Edgy Mama: When mom gets sick

Parenting when you’re sick or in pain can be difficult. Most of us have to just muddle through the burden of taking care of kids while trying to heal ourselves.

Part of the challenge includes comforting kids, whom, the moment mom gets sick or hurt, become convinced she’s going to die and abandon them. After all, they’ve seen scores of kid movies that prove this hypothesis. Hurt mom equals dead mom equals orphan kid alone in the woods beset by danger until long-lost dad or other friendly but wacky animal comes to the rescue.

I’ve recently had medical issues that rocked my girl’s emotional equilibrium. She’s a sensitive kid, but telling her what’s going on works better for her than not knowing. The difficulty is finding the line between too much potentially unnerving information and giving her enough data to lessen her worries.

Dealing with the pain and the medications and the never-ending blood tests has kept me from being a compassionate parent over the past few weeks. Even though I know she needs information to feel comfortable, sometimes I just want to say, “I feel like road kill. Leave me alone.”

Instead I’ve said, “Listen, I may be grumpier than usual, but it’s not in any way your fault.”

I’m also dealing with becoming fat and hairy while sober — which doesn’t help my parenting technique. What’s going on is this: A strange pain’s been inching up my left calf for about a month. It started about 12 hours after I spent 26 hours traveling by planes and cars from Sweden to Asheville. And I was taking estrogen pills. I can hear those of you who know about these things saying, “Ah-ha!”

Yes, there are blood clots in my veins.

I went to the doctor just after returning home, but at that point, nothing dangerous could be seen via ultrasound. However, the pain intensified during a recent car trip. I returned to the doc, and this time the culprits were clear. Now we’re experimenting with a toxic cocktail of anticoagulants, which make me fatigued and irritable. But as one friend said, “Better to be a temporary hemophiliac than to have a blood clot shoot off into your heart.” Another friend (male) said, “You can’t drink beer. You can’t shave. You can’t exercise. You’re in pain. Hairy, fat and unhappy. Just like I like ‘em.”

“Economy Class Syndrome” can happen to anyone, even youngish, non-smoking, average-sized, formerly fit females like me. Next time a flight attendant tells you to sit down, even though you’ve already been sitting for many hours, find the little medical notice about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in your seat pocket and wave it in front of his nose, and tell him that a friend of yours got blood clots from sitting on her heiney on a plane too many hours, and that you’d rather bump your head during turbulence than have to give yourself shots in the tummy for five days. Or maybe not. Your choice.

But back to the effect of all this on my kids. I agreed to self-medicate and (so far) haven’t ended up in the hospital. That truly would’ve freaked out my younglings — even the boy, who’s often oblivious as long as the food keeps coming.

I told the kids the basics of my illness without going into too much detail. I told them I’m going to be OK. And that this is a good time for them to work on their back rub technique.

Truthfully, I find if the kids can help, they’re better off. I let them get me a glass of water or rub my back or just lie in bed and read with me. They’re learning that caring makes everyone — both those giving and those receiving — feel a little better.

There’ve been other positives arising from my situation. I’ve shown my kids that Mommy can take care of herself. I let my kids watch the shot procedure and admit that, “Yes, it hurts, but sometimes what hurts can heal.” Watching made the boy a bit queasy, but the girl gave me a high five and shouted, “Girl power!” Luckily, she waited until I’d removed the needle from my adipose tissue.

Kid moviemakers, here’s your lesson. You’re right, children can learn from scary situations, but salvation doesn’t always need to come in the form of an anthropomorphized rodent. Sometimes, it can come from mom. 

Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.


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