Finding Focus

The explosion that erupted in Shade’s skull over three years ago knocked out his focusing ability. Shade has the attention span of a pyromaniac in a candle shop. Ooh, all the pretty lights.

Though his intelligence centers were not damaged by his stroke, short-term memory and focus did not fare so well. The MRI looks like someone tap-danced in those areas with golf spikes.

Thus, Shade’s school work suffers. He lags in class because he’s incapable of trudging up Homework Mountain without a study Sherpa to carry him. For example, he’s way behind in American Government class. Getting him to read the Articles of Confederation is like getting a Chihuahua to, well, read the Articles of Confederation. They’re both preoccupied with yapping at cats. (Shade’s cat fetish has not waned.)

So for every single homework assignment, someone has to sit and read with him, and explain with him, and write a little. Then read again, and

Shade getting study help from big brother, Edwin, and little brother, Mayan.

Shade getting study help from big brother, Edwin, and little brother, Mayan.

explain with him again, and write a little. Often it’s Mami. Sometimes Dad. This week it was big sister, Arianny, who’s in town for a week. It’s exhausting for Shade and for the Study Sherpa. It takes ages.

Shade’s not dumb. He gets the ideas. But then forgets them. And then gets them again. And forgets them again. Partly because he suffers short-term memory loss. Partly because he can’t pay attention long enough to transfer info to his long-term memory.

School demands focus if he’s going to acquire enough knowledge to have a career. A career demands focus if he’s going to keep his job.

How is Shade going to perform brain surgery if he can’t focus on the brainy bits? That’s a career tragedy waiting to happen: “Now, we just need a micro-incision right here in the meninges and … Hey, look at that beepy machine over there. Oops.”

So we’re trying something new. Shade’s neurologist, Dr. Kojic, has prescribed him Vyvanse, a drug often used to treat ADHD. (Back in my day, they didn’t have ADHD. They just called it fidgeting.)

This is a new edition of Shade’s Progress. The Focused Shade edition. Tomorrow morning (Thursday, October 2), Shade will take his first Vyvanse and we’ll see if he can switch from Dog Chasing Squirrel mode to Laser Beam Focus mode. We invite you to join the journey.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mitchell, Joanne
    Oct 01, 2014 @ 23:44:45

    Hi! I am so pleased to see a shade Progress! Ironically, Sunday night, I finally trashed ONE not TWO of the huge Shades 4 shade posters I had sitting in my garage since the episode. I actually used the other last night as a back drop for spray painting something – no shit – and looked at his face for about an hr. very odd timing to see this tonight! I was wondering how he was and how you all are. Where is Shade attending school? Great to get a laugh again reading your blog. I needed a good laugh and good reminder of how fortunate we really are. We were burglarized last week, a very sad story of a man and his 3 kids that we have been taking care of for a few months. Passed his craft of painting on to almost everyone I know to get him some work. He repaid my open arms, enormous heart and desire for helping people by burglarizing my home and 6 of my friends last week. I have lost all feelings for mankind and definitely lost my compassionate heart. I really needed this tonight – I am amazed at the timing – I literally sat on the floor in my garage last night spray painting and stared at Shade. Thinking of how much his and your family made me realize that we are so blessed. Not that you are not blessed, just blessed to not be in your blessed circumstance!
    Please keep me on the progress, Lord knows it’s better than Jacqueline’s Progress Book from Olympia!
    Love to Aitza and you all!

    Joanne Kacerosky Mitchell
    Southern Wine & Spirits of America
    Vice President, National Account Operations
    Direct Line: 407.587.7613
    Cellular: 407.489.4046
    Fax: 813.775.3079
    [Description: Description: SWO]
    National Accounts SharePoint


  2. Shelly M.
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 02:22:55

    Yes! Thank you for writing again and sharing your incredible journey! As we have experienced ourselves, with profound disability comes difficulty. Yet sometimes blessings only come through difficulty. We count ourselves lucky to call you guys family. Craig, Allie, Bailey, and I send our love and prayers xox.


  3. Valerie Pringle
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 05:46:09

    This journey like the journey he has been on since the summer between 6th and 7th grade will be arduous, but Shade will travel this leg of the journey with that wonderful, amazing sense of humor that luckily is still the beautiful part of him that never left. I pray for his continued progress, and I pray for his wonderful, loving family whose support has never wavered.


  4. Jay
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 08:32:53

    Just read shades blog. My nephew is on Vyvanse (against all my sisters wishes) but he went from a D student to honor role in one year. He has been on a really low dose for 3 years now and they are just getting ready to increase the dose a bit as he is nearly a teen now. My sister who was soooo against it now recognizes how effective it is for his well being. Hopefully Shade will benefit. Just thought I would offer my two cents.


  5. Jean Curtice
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 09:56:35

    Good luck on the meds, Shade has such a warm, loving heart. I miss seeing him around. Love you guys.


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