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16 Dec 2008 06:00
Every mother worries about her child’s health more than she should. On one occasion I obsessed so badly that I found myself thinking about it more than I should.
Researching a diagnosis and eventually finding it—in the newspaper I work for—in the form of a feature article under my own byline was how bad the obsession had become.
Even though later during my interview with a medical doctor my son was cleared of the condition, I went ahead and wrote the article for the sake of all mothers out there. Before then I was running around like a headless chicken trying to get the facts about this condition.
The problem began when I came across a magazine article about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and how this was a concern in the United States.
That day when I got home I started obsessing about every little move that my two-year-old son made. When he came running to me after work crying: “Mama, Mama”, I thought to myself: “Yip, this boy cannot be still”, as that was what I had learned was one of the main symptoms.
The following two weeks became an obsession for me. I could not stop worrying that my son could be one of those children who couldn’t listen in class, would annoy the neighbours and visitors and eventually fail and drop out of college and stay with me until he was fat and bald.
Later I realised that I was the mental one when I actually pitched a story on ADHD in a planning meeting and started my research. I made an appointment with a psychologist—just for my article, of course.
When I saw the doctor he was clearly puzzled that I even knew about the condition.
During the interview I kept directing questions towards where I wanted the conversation to go, such as: “Do you think ADHD is a problem in Botswana and can you notice with a child as young as two years old?” He could not answer me directly because he did not know what I was on about. “ADHD is a very serious condition and Botswana is no exception, and yes it can be noticed in children as young as two,” he said. “Ha!” I said.
As the doctor patiently responded to my leading questions, I kept comparing his answers with my son’s behavioural patterns and trying, furtively, to come up with my own diagnosis. Eventually I could not handle it any more: I just shot straight out that I was worried about my one and only child.
“Ah, so that’s what this is all about?” he asked.
“Partly, yes,” I replied, “but it’s also because an article on the condition just happened to catch my eye and I thought it was important for mothers to know about it here in Botswana.”
That was only part of the reason but it worked perfectly.
The doctor told me that ADHD needed to be identified early in children. It could affect a child’s learning ability because of a lack of concentration. As I was talking to him I realised that every mother needed to know about the condition.
Before I learned about ADHD I would have found it hysterically funny if a mother took her child to hospital because the child couldn’t sit still for three minutes.
After the interview I asked the good doctor if he could see my son—just to be sure, you know. Even though my son is a very active boy the doctor found him not guilty.
The article was published and I started receiving a lot of calls from other obsessive mothers. I had to explain that I was not a doctor but referred them to relevant websites and of course the good doctor, who had helped me. I knew what they were going through.
Patricia Maganu is a staff reporter with Mmegi and The Monitor. She lives in Francistown
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