Saturday, July 31, 2010

Not a Good Day

You know, there's something I don't understand.  I am a good teacher.  I love my kids and I care fiercely about all of them even the ones that are not so easy to love.  My students can and have thrown anything at me and I have risen to the demands of the situation and overcome all odds.  A child falls off of the monkey bars and directly onto her head after hanging by her knees-no problem-Muddy to the rescue.  A portable basketball goal comes crashing down on a 7 year-old boy's head right in front of me, causing a gaping gash in his temple-no problem, I'm on it.  A child with peanut allergies is exposed to peanuts, hand me the epipen and I save the day.  A homeless intruder walks into the breezeway next to my classroom, I'm out the door to intercept and detain him until the police come (okay, so I actually just sat and talked to him on the bench outside, I didn't have him in a chokehold or anything).  But I do not panic in any situation when it comes to my job.

When it comes to being a mom, however, well that's another story.  Sometimes I feel like the world's biggest failure as a mom because I can't overcome my daughter's issues.  E suffers from severe anxiety.  She comes by it honestly, my mother-in-law, my mother, my husband and I all suffer from anxiety.  But E's is so bad that we have sought counseling for her.  We work with it, but occasionally it overwhelms us.  When she came back from sleepaway camp, she spent the next week attached to my hip, refusing to do anything or go anywhere.  If I wasn't right there forcing her to read, or play a game, or be with a friend, she sat like a lump as close as possible to me.  It drove me crazy and I felt horrible for needing to be so forceful to overcome it.

E has started orthodontic treatment and currently has an expander in her mouth that I have to crank every night.  She swears to me it doesn't hurt, but I dread the evening hours because I know that I am going to have to widen that gap just a little and potentially cause her pain.  I get a sympathy headache every time I do it even though she is just fine.  If she were one of my students, it wouldn't even cause me a second's pause.

We went to a church picnic at a congregant's house on the water today and while E was playing on the deck, she got a splinter in her hand.  I was trying to use a needle to get it out, making sure to be ever so gentle, but it wouldn't budge.  Ever since my family (including E) had MRSA, she has been terrified of needles.  There I was, scraping at the skin, holding her hand fairly tightly because she was trying to pull away and the next thing I know she was having a mini-seizure and slumping over the table.  Her eyes were glazed over, her lips turned blue and she had a white ring around her mouth.  I kept trying to ask her questions and she couldn't understand what I was saying, she just kept saying, "I don't know, Mommy."  I realized she was in trouble, but I was all alone inside the house so I dragged her outside and started screaming for help.  The one good thing about this church is that an inordinate amount of the members are medical or law enforcement.  A life long nurse and a sheriff came rushing to my side and helped me sit E down on the bench.  They checked E over and told me not to panic, that E was okay even though she was still very out of it.

We took E back inside and the nurse gave E some orange juice just in case her sugar levels had dropped (she hadn't eaten very much today for as much as she played) and told me just to let E lie down on the couch.  I did that and after about 10 minutes of resting E was ready to eat something.  20 minutes later she was out jet skiing.  I was still freaking out.  It took me a while to realize that E had hyperventilated when I was trying to get the splinter out.  I was afraid she was having an epileptic seizure or had diabetes, or worse yet, a brain tumor.  Then I sat there questioning over and over again whether I should have insisted that she go to the hospital, but all of the medical people told me no, that she would have been subjected to a lot of needles and radiation-oriented tests when she had all the classic signs of hyperventilation.

And here I am, left to wonder and second-guess myself, because what if I made the wrong choice?  Yet, if she were my student, there would have been no indecision on my part.  I would have known what to do.  But she's not a student, she's my flesh and blood and seeing her in that state terrified me.  I know I am going to be watching her like a hawk for the next week.

And for those of you who wonder why I don't have her on medicine, she doesn't suffer from depression.  Both of the psychological professionals I have talked to about her feel like her anxiety would be better served by training her how to manage these attacks.  But man, I hope that was the last one.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm going to make it as a parent.


EricaM said...

Ugh. I have bad anxiety too, and I get it from my mother who is the same way. Hers is almost debilitating, it really limits her. She is in her 50's an has just recently been put on medication. She never really recognized what if anything was wrong with her until I had a talk with her and pointed out some similarities between myself and her behaviors. I recognized my anxiety problems at an early age and I sought tx and have been able to manage it fairly well. My niece is the same way, she is 11 years old and more anxious than the average person. But ever since I can remember I have had depression mixed with anxiety, and not just a worry wort, I'm talking passing-out kind of anxiety. Panic attack anxiety, hallucination-inducing anxiety. It comes and goes in waves depending upon whats happening in my life now. I'm also a nurse, and as a matter of fact years ago I was an orthodontic assistant. I can attest to what E says, a lot of time palate expanders really are painless. The pain comes in when children think too much and work themselves up. I would also agree with what the nurse said who saw E, she hyperventilated hence purple lips due to a fear of needles. It can happen!! It can be as scary and SIMPLE as that. Putting a child through a bunch more test THAT INCLUDE needles is just unnecessary.. imo.

Anonymous said...

Try not to be too hard on yourself. I had severe anxiety as a child which no one cared to try to do anything about. At least you are actively seeking help for E.

And the professionals are right. The best treatment is teaching coping skills. There is no instant fix.

And I question ruling out depression - my depression was always about the anxiety; it's usually referred to in tandem - depression/anxiety.

And a major part of my adult depression was related to parenting. I questioned and put myself down all the time. In my case it seems I did this because of my own childhood; I turned my anger at my parents inward on myself; basically all the negative feelings I harbored about my upbringing were redirected in my head to myself.

I was told I needed to make peace with them and forgive them in order to help myself. I couldn't manage to do that, but I've moved beyond what I was doing to myself. At a price though. I think I am less emotionally engaged with my children than I was when my son was young. The intensity of the feelings was tearing me apart.

So I am probably not the best parent either, but I know that at least I'm doing a better job than my parents and I'm doing the best I can with what I am capable of.


Anonymous said...

Would it be so wrong to do yoga or tai chi with her in front of the TV and model some relaxing behavior she can connect with?
As for the needle/splinter; logical for you, a terror for her. Peroxide is a good disinfectant and wood is a substance the body will work out.

Anonymous said...

I had two pallet expanders,top and bottom, as a child. They honestly do not hurt. Stop beating yourself up about it, you're teaching E to do the same things with that. Take the logic of how slow (those key turns do not move the expander by an inch each turn)the expansion really is and how it is helping her to not have eating problems or an underbite/overbite ect as an adult and feel GOOD about it. I only had an issue with them once and it was when he added a wire to help the gap forming in my front teeth close so it was more like pain associated with braces than the expander itself. Really though, don't worry about it. If you're really concerned with E's anxiety fix some of your own. This worrying about something that ISN'T EVEN THERE probably isn't showing her how to NOT be anxious.

Anonymous said...

I thought of you when I read this comment on a message board:

When i have had hard times with my kids i say to myself "I will be the best mother I can to a child who has....." or "I will be the best mother I can be to a child who is....."

This allows me to let go of that ideal, unrealistic image that I have had and puts me in a position to do what I need to do with this child within these circumstances.

What I got out of the comment is that you need to stop blaming yourself for things you can't control.

Instead, you are being a great parent by helping your daughter with her physical and psychological issues *which you did not cause* :-)

My older daughter J has terrible teeth problems. He teeth are demineralized, probably because of an antibiotic I took when I was pregnant or one she took as an infant. She had a tooth knocked out in a playground accident when she was 3. Her teeth are not coming in correctly, she's had about 8 baby teeth pulled so far to encourage the secondary teeth to come in. We are going again in a couple of weeks, she has one tooth that still has not come in, so in addition to having a couple more teeth pulled, they're going to want to do oral surgery and dig in her palate to get the tooth to erupt.

And she's had 2 crowns and one root canal because of the demineralization problem (she just turned 11)



FreeDragon said...

I think you're a great mom. If you weren't you wouldn't worry about all this stuff.

Bubblewench said...

A crappy mom wouldn't worry so much. Or wouldn't even care. NOT a great mom.

You're an awesome mom.