Another day, another headache

I occasionally find myself sitting in the car, in traffic or at a stoplight, and I start looking around at the people in the cars around me. For the most part people are doing what I’m doing — sitting there bored or turning the dials on the A/C or radio. But every now and then I’ll see a woman behind the wheel crying or a couple in the front seat arguing. In these moments I feel jerked back to reality, where life is going on in people around me even if though I don’t see it or am not part of it. Mentally, it’s like when I’m not with someone I have hit the “pause” button, and then I hit “play” when we’re back together. It is so easy to become so self-absorbed that we aren’t able to see (or don’t take the time to see) the human condition around us.

But it’s not all our fault for not seeing what’s going on around us, it’s also the fault of the other side for making us think everything’s OK. We ask people how are they doing and they say “fine.” People go out of their way to make others think they’re “fine.” I go out of my way to make others think I’m “fine.” And, really, most of the time I am fine. I’m very blessed and life treats me good. Life has it’s stressful moments but I’m a survivor. I have — my favorite phrase — intestinal fortitude. So while certain life stresses would break some, I thrive.

But these last few weeks I’ve just been beat down. My precious, 6-year-old first-born son has been dealing with migraine headaches for almost a year and nothing we’ve tried has helped. We put him to bed early so he gets plenty of rest. (Even his 3-year-old brother gets to stay up later!) We fix him bacon with breakfast every morning so he gets a good boost of protein. We’ve tried drinking Gatorade for breakfast in case the headaches were caused by dehydration. We took away caffeinated drinks since caffeine or caffeine withdrawals can cause headaches. The neurologist prescribed a mild antihistimine that’s been proven to work with migraines. It kinda seemed to work at first but not for long. So we doubled the dose and he had to learn to swallow a pill. The ear/nose/throat doctor put in a third set of ear tubes to see if  sinus pressure in the head or ears was the problem. Didn’t help. Two weeks ago the doctor recommended we try a different medication — after he’d had a headache nearly every day for 2 weeks and three bad ones in one day. On day 12 of the medicine he had an allergic reaction and currently his body is covered in a rash. We stopped the medicine of course, but it could take up to two weeks for the reaction to go away.

Now they’ve ordered an MRI, but because his chart has already been sent to the transcriptionist and because of the July 4 holiday it will be at least Monday before they can call to schedule. I just want to help my baby not have headaches and be able to live a normal life. I’ve knelt by his bed at night and held his precious head and prayed that God would take the headaches away from him and give them to me. I feel so helpless going about life as usual — work, home, meals, laundry, kids’ parties, vacations — as if nothing is wrong, while my child has a problem. At work, I watch the clock and the phone constantly — the clock anticipating the end of the day when I go get him, see how his day was and get him home before a headache sets in, and the phone out of fear the summer daycare will call telling me he’s sick or he doesn’t feel well enough to stay.

I feel like I’m a bad mom, as if I’m not doing enough. I worry that people think that I’m a bad mom because I’m not able to fix this, or that I’m not taking this seriously enough because I take him to summer care and I go to work. But certainly no one really thinks I’m a bad mom? It’s just a reaching a point where it’s hard to function as if nothing’s wrong even though I don’t think there’s anything I could be doing differently.

And to think, you thought I was “fine.”


2 thoughts on “Another day, another headache

  1. I think you hide it well. You’re not sending out a “crisis” vibe if you ask me. But is that necessarily a good thing? Is it a failure to be human?

    As to your last paragraph, you seem uncertain whether anyone thinks you stink at being a mom. In all the time I’ve known you, I’ve never once thought, “She’s a bad mother.” Are you kidding? If you knew yourself as a friend, with all the things you’re facing and all the effort and heart you’ve put into it, you know you would not think you were doing poorly. So don’t do it now.

    This next comes from 20 years of experience with caregiving and it’s a lesson I still haven’t learned fully: I know you’re a suck-it-up-and-get-off-your-pity-pot kind of gal and I respect and admire that. But that ain’t always the answer to every tough time. Sometimes it reaches a point where that won’t cut it. You’ve got to allow God and those who care about you to carry you along for a little while. You’d do it for them. Suck it up and let them do it for you! Would you consider them weak for showing the stress? Is that what you’re afraid they’ll think of you?

  2. shaggerty says:

    Heather, no one would ever accuse you of being a bad mother for not being able to fix something like this. You staying at home full time wouldn’t cure his unexplained migraines.

    I was always impressed with the way you handled an unbelievably full schedule when you were taking graduate classes at UAH in addition to juggling kids (one still a baby, at that), a husband and a full-time job. You’re good at everything you do, and you’re incredibly strong. No one expects you to carry on like nothing is wrong – it’s OK for everything not to be OK sometimes.

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