My Son’s Illness and Anxiety
Let me tell you about the first half of the first month of 2018. Actually, let me back up to the last half of December 2017. December 14 my 7-year-old son started throwing up every day. First, it was 3-4 times a day, then 2-3, then 1-2. He took a break Christmas week. But then back at it. So, for the better part of a month, my little guy has been throwing up at least once a day. Or 9 times a day. And having diarrhea. He can eat and drink fluids, he’s not lost much weight, maybe a pound. He’s been playing and acting almost normal for 95% of the day.
It goes in spurts, for a few days he throws up at 10 am every day. Then 1 pm for a few days. Then we think he’s going to be ok but throws up during dinner. Sometimes he throws up before he eats, sometimes during a meal and sometimes it’s 2 hours after a meal.
There’s no rhyme or reason.
He’s been on a probiotic since October because he’s had 3 ear infections between October 1 – November 30. He’s been lactose-free for a year and a half. He’s been dairy free for 2 weeks. We haven’t tried gluten, but are starting gluten-free next. He’s been seeing a counselor for anxiety off and on for a year and a half.
His celiac test came back negative. All the blood work came back negative except some liver enzymes were high. X-Ray was normal. Stool culture was normal. He’d been sick for a month so I took him into the doctor on a Monday. Got the testing done by that Wednesday. Wednesday overnight into Thursday my 5-year-old started with diarrhea and vomiting. She was actively sick for about 9 hours, then recovering for another day. Saturday at lunch time he got sick with the bug. He was actively throwing up for 10 hours. While she threw up 3 times and had diarrhea twice, he threw up so many times I lost track. Finally, it stopped and he slept all night.
We saw my acupuncturist and she did acupressure on him. By evening he said he was 50% better. Then got a terrible headache at bedtime. He’s tired and in pain and his anxiety is strong. Backing up even further, he’s complained of a stomach ache for a least a year and a half. The guy has had anxiety his whole life. But this is more than anxiety.
Whatever it is gets exacerbated by anxiety and they are closely related, but this is not just anxiety.
In so many ways, I feel for him. I’ve had health problems off and on my whole life. I eat almost vegan and gluten free to function. My symptoms are not gone but manageable on this diet. My anxiety is associated with my physical problems. Will today be an easy day or a harder day? Will I be able to walk around the grocery store and get out without triggering a migraine? Usually not. Will traffic be smooth and not cause a tension headache followed by a migraine? Most days no. So, to watch him go through all these issues has been a hugely emotional challenge for me. It’s not just anxiety, and anxiety is a problem.
This painting relates the feeling of anxiety for me.
How to live and work and pursue happiness amongst all of these challenges?
I do not have all the answers. Instead, I build skills. Skills that need work every.single.day.
- First of all, stop calling everything a problem. Call it a challenge. Call it a lesson. There’s an issue with road rage? Figure out a way to get away from the awful driver. Slow down, speed up, take a different route. There’s an issue with grocery shopping? Shop during non-peak hours, use grocery pick up or delivery.
- Stop having bad days. Have bad moments. Bad hours. Bad experiences. Not everything is good. Not everything is bad. Pick apart the bad experiences and find something good. And if there’s nothing good, learn something. What can the experience teach you?
- Feelings pass. Ride the wave. Do a physical inventory to see where the feelings are causing physical symptoms. Is your stomach cramping? Are your shoulders tight? Notice the physical manifestation of the emotional challenge.
These are three simple skills or techniques I use to get through the challenging days. Having a plan helps me feel in control of my reaction. I can’t control the situation, but I can control my reaction. I don’t always manage to have a good reaction so there’s always the next time.
Keep moving forward and look at the process vs the moment.
Now I’d love to hear from you. Which of these skills seems the easiest for you to implement? Which one wouldn’t work for you at all? Let me know in the comments!