Dear Pediatrician, Handle Me with Care

Dear Pediatrician,

I realize that we rely on you way too much for too many things. I am sorry, and guess what I am going to ask of you even more; Please handle me with care. I realize I am not your patient, my child is. I realize that every week you see a hundred or more parents who bring their kids in with the same symptoms, the same concerns and the same crisis. 

I ask still, please handle me with care when I bring my children to you. Please remember that they are not the only ones hurting or sick. I, the parent, am hurting inside and sick with worry. I realize your focus is on figuring out the equation of symptom + symptom = which drug you prescribe so that I will walk away happy. 

But here is the thing. You know what would really make me happy? Is to feel heard and not shamed. 95% of what I am looking for when I walk into your office is:

1) To know I am not crazy. To have someone to bounce worry and ideas with, without being judged.

2) To be given hope, optimism, confidence, we have a plan, I can do this.

3) To be reminded I am not failing in every way possible at this parent thing (because guess what, if I am in your office, that is EXACTLY what I am thinking).

What would make me happy is to have confidence in you.  To have confidence in you is to be heard, to be empathized with as a person. To have confidence in you is to know that when you don't have an answer, you tell me that. You refer me to someone else, you say, you think a dietician, a counselor, a chiropractor may have a different perspective than you have and open that door that empowers me to go look for a well rounded understanding of my child's issues. Do not shut those doors and call me crazy for looking outside of just your bubble of knowledge. 

What would make me happy is feel validated, whether you agree with me or not, you can acknowledge my feelings are my feelings and should not be dismissed. I already feel crazy for having the feelings I have, I already think I am losing my mind (doesn't every parent?). Please handle me with as much care as you would a postpartum hormonal, anxiety bundle of a mess of a person, because oh wait, that is me, exactly me regardless of how old my kids are. When it comes to my kids, that is me within a second of walking in your door. 

What would make me happy is when we do not agree on a plan of action with MY children, remember my fear or lack of agreement has nothing to do with thinking you are uneducated. It has to do with that I am the one living with these decisions. I am the one who gets to go home and sit up all night with a screaming child when your solution doesn't work, or when things get worse, or when everything in my gut is screaming NO this is not RIGHT, I am the one who lives with the guilt of having not done enough. The burden of the right choice does not lay the most on you, it lays on us. Please handle me with the care you would with a person making a decision about life support. Sometimes even though you know that this is not a life or death situation, as the parent, we feel like it is. 

You often get to see me on my worst days. Handle me with the care with which you handle my child. By the time you see me I am a walking time bomb of shame, guilt, and worry. Handle me with care as if I may explode any second because that is how I feel. Remind me I am doing a good job. Remind me that you are listening. Remind me that my feelings are valid. Remind me that I am doing the best I can and every parent has been through this. 95% of what I need from you are these things when I see you. You got one class, if that, on counseling or bed side manner, and yet this is the majority of how you build trust with your parents to comply with and be open minded to your solutions. So I thank you in advance, before you walk through the door, breathe and handle US with care. 



P.S. To those pediatricians who do an exceptional job of handling the entire family with care, thank you. Thank you for making the choice to prioritize patients over insurance dollars and rules for lengths of visits. Thank you for aligning your personal values with the decision of where you work and who you work for. Thank you for your craft of making us feel heard and validated. Thank you for remembering how you felt when you were a parent of kids that age and for being human alongside of us.

What Everyone with Adrenal Fatigue Wants Their Friends to Know

The thing about living with adrenal fatigue/insufficiency (if that word is foreign to you listen to the truecast) is I look fine when you see me, so it often feels like I am lying when I say, I am sick. Sometimes I wonder why my body just can't do the job it was built to. Why I didn't know any better when I was younger and take better care to manage stress, stop living off of caffeine and adrenalin and get assessed for food sensitivities sooner. All of these things could've meant we would have avoided this, maybe.

Nowadays if I achieve the task of getting out of the house or inviting people over then I know that in those few hours I can survive, I can genuinely enjoy the time with you and I have the energy to be present with the people we adore. This is the quality of health you know me as.

It isn't until a while after you leave, and before you arrived, I was experiencing something far different. The fatigue that makes it difficult to think straight or keep my eyes open. The brain fog that when I try and run errands in this state I spend most of the shopping trip trying to keep the cart from bumping into aisles because I cannot seem to keep it rolling straight. The bed that calls my name more often than it calls my own children to sleep. The idea that my body is failing me. Those of us living with this, we want to be involved, we want to pour into our children's and friend's lives, and when we muster up the energy and strength to do so, we do it with flying colors. It reminds us of our old selves. We love every minute. We do this so well in fact, no one knows we're unwell.  

You see when you live with adrenal insufficiency/fatigue your body only has so much juice to power it up. So when you burn it all at a playdate, or a work function, you have very little to go on for the rest of the day or even sometimes, the rest of the week. You save up for the moments that mean the most, the ones you just have to participate in to maintain your level of sanity. 

The hard part is, maybe you knew me before this condition started. So you are perplexed. It can also look a lot like postpartum depression, or anxiety or a really horrible ability to handle stress. This can set on seemingly overnight but really over years and years of time has slowly been crowding in until one day it just snaps and your adrenal glands stop. When the juice runs out in me I also snap. You haven't seen this. You've never witnessed rage, or sadness, or me talking as if I were drunk when I am not. Only my family has. Because when I see you I make sure I am healthy, for the time being. I save up my self to spend time with you because you matter to me.

When my child too has this, sure he looks great when he is awake and sticks to his schedule so that he does not get over tired. But when he is off his schedule, when he skips a nap or pushes one off for too long, my friend, you aren't home to see him and I crying at night, all night because his body doesn't know how to calm itself down. It can't calm down so he starts scratching himself until he bleeds. He looks happy and healthy and growing. But inside, his organs are just surviving. His brain is a fog and the way he walks one could argue is developmental but one could also see he is so tired his legs wobble. He has enough juice to run until he doesn't. 

So when I stop calling, or stop showing up, or keep being that annoying person who refuses to hang out during nap time, I feel awful. I wonder when will this stop being so hard? But then I remember all of the things that with my first child were hard or for my friends are hard.

Hard is hard, regardless which kind of hard it is. If it weren't this kind of hard this time, it'd be a different hard. What we do in response to hard is what counts. We choose to seek out help in all sorts of ways, to learn, to make our pain our purpose, or we don't. I choose to get better. But this takes time, who knows when I will feel like myself 100% again if ever. This frustrates me more than you can imagine, or that my behavior may ever frustrate you. 

So instead of feeling guilty for being a less than consistent friend, I am trying to embrace that I have some more peace and quiet than I used to forced upon me to keep my body going. I am learning so much about how to heal the body and figure out where exactly things are going haywire. I am passionate about spreading awareness of adrenal fatigue/insufficiency for mothers and professional athletes particularly because many of them think their depression stems from their brain and when the meds don't work they give up. They just aren't looking at the right organ. I am learning that everyone is doing their best. I may not know why that is their best, but trust that it is, just like I hope you trust that I am doing my best too.

Being Still IS Worthwhile WORK

I have fully embraced this concept of just sitting or laying in silence.

Really, it has changed me, and my ability to help others.

Call it whatever you like, meditation, quiet time, or staring into space. I wholeheartedly believe being STILL and QUIET is THE most productive thing one can do. Feel overwhelmed? Think there are too many things on your to do list? Tired? Confused? ... the remedy is this.

We all have multiple facets to our lives, we all have a billion things to keep track of and to push forward with our goals, but knowing WHAT and WHEN to pour energy into WHICH is MAJORLY important.

I found my mind wandering and that feeling of "eh I'll put that off till tomorrow" settling in. 10 minutes of laying still and being quiet and the right question entered my mind for the day, "where does your energy need to go next?" and so did the answers, now I have clarity.

A dear friend of mine introduced me at a speaking engagement the other week as "she can somehow complete 48 hours of stuff in just 24 hours every day". Friends, I am telling you, this is how. By being still, by intentionally taking time every day to be quiet, to figure out where to direct my ship and who to ask to jump on it.

If the FEELING and the PEACE OF MIND wasn't enough, this video popped up on my newsfeed days after I wrote this on my facebook page. I had no idea that Oprah had shared this sentiment with people as well. So if you don't take it from me, that is ok, take it from her.

When Your Job is Being Happy

We started #redefiningFUNproject because of the societal overwhelm that tells us that unless it is “productive” it is not worth it. Especially at times of transition, change and therefore stress, FUN, or what makes us HAPPY, is vitally important AND the most challenging.

We are learning how to walk again, in our new normal. There is no headspace for anything else, yet we need a break from the overhaul of learning, growing, being stretched. We need fun.

For those of us who are struggling to just survive, waking up and facing a day that has glimmers of FUN and happiness IS ENOUGH. Is it hard to let go of, this idea that you need to do more, be more, and want more? Absolutely. I tell my husband it is like there is the most powerful magnet in the world that compels me to think that THIS is NOT ENOUGH. That treating being happy today as a job is not good enough.

But why isn’t it? If you are struggling, just surviving, and suffering, then can’t being happy be your assigned job today, and the next day and the next, until you have learned how to walk your new normal walk without working so hard at it?

Nothing lasts forever, and neither does the need to WORK at being HAPPY. But if you are feeling like you need to WORK at it, then give yourself permission for today and all of the days you need to, to do this. Join us by looking for, recognizing and sharing your new definition of FUN.

Liking Your Body... for Now

There is something transformational that happens  during the year after growing, laboring and delivering a baby. You, for the first time maybe in your entire life, like your body. You  see your body for its functionality and wonder why you ever worried so much over one flabby spot or a few stretch marks.

Because if you are like me, two kids later you now have hashtags of stretch marks and the consistency of your abdominal region is like the floor sponge in the children’s book If You Give A Mouse  aCookie. Nothing fits and you barely have the wherewithall to put on make up let alone shower. Yet you don’t fret about going out in public without doing your eyebrows or if someone can see your love handles.

You are getting front point a to b and not losing your mind or a child and that is not only good enough because your standards are low but it has always been good enough. After having a baby you stop worrying everything is perfect. The truth is no one but yourself prior to having a baby was paying that close of attention to you anyways. Now you have simply caught up to real life perception of how awesome and functional your body is!

It grew a human. You ate for a purpose and mood swings but mostly for a purpose. Your body did its best delivering the baby into the world and recovered from the trauma. It may have even fed the baby single handedly or boobedly for a year or less or more. It is awesome. Now you know it lile really do get it. You understand that maybe your spouse and friends had been saying a shred of truth before that you rock and so does your body.

This honeymoon phase for the love of your body does end. Right around when the weight has stopped falling off and you are faced with either buying a new wardrobe or getting pregnant again to stay in your maternity clothes. How do we stay in touch with this truth about ourselves?