran around the playroom like a wild animal until it was time to come home at 11:00 am — still full of energy and random noise.

At 11:30 pm, we left for the hospital. Prior to driving there I was worried he’d fall asleep, but noo … Instead, I heard, “Mom why
 … ” fill in the question with anything you can imagine. He talked non-stop all the way to the hospital.

12:15 pm: AJ’s now been awake for 28 hours. Is he slowing down? No. Speeding up.

Run, skip, walk backwards, somersault, hop hop hop, wiggle wiggle, run jump climb hop run — all the while explaining to anyone who wanders by how lighting strikes work, the reason people get shocks when they touch something metallic, how positive and negative electrons attract and reject each other
 … and so on.

1:00 pm: 29 hours awake. … We get to his hospital room which has a bed. He quickly figures out that it has a brake to stop it from rolling, turned that off and starts jumping on the bed at an angle to get to speed across the room. Weeeeeeee! “What’s this?” “What’s that?” How why who what hop hop skip fly climb jump roll the bed hop karate jump and, of course, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

2:15 pm: 30 hours awake. Still blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Run jump hop skip. Bounce off the walls. Literally.

Finally they come in and give him the sedative. It takes 20 minutes before he starts to calm down and a little longer before he finally falls to sleep at 2:45.

They hook him up to all the wires (there was no way they could do it before with him vibrating like a Ronco bread knife) and watch him until about 3:30. “Now we’re going to wake him and he’ll be groggy, but we want to watch his brain in a wakeful state.”

So, the technician, the nurse and I start rubbing his arms. “AJ AJ AJ!” There is no response at all. All the monitors said he was fine. But he was totally and completely unconscious. We poured cold water on his head and there was no response that we could see, although his heart rate shot from 78 to 120. Yet as soon as the shock was over, it settled in the 80s.

So, we let him sleep another 30 minutes. Tried again. In order to leave the hospital, he had to eat, drink and open his eyes. But, he couldn’t talk and when he tried to, it sounded like a wounded animal screaming. Drool everywhere. Finally got a cracker in his hand and told him to eat it. Eyes still closed, his hands both shoot up toward his face, the cracker goes flying and both hands hit his forehead. It seems there was no small muscle coordination. (Yes, you may laugh — we certainly were.) We’d stand him up and walk him up and down the hallway. He’d screech with every step, and cold barely hold his own weight. The nurses named him “Our little drunken sailor.”

Now, don’t “poor AJ” yet, because they said this was mostly normal. Kids wake up hard from this stuff and he likely won’t remember any of it.

Back to the room, more pouring cold water over him … After an hour, the nurses said it’s no longer normal and they called the doctor on call. He took a look at what was going on, saw that AJ had been awake for 30 hours and told us to forget trying to wake him up. Did a bunch of tests and said he was fine. Tired. Very, very tired, but he was fine and it was safe to take him home.

It’s 6:40. He’s still sleeping.

We’ll know results in a few days or weeks. Depending on when the doctor gets them and calls us. We have an appointment in the 3rd week of October, so we’ll know for sure by then.


This is Rich again. Finally, at 7:30 or so I finally managed to annoy AJ enough that he woke up. But it took poking, prodding, wet towels and, at last, a forced march out in the chill night air. I was certain the neighbors would call the police: at every step AJ wrenche and flailed and howled and cried like the most severely abused child in all of Chicagoland.

This, kids, is apparently what happens when you take chloral hydrate when you’re sleep deprived. What is chloral hydrate, you ask?

It’s a horse tranquilizer.

Well, among other things.

Why was AJ without sleep for over a full day? Because he has to take clonidine to counteract the effects of methamphetamine salts which counteract the hyperactivity he normally experiences. At night, when the clonidine kicks in, his normal sleepiness takes over, and he can pass out. Without it, he’ll stake awake and alert all night long. Literally. And since we were instructed by the docs to not give him any clonidine the night before. Well, we had one very hyperactive, unmedicated puppy the next day.

After getting him awake, though, he perked up for an hour, ate voraciously, then promptly passed out when we put him back to bed.

Hopefully, Saturday will get him back on track.

[tags]add, adhd, AJ, alexander, attention-deficit, blogrodent, child, chloral-hydrate, clonidine, drugs, eeg, family, hyperactive, hyperactivity-disorder, kids, medicine, Rich-Tatum[/tags]

7 thoughts on “AJ’s very wired and tired day

  1. SingingOwl

    Oh Rich! I couldn’t laugh, even reading the post. Poor AJ! Poor parents! Oh my!

    I hope the results of this are helpful. I’ve never heard of a case like this sounds.

  2. pablo d vizcay

    I am numb after reading your ordeal. We have a 5 1/2 year old girl and a 1.3 year old son- please receive our prayers for all of you, expecially your darling son.

  3. Rich Post author

    Thanks SingingOwl, and thanks Pablo for your prayers. We appreciate it!

    AJ’s back to his normal self today after sleeping another 13 hours. He’s a little drowsy, but yesterday is a complete wash to him. Last night, the last thing he could remember was getting on the scales at the doctor’s office. Today, the last thing he remembers is going to McDondal’s with me. He kept asking Jennifer, “Mom, when are we going to the hospital? I’m not supposed to eat anything, remember?”

    That chloral hydrate’s powerful stuff.


  4. Carissa

    I hope the tests come back with information that’s helpful! My prayers are with you and your family.

    Your son reminds me of a character I read about in one of Maria Doria Russell’s books, Children of God, I think it’s called. It’s a sci-fi sequel about a Jesuit mission to another planet. (weird I know, lol) Throughout the story she shows how God can use anybody to further His plans and that most often, it’s through the people we least expected.

    The reason I thought of that book is that it showed me that God can take any circumstance and any person and turn it into something powerful and great. God makes us who we are in order to do the things he’s set out for us to do. It’ll be very exciting to see how God uses your circumstances in this case. I hope I’ve made sense, I’m a little rusty at this.

    What a beautiful family you have, my God bless them!


  5. Pingback: Sleepy AJ (2 of 3) on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

  6. Marc V

    Unfortunately I could not laugh along with you, as I have two hard-heads at home. My 9 y.o. son may be bipolar, probably not ADD or ADHD, and definitely has Oppositional/Defiance Disorder. We’ve had to battle meltdowns in the past, but he has gotten much better with meds. Our 3 y.o. daughter is not on meds, but she’s proving to be very defiant as well.

    I think back to a few generations ago when there wasn’t much treatment for “active” kids, other than the Vice Principal’s rod of correction. I’m guessing you and your wife are like us in that we were both compliant/quiet youngsters, so it makes it even more difficult to understand and help the rowdy kids God has blessed us with. By His strength we’ll make it through.

    If you haven’t heard any of Mark Lowry’s recorded stuff, then you should pick some up as he puts a pretty funny spin on growing up ADD. May Jehovah Shalom inhabit AJ and the Holy Spirit lead him to the control he needs in his life.

  7. Rich Post author

    @Carissa: Thanks for the comment and for your thoughtful concerns for my son, AJ. I really appreciate it. And thanks for the sci-fi book tip. I’ll need to add that title to my list of books to look for. It sounds interesting. And I totally agree with you that we are not only fearfully and wonderfully made, but as God reminded Jeremiah: He knew us before we were born, and has a plan for us before we’ve even taken our first breath. If it was true for the weeping prophet, despite his troubles, it’s true for AJ.


    Thanks for your encouragement and faithfully reading this blog during my spotty attention defecits!

    You’re right, understanding and properly addressing AJ’s behavioral issues is quite perplexing at times. It would be so much easier if we could just say he’s being rebellious and apply the “Rod of Correction” but it’s simply not that easy, as you well know in dealing with ODD. To the uninitiated and naïve these are simply behavioral issues that need to be trained out of a child, but the reality is that these things arise out of complicated and not clearly understood neural, hormonal, and psychological impairments. Spanking, in fact, makes it worse. (As one clinician I read stated it, for the sufferers of some of these maladies, trying harder can actually make the condition worse.

    Not having medical insurance hasn’t helped us make much progress in this area, either, since the doctors and procedures for diagnosis are quite expensive. However, now that I have a great job with great benefits, and now that AJ is in a very supportive school system I expect to see more development on this front in the next several months.

    For now, we are getting closer to an accurate diagnosis and possibly some medical help that will make a difference.

    Thanks, again.



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