Stress Overload – By Cara Potapshyn Meyers
Stress: a situation, occurrence, or factor causing physical, mental, or
emotional strain or tension.
Ahh stress. I am under so much stress right now, I’m surprised I can write this blog. I am under so much stress, the thought of eating makes me sick. I am under so much stress, that my run down body came down with a cold, my irritable bowels started acting up, I got my period two weeks early, and my face broke out in a huge way. All in less than 24 hours. I would guess that by virtue off all of this happening in such a short period of time, I would suffice to say, I am experiencing stress overload.
I probably should begin with last weekend. My son started on an ADHD medication patch. For the first three days, it worked beautifully on my son. Even his teacher noticed the improvement. Then, all of a sudden, the patch started disappearing. I asked my son if he had taken the patch off, prefacing my question by letting him know that I would not be upset with him at all. I truly just needed to have an estimated time to record. He said he had no idea.
On the same day, I received a court subpoena to appear as a defendant in a court case. I needed this like I needed a whole in my head.
In any event, the next day, the medication patch turned up “missing” again. Concomitantly (and this will have a direct correlation, as you will see), both my son and I had been getting mosquito bites on our legs and arms. I was layering our bodies with calamine lotion. It also happened to be warm last week so shorts and tee-shirts were the attire. My bites were healing with calamine lotion. My son’s looked like they were getting more infected. The fact that he was scratching them relentlessly certainly didn’t help. I was covering his multitude of bites with antibiotic ointment and bandages. The bites did not seem to be improving, and he had been accumulating more. Now we must jump back to the medication patch.
I could tell when my son took off his patch too early because he displayed a “rebound effect.” All of a sudden he was all over the place, uncontrollable, rude, disrespectful, obnoxious…not even nearly what he was like before he started the patch. I called his doctor. Since I get up at 4:30am every day to take one of my own medicines, the doctor and I thought that if I put the patch on my son where he wouldn’t know where I placed it, such as between his shoulder blades, we might be able to have my son not even think about the patch, thus not taking it off. This worked for two days until my son caught on to where I put it when I had to take it off. Then he was back to removing them as soon as possible. Now, back to the mosquito bites. (There IS a reason for this bouncing back and forth between topics…).
Thursday night I noticed bug bites on my son’s neck, shoulders and right ear. His ear itched him the most. I was able to put calamine lotion on my son’s neck and shoulders but didn’t feel comfortable putting it on or in his ear. All night long, my son scratched his ear until it was bleeding. In the morning, I cleaned his ear. It looked better and my son said it felt better, so I sent him to school.
Late in the school day, the school nurse called me to explain that my son was again scratching his ear until bleeding, but she also detected a clear fluid coming from somewhere within the ear. She advised that I see my son’s doctor as soon as possible. I immediately called my son’s doctor but the earliest they could give my son an appointment would be first thing the next morning unless I felt that my son needed to go to the emergency room. I honestly didn’t feel that my son needed to go to the emergency room, so I kept gently cleaning my son’s ear, despite the fact that my son was still scratching at it. Later that night I noticed a sticky, clear discharge coming from his ear. I was certain it was impetigo. And yes, my son had taken his patch off again at some point during the day.
By the next morning, my son’s ear looked ten times worse than the night before. Even his bug bites looked more red and swollen. Marks even showed up on his face. I dutifully put my son’s medication patch on and we went to see the doctor. While we were in the waiting room, my son was pacing, stopping every few feet to scratch a bug bite or his ear and eventually the site where I put his patch. I asked if the patch bothered him. He angrily said, “Yes! That’s the whole problem! Every day you make me wear that thing, my itching gets worse! I want it to come off!!” I told him that we would have to speak with his doctor before we could do that, knowing full well that the patch was completely unrelated to his bodily itching.
When we first saw the doctor in the examination room, the doctor took one look at my son and said, “I want to admit him into the hospital for IV antibiotics.” My son was angrily stating to the doctor that the medication patch was the problem. He explained, logically in his 8 year – old mind, that if the itchy patch were taken off, he would get better. To my son’s dismay, the doctor reassured my son that the patch had absolutely nothing to do with the itching on the rest of his body. Very cryptically, the doctor and I discussed the issue of the hospital admission or not. I have a medical background, so we spoke using medical lingo and higher level vocabulary. I essentially said to the doctor that if my son were admitted into the hospital, he would need to be either sedated, restrained, or both because my son would be pulling out his IVs left and right. My son is also deathly afraid of needles, so he would end up being an extremely difficult patient to manage. Based on this, the doctor came up with a more reasonable solution: Give my son oral antibiotics equivalent to what he would get through IV, quarantine him for the entire weekend, wash his sheets with boiling hot water after 2 days on the antibiotics and ear drops, and sanitize my hands after touching my son. He was diagnosed with systemic impetigo, however the doctor was very concerned that this could rapidly turn into MRSA, the “flesh eating” disease.
Okay, now that there was a plan, there were more obstacles. My son gags and vomits when you try to give him pills and he abhors the taste of children’s liquid medicines. My son was adamantly refusing to take either the antibiotic pills or liquid. The doctor and I had to lay his options on the line: Either take the meds at home, or go to the hospital and have the med be given through a needle. Decision was made: Home with liquid medicine.
Since my son was extremely contagious and my husband was out of town on business, I waited for a parking spot close to the pharmacy door and had my son stay in the car while I brought the prescriptions into the pharmacy. I dropped them off and went to go check on my son in the car. Outside of the pharmacy, but within site of my car, I called my husband to tell him what was happening. He was going to arrange a change in his flight back home, but called me back and said that one of the men he was meeting with had his own private jet, so the private jet would fly my husband home immediately (Rough life my husband has. Wait until I get to HIS part of this never ending story).
I finally get the medicines for my son, go home, but my son won’t take the med. I even tasted it and it tasted vile. Since it had a hint of orange flavor, I tried adding a bit of milk hoping it would taste like a creamsicle. No such luck. And this kid had to take this medicine three times a day. I reiterated that the only other option was the hospital. I barely got a half dose of med in him. And he took his medication patch off again. So now I have a VERY sick kid, literally (and I do mean literally) scaling the doorway to the top to touch the ceiling because he is going through a rebound effect, and is practically uncontrollable. (Are you exhausted yet by just reading this? I promise to summarize and spare you any further exhaustion).
My husband came home and got a pill form of the oral med to try to get my son to take. He tolerated it, although my son continued to fly off of my bed, onto his beanbag, scale the doorway, was insolent and uncooperative. I had to just keep that in mind that all of this behavior was because of the rebound effect. I couldn’t strictly punish my son because his brain chemicals were imbalanced. A call went in to my son’s ADHD doctor. Here is the icing on the cake…
I was terribly behind in checking my e-mail. I tried to go through some of it and what did I find? A forwarded letter from my lawyer that stating that my husband is counter-suing me for divorce with full custody of my son with…get this one…visitation only outside of my home!!!
NOW can you say stress overload??
At the very end of the day, one of my son’s toys broke and he had a complete and total breakdown. His hysterical crying was not simply due to the broken toy. For an hour, I huddled behind him on the carpet as he was clutching my arm tightly around him. He sobbed, ranted and raved about things that occurred to him TWO YEARS ago! This poor child had been bottling up two years worth of frustration and anger that I never knew of. He was experiencing his own stress overload and it needed to be released.
As close as I am to my son and as comfortable as he is coming to me with things that bother him, I am going to take extra time to try to dig a little deeper and find out if there are issues that are worrying him, that he might have temporarily forgotten about. I want him to know that I care about everything that goes on in his life. Even the fact that he got a locker last year that never fully shut and it frustrated him. As parents, we forget that children are at risk of stress overload too. We need to be there for and be mindful that our children experience stress also. Stress is not limited to adults with mature minds and full plates. Little minds experience stress in different ways and often cannot express it. It is up to us, as parents, to keep a tab on issues that are affecting our children and help them sort out their problems or just lend an ear.
Communication is going to be a lot different from now on with my son. I am going to be much more mindful and reach out to him more frequently. No one should have to lie on the floor spewing frustration from two years past. Especially not a child.