Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thinking About Thinking...

This morning I got thinking about thinking. I know that's a confusing way to start, but stay with me; I have a point.

This morning Abby got up early, and as she has never been an "I'm-going-to-quietly-hangout-while-mom-and-dad-sleep" kind of a kid, so did I. But today, instead of wanting to go downstairs to start our day, Abby wanted to hang out in her room listening to music and playing with her Barbies.

"Hang on Abby, let's do a quick finger poke," I said. I had to make sure that her sugar wasn't too low and that it would be safe for her to play for a bit before she ate. As I was getting everything ready for the finger poke, the grumbling started in my head. I began thinking about how crummy it was that the poor kid couldn't just play in her room without me having to squeeze blood out of one of her little fingers. Stupid diabetes.

My grumbling was made worse when she started asking, "Is it a good number? It's a good number? C'mon, good number, good number." That's when I really started to feel bad - for both of us. She had to be sick of all of this stuff she has to go through on a daily basis - I know that I am. As will often happen, my focus shifted to me. I'm so tired of thinking about her medicine....I'm so sick of having to think about what she's eating....I'm so weary of figuring carb to insulin ratios....I'm so tired of thinking....

By now Abby was happily singing "Hungry Like the Wolf" and playing with her dolls, but I continued to grumble. I mentally complained as I took the dog out, as I got my coffee ready, and as I trudged upstairs to get ready for church.

That's when I really got thinking about thinking - or more specifically, all the thinking that special needs parents and parents with sick children have to do. And how we must have super brains from all the exercise they get. Here's a glimpse of the things we think about:

  • Our Kid's Food: With Abby's diabetes I have to constantly be thinking about what she is eating, when she will eat again, and how much insulin she needs. I know that is unique, but even before her diagnosis there were a few dietary issues. I know plenty of other parents who are food conscience with their special kiddos. They have to think about feeding schedules, gluten free food, dairy free food, or how they will puree their child's meal. Most of this isn't terrible, but it does make things harder. Going out to eat or to the movies are things we need to think a bit more about than others. It is one more thing that makes life a little harder than most.
  • Social Situations: I for one think a lot about these. I play and replay scenarios in my head. How will I get her there on time? How will I get her to leave once we are there? Will there be any of her "pitfalls" along the way? Over the years I've learned to over-prepare myself and Abby for some of her triggers, but there are still times when I am completely taken by surprise by her behavior - both good and bad. When your child has challenges, birthday parties, playdates, and even trips to the grocery store are things you need to think through. Sometimes I feel exhausted even before we've left the house.
  • Doctor's Appointments: I swear sometimes I feel like a walking date book. (Maybe that's the reason I can't remember birthdays.) In addition to the normal kid stuff like picture day, dance class, and school activities, I need to think ahead about the various specialists Abby needs to see. We also keep a close eye on her health in general and will often schedule quick trips to the pediatrician, since a "routine" bug can be a major problem for her. Sometimes I catch myself talking out loud to myself as I run through the things coming up on her schedule. Lumped into that is the mental tally we keep of her medicines and supplies. Sometimes I feel like we are on the phone every other week to the pharmacy to renew one thing or another.
These are only some of the things I know that I think about. There are many others for other parents out there - things like finding the right fit to their child's clothing, so they aren't distracted or irritated by tags or a too tight fit; things like making sure the school and teachers are given a heads-up when their child has had a difficult start to the day, knowing that it will take an extra measure of time and patience for them to reset; thinking about how they are going to sneak in some time with their special kiddo's siblings, so they don't feel neglected; and many more.

It was half way through my shower that a little voice in my head said, Elizabeth, there are far too many that have it worse than you - so knock it off!

I began thinking about the many parents out there who are thinking about much weightier things than having to take a morning blood sugar reading. I thought about the Carr family who found out this past week that their three-year old son has an inoperable brain tumor and are praying for a miracle, or our little friend Audrey, who has had more operations than I could count in her short little life. There are so many parents out there who have so much to think about, and I applaud them all.

Yes, I get weary from time to time, but I really have nothing to complain about. Maybe you know of someone who has a little extra to think about when it comes to their kids, and maybe you could add them to your list of things that you think and pray about each day. I know they would appreciate it - just think of it as exercising your own brain muscle!

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