Is My Angel a Demon?
We've had a rough week. Can't really sugar-coat that for you. It's just been downright rotten. My dad went into the hospital with pneumonia, my son (in typical BAM fashion) spent most of the wee hours of the night cooing instead of snoozing, and our pediatrician told us that our girl was struggling with seasonal allergies and prescribed her Claritin to take every single day. But another, more concerning thing happened. Our girl went crazy.
Starting on Tuesday, we noticed that her normal cheerful disposition (speckled with normal toddler moodiness) was replaced with violent rage, screaming episodes fit for the scariest of horror flicks and random freak-outs about bugs and worms.
I've heard that 3 years old is worse than two, but could it REALLY be this bad? I swear this kid levitated more than once.
I went to Facebook for help.
You can see I had quite a response. But even with pretty much everyone agreeing that this was, indeed, normal, something just didn't seem right to us. There was no gradual increase in temper intensity.
She just went flat-out demonic. She would scream bloody murder for 20, 30 minutes at a time. A blood-curdling, angry, violent scream, two inches from our faces. She suddenly became terrified of pipe cleaners, insisting that they were worms. She saw bugs in our house that weren't there.
One night, at bedtime, she was thrashing so badly, Sean and I had to both hold her down to keep her from hurting herself. It was truly frightening.
Eventually, all the feedback from our friends and family convinced us that we had, in fact, entered upon a terrifying and miserable stage of toddlerhood. We felt immediately defeated, and then got a bug up our butts about taking our home back into our own control.
About two hours before we were to get together, I got a message from another mama who had been dealing with the same kinds of things, only with her 9 year-old. After lots of research, she had narrowed it down to the fact that he had recently started taking Zyrtec for allergies and asthma.
And she had found that Claritin was also often named as an offending medication with the same side effects.
So I checked out the link she suggested I read and was absolutely shocked.
"My Child is almost 2 I gave her Claritin for allergies and she was a COMPLETELY different child!!!! I will not give this to my child anymore! She was angry, throwing things, nightmares, nervousness, restless, EXTREME mood swings she was VERY scared of everything in the mornings. I feel HORRIBLE thinking it was just her terrible 2's in full effect. I wouldn't reccomend [sic] Claritin to ANYONE for their children!"
"My 3 yr old experienced anger, crying jags, couldn't sleep, hitting his sister, hyperactivity and yelling. We began to see these side effects approximately 1 hour after taking one tablet of the Children's Claritin (Grape flavor)."
"DO NOT GIVE TO CHILDREN!! hallucinations of bugs trying to kill her, NIGHT TERRORS, irritability!!!!! My daughter would wake up throughout the night screaming, crying, telling us bugs were trying to kill her. It was awful. I realized this started a week ago when she started taking Claritin, its the Loratadine as he took the generic brand also."
"My son became very uncontrollable with many outburst and tantrums daily. He would have violent anger attacks on me and I was beginning to feel like a horrible parent that didn't know what to do for my child. We had been giving him claritin for 2 months and happen to forget to give it to him a couple nites [sic] in a row and we seen a drastic change in behavior. He was back to himself, loving and fun."
constipation,urinary retention,violent outbursts,hallucinations(seeing bugs everywhere), drug withdrawal,severe stomach cramping, sore & cramping muscles"
Get the picture?
I was devastated that I gave this crap to my beautiful, cheerful little girl without doing any research at all. And then I basically made fun of the craziness to my friends. And in the mean time, my poor little pumpkin was agitated, depressed and scared.
We stopped immediately and our girl was back to her old self by evening. We knew we were heading toward the clear when we were at Michael's picking up some craft supplies and she ran up to the cashier and said, "HIIIII! I'm iToddler! What's YOUR favorite color?"
Man, I love her.
The next morning (this morning, if you're keeping track), she was completely back to her old self, no hint of the terror that haunted her for the previous three days.
At that point, we were 98% sure that we had the problem resolved, but the true test required something more crafty. Literally. I broke out the pipe cleaners. Sean twisted two together and I asked him to try to make it look like a worm.
And will you look at this?
It was really important to me to write about this and put it out there. I'm so so very thankful to the beautiful mama who reached out to me to share her story with her son, and I pray that she is finding some relief now that he is off his Zyrtec. Since the saga played out on Facebook, lots of people said they've heard of these types of awful side effects, but even more were shocked to learn about the possibilities.
It's my hope that this will help even one family avoid the fear and heartache we've dealt with over this past week (and my friend has dealt with for a month). Please leave a comment if you've ever deal with this with your kids. Solidarity, friends! We've got to help each other out.
As for us, things are completely back to order. And I'm back to focusing on the funny and fantastic, rather than the fearful.
And that's a place I'm very, very thankful to be.
(and yes, that is a banana in my toaster)