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Monday, February 20, 2012

Adventures in Ambien

Last I updated, we were about to fill our prescription of Ambien (Zolpidem).

The prescription was filled last Friday, and we had lift off.

We started with the lowest dosage, 2.5mg at around 5:30PM because the primary reason for the Ambien trial was for sleep. This time of day is when the "whineys" come out so naturally it's when Christian would need help falling asleep.

About a half hour after I gave him the Ambien I immediately noticed that he was more alert. He wasn't fussing much at all, but he had a lot of tone and was trying to arch a lot. This happens when he's trying to move sometimes and it used to happen a lot more closer to the time of the accident and again when we were weaning him off baclofen.

The alertness lasted about two hours and then he was calm again and ready to go to bed. Night one on Ambien was a bust in the sleeping department. At that point I still questioned whether it was the Ambien that made Christian act differently or just a fluke.

The second evening we gave Christian the same amount at the same time and the same thing happened. He was much more alert, he was turning his head from side to side (which isn't all that normal for Christian because he can't get stuck to the left), moving his hands, and I was sure it was because of the Ambien.

By Sunday (yesterday) it was evident that the pendulum that is Ambien was not going to swing toward the sleep option for Christian. It is definitely a brain stimulant for him. So I questioned whether we should be giving it to him in the evening when he's supposed to be winding down. We did have room to increase the dosage to 5mg so we decided to do that to see if that would induce some type of sleep. (This amount came with permission from his neurologist). Maybe the dosage wasn't enough. So we tried the full tablet of 5mg last night and, boy, was that an experience.

Christian was on brain overload. He was completely flexed but moving his hands pretty much nonstop. Laying down he was moving his head back and forth from side to side. He wasn't fussing that much but there was a moment when I had him in the kitchen with me while I was making dinner. Lola pushed him in his chair over to the counter so she could crawl up and "help" me cook. I grabbed her and told her she had to get out of the kitchen and then as I pushed Christian away from the counter I said, "That means you, too!" In response he proceeded to give me a look with an expression I'd never seen him make before as he grunted at me in a sound I've also never heard him make.

He was also using so much tone, when I put him on his elbows in prone position he used his tone and extension to arch and roll his way over to his back again and again, and quicker than ever, too.

But it was just too much for him. It was too much on his little brain, I believe. He was so stimulated, I actually got a little nervous about it, because one cheek started to flush. It was like it amplified his brain's disorganization. Every move he made was more constant, more frequent, but he couldn't make sense of it or put it together.

Luckily, Ambien has a short lifespan - maybe a two hour window. It's meant to put someone to sleep so it doesn't last a long time. Which is good in this instance because when it was too much for him, it only lasted a little while and then he eased back into regular Christian without a hiccup. And the funny thing is that it made him so alert that it actually ended up wearing him out and allowing him to sleep! Round about consequences, I guess.

So tonight I went back to the original lower dosage and he handled that fine. He was still alert and moving all over. He vocalizes a lot more, too, and in a slightly different tone than I've heard him before. Since giving it to him I've seen a lot more of his little half smiles and that has happened while on the Ambien but mostly in between doses. And right after he eased back into regular Christian, he fell asleep.

I can say without a doubt Ambien is a stimulant and causes an opposite effect on Christian's brain than what it is intended for. We're going to stick with it and see if we can put it to use but I'm contemplating giving it to him in the morning so he can get some use out of it at school. I know it's not hurting him because he would whine and cry through the whole thing if it were any bit uncomfortable. He tolerates it really well.

Ambien is sticking around and our adventure with it continues...

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