Health and Caregiving

Where does a child’s anxiety end and a mother’s anxiety begin?

I have never considered myself to be an anxious person.  I’ve always been able to get through things relatively unscathed emotionally.  My daughter’s illness changed all that.  My parents’ illnesses also changed all that.  Now, I feel like I have a certain level of anxiety most of the time.  But, that anxiety is nothing compared to what my relatively tiny 9-year-old holds in her heart on an almost daily basis.

Actually, that may be an overstatement.  Maybe it isn’t an almost daily basis.  Maybe it isn’t even that often but every occurrence seems like a huge ordeal for me.  Or maybe sometimes her being upset about going somewhere or doing something isn’t anxiety but just plain old moodiness or tiredness or too much sugarness.  I don’t really know anymore, but I feel like I should know.  I feel like everytime something happens that could be related to anxiety, I should be doing something about it, making sure that she does not become a statistic.  She has been through so much already.  She doesn’t need to be feeling like she is not on her own side in life.  But, she is 9 years old.  So, how do I talk to her about it without making it something else that gives her anxiety?!?  Please, someone tell me.  Because at this point, I’m a little lost.

My daughter has been exceptional.  She survived an infant heart transplant, severe sleep apnea as a baby which led to a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, then a bump during a heart biopsy leaves her with a severely leaking tricuspid valve that requires her chest to be drained of fluid that had backed up and then several bouts of pneumonia and then an attempted repair that failed and probably led to her needing a pacemaker for irregular heartbeat.  She has quarterly cardiac clinic appointments where she has to get poked for blood, examined with gel and a probing device on her chest and abdomen.  So, to my rational mind, after all of that, what could possibly be scary?  What could possibly make you feel threatened?  Well, it seems that it is a lot of things.  Places where she doesn’t know anyone.  Places where she does know someone but for some reason feels like she doesn’t belong.  Math.  Sports that take place on a team.  Someone being late to pick her up from school.  Any change in classes and teachers.  Staying overnight, even with family and friends, without us there.  Sleeping in her own bed up until about six months ago.  Going to bed without someone going with her, even now.

So, what do I do?  I want to “fix” it, but I know that isn’t possible.  I am not a mental health professional.  And anxiety never really gets “fixed” it just is something people learn to deal with in a healthy way.  But, I don’t want to put some other thing on her to be “dealt” with like her chronic condition of being a heart transplant recipient and having a leaky valve and having a pacemaker.  She has to deal with so, damned much.  I just don’t want her to deal with this.  And maybe in some small way (or a large way), I don’t want to have to deal with this.  It is yet another thing on the long list of things to be “concerned” about, to be “aware” of, to know how to properly “deal with” to be sure it is not something we make harder on her in the future.  It is a lot.  For her.  For me.  For us.

I don’t know the answer to the question in the title of this blog post.  I don’t know what is her anxiety and what is my anxiety about her anxiety.  I may never know the answer to the question.  The best I can do is my best.  That is the best I can do in any situation.

DON'T QUIT

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday #1, 2017 – Connect

I am joining in for the first Five Minute Friday of 2017!  I’m excited to get started writing more consistently this year (and hopefully building my blog into something “more” as well) and Five Minute Friday is always a great exercise with a wonderful community along for the ride.  This week’s prompt is “Connect”.

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Here goes:

Well.  I am finding it somewhat difficult to connect to the prompt connect.  I’m just not sure where to go with it.  A lot comes to mind.  Connecting with others.  Making connections in my life.  Connecting the dots.  But, none of it is really driving me to write about it.  So, I guess I’ll write about how sometimes, it is difficult to connect with other people and things and that it is okay for that to be the case.  We would not appreciate the times when connections were strong and meaningful if those types of connections were constant and consistent.

I often have problems making close friends for example.  I just don’t connect with others as much as I would like.  And it isn’t for lack of trying.  But, when I do find someone I connect with, I feel it strongly and that connection is there whether we are spending a lot of time together or just a few minutes here and there.  I feel the same about entertainment and activities.  I don’t often feel strong connections with TV shows or movies or exercise programs.  Others seem to find something and really connect with it and loooooove it.  But, I don’t as often.  I connect with things from my past more than anything else.  Perhaps that is where I have my strongest connections – to my past.


That’s it.  I feel that this week was tough.  I’m not sure why.  It has been a long and somewhat stressful day (although I didn’t do much).  My DD is not feeling well.  And although she isn’t feeling horrible either, she did start running a fever tonight and with her past, I seem to be in a bit of a PTSD anxiety attack.  It isn’t horrible either.  I’m not panicked or anything, but I do feel a bit of trepidation about planning and what is going to happen.  In all reality, she will probably get better in a couple of days, without any complications.  We went to the pediatrician today and her lungs sounded good, she had nothing in her ears, her throat didn’t look too bad and she was negative for strep.  So, all good signs, but then she spikes a fever.  It just makes me wonder what is going on in that little body of hers.  And, in reality, it is probably nothing but a normal 7 year old virus that is running its course.  But, in a heart transplant recipient, it doesn’t ever seem like a virus or illness is normal or can just simply run its course without some concern.

So, I’m watching what I connect with – Poirot – on Netflix.  I’m waiting for the coming “Storm of the Decade” here in California, which should be hitting any time now.  I’m intermittently cleaning and organizing and purging.  I’m looking forward to a weekend of quiet and catching up and preparing for Spring 2017.  My DD is supposed to go back to school on Monday.  We will see how she is feeling.  But, I don’t have to worry because I’m not working next week!  We are scheduled to go to heart clinic on Tuesday, but with the illness/fever happening this weekend and the storm of the decade hitting, I think we will be rescheduling that.  So, that sets us up for a relatively quiet week ahead as well.  I can connect with that…

Health and Caregiving, Uncategorized

Tired but Wired

This is often my state of mind.  “Tired but Wired.”  I should make t-shirts.

So, what does this mean.  Well, I’m exhausted most of the time.  I work a job and a half (well, really a job and three quarters).  I take care of most of the household chores on a day-to-day basis.  I manage appointments and scheduling because I am the one with the busy schedule.  I don’t want to paint my DH out to be lazy.  He has a couple of jobs, but those jobs are long distance and highly intense for short bursts of time.  They are also jobs that I would say suffer from Parkinson’s Law – so, given deadlines, the work would be done in less time, but because it is often done without near-term deadlines, it expands to fill a lot of his time.  My job is more defined – I have teaching hours, office hours and then hours that I spend doing grading, prep, etc. but those are when I can fit them in.  My job suffers a bit from Parkinson’s Law as well.  So, we’re both working at home quite a bit.  Too much, in fact.

So, anyways, I am often feeling exhausted from everything I’ve had to do in a day AND staring down the barrel of a to-do list that is far too long to ever complete in the time provided for it.  I feel behind quite a bit of the time.  I often struggle with what I should be doing.  For example, right now, there are three loads of laundry piled up in our living room needing to be folded and put away, a load of dishes to unload from the dishwasher and more dishes waiting to go in, a mess on the dining room table to that needs to be dealt with (thrown away, put away, etc.) AND a pile of grading in my work bag that is late being handed back.  I currently can’t locate my video camera that has some presentations on it I need to grade.  I have an iPad that needs to be restored to make it functional.  And my in-laws are coming for the weekend and their bed in the guest room needs to be made.  I need to clean the bathrooms.  The list goes on and on.  And this is not unique.  This is my daily operating.  And that list of things makes me WIRED.  I feel tense and anxious and like I need to be constantly DOING.  But, I’m also TIRED.  Yesterday was my 13 hour day (with one two hour break in there) and I have a headache and my back hurts and I just want to curl up with a TV show and recover.  But, I teach in three and a half hours and I volunteer in my DD’s classroom in an hour.  And…and…and…

So, yeah, I ‘m both tired and wired.  I’m exhausted but anxious.  And I feel a little stuck.  I do have summer coming in a month.  During summer, I am mostly wired.  I get bored easily and feel like I NEED to be doing things.  But, I also don’t get much done.  It is a strange set of circumstances.  But, this summer, I plan to be more purposeful in REST and in WORK.  So, I’m going to plan times for both. I need to work on a course redesign I got a grant for and I have a few other projects I would like to get done during the summer.  But, I also realize that I need to have some DOWN time.  When I’m not working on anything.  When I can just decompress.  Sleep.  Relax.  Read.  Enjoy.  If I am not purposeful about that, the summer will be gone and I will still feel just tired and wired.  I want to feel rejuvenated and purposeful instead.  It isn’t quite as poetic, but it sure would feel better.

Six Word Saturday

Six Word Saturday –

Joining up with Six Word Saturday this week.

Travel hopes are high.  No Whammies!

This weekend I am getting ready for a trip to Indiana with more students than I’ve ever taken before.  The logistics for the trip are like an LSAT problem and I’m dealing with some anxiety over the trip (as I always do, but with 20 people traveling, the stakes seem higher this time).  Last year at this same tournament, I had the worst trip I’ve ever had.  Two hotel issues (that were totally my doing), a problem with the advance (again, my doing)…I guess that was all but that was enough to scar me.  Luckily, I was only traveling with two students, so the problems were easy enough to deal with.  With 20, that would definitely not be the case.

So, I’ve been trying to double and triple check all the plans, but I still feel totally anxious.  I have not been sleeping great and I have a ton of grading and cleaning and such to do before I leave on Wednesday morning VERRRRRRY early (like 3 am early).

That’s the other part of this equation.  My husband is currently in FL for work.  He will get back around 11 p.m. on Tuesday night.  I will leave at 3 am on Wednesday morning.  We did this same thing last year (tournament schedules are usually very similar year-to-year), but last year was when all hell broke loose with my DD’s meds and we switched to pills and she wouldn’t take them for me and then I left and my DH got her to take the meds fine but when I got back she started having these horrible anxiety attacks about school.  It ended up being her med levels because of the switch from liquid to pills, but the whole experience with the traumatic days leading up to my departure with the pills, then the problems while I was traveling, then coming back to these horrible anxiety attacks…it is making me even more anxious about this year.  Sigh…

So, in a way.  This year HAS to be better.  Right?

Tuesday Truth

Tuesday Truth – Anxiety vs. Reality

Today’s truth is a big one.  And one I need to be reminded of quite often:

Life is not as bad

They say anxiety runs in a family.  I’ve spoken before on the blog about my mom’s anxiety.  My husband also suffers from anxiety and has since he was little.  My daughter is definitely showing signs of it.  I don’t have much of an issue with anxiety, but every once in a while, I do work myself into a lather about one thing or another and convince myself that things are bad, bad, bad.  It often causes me to put off doing what I can about the situation, which, of course, only prolongs the suffering on my end.  But, over and over again, I’ve found that life is not really as bad as we can make it out to be in our minds.

I am someone who tends to the optimistic.  I try to give people the benefit of the doubt until they give me reason not to and I try to envision that good things will happen rather than bad.  But, there are some times that I just get fixated on something being horrible.  Often it is something that has resulted from some procrastination on my part and I have just let it get bigger and bigger in my mind.  At some point, I start to believe that the worst is the only possible result.  When I finally get around to acting on those things, I often find that the reality is much different, and better, than I had produced in my mind.

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that life is not nearly as bad as we can make it out to be in our minds.  In fact, it is often much, much better.  If I can keep that in mind at all times, I think I will let go of a lot of my procrastination.  And if I can model that behavior for my DD, perhaps she will be able to do the same.  Life is so much better when we do SOMETHING even if it isn’t perfect.  If we are waiting for perfection or postponing out of fear, we will end up missing out on things or causing ourselves worse problems.  I need to remember this truth when I’ve worked myself into a frenzy.

So, what’s your Tuesday Truth today?

Stray Thoughts Sunday

Stray Thoughts Sunday

Today has been a relatively good day, but I am struggling with the amount of clutter around my house.  I unloaded a HUGE bag of stuff and another smaller bag of stuff at the thrift store this morning, but it seems a little overwhelming every time I start to think about the volumes of stuff I have to get rid of.  I am selling a few things on Ebay.  We’ll see how that goes.  Ebay is sometimes good for me and sometimes a waste of time.  And I don’t predict very well what is one or the other.  So, it is like rolling dice in a craps game for me.  But, at least I have five more weeks of summer (!) before I have to be totally ready to go for Fall.  But, that seems like a really short amount of time!

Stray Thought Sundays

Childhood Anxiety:  My daughter is starting to show some signs of her anxiety coming back.  I’m really hoping that first grade is not going to be miserable.  She cried before Sunday School today and she LOVES Sunday School.  But, she’s had some fevers and been feeling bad because she is getting her sixth molar.  In addition, her favorite Sunday School teacher was not there this morning.  She ended up going after a good cry and was fine, but it is symptomatic of her anxiety coming back.  So, I’ll have to look into some strategies for dealing with it before her first day of first grade hits.

Race in America:  I have an interest in race issues and diversity since doing a few workshops dealing with the issue at my University.  I’ve come across a couple of really great articles this week that do a good job of explaining the complexity of issues from a personal viewpoint, so I will share them here in case anyone is interested.  The first, Black Exhaustion by Pilot Viruet.  The second, I, Racist by John Metta.

Gratitude is an attitude:  And I feel like my daughter is lacking it a bit these days.  She has had a SEVERE case of the Gimmes lately and despite the diagnosis being clear, the treatment is little less obvious.  She also was not incredibly nice to my mom when we spent the 10 days with her.  I realize that my mom’s emotional instability and hard time hearing is confusing to my daughter, so I often give her the benefit of the doubt.  But, I had to talk to her a couple of times about being nicer to her Grandma.  It was really eye opening for me and I feel like I need to do some serious changes based on these two things (Gimmes and lack of concern/love for others).  So, I plan to do some research and talk to others because in all honesty, I just don’t think I know what to do.  My talks get through in the short term, but the impact doesn’t seem to last long.

YouTube “unboxing” videos are evil:  Have you seen these videos?  There are entire channels that do nothing but open up toys on them.  Continuously.  New toy after new toy after new toy.  Some feature kids, but others are actually JUST adults.  Adults.  Opening toys.  Over and over again.  And they are on the YouTube for kids.  I am seriously thinking about pulling the cord on the iPad for my DD specifically because she can not get enough of these “unboxing” videos and I think it gives her a false expectation that there should always be something NEW to OPEN.  Sigh… I finally told her today that she could play with the iPad but could not watch YouTube because of this.  She was reluctant and it did cut the iPad session short.  Which was fine.  But, it is tough.  Anyone else have kids that love these channels?  I feel like Pandora’s box has been opened and I can’t close it up again.

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – Good

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I am participating in Five Minute Friday again!  I can do anything for five minutes.  Right?  So can you!  Write for five minutes on this week’s word:  GOOD and then link up over at Heading Home!

——->  GO!

So, this week’s topic, “Good” is kind of an obvious connection to this Friday being Good Friday.  But, I’m going to skip the holiday/Holy day connection and just focus on “good”.

I am spending the weekend with my mom again who is in hospice care.  She isn’t terribly ill (not like my Dad was when he was in hospice care), but she has a lot of pain (cancer) and even before this she suffered from a lot of anxiety and depression.  It is so hard sometimes to be around her because everything is so negative and although I know that is just her depression and anxiety speaking a lot of the time and that she has no control over it necessarily, it reminds me how important it is to recognize the good when you find some.  Sometimes it is but just a grain of sand on a beach of “bad” or suffering, but that grain can make all the difference in the world to the person who is able to find it and take it and hold on to it for dear life.  I guess I can sort of tie this in the Holy day connection, because that is basically what Easter is all about – finding the good in the tragic circumstances of the crucifixion.  Recognizing that from all this pain and suffering would come good and grace.  That hope against all hopes.

So, I’m going to try to start focusing on the good in my life more.  I’m going to try not to complain as much.  I’m going to try to focus on the grain of greatness instead of the sea of suffering.

–DONE.

There you have it!  I hope you’ll link up and join the write-in over at Five Minute Friday!  🙂