Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reality, Heat and Hope

I love the whole glass half-full concept in life, and I will try to keep up with that as much as I can. I am going to be honest, though, the past couple of weeks have been rough. We've had a change in routine due to school being out for summer, and the heat has been especially hard for Joshua. As much as I want to continue to sugar-coat things, or nod my head with a smile when someone says he is doing "great," I just can't right now. More and more, I see that what we are dealing with is simply NOT normal, and I won't pretend it is. What you see as a good moment can so quickly progress into fatigue and dehydration. Also, a glimpse into our home life would show you what we go through for a chance of him to be even at baseline. Before you see us for a morning playdate at your house, a therapy session or an outing at the movies, a lot of things have already happened. For one, I was likely up til the wee hours with a racing mind, researching, emailing, or (if I am lucky!) reading for fun, just to relax a bit. Joshua has likely crawled into our bed crying and fussing around 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. He may have had leg pains, and stomachache or needed a diaper change. He likely has already had two reflux meds, one supplement, 8 oz of his elemental formula, a motility med and an electrolyte-containing beverage with thickener. He probably has not, however, eaten breakfast, as he usually lacks interest or ability, despite our best efforts. So, the whole time we are out, I am worried about his nutrition and fluid intake as well as how his body is reacting to the heat. I am also observing how he is walking and how tired he seems, to determine if it is a wheelchair day. I am observing any swallowing he does to make sure he isn't aspirating. I am watching his cheeks for signs of redness, his eyes to see if they are swollen, and feeling his skin for cold sweats (hypoglycemia). I am sometimes scared we should not have even left the house, but I try to create as normal a life as I can for him and his two older brothers. I have to carry a huge bag full of stuff just to make an outing safe. I always come home exhausted. On a different note, I am observing listening skills, emotional regulation, speech patterns and socialization, none of which I can claim to be age-appropriate, so that is a whole other avenue to deal with. I realize all parents worry and many parents have so much more on their plates than this. I admire those parents more than I can express. Joshua has done well over time in SO many ways, and for that, we are lucky. I don't want sympathy or- so much worse- pity. I simply want understanding of what families like ours go through on a daily basis, and how that is also amplified by summer heat. Diseases such as Joshua's metabolic/mito dysfunction are similar to lupus or chronic fatigue syndrome in the sense that the patient can look fine in some moments, or even for days at a time. It's both a curse and a blessing to what we refer to as "invisible illnesses." In these cases, a lot of compassion and a desire to learn and spread awareness can go a long way! One of the best things someone said to me recently was, "I don't really understand, but I WANT to!" Thank you for that. I hope many others will follow in your footsteps, with an open mind and heart.


babyfoodsteps said...

oh I could relate to this blog post in sooo many ways...thank you for saying what I have been thinking for a long time... everything looks great and I ahould be happy when people say she looks fine, happy and like nothing is wrong...but my oh my momma is worn out with all the preparations and effort to have that brief "normal" moment!
Hope to meet you soon...if not at UMDF this year, maybe next?

g-girl said...

Is that Joshua? Goodness he has gotten so big! You know I am always thinking of you and though I don't know what it's like, I do want to know! I miss you!