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.