Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'm Tired and I Want to Lie Down

Image by Danilo Rizzuti

Soup of the Day:  PTSD

And not my child's.  Could I be diagnosed with PTSD?

According to this article about the stress levels of mothers of kids with autism, it's highly likely.

When I read the article, I guffawed at first.  Then I thought about it some more.  I thought about the incident that took place on Monday, when I found myself calling 911 because E. was so frighteningly out of control.  He was threatening to kill himself and was fighting tooth and nail to get past me to get into the kitchen and get a knife. I have bruises covering my arm.

I stayed calm throughout the majority of the ordeal (well, as calm as possible).  Once the police arrived and took hold of the situation, I sank onto the couch.  I felt my chest began to contract, I started breathing in gasps, and my hands were shaking uncontrollably as the adrenaline that had been flooding my body took hold.  I felt sick, like I was going to throw up.  Later that night, I was hit with major digestive issues.  According to a quick web search, my tummy troubles were the result of the major adrenaline dump that had occurred earlier in the day.

This is what severe stress looks like.  While not every day is that bad, every day is a struggle.  Every day has some kind of stress attached to it.  From little things like arguing over whether E. had cleaned himself properly to bigger issues like today's, when I was visited by maintenance.  It turns out that E. had been dumping the garbage out by the side of the building instead of in the dumpster.  Why?  It's actually a farther walk to the location where the dumping was happening than it is to the dumpster.  And of course the mess was spreading as birds and scavengers went through our garbage bags.  The guy who visited me was clearly pissed about it. I'm pissed too.  There goes my stress level.

Now I'm trying to work out an appropriate consequence (I'm thinking garbage pick-up this weekend).  I know that there's going to be a fight tonight when we confront him, and I feel sick -- preemptively.

The other part of the article that spoke to me was that mothers of children with autism are interrupted at least one day out of every four, compared to other moms, who are interrupted less than one day out of ten.  It's why I left my full-time job.  How can you keep up a job when you are constantly fielding phone calls from the school or child care?  I'll tell you -- you can't.  At least today I could just stop what I was doing and answer the door.  But trying to juggle constant messages from human resources, write-ups for missed work, the dread of knowing that you have to go speak to your manager because you have to leave for the second time that week...  Constant stress.

I have no solutions.  I try to take care of myself, but some days it has to take a backseat to dealing with all of E.'s crises.  Today is one of those days.  I feel like a mess, but I have too much work to do.  Writing in the blog is my self-care for the day.  I'm hoping to meet up with a friend later, but I may have to cancel, depending on how E. handles the revelation that he's been caught red-handed.

This is my life.  And then people wonder why I'm cranky.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On Intuition

The What Ifs can be scary sometimes.
Image by digitalart

Last week my daughter spiked a fever of 105.  I knew she was running a fever, but I didn't realize how high it was.  Every time I approached her with the thermometer, she would fight me like a little wildcat.  By early afternoon, however, she was complaining that her ears were hurting.  She's always been prone to ear infections, and, in fact, had tubes placed when she was just a year old.

I called the pediatrician, but they were unable to see us right away.  My husband and I debated whether we should take her to the Urgent Care to get her checked out.  In the meantime, she went into her room and covered herself in her heavy comforter and fell asleep.  We stood looking at her, trying to decide what to do.  "Take her in," the little voice in my heart said.  "She's been acting listless all day, and she probably has an ear infection.  Take her in now, and you won't have to deal with the ER later."  Alright, alright, I said.

I felt terribly guilty as I extricated her from the blankets, and I couldn't help noticing again how very warm she was.  We got to the Urgent Care and had to wait a bit.  The place was packed.  She leaned against her daddy and looked up at me with bleary eyes.  She looked incredibly pale and fragile.

When we were seen, the nurse performed all the usual checks: height, weight (she's getting so big!), blood pressure.  Then she ran the thermometer over her forehead.  I caught a glimpse of the number on it as she pulled it away.  I did a double take and my jaw dropped.  105.1!  "Oh my god," I said.  "Is that thing accurate?"  The nurse tried it again and got the same result.

The fever finally came down with a good dose of  ibupofen and acetaminophen and a little time.  But my mind keeps going back to that moment where she had been lying in her bed, wrapped up in that heavy comforter. That awful question of what if? dangles.  What if I had just let her lie there?  How high would her fever have gone without intervention?  What effect would the comforter have had?

I brought up the question to some friends the other night.  "Her fever would have broke and she would be fine," my friend said.  "Yeah, but what if it didn't?" I asked.  "But it doesn't matter," she replied.  "You followed your intuition."

That same intuition was what drove me for so many years, trying to figure out what was going on with my son.  I tell the full story here of our attempts to get E. properly diagnosed.  Doctor after doctor, therapist after therapist. Even once we had our diagnosis, we continued working until we felt like we had the best team possible.  Why?

Intuition told me to.  "Something is wrong," the little voice said.  "This isn't typical."  So I continued to search for answers to the questions.  And I always will.