Friday, July 30, 2010

Something about being real

For a long time I have been trying to figure out what my blog was for or about. Sure, it is about my life as a mom and as a wife. It is about 2 cute little boys and their crazy adventures. It is about grad school and getting to the other side. But lately I have felt the need to be more transparent with some of my struggles because I am beginning to see that everyone needs someone to relate to.

I can't sleep right now. This is pretty normal for me. I spend most of my late nights laying in my bed staring straight up at the ceiling BEGGING my mind to shut up so I can sleep. OR I get up and peck around on my computer. I journal pretty much every night to just get the thoughts out. I have been like this ever since I can remember. I worry incessantly about everything. I walk around fearing what people are thinking about me and my stomach hurts about 90% of the time. I have trouble going to new places. I have issues meeting new people. I have anxiety. Bad anxiety. It is pretty common for people who were abused as children to have anxiety both as children and as adults. There are some studies that suggest that how our brains have been physically altered by abuse. This affects things like memory but also how we communicate with people. Sometimes reading emotion that isn't there because we are so used to trying to figure out how to keep ourselves safe. This has been a very big struggle for me since I was very young. It picked up in high school and through a bit of college then kind of settled down until I had children. Since having my two sweet boys, I have found new ways to become anxious. Much of the time my mind is completely occupied with how to keep my children safe.

And I wish it were as simple as realizing my thoughts weren't rational. If it were that simple, I could totally feel better. But it is very complicated. Sometimes I need to be medicated for this. It is what it is. If you don't sleep you can't function and if you lay in bed until 2 or 3 every morning and your children get up at 6:30... you have to figure out a way to give your body a rest. If you can't take your kids out of the house because you have too much anxiety to do normal things that parents should do with their children... it is tough. I feel like I have a grasp on what is going on buy I am powerless to change it.

And this is where I am today... working on figuring out what needs to be done so that I can function best for my family. Working every day to try and free myself from the past. Trying to figure out appropriate and healthy boundaries for people. And sometimes I feel sorry for myself. There is a lot more to it than just anxiety. I have some other issues that overlap and feed my anxiety. So I am in counseling and trying to get my mind and my body to kind of work together instead of against each other. I am exercising. Trying to eat better. And trying to take care of my mind. Getting the medical care I need in addition to these things. I feel like I am making the right steps. I just have to keep making good choices and trust that it will all work out to a healthy woman at some point.

Counseling is hard though. Taking care of yourself is hard. There are so many other things I feel an obligation to. But when I think about it, none of it much matters if I am not taking care of myself because I can't give to them if I am feeling crummy. I can't invest in relationships if i can't trust. I can't allow my children freedom if I try to micromanage their lives because of my own fear. I can't be the wife my husband needs if I can't learn to cope with past abuse without projecting things onto him... things he has never done and will never do.

Anyway, I just wanted to let some of the people who read my blog know they are not alone. I added a new link to the side of my blog for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. Its a pretty useful site. If you have PTSD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (or other anxiety disorders), don't be afraid to get help. They seem to be things people think they can will themselves through and that is not always the case. I know my biggest motivation is and has always been to end the cycle of abuse so that my children never grow up with the experiences I had. THEY deserve so much more. *I* deserved so much more. *YOU* deserve so much more.

-as a note... some of this was written last night well well past my bedtime and some was written this afternoon when I was thinking a bit more clearly and not just rambling.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Super Muscles Reads!

Here is my sweet boy reading a story!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Environmental Contributions...

As everyone is starting to learn... I have 2 beautiful kids who have some sensory issues. I would not classify them as ridiculously bad or anything. My older son has problems with sound (which is a problem I have too... ). He is terrified of sounds above and beyond what is normal. This does not pose any significant issues most of the time but it can be a little hard to deal with. We avoid some activities because I would rather not have a field trip end in him being terrified of something instead of learning about it and enjoying it. He hates fireworks (me too!). Sirens, toilets flushing, vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, people screaming or yelling (although, the kid himself... can be down right loud!). Slobber Rocket has more severe sensory issues. He doesn't eat much. Textures are very difficult for him to get used to and accept. And he just really most of the time doesn't seem to enjoy eating. He doesn't know how to chew many foods because he forgets they are in his mouth. He doesn't like to be washed off and he is starting to beg to have his clothing taken off of him or throwing a fit when he wants his clothes off. And he has some various other things going on too but I am just really setting the stage...

These are hurdles for my family to get over. I am not trying to garner sympathy or anything like that. My children are healthy even though they face a few challenges with interpreting the world around them. They are things that make my children unique and things that contribute to the people they are becoming and will become. They add depth to their personality. And my children are cognitively doing very well. Socially they are great too (okay so one of them is a little socially quirky but I think he gets that from his dad. ha). It just seems that for some reason, they don't really seem to interpret some data that they receive from their environment as they should. And the thing is... this is becoming VERY common. I spoke with a teacher today who said that she has seen it rise exponentially in her school. I know more and more parents who are dealing with it. One of my very good friends deals with this on a much wider spectrum than I do with my boys. Another women I met has a daughter that is a huge sensory seeker. The child can not slow down. She has to be jumping or swinging or running all. the. time. She doesn't sleep well at all and she has lots of anxieties about the world. Sure, there will always be the thought that maybe we are just diagnosing everything under the sun these days. But if you honestly evaluate children, I think you will see that even if we are over-diagnosing by 50% or more... there are still a LOT more kids with these issues.

So... I am wondering what environmental factors might be contributing to the rise in Sensory Processing Disorders and various sensory related issues. The increase in Autism also could be related to this idea. I am starting to believe that we are doing things to our bodies and our children's bodies that are actually changing some of our brain chemistry. Antibiotics in meat? Growth hormones in milk and animal products? Pesticides? Water pollution (I read once some of the things that is carried into our rivers, streams and other water sources... ew)? Processed foods? Artificial Sweeteners? Artificial coloring? Vaccines?

And with this idea, I am wondering what it is going to take for us to realize some of the things we do in this country are changing so much more than we want to admit.

So what do you guys think? Do you think there are environmental causes? If so what do you think contributes most directly to the increase in SPD and Autism or ADHD or various other disorders we have seen a rapid increase in over the last 50 years.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Busy and running

Mr. Wonderful left on Sunday for what I lovingly refer to as a "nerd conference". Yes, if you haven't already noticed the pattern, he goes to quite a few of these a year. So every single moment of my time has been occupied with some very excessively needy children this week. We all miss Daddy. He comes home today though! So we have been going to parks and bowling and to VBS this week to just try to wear out my crazy energetic 4 year old so he would sleep well at night and not cry and fuss. It has worked pretty well and thank goodness! I imagine this weekend is going to be very chill with us just spending lots of time together. It is HOT here in central IL but I have to get some runs in too.

Running is becoming so therapeutic for me and not being able to run for a week has made me a little grumpy. There is just something comforting about only being able to hear your heartbeat, breath and thoughts. The endorphins, the adrenaline, the progress. It is a feeling that you are finally doing something for yourself. It is healing for me to be able to have time to myself to just think and focus on... me. Not me as a mom or a wife. Not me as a that girl with a complicated family or a hurting heart scarred deeply from the past. But. just. me. I can get out the emotions or I can dream or I can just concentrate on my body getting stronger and changing. I can set goals that I CAN accomplish. I know I can accomplish them and that it is only a matter of time before I am stronger and faster and running longer. It never seems hard or complicated. When I get anxious, I can run and run and run and run some more and feel all the tension and stress leave my body. It may come back when I stop running or when I get into the car to drive to counseling but for a little while before something big... I feel half way normal again.

It really is one of those things you think people are a bit psycho about. ha! Who LIKES running? Running can be painful and its boring (it was for a while, I have huge focus/concentration issues). But I have stuck with it and found it to be comforting and familiar and even... enjoyable. Go. Figure. Oh and I can run bases much faster. Just sayin' ;). So if you have thought about it but thought again and changed your mind OR if you have started it and then hated it... I think you should try it again. Try it for a month before you decide. But even if it is not for you, find something that is for YOU. Take care of yourself.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Family update :)

So, Slobber Rocket is doing well in speech therapy. Still  not getting enough calories because he won't eat enough but we are trying to work on ways to improve that. But he does seem to be adjusting to some new textures and he is becoming more accepting of foods and playing with them more and more. Now if we can get him to pack on some more weight... Progress is slower than I would like but I can see it happening which I am thankful for. He has not, however, gained any weight in the past 3 weeks so I am going to ramp up his calories again and see if we can get him gaining. He goes back to the ped in 4 weeks... He is also learning and talking a ton. He is so sweet and cuddly and talkative and expressive. He is polar opposite of his brother. More similar to me than to daddy. Super Muscles is more similar to daddy (or identical to daddy... however you want to explain the phenomenon).

Super Muscles is having a few issues with discipline lately. He is definitely trying his boundaries and seeing how firm mom and dad are going to be with the rules. We are pretty firm though so it ends in lots of tears and screaming and sometimes throwing stuff. But when he isn't extremely confused about his emotions, he is busy reading and being curious. He loves books and is getting quite fast and good at reading. Still struggling, at times, with complicated rules of our fun language but he is trying very hard. I love it. He is always trying to take things apart and figure them out. He is so naturally curious and he is also encouraged to be curious by naturally curious parents. It makes for a fun home full of experiments and information exploration. Mr. Wonderful and I were discussing the other day how we hope he always loves learning this much and as much as the constant and unending "why"s sometimes annoy us, we hope he is always curious and will always continue to ask why. The big news for him is that he is going to start preschool in the fall! I am taking him to be enrolled on Friday. I know he will love it. He craves structure and learning and social interaction. I think he will do so well in school. And honestly, I think the time away from me and his brother will be a welcome change of pace for him. He is really seeming to find his own identity lately and is fiercely independent. I am just so excited that he will get this opportunity.

Mr. Wonderful is about to embark on a week long journey to New Hampshire for a "nerd conference" (as I so lovingly refer to them). He is busy with grad student stuff lately. His boss is up for tenure so they are scurrying around trying to get all their ducks in a row. Praying that after this whole tenure push, things slow down for him. I don't like the pace of things right now. I think we all need things to slow down a bit and time to relax. Not much else up with him. Grad school takes up most of his time and our family the rest of it. I am so thankful for his hard work and for his dedication to both his work and to our family. He is an awesome husband and dad. I don't give him enough credit sometimes but I am very very thankful to have him in my life.

Me... well I am okay. Thankful for my family. Loving on my boys. Nurturing them and helping their sweet little minds and bodies grow (full time job this body growth thing). I am going to counseling weekly and trying to get myself healthier. My ear is still messed up and I have another ENT apt soon so I am hoping that Dr. Y has more suggestions. Theoretically the surgery should have helped my ear more than it has. My hearing, while not perfect, is much better (YAY!) but I am still getting frequent infections, clogged ear, and my ear drum (which is new) is not moving and is "sucked in". So basically I am still having a lot of pain and trouble hearing (because my ear is clogged a lot of the time). I am on a new medication for my allergies to see if that will help but it hasn't. Um, my asthma and allergies have been better controlled than they have been in a long time. I am running longer and further every day and my lungs feel better than they have in a long while. Emotionally, I am a mess a lot of the time. But I am praying that getting some things worked out in therapy will be helpful. I am also having a lot of anxiety but I generally know why and am usually able to calm myself down. Keep me in your prayers as I work through some big stuff. I am very emotionally tired from it all and I know it is only going to get worse before it gets better.

And that is about all in my testosterone rich abode. Take care and love on your family and friends. We are so blessed to have the people we love in our lives!

Friday, July 9, 2010

No touching please

I went to my first counseling session yesterday. I found it to be... strange. I had a lot of anxiety about it and had to talk myself into going in. Like, I called a friend because I was about a half a second from turning around and going back home. My stomach was killing me, I was nauseous, I was feeling like the car was closing in on me, I couldn't think and it was getting hard to breathe... I was having a panic attack. I have sort of learned some tricks to helping myself get through them. I can calm myself down most of the time enough to function. I calmed myself to the point that I could go inside but my stomach was in absolute knots. The office was nice. Good music, amazing decorating style, sweet faces... I started to calm down a little. Then my counselor came out to see me and that is where I decided this really really really might not be a great idea. I say hi and then she gives me a big, giant hug. I feel the room closing in on me again. I feel like there is no where to run. I feel like the hug lasts 15 minutes... at least. I just want her to stop touching me. I don't say anything because I don't like confrontation. I ignore all the retreat orders going through my brain. I resist the urge to shove her away from me and run out of the room. I felt so out of control. I hated being touched and I couldn't move or say anything. We go in and do some talking/intake kind of stuff. I was honest, detached but honest.

When I got home, my husband asserts that I should just tell her how I felt. I thought he was right but I always worry about hurting people's feelings and not saying things with enough consideration. I used to be one of the most tactless people around. I used to wear my anger with the world right on my sleeve and anything could piss me off. I fight those tenancies down. I still have a lot of anger. But I don't want to be an angry person. So I run from most confrontation. And my initial response was to avoid confrontation. But my husband pointed out that avoiding it would only result in another similar situation. And honestly, I don't want to discount someone because they touched me when they didn't even know I didn't want to be touched. I tell Super Muscles all the time to use his words when he is in a situation that is frustrating or hurtful but I don't even know how to use my own words. I sent her an email last night and explained the situation. It was a compromise between confronting the issue head on and in person and running from the situation all together. Thankfully I am sure most counselors are used to weirdos who don't like to be touched though. And as my friend so eloquently put it "if she doesn't like it, she can talk to her therapist about it".

So maybe once I have this whole touching thing under control I will feel more comfortable seeing her next week? This week has been very hard on me as far as emotions go but to be honest I am going to have a period of time where I suck to be around or talk to. The first couple of months of therapy have proven, in the past, to be very hard on me. And right now I am trying to deal with some things that are much more difficult in terms of actually handling than I have addressed before. I am digging up the past (intentionally) in order to make one of the hardest, most complicated decisions I have ever made. Prayers and healing thoughts are, as always, quite welcome. Thanks for being part of my journey. I appreciate everyone who reads my blog and thinks about me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Slobber Rocket Update

My little Slobber Rocket has been going to speech therapy for... 6? weeks now I think. He is doing okay. It is very slow going and his food choices are really limited still. He also takes forever to eat one meal because of various sensory issues he has with eating. Yesterday at speech we spent an hour and got 10 noodles (maybe), a bite of shredded chicken, a few bits of cheese, and a graham cracker with strawberry cream cheese on it down him. It took him 20 minutes to chew and swallow a bite of noodles with chicken. But we did get him to swallow it. The other foods I had he refused to eat but he touched them and even put the green beans into his mouth. He has overcome a major hurdle in kids with eating problems. He will touch food and he will sometimes put new foods into his mouth. So those are good things. He definitely has texture issues with food but we are discovering more and more that he has quite a few additional sensory problems that also affect eating. He over stuffs his mouth like crazy with things he can tolerate keeping in his mouth. He just doesn't register that there is anything in his mouth for some reason. He forgets to chew (again, he has no clue there is something in his mouth). He slobbers if he is overstimulated by a taste, smell or texture. So it takes me a crazy long time to feed him daily. I offer him a few bits of food at a time to make sure he doesn't over stuff his mouth and we practice chewing. I also often times have to give him something crunchy while food is still in his mouth to remind him to chew. He has improved greatly with the cup though! He is keeping most liquid in his mouth now unless he really dislikes it or is just playing with the cup.

He is likely going to be referred to an OT because of the sensory issues his speech therapist has noticed along with the fact that we can no longer bathe him without major major problems. He screams bloody murder through the whole torturous event. And honestly I can not figure out the best strategy to help. Our pediatrician suggested sponge baths for a while (which he doesn't mind being wiped with a cloth most of the time) but I am not sure if removing the submersion totally will help or hurt. I do try to encourage him to put his feet into the water and sometimes he will try and other days he screams and claws for me. He DID let our friend, T, put water on him at the pool the other day though. We already go 2-3 days between baths because it is such an ordeal and I wipe him down in between. He also has similar issues to sound that his big brother has but at 17 mos. it is hard to tell if it will be a long term problem like it has been for Super Muscles.

We are also trying to work with Early Intervention to get him into a nutritionist as well. His last doctors appointment went well. He has gained almost a lb in 2 mos and an inch in the same course of time. Which is great for him. He had all but flat lined, gaining maybe an oz or 2 between visits before I started infusing all of his food with healthy fats. At any rate, ped would like to see him gain another lb in the next 6 weeks. He is still only in the .5% for weight and 3% for height which is still small enough to be concerning. So the nutritionist can tell us how many additional calories he would need daily to gain a lb in 6 weeks. The problem: my insurance will not cover the consult and it is $300 for one. So L (speech therapist), is going to talk with some people she knows and see if they will take the early intervention waiver just for my sweet boy. Then we will have to get enrolled into the program. He already has a speech eval and documented feeding problems so we would need one more evaluation but it should be no problem to get him into the program. If this happens, any OT he would need would be done at our house which is a definite bonus.

Additional things we are working on is saving foods he likes until the end of his meal when he has decided he is full. It takes very little to make him full because he has learned that he hates most food so he is very easily satisfied. So we save some of his favorites for the end and try to make him "over eat" so we can stretch his tummy out a bit at each meal. Hopefully this will increase his appetite. And he is getting much better about more frequently drinking water between meals which also helps to stretch that tummy out before meal times.

So there you have it... my life right now is consumed with feeding my 1 year old. ha! But we are seeing some progress. I wish it would come faster so he could grow a bit more and we could have "normal" meals with him. Spending hours a day feeding a child is quite exhausting. Sometimes (or frequently actually) I let it go when we travel or are out or something and just let him eat what he will eat so I don't have to inconvenience everyone else or deal with "angry baby" having a mega meltdown because he doesn't want to touch or eat anything. But he is delicious and smart and playful and beautiful so I try not to focus on all the work we have to put into eating. I want to enjoy him and his sweet personality. Part of what makes his life a bit difficult (and mine by extension) is also something that makes him unique and special. I am just so thankful that it is something I have been tenacious about so that would get him help for this early and before he could develop even firmer habits and preferences. I sure do love this tiny blond haired, green eyed child of mine.