I used to love Magic Slates when I was a kid – those black wax drawing boards with gray plastic sheets on top. Not so much because if I messed up, I could start over, but because I could adjust my drawing as I went along. If I started at the top and worked my way down, I could lift up the film a little bit to make changes. Nothing was set in stone.
And so it is with behavioral medication. If a certain type isn’t working, you can try another one. If the dose doesn’t seem right, you can increase or decrease it. And when you think you’ve reached a point where it’s no longer necessary, you can stop taking it. Or, you can ask your mom for six months until she agrees.
Nigel had an appointment with his psychiatrist on Friday afternoon. As we often do in that office, we waited for quite some time before she opened the door to the waiting area. And then she called in someone else whose appointment, we learned, had been scheduled forty-five minutes before ours. I looked at the doctor, and she suggested that we reschedule, which I got up to do. I was shocked to find that she had an opening just a few days later, and we took it.
We got back in the car to leave, and Nigel began his negotiating process. He’s been doing this with me since at least October – telling me that he wants to stop taking the medication, that he doesn’t think he needs it anymore. And I respond the same way, telling him that he feels this way because the medication is working. But this time was different. This time I thought about the fact that he has been on Risperidone for fourteen months, and in the last twelve months, we have not increased his very low dosage. During that time, his height has increased by five inches (!), and his weight accordingly. At this point, the medication is probably having minimal effect. And even though it helped him when he really needed it, I’ve never felt comfortable with him having it in his body, and I’ve looked forward to the time when he could discontinue taking it.
And I think that the time has come. He has enough medication left to gradually wean himself off of it for the next three weeks. Half of that time is Spring Break, so it will be a low-stress time for a transition. And we’ll be checking in with his doctor tomorrow to confirm our plans.
What’s comforting is knowing that, as with my childhood toy, we can always start over. If it turns out that we were a bit premature and that Nigel still needs the Risperidone to help regulate his behavior, we can always have him start taking it again. But we wouldn’t know unless we tried, so we’re going for it. He thinks he’s ready, and now, so do I.