Monday, January 17, 2011

Choppy Waters

Greta is sick again.  I'm working on acceptance.

The irony is that I had drafted a post a couple of days ago about how I've been better at floating through the days, instead of bucking the current at every turn.

I never published it.

It's far easier to find acceptance when things are chugging along nicely; it's a whole different story when life feels like death by a thousand paper cuts.

Greta has been struggling on and off with sore throats, headaches and sinus infections for weeks now.   Sometimes it is strep, sometimes it isn't.    She wakes up most mornings with a pounding sinus headache, and collapses into bed every night, more exhausted than she should be because of the sickness.

We patiently schlep to the doctor's office, get a diagnosis of strep or not, and then schlep back home to try a new round of antibiotics, or not, and weather the symptoms. 

I know the next step will be conversations about going to see an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor; there will be mumblings about a tonsillectomy.    She caught wind of this somehow, and every time she goes to the doctor she is nearly paralyzed with fear.

"Will they make me have surgery, Mom?"  she asks, her eyes wide and her chin quivering.

I keep a brave face on, show her my serene it's-going-to-be-just-fine face, but inside I'm starting to crumble.  The pool of calm and acceptance I've been nurturing is getting choppy.   The worry is starting to shine through the cracks.

I know it could be so much worse.   Most days I have a good perspective on things.    Some days - like today - I don't.

I woke up this morning to no electricity.  Again.   Our power keeps going out, for reasons I don't fully understand, and I slumped downstairs to my dark, cold kitchen and glared at my useless coffee maker.   Greta padded into the kitchen holding her head, "It hurts so MUCH, Momma," she said.

I checked my cell phone; it was almost out of power.    I called the doctor's office with the remaining juice, only to find out their power was out, too.

Greta curled up on the couch, holding her head.   I gave her some Motrin and checked her throat.   Her tonsils are so swollen and red they are touching.

It brings me back to my own childhood; winter afternoons spent at the doctor's office, conversations about whether or not to have surgery, months on end with a clogged nose and a thick voice.

I grew out of it, eventually.  I never did have to have the surgery.    I'm hoping the same will be true for Greta.

But this morning, in the dark, cold, silent house, I just didn't want to be the mother anymore.   I was overwhelmed with worry and frustration.    And irritation, which brought a stab of guilt.  

I'm so tired of it all, the see-sawing emotions, the inconvenience, the uncertainty about when to go to the doctor and what to do.

I went back upstairs, sat on my bed and tried to talk myself off the cliff.    Breathe and wait, I said to myself.   This is my new mantra.     Worry and anxiety won't change a thing, just breathe and wait to see what comes next. 

What came next was the power came back on, Greta has a doctor's appointment for early this afternoon, and a friend called to invite Finn over for a play date.

We soldier on.


  1. I get great relief from my sinus stuff at the acupuncturists. The Lane Center is fantastic with kids, and no knives, just tiny little needles.

  2. Poor dear! I hope she gets better soon.

    I had tonsillectomy when I was five or six, and it was fine. I was actually happy to be able to eat only jello and ice cream for a few days.

  3. I needed to read this. I'm working so hard on living a day at a time. It's a literal dream of mine. Breathing is what I've been doing a lot of as well. Big hug to Greta and to you. And remember: This too shall pass.

  4. Just my two cents, but get the surgery! I'm sitting here at 40 years old wishing that my tonsils had been removed when I was a kid. I had problems like Greta's and doctors were beyond reluctant at the time. My problems with it stopped eventually, then returned when I was about 25. I need to have mine out now, and the recuperation time and pain involved with an adult having tonsils removed is so enormous that I've put it off for years. Both of my kids had theirs out around 7 yrs old and the week after was difficult, lots of vomiting on the day of and soreness with fatigue after. But all they remember of it was eating ice cream.

    I know it sounds like I missed the whole point of the post. I didn't, it's just that my tonsils are killing me right this minute!

  5. Thanks Michelle - I appreciate the insight and advice. It's strep... again. Up until this year she didn't seem to have much trouble, but this winter has be awful. The docs are recommending watching it for another 6 months or so, but if it doesn't improve we will consider the surgery. The nurse literally yelped with surprise when she saw Greta's tonsils today ... ugh.

    It's good to know that your kids don't remember how bad it was, only the ice cream. :)


  6. Thanks, Jess. Breeeaaattthing. :)

  7. It's amazing that as Mothers we can handle anything...except when our babies are sick. Our youngest has suffered with ear infections, 3 sets of tubes (surgery) and finally tubes and adnoid surgery. It all went smoothly but it was awful to be so strong when I was crumbling inside.

    I pray that you will cope and your dear daughter will recover quickly

  8. I hope she outgrows it fast.... the poor thing. And you!
    Soldier on indeed...
    (and take a much needed break to a blogging conference... perhaps... :) )

  9. So tough...and I know. I know how hard it is to solider on. I feel it most mornings in this bloody Canadian winter, when I drag myself out of bed to go to work at 8:30 and would rather cuddle with my sweet boys. It's SO DARN HARD this mommy gig. We're here my friend, to listen to you vent, to support, to help however and whenever we can. Because when it seems impossible I just know you can do it. If not, each chocolate. Or treat yourself to a huge bouquet of flowers!

  10. That was us last year. My son had strep 6 times I think. It was horrible and I know just how you feel. We did opt for the surgery because even when he wasn't sick they were bothering him (he would snore so bad no one was sleeping). He has been so much better. Only a mild cold this year.

    This year we've had to deal with my daughter, and a new asthma diagnosis.

    This mom thing is so hard, they forget to tell you how you will feel and worry and stress over every sneeze, sniffle and cough, not just the big things. I totally get how it wears on you. I hope you all are feeling better soon!

  11. Yes, if you were closer (like a whole ocean closer) I would get you to schlep Greta to my homeopath. Last night I sent her a text as Alex was moaning in his sleep, coughing his lungs up and generally looking like a rough night ahead for all. She sent a text back with a suggested remedy (that she'd already made sure I had) Ten minutes later he was asleep, slept all night and today he is off to nursery.

    A more useful suggestion is to get a big jug and stick half a lemon in it, with a sprig of sage, or thyme, or rosemary in it, and a teaspoon of honey if you have any. Fill it with hot water and let it stand then make Greta sip it. You can top the jug up at least once more before the herbs lose their antiseptic helpfulness. It's a brilliant cure for sore throats - honest!

  12. Oh mama that's awful. As I held my oldest yesterday while he burned with fever I wanted to cry with him. I can't imagine how draining it would have been if his little 24h virus had lingered for a month. Hang in there. Take it easy on yourself. Sending good thoughts your way.

  13. I was born with tonsillitus. Seriously. I was sick every two weeks on the dot. As soon as the antibiotics did their cure and wore off, I got it again. Back then (dating myself here) they waited to a certain age before even considering surgery. When they told me that they suggested surgery, I was relieved. SO RELIEVED. I remember it to this day, that feeling I had of utter relief that the sicknesses would be over. I was in the fourth grade. Sure, I was nervous, but I was so looking forward to being able to go two weeks without the excruciating agony of horribly inflamed tonsils and throat.

    For another eight years after that I didn't even get a sniffle. After I graduated high school I got pneumonia and it was determined (after having a reaction) that as a side effect of constantly being on penicillin for so long, I had become allergic to penicillin. So now whenever I do get sick, they have to find another course of treatment for me.

    Oh and the things I remember from surgery? Spaghettios and ice cream. The ice cream, they want you to eat because it's cold and it helps keep down the swelling. However, I had different ideas. The only thing I wanted to eat was spaghettios. I ate a lot of it until I was fully recovered.

  14. Oh, poor sweetie!

    The surgery might be less traumatic than what y'all are suffering through (and might continue to repeat in future years...)

    hang in there.

  15. Oh Ellie :(

    I was Greta ... I know all about the misery. I had my tonsils out when I was younger than her, but still proceeded to have strep at least once a year until I was in my twenties. It's so hard, I know. I hope you -- and Greta -- feel better soon.

    <3 Lisa

  16. Ellie, thank for your the mantra. I am definitely going to use it this week. Breathe and wait..... I need this right now.

    Do you all have CVS' up there? They have a service called Minute Clinic at some of them and we use them whenever the boy has issues with oncoming strep or sinus things like that. It beats waiting for a doctor appointment and they do send the visit details to the doctor the next day.

    I'm so sorry she has been sick. There is not much more of a helpless feeling when we can't fix our kids. :(

    BTW - the last time we talked I was in a baaaad place and headed to the sleep clinic. I'm on day 23 now - waiting to take my 30 day chip next Wednesday at an awesome meeting. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me then - you were a big help.


  17. Hi Betsy -

    Oh, congrats on 23 days! I'm so incredibly happy to hear you're doing well!! Thank you for the update. :)

    And we do have a Minute Clinic nearby - it's great for the after-hours visits. She's been diagnosed with anti-biotics so much recently that they want me to get a prescription first, now. :( But it's a great resource.

    Keep on keeping on!