Monday, May 19, 2014

Old Age Onset ADD

Is it possible that the older we get the more our probably always present attention deficit disorder (ADD) comes to the fore? I think I've always been rather easily distracted but there was usually a school assignment to finish, job to get done, a deadline to meet or a goal to achieve. The daily jobs, deadlines and goals have either been eliminated or the schedule is much more flexible. That can be both good and bad.

The terms for this behavior have changed over the years. When I was growing up very active kids were called rambunctious, wild, hell-raiser, rowdy or usually just plain trouble-makers. Kids who didn't or couldn't pay attention or concentrate were labelled as slow or dumb. Neither behavior was ever thought of as a medical or mental condition. By the time my generation had children, the words attention deficit had entered our vocabulary. A couple of years later hyperactive got added into the equation. So what was once attention deficit disorder (ADD) is now attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I'm confident that shortly our medical, educational and government bureaucracy will find another condition to add (not ADD) to the mix thereby requiring a new acronym. The possibilities are endless. You could add (again not ADD) chronic, severe, genetic, extreme, environmental, inherent, late or early onset, drug induced, natural, unnatural or a thousand other descriptors to the basic ADD. There will of course be a specific treatment, protocol and/or drug for each of these variants.

I know times change and I know this will sound like "back in my day" crap, but please look at this picture of one of my elementary school class pictures. Two things, notice the size of the class, it's over 50 (there was a second class the same size) and secondly, find the fat kid(s). There also was not an expert pediatric pharmaceutical nurse practitioner at the school. Our school was truly a drug free zone.

No one in this picture had ADD or ADHD. I don't remember a big allergy problem either. Some of them were a little rambunctious and some had trouble staying focused but that wasn't a disease, syndrome or condition. It was just being a kid. We played outside, often all day. 

In the last 50 years we have become an obese drug dependent society. I often ride my bike past an elementary school that backs up to a park with a bike trail that runs for a few miles through residential neighborhoods. There are never more than a dozen bikes in the bike rack and often there are none. I'm pretty sure those kids aren't walking to school so they are getting there by car or bus. I go to the local park to watch youth baseball and see a field full of out of shape, unengaged players. Get outside, get dirty, inhale the pollen. It will make you stronger and healthier.

Back to my original premise. I'm sure I have ADD. I'm also sure I don't have ADHD. there is no hyper involved in my behavior. The reasons I think I'm an ADD guy is that I can not watch TV without doing stuff on my PC and/or tablet or reading some old style paper based media. I have eight blog posts partially written in draft mode. I currently have three books next to my recliner that are partially read. There are a few other books scattered around that have been started. I often get sidetracked on Google or my way to the kitchen. When I retire for the day I hit the power button on the radio next to my bed. Sometimes I get up after tossing around for a couple of hours. Seems I can't turn the brain off.  Of course I'm watching the morning news on TV while I type this post. 

Now I  have to admit that once I do get to sleep I can run off 10, 12, 16, 20 hours straight. I can also stay up for a day or two or three straight. My internal clock is truly screwed up. Thank you all those years of 24 hour IT support and night shifts. Yet, I don't feel the need to take drugs like Lunesta to go to sleep or Modafinil to stay awake.
Without the need to meet work imposed schedules and deadlines, I have become more ADD. When I think of something, I better do it immediately because in approximately 22.85403296 nanoseconds I will be distracted and forget the original task. I must leave this room with a purpose or I'll forget the task by the time I get to the next room which is about 6' (4 steps) away. Have no fear though, I'll have about 34 other thoughts/ideas on the way. 

I do often wish I could stay more focused. I'd like to finish the three or four books I have started. I have
plenty more on the to-be-read shelf. I'd like to finish the blog posts still in draft mode. I have other topics in the queue. I'd like to remember why in the hell I went into the kitchen or study or bed room or bathroom.  Wait, I usually do remember why I went into the bathroom. I do that more often than in the past.

I like the lack of schedules and structure in my life, I just wish I could remember why I opened the refrigerator. Oh wait, the fridge is where I keep the beer. That is most likely why I opened that large cooling appliance in my kitchen.

Stay focused -


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