I was commiserating with a friend earlier about the struggle with the time change and how our kids just seemed off this week. Upon further reflection, I realized the part about my kids isn’t all of the problem. Yes, bedtime has been more difficult than usual because they can’t fall asleep. Mornings feel like war, and I’m afraid to ask how many days they’ve been late to school since Gil has been dropping them off. But the reality is, this week has been hard because I’m the one who’s off.
The time-change has been part of it, but this has been building for weeks. Caring for many of my basic needs hasn’t been happening lately. Or has it? Do I even know what qualifies as taking care of myself anymore? I like to think I do, but I need to step it up. I can’t function at the level required lately if I’m not taking care of myself.
This post is mostly going to be some history and will focus on how I got to this crash-and-burn point. I’m sort of streaming rather than tidying up my writing and making it concise, so bear with me. Hopefully further posts will become more succinct.
I have a pattern where I go balls to the wall when something needs to get done. This isn’t necessarily bad in itself, but I wear myself down to the point of getting sick. Here’s what’s been going on and how that’s played out recently: Piers and the PANDAS situations — I’ve been researching, managing meds and making sure the antibiotics are taken regularly and correctly. I’ve been coordinating with the doctor, the nurse, the pharmacist and the owner of our local health food shop. I’ve had to make sure that I don’t forget his probiotics, but they must be taken an hour or so AFTER the antibiotic, for whatever reason I don’t fully understand but I’ve been doing it.
We’ve overhauled his diet and cut all food dyes, gluten and most dairy, so food-prep alone has been tough. I feel like I live at the grocery store and twice this week I’ve been there before 6am. I’ve been tracking his symptoms, coordinating with his teacher and spending ungodly amounts of time telling him all the things he CAN’T have. And because I feel bad for him because we live in a world where everywhere we turn, someone is showing kindness by handing out candy that’s loaded with food dye and all the things that exacerbate his symptoms, I’ve been trying to make treats that he CAN have.
Have I mentioned how challenged I am in the kitchen? There’s also the importance of keeping his seasonal allergies under control since poor sleep, clogged head, all that can make his symptoms worse. Thankfully, removing gluten and most dairy has helped his allergies tremendously. Still, it’s one more thing I’ve had to stay more on top of.
Piers is also EXTREMELY strong-willed, though he’s settling down a lot thankfully, but to say this experience is hard and draining is a massive understatement.
Gil — He’s been doing the Whole30 diet? The short version is that you eliminate everything fun for thirty day — sugar, alcohol, dairy, gluten, additives, etc. You eat mostly lean meat, vegetables, fruit, and fat. In some ways this has helped because he’s been cooking a lot, especially the meat which I hate to cook, but he’s been in his own funk because once you take away the sugar, gluten, alcohol and processed junk, there’s not a whole lot left to ingest, and preparing food is a process — nothing quick. The idea is that getting the most common allergens out for thirty days allows you to test what you’re sensitive to — even if you never realized it before. It’s interesting. I’ve always had food sensitivities, but I’ve never tested it systematically. I’ve considered doing Whole30 myself, but I can’t add another thing to my plate at the moment, plus he and I agreed that one of us needs to be in a good mood. AND, under-consuming is one of my many issues. More on that to come… He just finished the thirty days which is awesome, but now he’s stumbling around aimlessly, and I have no idea what he can and can’t eat.
Wallace — My fiery red-headed kindergartner is going through his own trying phase. He announces daily that he HATES phonics. Everything has to be just so or a meltdown is likely to ensue. And since I’ve been in major research mode on this whole PANDAS thing, let’s be real. Piers and Wallace both have symptoms but I swear Wallace has more than Piers. I spent last year with Piers in Kindergarten convinced that we needed to have him evaluated for dyslexia (I’m still not convinced he doesn’t have it), but Wallace has taken word/letter reversing and writing backwards to the next level. Another story for another day… Wallace has been eating the same as the rest of us at home, but I haven’t been as strict with him as I have with Piers when we’re out because really, isn’t one kid fighting you for a red dumb-dumb more than enough? Let’s all just agree. IT IS.
None of what I’m dealing with is all that out of the ordinary for parents in the same season of life as Gil and me. Why, though, do I seem to crash and burn so regularly? I’m not sure. I think part of it is that I am quick to offer help, but I’m not as skilled at asking for help in ways that actually make my situation easier. Does that last sentence even make sense?
I need to figure out what would be helpful, find people who can do those tasks and be specific when I do ask. This thing with Piers has been really hard to discuss, and when I do I often walk away feeling worse rather than better. I can’t exactly delegate the task of researching and making sure I’m comfortable with his treatment plan. I’m the only one who can do that. Yes, I can collaborate with doctors and professionals that I trust, but I have to remember that people (and I’m speaking about friends, not his treatment team) are very different.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: I have a friend who I adore, but she doesn’t know the whole situation and history with Piers, nor is it her area of expertise. I had a discussion with her yesterday and shared something that I was trying to figure out. She offered up the biggest band-aided solution ever, one I would NEVER try, not because I’m stubborn, but because I’ve researched extensively and it’s absolutely not a solution and would likely hinder his healing rather than help it. So frustrating!
I guess the other part is that this is all relatively new, so I’m still figuring out whose voice to trust and who knows nothing about neurological stuff and is simply offering up solutions — nice, but I have to be more discerning. Fine, but because this is a big thing in my life and I think about it all the time and because I’m me I need to talk about it. Wow. That’s a mouthful. This wasn’t remotely what I planned to write when I sat down, but this is what emerged, so I’m going with it. I’ll continue in another post.
How do you care for others (kids, parents, friends, patients, clients) while making sure you take care of yourself?