The Little Bastards Won’t Die

It’s throw back thursday, and I’m a virgin #TBTer.

You know those moments where people tell you, “Someday, you will laugh…”

It’s time to start sifting through those stories, as part of my throwback thursday contribution.  Nothing insightful.  Nothing informative.  Just my stories, of survival.

Isn’t that what #TBT is all about anyway?  A way to show the world how things have gotten much, much better?  Here’s proof:

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It’s not entirely true that I have not engaged in throwback thursday.  I love throwing back.

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Ha.

 

This picture was taken a few years ago, in August, just a few weeks after moving to Connecticut.

 

We moved from a brand new home in the dry, dry air of Colorado to a green tunnel of humidity so thick, I swear it rained in my living room.  Like the rain forest.

We bought a house that was slightly older than brand new, it was built in 1929.  They didn’t have air conditioning in 1929.  A factor I did not thoughtfully consider as I planned and arranged this move back in Colorado in the dry, dry air of my well conditioned home filled with vents that pumped deliciously cold air into the atmosphere.

 

We moved in during a New England heat wave.  It was in the mid nineties, and everything had the texture of a wet tissue.   You can tell by how often I have mentioned the heat so far, that IT WAS HOTTER THAN THE SURFACE OF THE SUN.  A steam room, on the surface of the sun.

 

I linger on this misery because it was not the worst part of the moving experience, but it was the factor that I believed would break me.  The level of stress I had been enduring was extreme, (moving across the country with 3 kids, leaving my family and friends, Lydia’s emerging misophonia).  The fact that my bed sheets were sticky-damp before getting into bed and I sweat like a farm animal while I brushed my teeth were details that simply melted my coping abilities into a huge, slimy puddle of boob sweat.

Me:  200-13

Rick:  200-16

 

My mom, who came to help us.  Bless her heart:200-14

But the heat, it turns out, was not the driving force in this miserable scenario.

 

It was so.  much.  smaller.

 

Three days into a truly nightmarish move, my saintly mother was taking charge of the place as I fanned myself in a corner and fantasized about this:

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She was helping me unpack the kids’ bedrooms and sort their stuff.  We were closing in on the final boxes of clothes and stuffed animals and blankets, putting them into drawers, order was being restored… until she noticed my two-year old scratching her scalp.

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My mom parted her hair to take a look, and that is when this little bastard jumped out of Stella’s hair.  Jumped.  OUT.  And crawled across her new bedroom floor.

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LICE.

 

I felt the last of my mental acuity begin to circle the empty bowl of my skull, flushing out my sanity….I lost my mind.  I did what every parent would do first…

 

I googled LICE.  Bad idea.

Then I called the Fairy Lice Mothers, who tried to reassure me that everything would be fine.

 

Yes, there is a Fairy Lice Mother.

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She assured me, I  just needed to follow these simple, easy steps.

 

1. Place all pillows, blankets, hats, stuffed animals that my child had been in contact with in plastic bags for two weeks.

 

2.  Wash all bedding and clothing she has had contact with in hot water.

 

3.  Comb out her hair with their special comb (not the plastic kind) using only detangling spray and water… the poison is just that.  Poison.  And it doesn’t work.  Make sure to comb EVERY SINGLE STRAND OF HAIR from scalp to tip.

 

4. Comb her hair like this EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR TWO WEEKS…. and everyone else in the family too.

 

I literally went ape shit.  The lady on the phone did not know what to do.  I think I hung up on her.

 

If I had any real clue what lice was actually going to do to our lives for the next month, I would have needed a straitjacket and a hypodermic needle to subdue me… but I wasn’t far off.

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You guys, LICE IS THE DEVIL.

 

I am serious.  If you have not had to live in this particular nightmare, then you will simply shake your head in judgement of my melodramatic words, but I assure you, it is true. Especially when you have enough hair between the five of you to supply Lady Gaga with a years’ worth of wigs.

 

Lice is in fact, one of the ten curses in the bible, along with BOILS and LASTING DARKNESS and the DEATH OF YOUR FIRSTBORN.

 

Hmmmm.

 

I think our situation was made slightly more challenging, considering that Stella had been climbing in an out of boxes filled with ALL THE BEDDING WE OWNED for the past two days, and had recently found the dress-ups and put all of them on and then found the box of stuffed animals and set them up all around the house. And then rolled around in them.

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When we found the LIVING BUGS crawling in her hair, she had just been burrowing like a small woodland creature, into a giant mound of all of the clothes that my three children owned. The movers had so thoughtfully crammed it all together into several big boxes, and we had been sorting it all out.

 

And we did not have the washer or dryer hooked up.

Rick had to leave his new job that day due to “a medical emergency at home,” meaning:200-3

 

He swung by the local pharmacy, and picked up a bottles of poisonous pesticides to spread all over our children’s scalps (we ignored the Fairy Lice Mother and went for the kill).   And drove across town to pick up the Fairy Lice Mothers special comb at Aldo.

We spent three hours combing through Stella’s hair.  She was two years old at the time, and on a good day, I had to execute an elaborate hunt/stalk/animal take-down and then pin her in a wrestling hold to get a comb through her hair.

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So you can imagine how things went.  Outside on the porch in the sweltering, suffocating, steam room on the surface of the sun.

 

The instructions on the bottle said that Stella must wear the poison on her scalp for a few hours.  So, shaking from the exhaustion of scaring our toddler for life for the past three hours, Rick and I put a shower cap on her to try to keep her from rubbing pesticides in her eyes and put her in the car, hoping she would pass out from exhaustion as we drove around in the air-conditioning.

 

That didn’t work of course.  She screamed like the lice-potion was blistering her scalp the whole time, and I was terrified it was.  We drove home, and while getting out of the car, one of our new neighbors popped over to say hello.  He was in his scrubs, a doctor at the nearby hospital.  Rick and I, drenched in sweat and lice-poison, holding our daughter on the driveway, shook his hand and introduced ourselves.  We did not offer to introduce our daughter, and he did not ask about her.  He must have sensed something was going on….

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Welcome to the neighborhood.

 

I wish that was the end of the lice story, but it isn’t of course.  Because those little bastards DO NOT DIE.   They broke me, those blood sucking beasts.  They were the curse that inspired this picture, and many, many, many more nights like this one.

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I guess there is a lesson to be learned:   Always Listen to Your Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 10.39.33 AM

http://www.fairylicemothers.com

Throwback Thursday, indeed.

Sound Gratitude

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
― Thornton Wilder

It’s August.

Late August.

 Which means that we have made it one year here in Connecticut.  The thick humid air, charming old houses, light summer nights ripe with singing wildlife, it has me feeling unanchored in time.  The trauma we went through last year is blinking back at me in blimps and flashes… like post traumatic stress disorder.

We moved.  People do.  But during this time, our daughter Lydia, always a child who struggled with sensory sensitivity, burst into a new and life altering mania.  She hated sounds.  Specific sounds, like chewing and swallowing, and sounds of speech, especially S, T, K, P and C.

She hated these sounds, when they were made by me.

 Her mother.

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 This suddenly made every day life a harrowing ordeal filled with angry tantrums and sudden outbursts of rage.  I could barely communicate a simple “it’s time for dinner” without her falling to the floor screaming.  She flinched, grimaced, covered her ears, kicked her feet, jumped away defensively like she had been burned.  She would stomp around loudly and hum, crash things together, sing obnoxiously loud, anything to drown out my sounds.

 

Lydia has Misophonia.

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Desperate, we turned to the internet for help, and the things we read about Misophonia devastated me.  Completely eviscerated me.  The scarcity of good information and the personal accounts were awful.  Stories of families that can no longer live together, or live in the same household but in isolation from one another.

  “My little girl is ill.  Our lives will never be the same” played in my head, a vicious mantra.  No one I talked to about what was happening  would validate my devastation. In well-meaning ways they suggested  it was simply a discipline problem, perfectly normal considering the transitions the move had forced upon my daughter.

That wasn’t it.

Car rides were a nightmare.  Meal times were a nightmare.

And bedtime made me ache.  Even now, the sight of her summer pj’s has me reliving some of those nights with painful sharpness.

 Just a few weeks into our move, I went in to get the girls to sleep for the night.  I decided to just breeze through it, act nonchalant…not expect a battle.  Be positive.  I took some cleansing breaths, trying to wash away the day’s earlier traumas.

I entered with a smile…and the moment I said “hop into bed and I will read you a story” Lydia screamed and cowered on the bed, kicking her feet angrily in my direction.

Palpable disgust radiated from her expression.

When I turned wordlessly to walk away, not knowing how to bear it, she crawled to the end of the bed and hung on my waist, sobbing.  She begged me to stay, and I could feel how rejected she felt as thickly as her disgust, two emotions that I simply did not have the tools to carry together.  I smoothed her hair and wiped the  tears off my face with my sleeve.

I tucked Carly in first, she complied despite the fear I saw in her blue eyes.  I did not dare whisper, so I signed “I love you” and touched my lips with my fingertips, and then hers.  I tucked Lydia in next, and repeated the sign language.

This silent communication  was not a comfort to me but a physical act that seemed to be shredding our futures together.

 I turned away and she grabbed my hand.  She whispered “Im so sorry mommy.”  She tugged me closer.  I climbed into bed with her, pulling her against me, I held her tightly, buried my face in her freshly washed hair, and wept silently until she slept.

*****

Today, my girls are in Vermont with my in-laws once again.  They are enjoying all the brilliant fun of summer at Grandmama and Grandpapa’s  house…the pool, learning flips on the trampoline (gasp) and eating icecream at the fair.

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 And I am here, with Rick in Connecticut, swimming in memories.

 

But, with the PTSD flashbacks comes gratitude, washing over me in great waves.

 

1.  By the time we settled into our new home in Connecticut, my inability to communicate with Lydia had reached a crisis stage.  Rick and I would pour over internet information at night, searching for a tiny glimmer of hope.  We found a post on a message board.  A woman and her son, in Australia, claiming they had found success with a very specific type of neurofeedback therapy.  She cautioned that it must be this specific form of biofeedback, as she had tried many others that had failed to work.  One positive story, one mother who had not been forced to live in silence or away from her child.

Gratitude.

2. We had just moved to a small town, in a small state.  What are the odds we would be able to locate a therapist that performed this type of specific neurofeedback for our child?  I was skeptical.  And we found Inner Act, run by Rae Tattenbaum, a woman who specialized in this neurofeedback.  Her office is less than two miles from our home.

Gratitude.

3. For the first 5 months, I brought Lydia three times a week.  The minute we opened her office door and Rae would inquire about our day, I would crack open, and weep.  Every time.   But it started working.  I was able to kiss Lydia goodnight.  Ask her about homework.  Take her to buy soccer cleats.  Eat (sometimes) together.  We pared it down to twice a week, and eventually, once a week.  Rae saved us.

Gratitude.

4. Lydia has not had regular therapy from Rae since early June.  When summer came, our schedule went.  We’ve been traveling, visiting family, going to summer camps and beaches.  I had hoped the progress we had made was permanent.

It was not.

Lydia is now showing signs of sensitivity towards her sister, Carly as well.   We have not eaten a meal as a family, in the same room, for well over a month.

But I know there is hope.  To get her back to a place where we can manage.  We can be a family.  I will not lose my daughter.  We will find a way to maintain our bond.  There is hope.

Gratitude.

 

5. A few days ago I found out that the young neighbor who used to babysit for us in Colorado has been diagnosed with misophonia.  I called her mom…

Oh, the cathartic nature of a talk with someone who truly understands.  I can not express my gratitude to Lori enough.  She also shared with us that she has found a new therapy… hearing aids that help decrease the sound sensitivity.  Her daughter has found immense relief.   I can’t wait for tomorrow, to seek them out.

 And then maybe,  I can have dinner with my baby.

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Gratitude.

Gratitude bites

Change is the very basis of our life, not to be fought, to be welcomed and tasted, to be seen for the gift it truly is.
~ Brenda Shoshanna

Well.  It’s sunday.  I have just returned from a glorious trip to my beloved Colorado.   People, Colorado is heaven.  There are no words, for the beauty, the glory, the loveliness of my home state.  The air…it is so dry, light.  As in not wet.  The horizon, it is so open and full and distant and colorful.  Not a green tunnel.  The houses, they were so large and spacious, the plumbing, the roof tops, so… vivacious.

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Yesterday, we flew as a family of five, a family containing a three-year old person (God Bless Us All) from my glorious Colorado after a long visit,  to our home in Connecticut.  I proceeded to apply every ounce of any people pleasing, energy-sapping, procrastinating, doubting, lonely and fearful energy to the road ahead, as we bounced down the runway.  We arrived home, and instead of breathing in our home, taking in the charm, the soft light, the artistic nuances, the brilliant color, the fresh familiarity and promise… I picked a fight with Rick, pouring every particle of fear and heaviness that the months ahead will hold for us into making him feel inadequate, making our home look rundown, making my spirit feel small.

Not good.

It is now that gratitude is necessary. In the moments when gratitude bites, and everything feels impossibly fickle.

A year ago, we moved here.  That word, moving, does not capture what we went through. Or maybe it does.  Move.  Ing.  Movement.  Motility.  Mobility.  I know that many, many people in the world experience this excruciating transforming, called moving.  From the old, to the new. The fossilized, to the green.  The roots were dug up, and we found ourselves in pain.  To be dug up is painful.   It was an acknowledging, that our lives needed new movement, as much as we resisted that change.

We arrived here in the northeast a year ago.  I found myself facing monsters, unearthed from a vault I was no longer able to keep locked.  The August air here was as thick as my fear.  My daughter became ill with a bewildering affliction.  The cracks we had spackled over and repainted in our marriage became fissures threatening to render us in two.  The acknowledgment of my powerlessness was paralyzing, the idea that I was not strong enough, capable enough to withstand a “silly move” across the country filled my body with cement.  I found myself facing a spiritual crisis larger than I had ever known.

I fantasized about walking out of my life.

I found myself weeping into a cardboard box, with a new and passionately destructive mantra:

This is not my life. This is not my life.  This is not my life.

I shocked myself with the depth of my misery, my weakness.  When you choose to move, change, transform something in your life, every problem that has not been addressed, every injury, every insecurity…it will rise to the surface, reveal itself to you for acknowledgement, for repair.  And it did.  Viciously, and without pause.

Apparently, I had been standing on a volcano of suppression, and it erupted at our taunting…our invitation, by moving our family to Connecticut.  I am still in the process of digging out.  We hit our one year move-iversary and while things seem more familiar here in Connecticut, the repeat seasons, the fact we have spent an August here before… the humidity, the rainstorms, the unpacking of suitcases, it floods back to me in giant waves of panic.  Like post traumatic stress disorder.  My scalp has been itchy as the memories barrage me (did I mention that we all got lice during our move?)  A certain sight or smell or taste will trigger a powerful rush of memory of my misery just a year ago.  The site of the weeds in the yard, growing taller than me.  The organizational nightmare of our garage, still housing trashed cardboard boxes. Or the smell of wood smoke wafting from the eighty-four year old chimney after a rainstorm. I am randomly overcome with the remembering of my absolute undoing.

Two days ago, at my parent’s home, we had a dinner with the people closest to us in Colorado. We ate and drank and reminisced and took pictures. The kids made messes in the dress up box and turned dinner into a combined game of duck duck goose and musical chairs.  Periodically an adult would snag a child and trap them in a hug without their permission and the impending close to our visit would loom larger.  And then we said our goodbyes.  Again.

I wiped the tears of my children  with the palms of my hands, I buried their heartbroken sobs into my belly and rubbed their backs and soaked in their sadness.  I kissed my nieces and nephews and hugged my brothers and sisters just as we had last year, on the front lawn of my parent’s house.

Yesterday, we hugged Grandma and Grandpa in the early morning chaos of the airport and flew back again, to the place where the moving must happen.  It is happening now, as I write this, with a lump in my throat.

As we made our final descent  yesterday, I held Stella’s dimpled three-year old hand in mine and felt the airplane speed up to meet the fast approaching ground, and then slow…speed up in a burst, then slow again.  It felt choppy and unpredictable as we dipped lower toward the ground.  I was afraid we would land too hard, the inconsistency would prove to be a danger to our arrival.  Despite the unsteady approach, the ground seemed to rise up to meet us, and we eventually bounced to a roll, roared to a lull, and found ourselves safely…Home.

There has been changes, monumental, and minuscule, in our movement from one place to the next.  But mostly, the change is in the mantra, which has been unearthed from the rubble so far.

This is my life.  This is my life.  This is my life.

And the universe will rise up to support me.

Today I am grateful for:

-a family worth missing

-the softness of Stella’s hand

-the healing properties of spackle

-the reassuring step from the threshold of an airplane on to solid ground

-movement