Tuesday, April 7, 2015
A Hairy Situation
Oh this little man. How he struggles. I'm not entirely sure what the problem is with him; it may be more than one thing. All I know is that he is seriously only happy maybe 1% of his life. Anxiety seems to be an issue. He's extremely volatile, as well, often hurting his siblings. He pushed Sadie down last week, and she sprained her wrist trying to catch herself. It hurt her so badly that her doctor thought it might be fractured; we got it x-rayed, and it turns out to just be a really bad sprain. If he can't find one of his toys, he goes immediately to the shrieking/crying/running around frantically stage. I often have to talk him down from that stage, reminding him to look here or look there for said toy. He is verbally volatile, too. If something isn't working out quite right for him, he says things like, "I hate this life! I hate this world! I want to move back to Idaho!!" He is often verbally abusive to his siblings, as well.
And yes, no doubt what our family has gone through in the past year has affected him. A big move, away from everything he's ever known. A mom who has been sick for a really long time. A job change for daddy. But, quite honestly, he was like this before. I feel like he's been angry at the world from the first second he was born.
And don't get me wrong - Micah has a lot of first-rate qualities. Sometimes he can be so sweet to Gage. He cares about getting his homework done and doing a good job on it. He loves snuggling with Ben and me. He's sensitive and sweet. He's very artistic.
I just get a sense that the Happy Micah is trapped inside of Uncontrollably Angry Micah. And I know that feeling from first-hand experience. There have been a few times when I felt trapped within my clinical depression. It's almost an out-of-body experience. You're watching yourself be a total monster to everyone around you, and you're yelling at yourself, "Dude, what is your problem? Just simma down-a!!" But you can't.
He always feels badly when he's done something to hurt someone physically or emotionally. He always says sorry and cries real tears of contrition. It's not an act. I know whether something is an act. I get the sense that he acts impulsively, something bad happens, and he is shocked at what he's done, and deeply sorry. My mommy instincts tell me that there is something deep happening within him, whether it's depression, anxiety, bi-polar... And yes, those are big words to be throwing around for a six-year-old boy. But I've been around the block. I have close relationships with many people who struggle with these things, and in all honesty, I think there's something not working out with the chemicals in his brain.
We do the Love and Logic thing with our kids - we explore what didn't work about the way Micah responded to something, he and I. "Did that reaction work out very well for you?" "No..." "Can you think of something differently you could have done instead?" And I make him think of a solution. I don't feed him solutions. And then we resolve to try this new reaction to plan for the next time a situation arises.
And it's just not sticking. I know he's sorry for the things he does. I know he wants to change. He just can't seem to get control of this rage that he has. Which is why I think he might have a chemical thing going on in his brain.
I'm not saying that I'm ready to jump headfirst into medication for him or anything. I mean, he's six (almost seven). He's teeny. But I am ready to bring in professionals to figure out what this beast is that we're dealing with. We need to know what it is - anxiety? Depression? So that we can deal with it appropriately. And then he needs, at the very least, a children's counselor to help him come up with tools he can have to deal with the extremely hard life of a six-year-old. Yes, there was some sarcasm in that sentence. Oh no! You can't find your Little Pony! Yes, that is cause for you to scream like someone ripped your spleen out!!
This is what happens to me sometimes; I get snarky about problems that I perceive to be small. Like, if I see a commercial on TV that's like, "Are you sick of your hair not having enough volume? Try this expensive shampoo to help you with this really huge problem!" Or "Oh no! You are starting to get wrinkles! [Um, because you're getting older. It happens to EVERYONE.] Use this product to help you with this really huge problem!" I get a little pissy. Sometimes I even talk to the TV and say, "Oh noooo. How hard for you, lady. Hair that doesn't have bounce? That is a HUGE problem. You must cry buckets of tears daily."
It's bad of me. Everybody's problems are real to them. I don't win the contest for hardness of problems. The things I've gone through should make me more empathetic, not less. I'm working on it.
And in Micah's six-year-old brain, the loss of his Little Pony is a really, really big deal. I need to honor his feelings more.
I also wonder if he has some kind of sensory perception issue. He won't wear jeans; only "soft pants." Lace-up tennis shoes are "too tight." Slip-on shoes only. Buttons on shirts bother him. We've talked on here about how he feels about getting his fingernails trimmed. It's a torture-fest. In fact, he has actually started biting his nails on purpose to avoid getting them trimmed. I kid you not.
And haircuts? Oh mama. He really struggles. REALLY struggles. I've tried to honor his feelings, just kind of trimming at the neckline and earline with scissors, but he starts to look a bit like a hobbit when his hair is long. Last night, Ben decided it was time for a haircut. It sounded like Micah was being murdered in our bathroom. He was screaming, crying, yelling disrespectful things at Ben while he worked. His haircut looks fantastic, but Mike won't let me take a picture of it. He cried himself to sleep last night. He woke up crying about it and wearing blankets and towels on his head. He says he looks bald, which is untrue. I had to walk him to the school counselor's office this morning, because he was so mortified about his haircut and was screaming and crying about the kids in his class making fun of him.
I mean, it's just a haircut. I tried comforting him, talking about how, if people make fun of him, they aren't his true friends. That what's inside is more important than what's on the outside. I reminded him that many little boys have the same haircut as him. But he would not be comforted.
And I'm exhausted.
So I called this clinic that can kind of assess what his issues are and then can at the very least do some outpatient counseling.
I just want him to be happy.
Okay, cancer update:
1. I get my stitches from lefty removed on Thursday. At that time, I'm going to have my plastic surgeon deflate righty as much as we can, so that both sides "match" for the next year.
2. The surgery to remove the tissue expander on the left, which was being attacked by my body, created some fluid just under my armpit. Since I no longer have lymph nodes in that armpit, according to my occupational therapist, I've developed lymphedema. My left arm is thicker in measurement than my right arm. So we have to do some things to try to kind of put my lymphedema back into "remission," so to speak. I have to wear a compression garment (like spanx) and a compression sleeve. I'm waiting to get those until my stitches are out. My OT taught me some massage techniques to teach the body to drain fluid down into the lymph nodes in my groin or into my other armpit, rather than pooling in my left armpit. I've been really good about doing the massages every morning and night. I personally think that the fluid that is sitting under my armpit right now is starting to shrink a little. We'll see.
3. I had to go to the hospital on Friday night. I caught some bug or had some kind of reaction to some kind of food which made me have violent, ah, dysentery. Wink. It was so bad that I quickly got dehydrated and had to have fluids via IV. I also felt like I had a UTI - so BADLY! But nope, it wasn't. It's just leftover damage from chemo in my bladder. Sigh. For a couple of days, I had forgotten to take this new overactive bladder medication I was prescribed, so it was my own fault I felt so crummy. I curled up on the gurney (Finding Joy in the Gurney!) and watched Back to the Future 1 and 2 on TV, which was pleasant, except for the UTI feeling and dysentery feeling, both of which were addressed with over-the-counter medications and seemed to be resolved. I was soooo scared that I had C-Diff again; luckily, I didn't.
4. I feel really great the past few days. I even hiked my Butte yesterday! ("Whoa, that's a pretty big butt...") I joined a post-cancer exercise group that meets once per week, and I also joined a post-cancer hiking group that goes on a hike once per month. It makes me excited and happy. Once I get these stitches out and things seem to be on the up-and-up, it's time to apply for ballet teaching jobs and get certified in teaching barre. Yeeee! I can't wait.