Friday, March 15, 2013

Dear Bent

"We're not broken, just bent, and we can learn to love sleep again."

Dear Bent,

You describe me perfectly during certain difficult parenting moments--namely when my kiddos are ill or injured.  More accurately, I become "totally bent-out-of-shape" or "almost completely undone."

Yes, children get sick and hurt.  It is a fact of life.  No precautions on anyone's part can totally prevent them, and we just hope that in the process of these unwelcome events that either we build immunity to ward off future illnesses or learn from our mistakes to not get hurt the same way again.  Except This Mama seems unable to "learn."

Dear Son became sick again--for the fourth time this winter--earlier this week.  Suffice it to say, when body temperature reaches 103 to 104 degrees and the doctor's office is closed, I naturally begin to panic.  You see, I have unknowingly inherited the Worry Gene in its dominant and homozygous form.  I worry and I know it.

Not only do I panic, but I start to hear voices inside my head bickering with one another.  And the battle between Logical Me and Crazy Me can be quite vigorous:

CM: How on earth am I going to be able to sleep tonight when DS has a fever this high?  I'm going to be up half the night making sure he hasn't had a febrile seizure in his sleep.  Wait, can one have a seizure in one's sleep?

LM: Don't be silly.  He will be fine.  He took ibuprofen and his temperature will come down in a little while.  It always does.

CM: It's been twenty minutes and he's still 103.8.  OMG, his brain is going to fry.  This is way too high.  Is he going to be all right?

LM: He's had temps this high before.  Don't you remember?  It will come down; just give it some time.  He's sleeping fine, so just take him to the pediatrician in the morning.

CM: He has?  Really?  I don't remember.  104 is really high.  Is he going to be okay?  How am I ever going to sleep at all?  Well, I just won't.  Damn this fever.  I am so worried.
Amidst this frantic conversation, I slowly begin to realize that I'm talking out loud and not just inside my head.  Wait a second, Crazy Me is talking out loud.  And Logical Me is responding out loud, too.  Oh, I realize I've really lost it, because I have been having a conversation with Dear Husband all this time.  He's the one with all the logical thoughts.  Hmmm.  (And he's really not understanding how I can not remember when just weeks ago DS had a temperature of 104 and this exact same conversation took place then as well.)

(For the record, I don't understand it either.)

I really lose it when my kids get sick.  Panic sets in and my brain becomes worthy of comparison to gelatin.  Part of the problem is that I lose all recollection to the kiddos' prior illnesses, their symptoms, order of events, and the days it took to get better.  The other part of the problem is that in the peak of my panic, I can no longer think logically, so I begin to think the only other way: illogically and in the worse case scenario way.  My mind goes wherever it shouldn't go.  All the what-ifs rise from the dead in a dark, spooky, and chilly cemetery to haunt me.  I look at each one of them in the eyes for a split second before realizing how ridiculous I am to even consider the possibility of any of them.  But sometimes a few just seems almost plausible that it scares the bejeezus out of me.  The mind works in crazy ways. 

Really.  All I really want is for my child to get well.  And I'd give anything for that to happen. 

My only way out of Panic Mode is seeing improvement.  When the fever finally breaks, I can then exhale all that stale, worried air in my lungs.  Or when we see the doctor, get a diagnosis, and get the meds.  Then I can sleep again. 

DS is all better now (it was an ear infection, something he's only ever had once when he was one).  He'll be on amoxicillin for ten days, and is bouncing off the walls already.  And I'm taking mental notes on this one so that DH won't accuse me of not ever believing what he says next time a kiddo gets sick.

Except I know that I still won't believe him anyway when that time comes.

So, Dear Bent, I am straightening out from this sick episode, but still in amazement as to how worried parents I can get.  They certainly forgot to include that tidbit in the Parenting Manual.  I know that most of us would trade places with our sick or injured children in a heartbeat, no questions asked.  But since Life is not interested in people switching bodies, we have to deal.  I just have to keep telling myself that they're "not broken, just bent," and tonight, I will sleep again.



  1. You are not alone--I completely freak out when my kids are sick. There are just so many things that can go wrong, but luckily they've always recovered, and so have I. :)

    1. Sometimes Parenthood just likes to throw curve balls, I suppose, and everyone reacts differently. I'm usually over-the-top panicky. But you're right--they've always managed to recover, so I should just take in the reality of that and feel better. Thanks so much for stopping by, Asianmommy! DS was good by weekend to enjoy his birthday party! :)

  2. The hardest part is not knowing whether the symptoms are run-of-the-mill, or something worse. We've had some strange stuff with our kids, so now I'm always second-guessing...wondering 'what if' that fever wasn't just the flu, 'what if' the cough is more than the remnants of a cold, etc. I try to remind myself that it's unusual to have the 'freaky' illnesses, but it's still in the back of my mind.

    Hang in there...perhaps cold season will be over soon :)

    1. Exactly! It's always the "what-ifs" that scare me the most. If my mind just stays still and not wander... But sometimes it's the wandering minds that keep us on our toes for more suspecting symptoms! I've had Bell's Palsy TWICE within ten months of one another, so freaky? Been there. It was scary, so it's even scarier for our own kids. Thanks for your reassurance, Janna! I'm hoping this cold weather away as we speak.

  3. Reading you, sometimes, is like reading about my husband - I know I've mentioned it before. He FREAKS out whenever anyone gets sick or hurt. I'm more of a let's give her meds and a cool compress and see what happens and he's more of a let's rush her to the hospital and make sure this is normal. But, with that being said, I totally hear you on the bent thing. I have moments of it, but luckily it does subside. And there is a benefit to it - sometimes it's good to listen to the CM instead of the LM because sometimes, LM is to chill and the kids really do need the Dr.

    1. Haha, I'm glad someone can relate to my behavior, even if it's not you, Cindy! I guess it takes one like me (your husband) and one like my husband (you) to nicely balance each other out. :)

      That night, I woke up in the middle to of the night several times to check on DS, and his fever broke and stayed that way til the morning. But I still took him to the peds since I thought the 103+ was really high. Doc said good thing I did, because it turns out he had an ear infection and needed antibiotics. It's a lot of hassle, but I guess for a peace of mind, I'd do anything. But those short moments before the temperature comes down is scary as hell. Thanks for validating my CM voices, Cindy! :)

  4. Know what you mean, especially with high fevers! We are worried even if J starts to feel remotely warm! I say, better to be safe than sorry. At least you have him motrin and then saw a doc. Hang in there, you're totally normal, ok? We all worry!

    1. Sometimes I'm so bent out of shape I don't feel normal. But I think it's really the high temperatures that are NOT normal. Thanks for making me feel better. You'll just have to remind me again the next time, since I'll likely forget. Thanks, Lisa! :)

  5. ha ha ha I laugh because the episode you describe looks like the one here. I am you and your husband is mine - same dialogue, same reactions. We mothers never learn. I understand it is the same with my brother and SIL too. :-) Panic is our response to our children's woes. I guess, that is why it is handy to have the cooler and more logical male brain around. :-)

    At least we can relax in the knowledge that this is the way we are wired. ;-)

    1. Yes, Imelda, you are right--I am this way because I am wired this way. I'll need a total rewiring in order to NOT react this way. At least we're not alone in this. And I am thankful that we have one of each on our teams. Can you imagine if both are Worry Warts or both are Too Cool Cats? It'd be unimaginable! :) Thanks for stopping by!