Itch, Wash, Itch, Wash and Itch a little more

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I don’t think I am alone on this but when someone has mentioned Lice in the past,  I have squirmed in my seat with discomfort.  My mind would then go in overdrive,  imagining something out of a horror film where you wake up and are covered with these bugs crawling out of your hair and pretty much turning you insane with anxiety.  Well anyone who has gotten a mild case knows that my vision is completely out of proportion to reality and that my active mind should be tamed. So you must know where this post is going now.

Our household got a case of it on Friday, specifically London.  Her BFF’s mom phoned Friday morning to let me know that her daughter was the latest victim of many from her class and that I may want to check London since they play so closely together.  Since we got the first notice from the school a few days prior, I was already checking religiously but of course would look again when she got home.

So up until Friday I saw nothing and I was repeatedly told that I will be able to see the nits on her hair if she has them and nothing. I even dosed her hair with Tea Tree Oil each morning as a preventative measure.   So once L got home from school I went into Baboon mode and yup she had a handful of creepy crawlers in her hair.  So either she had nits festing in her hair for the days prior and they just hatched or over the course of the day, these creepy crawlers jumped from someone else’s head to hers, even though I have read they really don’t have any athletic ability.   After seeing what they look like up close, I actually wasn’t grossed out much to my surprise and delight given that I would be dealing with this for awhile.  Maybe this is because I only found a few or maybe because I wasn’t infected, who knows.  So off I went to our local drug store to get the recommended treatment.  Of course the itching started in my own head and my husband’s and when I asked the pharmacist if we should do the treatment as well just in case she highly recommended not to unless we for sure had it.

Needless to say the sanitize function on the washer has been going non-stop since Friday evening.  I can’t wait to see my utility bill after this weekend of paranoid washing and high-temp drying.  The Baboon searches have continued all weekend, several times a day, and given that I have no prior experience with this I hope that I am doing everything I should to prevent another outbreak within this cycle.

Going forward I have read repeatedly that Tea Tree Oil is great for preventing lice, so last night I put a few drops into my shampoo and a few drops into my conditioner while washing my hair. Your hair stinks for a bit afterwards but as promised by the main emails I read by morning you don’t smell a thing which proves true.

Itch, Itch.

 

 

 

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Look Mama, I have grown another inch today!

IMG_5677We have the ability to measure tangible things, such as one’s height or weight,  the mileage one has run in a week, or how much more weight can be lifted at the gym, but we have no tool that we can hold in our hands that can measure our growth.  Well, tool or no tool, I can say with certainty that I have definitely grown at least an inch or maybe even two, conceptually speaking of course, in the life department. It is a great feeling indeed!

Now what brought on this weigh-in so to speak?  A Ted Talk, two actually. One by Stacey Kramer and the other by Jane McGonigal.  Stacey talks about how a rare tumour became the greatest gift she ever received.   Given that she couldn’t change what happened to her, she recognized she could change how she reacted to it and saw it as an opportunity to create a new and meaningful life. One that involved recalibrating what is important, developing a new understanding and trust in her body, expanding her vocabulary in directions that were never even imagined, developing closer relationships with family and friends, as well as, meeting new people. Her medical crisis ultimately challenged, inspired and humbled her all at the same time which allowed her to further develop her life with new meaning.  Her message to anyone experiencing adversity in any form, that when you face something unexpected, unwanted or uncertain view it as a gift.  One can argue that having a child with severe disabilities falls within this domain and although it has been tough at times, I can share Stacey’s experiences and sentiments that the best way to view this adversity is in the positive. Again admittedly I sometimes need to be reminded of this, hence the Ted Talk.

Stacey’s attitude and approach in dealing with her ‘gift’ is a perfect example of how we are evolving in the emotional intelligence department to not just survive adversity but thrive on it.  In the psychology world, they have even come up with a new term called Post Traumatic Growth to illustrate “how adversity can often be a springboard to a new and meaningful life in which people re-evaluate their priorities, deepen their relationships and find new understandings of who they are.” (2013, Huffington Post, Joseph, Stephen).

Like Stacey, Jane also turned her medical situation into an opportunity for personal growth.  Her experience in overcoming the adversity that faced her led her to identify 4 areas of strength that everyone should foster to allow them to more effectively deal with a challenge should it present itself.  The 4 strengths include (1) physical –  exercise,  mental – learning, problem solving, game playing, reading, etc., emotional – positive interactions, goal setting, etc.,  and social – practice of gratitude, healthy touch, trust of oneself, etc.

Many people wrongly assume that resiliency is a trait of an individual, something you are born with or not, or can learn by doing a series of exercises.  Instead of it being a specific skill or a trait, resiliency is rather a process, albeit, a dynamic set of on-going processes that must be actively nurtured and pursued to give an individual the means to not only manage adversity but overcome it. I will define overcoming it to mean that someone can live a positive and meaningful life despite an adverse situation/event.

As a parent, one of many, whose world has been rocked and continues to be rocked by the challenges that come with raising a child with severe special needs, I can honestly say with open arms and heart that I have been given an incredible gift to cherish and grow.  Truthfully if I don’t embrace this way of thinking into every fibre of my own existence then the alternate way of living is dark, depressing, and rather shallow in opportunities.

My advice to anyone who sometimes finds themselves retreating back onto the darker path of a given trauma, illness, accident, grief, etc. to muster up the strength to remind themselves of the good that has come out of whatever has been experienced – what new and valuable relationships have been strengthened or developed as a result, what new skills have been developed, what new opportunities have you experienced that you wouldn’t have been exposed to or even considered before, and what else can you do to make the best of your situation.    Unfortunately life isn’t fair and once something bad has happened you can’t turn back the clock and I don’t think many people have had much luck with retribution, so really there is only one way to succeed going forward, and that is to cherish what lies ahead, knowing that you have the personal power to not only survive a negative experience but thrive.  To do so it is key to build on those 4 areas of strength – essentially these are the 4 pillars of life that will allow you to leap to a new level of growth.

Kids say the darnest things

IMG_6478 R1The other day at dinner this little girl asked us, “how come there are very few men with blonde hair”?

We have no idea where this came from.

She then said “there are a lot of women with blond hair but not men”.

Under his breath Mike made the comment that “the curtains often do not match the carpet” and thankfully it was out of earshot of London.  Or else he would have been responsible for trying to get off on explaining that one.

In my head, I started scanning on all the men in my life – close and distant friends/family/former work colleagues and she is right there are very few men that truly have blonde hair but far more women who have legitimately blonde or dirty blonde hair.  I didn’t have a good reason for her.

Mike mentioned that there are more men with blonde hair from Scandinavian countries but that truly didn’t give any further clue as to the disparity in hair colour between the two sexes in adult life over here.

London’s 3 year old male cousin has very light blonde hair and apparently Dad also had the same hair colour when he was young and now sports dark brown hair.   It is typical for sure that as you get older your hair colour gets darker but going from pale blonde to dark brown is quite a stark change.

Well London, you have stumped us on this one. Go ask your teacher.

 

Gobble, Gobble, Oink, Oink

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving.  Traditionally it is a weekend where you get together with family for a Thanksgiving dinner, where a Ham or Turkey are the main guests so to speak.  In the past we have almost always gone to my parent’s house/cottage for the weekend where my mom puts on a delicious feast. This year we were on our own given that we were now in Calgary and they were back in Ontario 😦

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We decided to host a dinner Saturday night as my sister and her family were travelling on Sunday.  Like with most things we are overly ambitious and decided not only to put on our first Thanksgiving dinner but would do so for 13 people.  Included in this 13 was of course my sister’s family, us, and a young family we met through London’s school who didn’t have family in the city and a cousin of ours that we haven’t seen in a while.   My sister contributed towards the dinner which was a great help but Mike spent quite a few hours in the kitchen the night before and the day of.  In the end we had a delicious dinner with great company, 7 adults and 6 little ones, and I managed to only put my foot in the mouth once!

So we were talking about children’s names – neat ones and the ‘what were you thinking’ ones – when I remembered that someone recently told me of someone they knew who hyphenated the mom and dad’s last names to produce something crazy. I couldn’t remember who told me and was trying to remember hard so I could continue with the story and that is when I looked over at my sister who gave me the look of death and mouthed STOP. Bingo, now I knew who told me and what the name combination was.   It was my sister’s sister-in-law (husband’s sister) who recently named her child Satya (a yoga term meaning truth) and then hyphenated her last name with the baby’s dads name – Hymen (not sure if that is the correct spelling).   Of course I am not a proponent of teasing regardless of one’s name but there are some things a parent can do to prevent setting your child up for potential teasing and it starts with selecting your child’s name. Anyways I quickly moved on after seeing my sister’s face in horror worried I would remember the name and came up with a few other crazy name combinations. I don’t think my brother-in-law was the wiser of that little gaffe but my sister-in-law was not so happy.

After the guests left it was a bit of a let down for me and I honestly wondered if it was worth it.  I spent hours cleaning the house leading up to the day and our entire Saturday more or less revolved around the dinner and then afterwards there was considerable clean-up.  I always appreciated what my mom did for us in the past but after this dinner it made me feel guilty for not helping out more in the past.

Both Mike and I agree that we can’t rely on invites to other people’s houses given the special needs factor, for some reason many typical families are hesitant to invite special needs families over, so we have to do the inviting and make our place a hub of activity. That would be okay if being the host came naturally for me but it doesn’t.   Maybe after a few more dinners and not putting our lives on hold preparing for a dinner will make them more enjoyable afterwards.  The other thing is that I tend to deny people from helping clean up afterwards thinking that is what  a good host does but just maybe I need to rethink that and take them up on that given that we have other demands placed on us that zap our energy and that the extra little help is worth the knock on the good host award.

In the end we are both grateful for even having the means and the opportunity to host such a dinner. Here is to many more in the future!

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Blessings can come in small bottles

Acetylcarnitine_structureJust when you think you are falling faster and faster towards rock bottom, a current comes up from underneath, sometimes from out of nowhere, to slow you down.  This current doesn’t necessarily stop the pending fall but sometimes it puts on the breaks enough that you can start to climb back up towards the opening and resupply yourself with what you need, before a downward current pushes you back towards the bottom.  So far we have never reached the top since having kids but we have skimmed the bottom a few times.

Thankfully though we have become some-what experienced on how to protect ourselves as best as we can within this hole of life but sometimes we are at a loss.   We know to wear extra layers, and to keep a surplus of food and water on us in times of need, and you would be amazed at how having a sense of humour can ward off the risk of falling further.  We have even been great at building walls around us to overcome the idiots that we sometimes face along the way.   We even see the value in sending London to rock climbing lessons with the plan that she can hopefully teach us a thing or two about effectively navigating the course of life.  She is learning to belay, unfasten the hooks, problem solve and through all her lessons and experience to date she has repeatedly made it to the top.

Now the recent upward current that has given us a break comes in the form of Acetyl-L-Carnitine. For the last few weeks Reilly fell into an awful sleep pattern of easily falling to sleep but then would wake up literally several times throughout the night, sometimes it would be for an hour or two at a time.  It became so bad that Mike and I would agree to take turns sleeping with Reilly and the other could go off to the spare bedroom, close the door, and try to get one good nights sleep every 2-3 nights.  On top of this, Reilly was refusing to eat a lot of foods that she previously enjoyed.  The list of tolerated foods by Reilly was becoming smaller and smaller, where you could start to count the acceptable items on one hand.  Her hair was staring to fall out and we had one foot out the door in taking her to emerg and demanding a G-tube.  The last thing we ever want to do. We strongly suspected that her eating and sleeping were tightly related and weren’t making much progress on either front until a call was made to our former Ontario doctor about another issue.

Sleeping and eating were not uncommon issues associated with Reilly over the years but when I mentioned the latest symptom of hair loss, it triggered the suggestion to consider adding Carnitine into her diet. Apparently when you take Valproic Acid, which she has been on for 4 years now, it could trigger hair loss due to insufficient levels of Carnitine.

We have introduced Carnitine a week now and the bottle says “a minimum of 3 months may be required before observing an effect.” Not sure what specific effect the company is referring to for it is supposed to help with a range of different issues including reducing fatigue, supporting cognitive function in the elderly, maintain cognitive function during aging and relieving pain with diabetic neuropathy, etc.   All I can say is that for the past 4 nights, Reilly has slept through the night and we have as well.  Yahoo!  The first night this happened we were so startled and ran to make sure she was still breathing.  Moreover, her appetite has increased dramatically.  Again the timing of these improvements may just be coincidental but this supplement is the only thing we have changed and you just don’t go from weeks of being in one extreme to a major breakthrough without it being related to something.

Admittedly I didn’t do much research before giving it to Reilly for we were fairly desperate to turn things around.  I did read somewhere that it can aid sports performance, hmmm maybe I need to start taking some.  In the mean-time I am grateful for this little particular current that has stopped the free fall path we were on.

My Friend Huggles, a great gift idea

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I apologize in advance for thinking about Christmas already but when you come across a possible gift idea for Reilly you jump at it no matter what time of year it is, as she is very difficult to buy for.  I came across this gift idea looking through Costco’s magazine that was sent to the home and it instantly intrigued me.  It is a My Friend Huggles doll.  I asked my parents if they wanted to get it for Reilly for Christmas and they jumped at the opportunity.  We ordered The Honest Mia doll for I thought it looked a little like Reilly.

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The interesting thing about Mia and the other dolls is that she is 36 inches tall and the size of the doll is one of the reasons that attracted me to it for Reilly. Reilly has a lot of difficulties in grabbing things but a doll this size is something that she might get a kick out of.

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The My Friend Huggles doll line has received a lot of recognition, not only has it won many children’s toy awards but it has been incorporated successfully into hospital and therapy environments.

Each doll has a different character-building value associated to it and the company not only encourages the doll’s owners to live the values bestowed with their doll but to also participate and contribute to increasing social awareness and change within their community. The company has further created a blog site, giving all doll owners the direct opportunity to share their experiences with others.

I am hoping that Reilly falls in love with the doll and it will give her comfort and security as she is subjected to one appointment after another in the months to come.  Something tells me it will be a hit but you never know.

Images borrowed from My Friend Huggles website.