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Could You Survive an Unplanned Unmedicated Day?

We braved icy roads to pick up my ADHD daughter`s stimulant medication prescriptions — and to see the doctor`s therapy dog. Would you have done the same?

On a recent night in central Iowa, enough snow fell for many schools in our community to either start late or cancel classes the next day. My daughter, Natalie, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), was scheduled to see her psychiatrist in Des Moines, a 40-minute drive from our home. When deciding whether or not to keep the appointment and risk driving on icy roads, Natalie and I were both motivated to stick with the planned doctor’s visit but for notably different reasons. We were getting dangerously low on the stimulant medications Natalie takes to treat her ADHD symptoms, and because they’re controlled substances, I needed the doctor to write new prescriptions in person.

What would I do if we couldn’t get there? Would Dr. Mishra call Nat’s pediatrician and arrange for her to write the prescriptions? Try sending them overnight mail? I don’t know what we would have done, but I knew Natalie couldn’t go without her medication. I can’t imagine having her miss even a single dose!

Natalie wanted to get to the appointment for a completely different reason, and the fact that she would go willingly was a first. Natalie usually hates going to psychiatrist appointments. She doesn’t mind the appointment itself; in fact, we both really like Dr. Mishra. But Natalie hates riding in the car. She has a hard time sitting still, even when we bring along things for her to do to keep busy. Due to her sensory processing issues, riding in the car often gives her a headache. Then there’s the fact that Natalie is afraid of hospitals, and Dr. Mishra’s office is located in one. Trips to see Dr. Mishra are usually fraught with arguing, complaints, and anxiety.

But today Natalie was looking forward to going. After our last visit to Dr. Mishra, the receptionist made sure to schedule our next appointment when a therapy dog would be available for a visit. A therapy dog! We had no idea a therapy dog sometimes visited the practice. Natalie loves dogs and was dying to get her hands on this one.

The roads were slippery, and the drive was very slow going. An accident involving three semis and two cars had interstate traffic slowed to a crawl for several miles. We hit another lull when we came to a car that had run into a guardrail, smashing up its front end, and was now sitting in the left lane facing the wrong direction. With Natalie keeping busy pointing out cars and trucks that had slid off the road, we safely reached our destination, taking just 20 minutes longer than the usual drive.

We checked in at the reception desk, and Natalie immediately asked where the dog was. The dog wasn’t there! Her owner had canceled due to the bad weather. I waited anxiously for Natalie’s reaction.

Natalie said, “You mean we came all this way for nothing?”

Natalie might have thought the trip was for nothing, but we got those new prescriptions, so I was happy!

We rescheduled for another time when the dog is supposed to be there. Hopefully the positive attitude Natalie had going to this appointment will return on the car trip for the next. I’ll cross my fingers that the therapy dog makes it next time. Then, Natalie and I will both leave happy.

Medicate Our Child? When One Wants It and the Other Doesn’t