Quirky kids and Bullies

I need to take a moment to talk about something that all school kids deal with. Bullies. I was a fortunate nobody when I was in school. I had friends but, I wasn’t very “popular.” I was known enough to not be “one of those kids” … You know, the ones that are labeled as weird or whatever it is that makes them stand out as different. I was a happy someone that was no one. I blended in, never got bullied and generally enjoyed school.

This is not the case with many kids. I grew up with the knowledge that kids can be cruel. I have a name that can be shortened, nicknames and so on. Believe me, even with the best of intentions, kids can and will find a way to tease you, mock you, or just harass you. On one hand, it goes with being a kid and growing up. On the other hand, it often goes too far; turning nasty and causing problems. Have kids always been this mean but it was shrugged off more? Is it different today?

Things change constantly. Entertainment choices change, technology changes, parenting advice and opinions change, likes and dislikes are constantly in flux. However, one thing that seems to be a constant right now, is bullying.

Have we, as a generation, caused the bullying to become more intense or aggressive because our children need more attention from us? It’s harder to make a living, more and more often both parents are working, electronics are always on and in our faces and our kids’ faces. Perhaps they don’t know how to ask for positive attention so they act out. It may not be positive attention but, at least, now we’re paying attention to them.

Our local school has a firm policy of No Bullying, as does just about every school, anywhere. Our school handbook states:

“‘Harassment, intimidation or bullying’ means any intentionally written message or image — including those that are electronically transmitted — verbal, or physical act, including but not limited to one shown to be motivated by race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation including gender expression or identity, mental or physical disability or other distinguishing characteristics, when an act:
A. Physically harms a student or damages the student’s property;
B. Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s education;
C. Is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment; or
D. Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.”

Okay, seems basic enough. No tolerance. What gets to me is that it happens anyway. We, as a family, adhere to a strong moral code. We try to train our children to be polite and respectful. We try to instill “old fashioned values;” saying please and thank you, holding doors open for people, working for the things you want, etc. We try very hard to set positive examples so that our boys learn this.

Seems like it should be simple but it’s not. When you have a quirky kid, you have to work extra hard to make sure that they are aware of their actions. Boys will be boys, but I can honestly say my boys make me proud in this regard. They can be oblivious one day and complete gentlemen the next. It takes extra work, but I think our boys are getting it down. Repetition is key.

So, I’ve done my part but, what happens when my children go out into the world, away from me? When they go to public school? They become targets to other children who may not have been shown the same code of conduct.

Dad was bullied in school to such an extent that his parents pulled him out and home-schooled him. It took him until he was an adult to make peace with it. Now, he’s been trying to teach our boys how to respond appropriately when they get bullied. That, kids don’t just become angry and mean all on their own; they have to learn that behavior from somewhere. Maybe they should be pitied instead. Still, it’s hard to avoid the visceral reaction you feel when pushed around or hearing about that happening to someone you love.

Today, is our home day. We don’t have any appointments or classes at the school for E. It’s a calm day inside and stormy outside. A great day to “hunker down” and have a quiet day. E loves these days. The rest of the week, he has at least one hour a day scheduled at the public school. Yesterday, he had a “class” that, to be honest, I can’t figure out what it’s for. He goes into this classroom and hangs out with peers of his intelligence level that are also quirky. I call it social skills. I don’t know if it is officially called the Special Ed classroom or what but, it’s the room where kids with learning differences can go when they need a break from the cookie-cutter curriculum of the average classroom. Because of his age, he really should be with different kids but, because of his academic level, they suggested a few older kids to socialize with. It will help his skills to be the younger one, rather than the older one in these groups.

When E was in Kindergarten, he was bullied a lot. At that point, we were unsure if he was really being bullied or if he was overreacting to situations because of his sensitivities. He was also undiagnosed at that time. Turns out, he really was bullied. Many times. Mostly physically and usually when teachers were not there to see it. A tough situation for any child; worse for a sensitive, quirky kid! In fact, it haunted him. He was anxious about going to school and fought against it constantly. The anxiety of that, combined with the sensory overload he was suffering with in the classroom, was really what started us down the path to home-school.

E and I have a close relationship. We talk and, when he is ready to open up about stuff, he does it in his own time. On previous occasions this school year, in this new, special class, he has told me that one or two kids have been mean to him. They have pushed him down. They’ve teased him and said mean things about his mom(!) Basically, anything they could think of to get him upset. This is a good combination of bullying and an over-reactive child, which spurs the bullies on. What got to me today, was that yesterday, one particular boy in that classroom told E the following, “You will die when you are 17 and I am going to kill you!” (Mouth drops open and I am speechless for a time. Then I got ticked off!)

Now, I don’t know the statistics of quirky kids bullying vs. being bullied but, I do know that quirky kids tend to get picked on more. That’s the way things work. Those that are different in some way, smarter or in some other way quirky get picked on. That is not news. It even happens in the animal kingdom.

What gets me is the violence behind those words. What on earth could ever cause a preteen child to speak with such anger in his thoughts. What is that poor child dealing with? Granted, the teacher was told, and it was dealt with but, I feel unsure of how to proceed. My quirky kid now has reservations about attending that class. He has already dealt with teasing and physical bullying by being pushed down multiple times. Now he has to deal with psychological bullying. How do I respond? I want him to continue his social skills development. I want him to learn to deal with this bully so that when he is an adult he can deal with the grown-up versions. It’s a sad fact but, he’ll need those skills. At what price though? Is this class a safe environment for him? He has nightmares nightly. Is this what he’s dreaming about? Is he being tormented in person and in his sleep? I hate that my baby has to face that kind of aggression and bullying in a “No Tolerance Zone.”

I cannot make the bullies of the world stop, but I can give my boys the proper tools to face these bullies and deal with it. I’ve linked a video below that is one of my favorites for using with my kids. It has such a beautifully easy way of explaining how to deal with bullies and not resorting to the same behavior. So, from my family to yours, I hope that, if you know of someone dealing with this situation, you can make use of this great video tool. I hope you can find a way to move forward from the situation and that it stops.

Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists

https://www.jw.org/finder?locale=en&docid=502013189&prefer=lang&srcid=share

 

What if I’m Being Bullied?

https://www.jw.org/finder?locale=en&docid=502013166&prefer=lang&srcid=share

 

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SPD and Me

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SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_processing_disorder) is something we are learning about every day in our house. E has it to some extent since it goes hand-in-hand with autism. He is sensitive to the texture of certain clothing, foods, smells and so on, however, it really is one of his lesser issues. C, on the other hand— he’s a whole other ball of wax! This kid has major sensory processing issues, in my opinion. However, it seems almost impossible to find help in dealing with it.

We always knew that, once C started school, it would make or break him, so to speak, in terms of knowing for sure which behaviors of his were learned from hanging around his older brother, and which issues were actually real. It’s a really difficult situation for us to determine because all we know is what E did at that age, and he was dealing with undiagnosed conditions.

C does attend public school which, where we live, is one classroom with about 30 kids, from 8:30 to 3:00. Yes, we are in a small community but, that seems like a lot of kids in a kindergarten classroom! During the first semester, I counted almost a month of missed days: some actual sick days, and many “sick” days. Those were days when he just couldn’t pull himself together and go. Days when I couldn’t get him out the door. He didn’t “feel good” or he was “too tired.” He frequently tells us that he “hates how long school takes.” He comes home exhausted and cranky every day.

But, once home, he is like a compressed spring that is suddenly let go, and he starts bouncing off the walls. His volume is at the upper levels, which causes E’s volume and stress to go up. It creates such a din in our tiny house, I almost have to yell myself to get their attention.

C loves to run, jump and hop so much that I’m surprised that he doesn’t vibrate with the energy. I can’t imagine this kid sitting for long periods of the day focused on learning. At home, he can’t even sit in front of a favorite show without moving. He’s pacing, jumping or, in some way, moving while watching.

He is always hungry (as boys can be) but he seems to use it as something to do when he can’t think of another way to amuse himself. He is constantly demanding to “DO” something with someone. He is unable to amuse himself most of the time. Then there is the talking; He never. Stops. Talking. Inches from your face, in your ear, or at top volume; he’s constantly talking.

Then there are the clothing issues, the food issues, and the list goes on. I’ve done my reading. I’ve used the checklists. He has SPD. Possibly more. As I’ve previously mentioned, we have been told twice now that he does not have autism. They think he is too social for that. He does have markers, but not enough or not the right ones. Okay. Great. Now what? Is it ADHD? Get the forms from the doc and fill out the parent form. Yup sure enough: ADHD with a side of ODD. However, to get an actual diagnosis, the teacher has to see issues. Now, I know most people love the kindergarten teacher. He is a great teacher and, I mean no harm but, it has been months since I handed him that form and I still have not gotten a response. “C is doing great,” is the most I get. “Fantastic! but um, can you still fill out the form, please?” Maybe he is “doing fine at school,” but he’s totally not “fine” at home.

I’ve decided that the referral process is taking too long. We need help now. So I start looking online. One of my favorite places online is Pinterest. I have fallen down the Pinterest rabbit hole so many times that I’m surprised I ever look up from my computer. I love it there. So many great ideas and fun things. My limited “me” time turns into untraceable minutes as I go from one great idea to another, and on and on it goes. Sometimes, I find just what I need. Other times, not so much.

One thing that I can find loads of information on is identifying SPD. What I cannot find is how to deal with it. Everything points to getting an occupational therapist that can diagnose SPD and work with them. Great, but what about those of us who cannot easily locate a therapist that does that? In fact, the only one in our entire county that I know of works at the school. She may not even be able to officially diagnose him either.

I love the comedian Brian Regan. This is exactly how it feels.

So I speak to this occupational therapist at the school since she is currently working with E for his needs. She tells me she will speak to C’s teacher and see what he thinks. Problem again is, if he’s not having any issues in class, then there is nothing she can do.

For a time we had an indoor trampoline in the middle of our living room so that C could bounce and jump all the time. It was really great, except that everyone was always tripping over it because we don’t really have space for it. We moved it to the play area in the garage for a time but, recently, just brought it back up.

I sound like I’m talking about a dog but, we try to run him (C, not the dog), play with him, try get his energy out somehow, but it’s not enough. We simply don’t have enough energy ourselves to keep up with him. It’s like he uses all his will power to keep it together in school and just cannot control himself any longer once he’s home. Even on the weekend: his self-control has been all used up for the week.

There are days I think about and plan to homeschool him too. I’d prefer to keep him in public school. I think it is really important that my boys have things that are just theirs. School is one of those things. C has a chance to find out who his is, apart from his brother, make different friends and have different experiences. But I wonder, is it worth it?

So, here we sit with a child that is almost beyond control on some days and we are is a loop of “I agree with you, I’d love to help, but I can’t.” What now?

I shouldn’t still… but I do.

I should be used to this by now, but I’m not.

It should not break my heart anymore, but it does.

I shouldn’t still… but I do.

Last night was another example of what we deal with all the time but, is rarely seen by the outside world.

It has been a strange week of “off” behavior for E. If he were a girl, I would wonder if it were the time of the month. Mood swings, anger out of the blue, silliness, hyperactivity, intense food likes and dislikes. I’ve mentioned before that I, personally, have been dealing with hormone imbalance issues, and I’ve always thought that E was strangely in tune with me and my moods. Maybe that’s why it was such a rough week. A bad week for me means a bad one for him. It’s like the old saying: “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” (Sidebar: I hate the word ain’t!) It’s true for us, but in a totally different meaning. If something is bothering me (or even, sometimes, Dad) then E reacts in a less-than-desirable way, and everyone in the household is upset by it.

Last night, C was having some “bathroom” issues. There aren’t a lot of polite ways to talk about the “bathroom” things that we deal with in this house but, I’ll try. A few months back, C had gotten so backed up, that he was in horrible pain and couldn’t even go #1. He asked to have an ambulance called and ended up having to be flown to the hospital to be taken care of there. Now, we are dealing with months, even years, possibly, of monitoring and assessing him to make sure that he’s regular and that things don’t hurt. Last night, he needed to “go” but couldn’t. The pain got bad enough that he couldn’t relax to go #1. The stress of the parents goes through the roof. Do we have to rush him to the hospital again? Can we fix it at home?

Our baby is in distress, and so are we. Dad rushes out to the pharmacy just as they are closing, and makes it in time to buy the products we’ve been instructed that will help the situation. I stay and sit on the floor while C is moaning on the toilet. When he’s ready for a break, we get him into a bath of warm water and Epsom salts. He calls this a “relaxing bath” because he won’t have to wash himself (which he hates). He lays in the bath for a while and, between that and patience, he was able to go. Victory! We are able to deal with the situation at home. No ER visit this night.

Meanwhile, I should mention that it’s dinner time and we are trying to feed the family. E starts vacillating between being out-of-control hyperactive and panicked over his brother’s distress. He is very empathetic in some ways. Of course, he has had his share of ‘bathroom’ issues as well. E had chronic constipation from infancy all the way to age 7. He knows well how difficult this issue can be. His stress at the issue at hand has caused him to get out of control and demand attention of his own from mom and dad. Attention but, not positive attention. This makes him angry and he starts slamming doors and yelling. He likes to screech these high pitched noises that hurt the ears. He also tends to pick one person to vent his anger on. Usually it’s me.

Trying to keep the peace, Dad and I take turns helping Caleb, eating our own dinner and trying to help E stay calm. The evening progresses, C starts feeling better, things get moving and he finally is tucked in bed with Dad reading to him. E decides to try to be defiant and refuses to get ready for bed. He starts fighting, yelling at me. He slams his door only to open it and start yelling that he hates me; I’m the worst (mother). Over and over. Meanwhile, I’m sitting as still as a statue, trying not to react. This is what he wants, what he craves. This is his driving force.

I know in my head that he does not hate me. It’s his out of control mind talking. He may not even realize what he is saying at this point. But it hurts. My chest is tight and I’m trying to hold in the tears. I calmly sit there, pretending to ignore his outburst. He throws things. Yells some more. Now he’s even more upset that I “don’t care” that he hates me. Any comment I make causes a reaction so I continue to sit and just say “okay” to everything that he shouts at me.

After a long, drawn out process, Dad is able to finally to get C to sleep, despite the noise. He goes into E’s room and informs him that he will come in and read him a story once E has calmed down. It takes a while, but we hold firm. E calms enough for Dad to go in and deal with him. They talk. E apologizes. He was out of control. He didn’t mean any of it. He listens to his story, goes to sleep and peace descends once again in our home.

I knew he didn’t mean it. I knew he would feel sorry for how he acted. I’ve seen this before. I shouldn’t let it get to me, break me, make me cry but, I do. I cry for the pain or confusion or whatever else my dear sweet child is dealing with. I cry for the “normal” child we didn’t have. I cry for myself, for stress release, to lament all the feelings inside. Then I go and comfort myself with a huge bowl of dessert. The night is over and the new day will be different.

Arrival Stories

Recently my youngest turned six and I started to remember what we went through when he entered into the world. First let me go back to my oldest.

Mr. E was born 3 days past188778_1004330969071_6066651_nhis due date. Labor came on naturally and we had to time it just right to reach the hospital if we wanted to be there for the birth. Travel to the nearest hospital required a one-hour ferry ride and a good thirty minutes of combined driving. We had a midwife we were working with and as labor progressed we stayed in touch and made our plans. We were all set to take the first ferry in the morning. Knowing I might not eat for a while, my dear sweetie made me a healthy breakfast to keep me going. I managed to keep it down until we were in line waiting to take our ferry. Contractions were less than 5 minutes apart and we still have a good hour before reaching the hospital. Each contraction caused me to heave. The midwife arranged with us to meet on the ferry and do a quick exam in the restroom. Oh so glorious that exam! I still ride on that boat on occasion and every single time I have flashbacks. I waddle into the handicap stall and drop my pants and put one foot up on the toilet while midwife is poking around. Apparently, labor was further along than expected and there was a risk of the birth happening before the ferry would arrive on the other side. Not a desired event, the midwife has me walk off the ferry and wait while she heads into a small shop to find a phone. She starts calling around looking for a pilot willing to fly us over rather than use the ferry. Meanwhile the hubs had to stay with the car and the ferry workers have to pull the boat out and turn it around so he can drive back off and get me to the airport. While I’m standing there waiting for the car my bladder blessed the birth. At first wondered if my water had broken but no, I peed myself. A pilot is found, the car is off the boat and the midwife is getting her car off as well. We drive the 20 minutes to the airport. It’s dark, cold and raining. I almost refused to get into the plane after seeing it. It was older and the access required me climbing up onto the wing and then into the back. I managed to do it. The flight was uneventful and we got the hospital without any issues. I couldn’t stop heaving so I went for the drugs. Labor just about stopped. We finally had him that evening. All healthy and everything went well. All through my pregnancy I felt great. No major issues. No cravings. I kept saying that I had wished I had a story to share but then I thought OK the birth was a story!

Then came time for Mr. C to arrive. His due date was around the holidays so we wanted to be prepared in case we needed a flight off again. Turns out it was almost impossible to find someone willing to fly a laboring woman off around the holidays. Due to this, I was nervous and we decided to induce labor. It was only about three days prior to the estimated due date so it was safe. Again I had a great pregnancy. I had only about two weeks of “morning sickness” which was extreme, but then it was gone. Nothing of note. Healthy pregnancy, health baby on the way.

Induction starts, and labor hit fast. I was already partly dilated so my body was already prepared for the process. I was not prepared for the contractions to be constant. For one to start again as one tapered off. It was intense! After 8 hours start to finish we had another beautiful baby boy in our family. That’s when the “story” started. My husband kept friends and family posted on things and his words are wonderful. The following is the story from his point of view, only edited for privacy issues.

“December 31: Labor and delivery were perfect but, about 10 minutes after he was born, it was noticed that he wasn’t getting pink like he should have been. His lungs were clear and sounding good but his heart was racing at 200 beats/min and his oxygen was around 50% instead of 98% like it should have been.
It was decided to send him via helicopter to [the] Children’s Hospital where specialist could provide better care.
Brianna had to stay in the hospital to recover so, my dad and I drove [and arrived] at 1:00 am. We stayed overnight here in one of the family sleeping rooms.
C arrived around 2:30am and, this morning, the doctors told us that he has a pronounced murmur in his heart but, it’s not due to congenital heart disease or any structural defect as was initially thought. The problem is that one side of his heart is not functioning as it should. They have no ideas yet as to why and I’m not going to speculate. We expect to hear more later today.
Brianna is now on her way here with her sister. She is fine physically, though we’re all a little ragged emotionally.

This evening C is doing much better. The doctors removed his respirator this afternoon, replacing it with an oxygen tube that goes under the nose, and they removed that this evening. So, he’s breathing room air on his own now which is a huge advancement. His vital signs are in the normal range for now and it’s a relief to now hear alarms going off all the time. Many of the monitoring devices were removed this evening too and he’s being given nutrients and vitamins intravenously. We’re very happy about that because, until now, he’s never had any nourishment and he’s been very, very unhappy. Though he’s not allowed to eat anything, he’s quiet and sleeping right now, likely because he’s not so hungry. (He’s
not allowed to nurse because eating and digesting are very energy-intensive and the doctors don’t want any extra load on his heart.)

We’re still waiting for lab results on liver-function and checking for viral infections so, we’ll likely be here through the weekend.

Jan. 2: Today was a pretty good day. C was allowed to nurse today which was a relief to us all. He’s off of his blood pressure meds as well as the nutritional IV – he gets all his food from Mom now. Tomorrow, he may get transferred out of the NICU into the complex care unit. That means that he gets to sleep in a crib and we get to sleep in the room with him. We’re still going to be here through the weekend since several of the tests won’t be ready until Monday. They are also waiting on lab work from the hospital he was born in. He has gained an ounce since he was born with is wonderful. However, he’s starting to look a little jaundiced which is worrisome – they’ll evaluate that later. Also, he still has unequal blood pressure between the upper and lower parts of his body. But his toes and fingers are warmer which is a good sign.

Today C got moved out of the NICU into an isolation room. The room is still part of the NICU but it means that they feel he’s doing better. We’re under the supervision of the cardiology department now.
He’s not sick with one of the viruses they suspected would cause heart trouble. But, were in this room because they are still waiting for the rest of the infectious diseases tests to come back. He’s still jaundiced and is just on the edge of needing treatment for that. They will run tests tomorrow to see if he’s improved. We *may* be able to go home tomorrow but it is still uncertain. There are some tests that haven’t come back and may not until after we come home. I just hope that they release us in enough time to catch the last ferry at least. Once nice little perk we have now is that we can sleep in the room with C. We’re happy about that.

Jan 3: Great news. The cardiologist came in this morning and, after listening to C’s heart, told us that he could see no reason why we couldn’t go home today. His jaundice is better and no longer an issue and all the test and exams show that his heart is improving spontaneously – something that they don’t know why. Granted, we have to come back in a month for a follow-up and he need to be monitored by his pediatrician, but for all intents and purposes, he’s healthy enough to go home! This is a long way from the terrifying drive to the hospital while he rode in a helicopter.

Just an update… we’re actually not going to make it home tonight. C’s bilirubin count was 17 and its borderline for a newborn so they want to put in under photo-light treatment to help bring that number down so that his jaundice goes away. Since early this morning we’ve been told that we’ll be able to go home today, even his cardiologist said that he saw no reason to hold us. So, needless to say, we’re very disappointed. He could have gone home today but we’d have to guarantee that he could see his 1503819_10202175960681009_2650196014873508181_npediatrician tomorrow (can’t check on a Sunday) and, if his levels were high, come back here right away. Since we have to deal with ferries, we elected to stay, rather than deal with two extra 4+ hour trips.
We’ll be here one more night and, this time, we’re not going to believe that we’re going home until we start signing papers.

Jan. 4: We get to go home today! The attending cardiologist did a final check and gave us her blessing.
I signed the papers and am about to take bags to the car. Couldn’t be happier.”

I love that the hubs kept everyone in the loop and we had an amazing outpouring of love, support and help. I know many parents have a story. This was ours. Today C is a healthy happy ‘quirky kid’ full of strength and energy. What we went through was rough, and I know of those who have had it worse, but I am grateful each day that he fought through. I love my boys and despite the ‘issues’ we are facing with them; I wouldn’t trade it for anything. These boys are so special!

 

“Hello. It’s Me”

By now most of us are very familiar with Adele’s huge hit “Hello.” While this song is supposedly about healing old wounds from a bad breakup, I think it’s a fitting song for me, talking to my younger self. If you are not familiar with her song you can listen and watch it on YouTube here. Fair warning, you will get it stuck in your head for a long time. Personally, I love this song, I love her voice, I often blast it at top volume pretending that I can sing just as well.

Just some of her lyrics include:

“They say that time’s supposed to heal ya
But I ain’t done much healing”

“There’s such a difference between us
And a million miles”

“Hello from the other side (other side)
I must’ve called a thousand times (thousand times)
To tell you I’m sorry
For everything that I’ve done
But when I call you never
Seem to be home”

I had planned to write about the trials we go through raising our quirky kids, but an unexpected part of that is the effect on me, the primary caregiver. I know that most people change, often dramatically, once they have children. That’s not news. What surprises me though, and what might be news to some, is how much you change when you have a quirky kid or, in our instance, two.

When we were first married, I was the outgoing, active, young thing that loved adventure and having fun. I hated spending nights in. I preferred going out and “doing” something. My dear husband? The total opposite. He preferred quiet evenings in; fewer people, fewer busy things. We balanced each other out well. Things started to change when we had kids (as it does). We were normal, new parents. We loved our little one but, we were tired (make that exhausted), and over our heads with the “new.” We would jump at a chance to get a break.

Had we been looking, we may have noticed the early signs and symptoms that eventually lead us down the path to E’s ASD diagnosis but, the truth is, we didn’t. With no experience, we figured that we were just parents of a picky, non-sleeper. As he grew, he was just a very bright child. Then we had another kid and he was dramatically different from the first. But we were still tired. We changed again to adapt.

Now E is 8, and C is 6 and I have to take a step back and look at who I have become. I am a mother, wife, and so much more, but one title I didn’t expect to have was caregiver. Once you become the parent of a quirky kid, I, personally, feel like you can call yourself a caregiver. They take so very much extra from you.

In those rare, brief moments of calm and peace, I look at myself and think, “Who are you?” The creative, artistic me is buried deep down inside. I never have time to create like I used to, or the patience to try creating what with the activity and noise that follows my children. I’m tired, worn out, often depressed, and could easily become a hermit just for the peace and quiet that comes with it. A dramatic change from the younger me.

Now I’m in my mid-30s, the primary caregiver to our kids, and a lot is sitting on my shoulders to take care of. I have become the glue that holds our family together. I keep track of the multitude of appointments, likes, dislikes, and skills we are learning in order to cope and help our children. My days are full of stress, and it’s taking its toll.

I am not who I once was but, what’s even worse, is remembering that I used to say that I felt good, most of the time. Now, I rarely put myself at the top of the list. This I am learning, is a major no-no. What happens when I get really sick? Things don’t get done. Things get forgotten. Things fall apart. Don’t get me wrong: the hubs is amazing. He does his best and steps up to the plate, but it’s not the same. He knows what I deal with, what I do, but he doesn’t “know.” He is the breadwinner and I am the homemaker/caregiver. It is two very different jobs and, while he can fill in, to me, he doesn’t have the qualifications to keep the job long-term without extensive training. Maybe it sounds mean, but I am the one that has found the doctors, researched the issues, implemented the tactics, and then told him. I could never even fill in for him at his job. At least he can do that for me. He is a hero to me. Picks up the slack when I just can’t do it anymore. He encourages me. He supports me even when I’m not at my best.

Lately, I have not been at my best. I have had years of struggle with health issues of the womanly variety. Usually not something I like to talk about, but it is now very important to me. “After all, if you haven’t go your health, you haven’t got anything!”

The final straw was in this past year, having a never ending “cycle.” Most women have a phase of “PMS” and then the bleeding. Mine cycle never stopped. If I wasn’t bleeding, I was in a never ending loop of PMS symptoms. Think Bruce Banner and the Hulk. “I’m always angry.”

I have had trouble with weight, acne, lots of hair growth (where it shouldn’t be). Think Austin Powers. “She is rather man-ish.”

No, in all seriousness it’s been bad. I sometimes didn’t even recognize or like myself. Finally, I took matters into my own hands and went to the doctor. I mean how can I raise my children to be polite and respectful and find joy in life when I’m always angry and irrational? I was referred to a doctor. He was old school and horrible to me. Told me I was just being emotional and needed birth control. After making me wait over an hour past my appointment time, he gave me maybe 10 minutes and didn’t listen to anything I had to say, any of my concerns. I admit, I was emotional but, there was no excuse for his attitude towards me. I left feeling even worse emotionally and very, very discouraged.

I requested another referral and, what a difference! This doctor listened and seems to care. He ordered blood work and even an ultrasound to make sure he treated me the correct way. Blood work was easily done. The ultrasound, a fun side story.

The word ultrasound, always brings forth images of babies and happy, happy, joy, joy. This was not that. This was a “Do I know you?!” kind of appointment!

I didn’t get the technicians number, but I did take myself out to eat after and made a great date for myself!

All this comes down to the fact that I have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (aka PCOS) It’s not an end of the world kind of thing, but it explains so much of what I’ve been dealing with. It’s fascinating to me that I probably have had it for all of my adult life and, several of my family member may also have this, all undiagnosed. It requires a lifestyle change to the point that I need to become more active and eat better. All very difficult with the kind of family we have. But, if I can lose even 5% of my current weight, I can improve my symptoms. I also have to take medication but, all doable things! Once again I can feel like me. Rejoice!

A month into treatment, I’m still Bruce Banner, but less often. I’m still man-ish but working on it. The past few days have been a roller-coaster of emotions and feelings. My dear, sweet hubby reminded me that it’s my hormones flushing out. Fat stores hormones. As I lose fat, the hormones get flushed out and cause the hulk-like behavior. Thank goodness I have a patient and forgiving husband to stand by me.

Now, I can look forward to saying, “hello,” to my former self, and remember some of the things that I enjoyed, and add them back to the me that I am now. I’m not all that sorry for the changes I’ve gone through. I am a more rounded and balanced person but, I will welcome back some of the personality that got suppressed. I think it will help keep me sane on insane days, and remind me to take good care of myself as I am needed to care for others.

Hello. It’s Me.

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