Raising an Illness

We all start out with good intentions, we read the books, or at least we buy them and flip through the pages catching some of the bold print. We are full of intent and hope and inspiration!

A Few sleepless nights, move into a couple of months, maybe even years. Depending on how many kids, or sleepless kids you have. It’s all good. You knew this could happen. You heard about this. Some kids just don’t sleep as well as others. Some wake up through the night until the age of 3 or 5 or always. We will get through this, we have
technology now. We can put lullabies on, soft lights to dance on the ceiling, white noise machines and vaporisers to dispel essential oils for comfort. We can read more books, listen to audio books, or watch TED talks on sleep habits. Lets teach this child how to self soothe in the middle of the night so they may be able to live a life without disturbing
the rest of the house. No problem. That was easy. Cause if you think that was an issue, hold on to your seat.

The wonderful little people have their own awareness now. They go to school, pre school, day care, what have you. They are always watching you! You may like to think they aren’t, but they are. It’s not the swear words I’m talking about here. It’s your actions. Oh, yes these little ears are the gateway to a brain like a sponge. They soak up all the knowledge whether you want them to or not.

After the birth of my second child, I was thrown into a strange illness. My world would go fuzzy around the edges, the earth would tilt unexpectedly, making me look like a drunk. I got headaches, body aches, felt tired all the time, and had vertigo daily. I now had 2 children, 1 of which was enrolled in parent participation preschool. Meaning I needed to
go and volunteer a few times a week in class. So I would reach for Advil to help. Well, it turns out in my case that was not a good idea, as after my first child I developed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. And NSAIDs are not good for hashi people. But it took a few years to figure that out. So I spent years not feeling well, pushing myself to be the at home mom that is ready and there for whatever needs the kids have. I did before and after school care for other kids and I worked evenings at a local store. My tendonitis was constantly flaring, I was exhausted. Constantly off balance,I went to Dr. after Doctor. One specialist after another. They do some pretty weird tests when it comes to vertigo and the inner ear. I had to learn to accept help from the neighbours. The other parents at school, etc.. In the beginning I didn’t want anybody to know I had issues. I thought I was covering it up well. I would fall apart as soon as I got home, it’s just me
and the kids, so no harm done. Right? I was so wrong.

We live in a townhouse. It was renovated to enlarge the bathroom upstairs and master bedroom. So that means we have 2 bedrooms up and 1 down. Can 2 kids share a room?, depends who you ask. Mine. Not a chance. The oldest was 7, when she decided to move out. She packed up her stuffies and her favorite blanket and off she went to the spare room in the basement. 4 flights of stairs down. Down past the front door. That freaked me right out! What do you do , you make it work. We bought extra locks for the doors, and have a mirror on the wall in the landing so we can look down the stairs and see the hall outside her bedroom door. The door I might add, has never been closed. Only when visitors came and used the room as a guest. Then she was back to sharing for the duration of the guests stay. Oh, that always went well. Sigh.

I strived to make good healthy meals for my family, but chopping and standing in the kitchen would be dangerous for me. The vertigo could hit, and I would have enough warning to put the knife down, and I’d say, ‘Mommys going down. Outta the way” and Thump! I would just fall to the floor. Like a hand of gravity reached out and took me about the waist and pulled me to the earth. This became so common that my kids didn’t flinch when it happened. When we would go out I would arrange the kids around me so I could place my hand on their head or shoulder to steady myself. They automatically would hang back and fall into position when we got out of the minivan. I thought it was cute. I was proud of my little ones, rallying around me. But it was short-lived as I started to realize that the kids were getting anxiety.

My oldest was listening to our adult conversations upstairs, not understanding everything and hearing her parents worries and frustrations about health and finances (that open door and laminate flooring throughout!). She became so concerned with grown up matters that she internalised illness. Stress and worry ate away at her and she was treated for an ulcer. Eventually through the school psychologist and pediatrician she went on medication for anxiety. It took a few tries, and different doses. She would get up for school and get so worried about going, that she would have to run
to the toilet. Sometimes we would get onto the school grounds but just couldn’t open the door and get out. By the time she finished grade 8 she was no longer having panic attacks on a daily basis. She is still on anti anxiety meds and gets up and goes to school, almost every day. She still complains of aches and pains all over, but she keeps going. I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia as well as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I am a warrior and will keep going.

The younger one, was telling the teachers at school that she couldn’t colour her picture because her hand hurt, or she had to go to the nurses room during class because she didn’t feel well and needed to lie down. All the things were spoken out loud by me at some point. Once that realization hit, it was like a lightning bolt. I did my very best to not
complain. Once we realized we had a kid who cries wolf, we embarked on a whole new journey.

Part 2 coming soon.

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