Mother’s Little Helper Is On Backorder
I was officially diagnosed with “adult ADHD” in 2021 at the tender age of 45. It didn’t come on the heels of the TikTok frenzy of self-diagnosis, but instead was met with my suspicion the moment my doctor said, “Oh yeah, you definitely have ADHD.” No, no – I laughed at her. That’s just a silly “catch-all.”
But this was before I knew what ADHD looked like in girls and adult women. I wasn’t even into my second page of Google search results on women with ADHD before I was staring, slack-jawed at the screen and wondering how this could have been missed.
I just thought I was … really, really good at some things and a complete failure at “normal-person stuff” like remembering to pay the water bill BEFORE my kid yelled from the kitchen on a Thursday morning, “Moooom! Mom, the water isn’t coming out!”
My doctor recommended medication. Although I was extremely hesitant to take meds in the beginning, the difference in my life was almost immediate. I could focus! I could get things done! I was a less distracted driver! After about a year of being on meds, I had no regrets around filling that prescription.
And then … things changed.
My fellow writer, Clair, first wrote about this in February when she was unable to get her son’s meds due to the shortage. When we encountered the same issue with my son, we switched to a newer med which had more availability … until it didn’t. After talking it over with our doctor, we just entered 8th grade without meds (after a one month break during the summer) and we’re holding our breath for now. (Will keep you posted!)
Recently a friend of mine called me in tears. “Can you help me call around to pharmacies? I keep crying on the phone. I feel like a failure … like I’m already failing my kids!” We tag-team called about 20 pharmacies before finding one an hour away with her meds. I didn’t take the same medication, so I thought I’d be ok.
But last month, I received some “bad news” at the pharmacy.
We’re sorry, but your medication is out of stock until late September.
I began to panic and went through the five stages of grief in about 10 minutes. I soon created a complex spreadsheet to track nearby pharmacies and started making calls. I was outraged, exhausted, weepy, terrified, confused and furious. But the emotion I felt the most was shame.
I felt so stupid for taking it in the first place. I was angry at the entire medical profession, the pharmaceutical industry, and consumed with catastrophic scenarios of what would happen if another week passed without it.
As a professional, single mom, I was terrified of what this might do to my career.
“Hi, Boss. Sorry but I can’t come in today because I’m currently in amphetamine withdrawal.“
Frankly, it was embarrassing. Every call had me starting the conversation with an apology, until I spoke with a very caring pharmacist who took the time to listen to me and offered some pretty solid advice. This isn’t professional medical advice, but this list starts with seeking it out first.
1. Talk to your doctor (in writing and/or by phone)
Whether you use the patient portal or send an email, it’s good to make a written record of your challenges in getting your medication. I realize the irony of this advice. If you’re not taking your meds, you are much less likely to be “on the ball” with follow-up, etc. If you have to do it tired, stressed, or crying, do it anyway.
If you decide to call, do your best to remain calm and know that you probably aren’t the first person to call with this issue that day.
The doctor may offer to switch you to a different brand of medication or they may have advice on non drug therapies, but the bridge between those two should not be navigated alone.
2. Talk to your pharmacist (on the phone or in person)
My pharmacist told me I was the 7th crying mom she’d spoken to that day with the same problem.
“You are not alone, Mama!” she said with kindness While I cried with relief.
She suggested calling her a few days ahead of the fill date to check stock. Filling a controlled substance in advance is not allowed and there are rules regarding how many times your doctor can move your meds from one pharmacy to another via telehealth.
Unless of course you . . .
3. Get your paper prescription!
You mean I have to drive somewhere and get a piece of paper?
My pharmacist’s explanation (perfect for an ADHD mama):
“We’ve all gotten used to digital solutions, but often with controlled substances, it’s best to have your prescription in your hands. You walk in, give it to me and I tell you if it’s in stock. If we have it, I keep it in exchange for your meds. If not, I hand it back to you to check the next pharmacy. With telehealth, you end up playing an exhausting game of phone tag between the doctor’s office and the pharmacy. Having the script in your hand eliminates this.”
So, I begrudgingly drove to my doctor’s office to get the old-fashioned “paper script” that I swore I didn’t have time to deal with. After 10 calls, I was able to walk in and exchange that little piece of paper for my medication, a week after I ran out.
My doctor gave me the okay to stop taking the medication on weekends, which has led to what I like to call Miracle Mondays of Productivity (a great start to my work weeks).
But until the shortage is over, I will have to take this one month at a time.