Sunday night, Levi went to bed warm. He had woken up even more congested in the morning, and now, compare to Saturday, he had lethargy added to his obvious symptoms. Bedtime came, and he didn’t even fuss.
However, 9pm rolled around and he came out of his room in a confused and delirious state! I had waited for this moment. The moment when my son finally got a fever.
Sure, he had a few mild fevers as a toddler, but so far nothing as a little boy. After we got him to calm down and stay seated (he had got up unsure of where to go, as if there was a fog over any lucid part of his awareness), I found the thermometer. 101.7! It barely took 10 seconds to figure it out!
So, now, empowered with my natural health care remedies, I grabbed my peppermint oil. Levi is accustomed to me slathering him with oils. We use InTune and Balance daily to keep him focused and help moderate moods. We have had mixed success, but he is always compliant and rarely complains.
I told him I was only going to put a drop on his forehead and on the back of his neck. I warned him his eyes might sting. I let him stay up and watch Pokémon, since this 9pm fever waking was to prevent any school attending for Monday.
Around 10pm, I checked his temperature again. 100.4. He was still ebbing in hotness. I applied more peppermint. I let him continue watching TV while I did whatever it is I construed as work.
Around 11pm, I checked his temperature again. He felt a smidge warmer, and sure enough he was. 100.6. I told him I was going to apply more peppermint. In the interim, he had complained twice of tummy troubles, so we had even brought out the DigestZen with immediate results. Now, time for another application of peppermint, he tells me, “I like that one (peppermint); it made my whole head cold.” I replied, “Good, it’s cooling.”
I had heard, I had read, and I had observed with other ailments of my own the cooling effect of peppermint. It was a joy to be able to have such control of an illness, in my home. I didn’t need to call the advice nurse. I just used my instincts and acted with the tools I’ve added.
Levi woke up Monday in a buoyant mood, at 9am. He was staying home to let the illness clear for 24 hours. But, his temp? It was 98.9. Later, we checked it again, and the thermometer read 98.0.
22 pounds, as of three weeks ago (3rd week of March). This is significant for a number of a reasons. I made some changes that I hadn’t previously considered in my diet. I added essential oils to my daily healthcare regimen. And, I am learning, with more awareness, to accept me for who I am.
My whole life, I have disliked my body image. I was never a size 2, and that’s mostly who I compared myself to. I come with baggage that puts me in a statistical category where body image is harder to deal with. A statistical category that says being overweight is more common. I come from central European genes where sturdy people seem to be the norm – with my Polish and Slovenian heritage – read, not a size 2.
Finally, at the age of 27-28, I was learning to love my body and appreciate its curves. I was okay with my D cup and, then, size 12-16 pant size. This change of heart is relevant because growing up, I hated that size. I only viewed it as fat, and I only compared it to the relatives, whom I loved, that also struggled with their weight.
Struggling with weight! What a concept. There is so much in our world, and that we judge each other on this outward appearance is disgusting and shallow. It’s horrifying to consider that we judge health based on someone’s size, and despite the “skinny” backlash when curvy women display themselves unabashadely, skinny isn’t always healthy and curvy isn’t always unhealthy.
Growing up with this stigma, though, that a size 2 is health, and anything over is not, and knowing I could never get back to a size 6, which I only saw during a growth-spurt at age 13 and 14, hung heavily for years, for decades.
I grew up and learned to accept myself in ways my teenage self never could, during my twenties. I started to care less what others thought of me, and I tried to pay attention more to how I showed up. I started to appreciate those hips and arms and other curves.
And, just as I was on the cusp of self-acceptance, I got pregnant. I got pregnant when I was in a new relationship, in a new house, with a new job, trying to finish school. Then, I never gave myself credit for the stress that induced.
Levi was born on time, but with learning to take care of a new family, I was not able to finish that school term. I gained 50 pounds while pregnant, and by my 6 week check-up, I had lost 40. What I didn’t consider was how awful I felt. I was shaking all the time. I couldn’t sleep. My eating was erratic. I was stressed trying to learn to manage everything within this new life: the new home, new husband, and new baby. I am slow, often, to identify what was wrong, and I had no idea an auto-immune disease was wreaking havoc on my body.
In September of 2007, I learned I my thyroid was hyper active, and I self-diagnosed with the help of a 60s nursing textbook that I have Grave’s Disease.
Shortening the timeline, I went from being on the cusp of self-acceptance to completely crashing with struggling to take care of my new son, my new husband, finishing my bachelor’s degree, and maintain a job. The job went away, with the argument the contract ran out. I never asked for help, so I never admitted to my boss how much I was struggling to balance it all.
After the hyper-thyroid diagnosis, more doctor visits, and the addition of medication, my squishy frame that had gotten closer to my pre-pregnancy weight but never as toned or fit as I was in the fall of 2005, the weight gain began. I gained anywhere between 10 and 20 pounds every time my medication changed – slowing down my thyroid, controlling symptoms, and otherwise mucking with body in the name of health. 3 years later, I finally got a paying job. And, again, the weight gain continued. Every time my job got more sedentary, I gained another 10-20 pounds.
Pre-pregnancy, I was 185 pounds. I was a size 14, most of the time, and I felt good even if I hated the weight.
August 2014, I clocked in, again, at 262 pounds, a size 24-26, a size I never wanted to be, hating my body every time I look in the mirror. Hating my body every time it’s uncomfortable to sit down. Hating my body every time it hurt to walk. Hating my body every time I felt passed over for some recognition. Every day, despite the cheery attitude I might have showcased, I was full of hate for myself.
I knew what the lesson was. But, I wasn’t learning it. The lesson is self-acceptance. The lesson is while not being a glutton, while trying to maintain health in the ways I can, that I need to learn to love these unsightly curves.
I have not learned this lesson. This is an ongoing lesson. This could be a lifetime lesson for me.
So, how can I do self-acceptance in a body I am conditioned to hate and have grown to hate with ebbs and flows of growing up to an adult woman dealing with the effects of an auto-immune disease?
First, I recognize, or try to remind myself that my husband doesn’t hate my body. Second, I try to appreciate or accept the things this body can and still does for me. Even though it was hard to walk, I could. Even though it was uncomfortable siting down, I managed. Even though… Mostly, I might find myself intervening if someone else says something about how they hate their own body. Usually it’s a woman, but sometimes it’s a man. No one is satisfied with how they look. We don’t often talk about how our minds work, it’s more about how our bums look in a pair of pants.
And, I really think we need to accept how our bums look, no matter what our conditioning has told us. Lesson: learning self-acceptance.
It’s my birthday, and I’m throwing a party! Okay, clarification, it was my birthday, but I’m still throwing a party. Come join me at the Lucky Lab Tap Room on Friday, September 13th. Join me and raise money for CAT!
Why do I want to raise money for CAT? What is CAT? CAT is The Community Alliance of Tenants, Oregon’s only renters’ rights organization. I’ve spent a lot of time there, over the last five years, because I firmly believe that societal change begins at home. And, that’s what CAT does – we empower renters to make sure they have safe, stable, and affordable homes.
It is our job to make sure we leave this world in a better place. I believe this world would be a better place if we could all realize our potential. I believe in Maslow’s Hierarchy of achieving self-actualization – our potential – but it starts with taking care of basic needs. And basic needs start with having enough to eat, enough to wear, and a safe home to call home.
I am celebrating my 35th year by raising $3,500 for this organization I love. And, I am celebrating at the Lucky Lab Tap Room. Don’t worry, if you don’t live in the area, there are plenty of ways to give! Donate to the organization I love, and help make my dream of raising $3,500 come true. Change starts at home. At CAT, we make good renters. Good renters make good communities, and good communities support one another to make our entire society better, more understanding, and more loving. At CAT, we make positive change a reality.
It all sounded like gibberish. We sat there for an hour, asking barely four questions, and all I heard was gibberish. Afterwards, Peter commented that it sounded like a recitation of academic training… all talk, no substance. I did hear a few points: 1) Levi is borderline AD(H)D, 2) He scores low in “Executive Function” which could lend itself to the spiraled outbursts we’ve met with his school about, and 3) we could consider occupational therapy to give us coping techniques for these impulse control issues.
We sat there for an hour. This was our third (3 of 3) appointment. The last of the two parent visits that sandwiched the Levi observation where he was tested. Peter and I heard the words that were spoken to us, but we were hardly able to make sense of them. Levi is a bright kid who has struggles with spacial motor skills and impulse control. After an hour of reciting and rehashing the outcomes of the testing, I think this is what we were supposed to learn. I was able to recap three-fourths of the way into the appointment which was followed by more recitations… and when my clarifying question, which in summary is really: Are we making a mountain of a molehill? But I worded something to the extent of – given how boys develop normally and what we expect them to learn over the course of a lifetime, is this something to be worried about or are systems not set up to deal with average boy behavior? This query was answered with, “We’re running out of time. If you have more questions, we should schedule a follow-up appointment.”
Nothing has persuaded me that my assessment is incorrect. My assessment is that we are putting boys (kids, really) in a system that sets them up for failure. The assessment noted how Levi was focused on the things he wanted to do but not on the things he didn’t. So, if he didn’t want to remember something, he scored poorly on it. It was clear, while we observed, that he didn’t see the point of the exercise. He wasn’t told he was being tested. For all he rationalized, it could have been a series of games. Now, we find out he scored poorly on short-term memory and some motor skills of drawing shapes. He didn’t draw his triangle correctly – at all, but got the Union Jack pretty close to spot on. I know adults who couldn’t get the Union Jack to line up, and if they weren’t paying attention, they wouldn’t have been able to get the triangle. The point, as it was explained to us, is that he doesn’t focus when he’s supposed to be focusing.
I’ve done a lot of self-help book reading this last year. In part to get a better understanding of myself and those around me. In part, too, to get some ideas on how to do things like best manage my time. What we were being told, then, is that Levi doesn’t want to focus in Quadrant II. He wants to play in Quadrant I (urgent but not important) or III (not important and not urgent). Regardless, it’s the fun stuff. Other books I’ve read encourage, without specifically stating, that we should all work in a variation of Quadrant III – play to your strengths so it’s all fun. (If it’s your job, though, it’d probably be Quadrant II (important, but not urgent). So, my other question is: why aren’t schools set up to play to kids strengths?
I queried – the actions that have brought us here have happened at school. The answer I received was that we should be mitigating these things at home. But, the problem is, when Levi plays with friends or is at home – he doesn’t hit. He has only hit other kids at school. I’m perplexed on how I was to plan for this situation, when he knows he is not supposed to hit and we have no real option for role-playing when we didn’t know this situation would happen.
Naturally, my mother wasn’t home when I called her after we got home. But, she did call me back an hour later. She asked me, “Is the place you’re going – is it the best?” I answered, “Yes.” Because it is. It gets rave reviews. A friend is taking her child there and loves the entire center. The behaviorist recommended it. The pediatrician acknowledged it’s very good. So, why wouldn’t the best be good enough?
Because sometimes the best, reflected my mother, sometimes the best isn’t looking out for your own best interests rather their own. She recapped with a story of a local rehabilitation facility that, while touted as the best, was only interested in rote mechanics before they let patients go. It didn’t matter if the patients were fully rehabilitated – or not. As long as the check boxes were checked, they were let go.
So, my mother astutely recommended we look for not the best. She has encouraged we look for a real human who is interested in listening to our stories. A real human. A real human who can listen and is more focused on the goal of patient healing rather than furnishing an office or having a great lifestyle (which this young doctor told us, in appointment one, was one of the perks of his job).
Yes, mom, sometimes the best really isn’t good enough. I have a message out to the pediatrician. Maybe he has some recommendations of “not the best.”
It’s happening again. That is, we’re having troubles at school. I have lost count, now, how many times we’ve interacted with the principal and his kindergarten teacher over behavior. The behavior started out as not sitting still and not keeping his hands to himself. The behavior progressed to hitting, PUNCHING and HITTING classmates. It sounds like it’s impulse control or acting out instead of using his words when he’s mad or frustrated. It sounds like it’s developmental. Regardless, no one is really happy with the situation, and we’ve called in the professionals.
It’s all matching up with what I’ve read. It’s like I’m living the labeling theory but for school administrators instead of for my son.
Let’s understand one thing first. Hitting and not controlling aggressive behavior is unacceptable.
Let’s get another thing straight. Sequestration or punishment without assessing triggers is equally unacceptable.
Levi has gone from play based learning to rigorous academia, wildly criticized at being a mismatch for boys. And it is especially frustrating for our kinetic learner. When he’s bored and uninterested in a subject, he acts out. The behavior is treated with sequestration or alone time with an adult. It gives him attention and reinforces the bad behavior.
The first time we were called, like last year when we were told our son did these terrible acts, our first thought was, “That’s not our son!” Last year Levi’s offenses included choking two boys and repeatedly locking himself in the bathroom. Our popular boy turned into the new kid, and he wasn’t adjusting well and the teachers didn’t know what to do. It was also unclear what they wanted from us. We are at work when these incidents occur. We can talk about it until we’re blue in the face at home, but this stuff is happening at school. So, what about the environment is enabling this behavior?
Levi turned around at the half-year mark, around his 5th birthday (according to Gesell, going from disequilibrium into equilibrium). The rest of the year was fine.
Now, we are in disequilibrium again. Again, we’re at a new school. And, again, he’s acting out. Our little boy, who used to be the receiver of aggressive acts, is now being witnessed hitting another boy with a plastic bowling pin and punching his classmates when frustrated.
A friend said to me, “Michelle, this screams environment.”
I know. I know it does. But, we can’t afford the $10,000 a year tuition (for NINE months no less) at the nearest Montessori. It’s amazing how limited our educational opportunities are given how abundant they feel in this metro area of more than 2 million people.
(At the same time, my boss has the audacity to state that I don’t know stress. Admittedly, before I told him what was going on. But, seriously.)
So, why is our son, now in his third school NOT using his words when he knows he should? Why is he taking his friend’s arm to hit another friend when he’s bored in music or Spanish? Why is he losing interest in PE at the point when the other kids finally get the game, then going off to make his own rules and disrupting the natural order the teacher (and students?) want?
Recently, I had a conversation with a sustainability specialist. He got into sustainability after spending years in behavioral change. He mentioned this story after I admitted I want gentle pushes, mocking servant leadership, to make a green society because I have found that behavior change is too hard. He said to me that he has found the same. Instead of bending someone’s stubborn behavior, we have to make the environment work for what we are asking. So, if we’re asking people to recycle instead of throw things away, we need to put the recycling next to the trash, not down the hall.
To find out how we put the good behavior choices next to my son, we have hired an behaviorist The behaviorist was referred to me by my chiropractor. (The one who diagnosed my thyroid problems pre-blood tests.) The first thing the behaviorist suggested was taking Red Dye out of our son’s diet. So, we did. Then, he had the best three days of the year. This was followed by Gummy Bear treats and two more aggressive days, which while unfortunate proved to my husband why we are calling in the experts.
The first observation date is scheduled for November 8th. I am concerned that we are going to drop between $400 and $2,000 to teach teachers and administrators about reasonable expectations. Yes, I recognize it’s all for the greater good, but it’s no less frustrating.
I really do want people to make up their own minds.
I should appreciate the time to think while scratching my husband’s head or rubbing Levi’s back.
I am very thankful for the friends I have. I am, amazingly, building a circle of people who are calm, deliberate, and slow to judge. I love you all. I hope you know who you are.
My husband said, the other day, “So, you should have bought that $500 Macbook Pro a few months ago, eh? You would have stopped complaining about not having a computer that works.” “Yes, dear,” was basically my reply.
As such, I am now watching some auctions on EBay.
Thinking consistent, habit forming thoughts, please. On the road to better health.
Last week, I had the opportunity to tell my buying club’s story to another buying club. This new buying club just started. They had only completed only two buys and were working on their third.
Levi and I joined them while they were debriefing after their second buy. They are meeting weekly, by the sounds of it. It was amazing to hear this group figure out problems from the beginning. A diverse group (in age, gender, and ethnicity), they were drawing from a diverse set of experiences. Clearly a smart group, it was fascinating to watch as they respectfully deliberated.
I’m not sure they really knew what I had to talk about, but I knew what I wanted to talk about, so I began by describing, from my buying club’s perspective, Buying Club Best Practices.
While “educating people on the importance of a sustainable society” and “bridging the gap between farm and city”, how can I help? I can share my buying club’s story. No, it’s not over, but we’ve done a few things, problem solved, and continued to evolve and get good local food. If I really want to help bridge the gap between farm and city, one way I can do that is by sharing our story so others can make new and more interesting mistakes and not the ones we’ve already made!
So, I shared. I skimmed through my notes, eliminated a few slides, and fast tracked towards lessons learned.
I was amazed at how enthralled this group was. This group, who likely didn’t have a clear idea of what I was going to say were on the edge of their seats. It was amazing and empowering for me.
Are you in a buying club? What are your lessons learned?