Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Perception is Reality

That's what Bubba always says, and to some extent I believe it, although I've always been more comfortable with the notion that there is some concrete Reality/Truth out there somewhere that is discoverable. It gives me hope. It helps me to trust that I just have to buckle down, put in some elbow grease and keep looking until I can finally shout, "Eureka!"

Some days, this is why parenting sucks. Because while we can look at 'norms' and 'averages,' each of our kids is an individual and they have their own quirks and lovable qualities and refusals to FIT IN THAT DAMN PIGEONHOLE ALREADY.

So Lola has some quirks. Okay, a lot of quirks. But that is what makes Lola, Lola. (I know that comma doesn't belong there, but I needed the pause in between the two Lolas, so I had to leave it there). About six months ago, she began complaining of "habits" that bug her. I noticed them a long time ago, but figured that as long as they didn't cause her any problems and she was otherwise healthy, I was going to leave them alone. Time's up, Mom. She had gradually become aware of a tendency to raise her eyebrows and then scrunch them down as far as they could go. She did this about forty times a day, generally when she was physically still, like playing a card game or listening to a story or working out a problem at school. She was afraid that the other kids would notice and begin to make fun of her and, frankly, it freaked her out that it didn't seem to be something she could stop doing.

She progressed from this to what we call the 'bunny face' where the skin on the bridge of her nose gathers up and she puckers up like she wants a kiss. Finally, about a month ago, she began noticing a severe eye roll to the top left that, by the end of the day, left her with awful headaches. Add to this a tendency to "claw" her hands when she needs to use them for something that requires concentration (piano practice, card games, math problems), and she is frustrated.

Those of you with kids who don't fit the 'norms' will understand what ensued next. As many disparate ideas as there are specialists. My therapist offered to score a test for ADHD (seems Lola scores in the 90th percentile for hyperactivity - duh). The naturopath suggested we test for more food allergies, B vitamin deficiency, and anything that can cause hypersensitivity. Bubba doesn't see it. Or maybe he doesn't want to because perception is reality. Or maybe it's just that he rarely spends quiet time with Lola - they are usually wrestling or shooting hoops or chasing each other around the yard. Lola's teachers haven't expressed concern, but she's in a nontraditional school setting - she's allowed to pace while she reads to herself, work cross-legged on the floor, dissect lamb hearts and brains, and help design her own curriculum. What teacher would notice hyperactivity or tics in that setting?

The therapist and the doctor see it. Lola feels it. She admits not telling her father about it because she's embarrassed. In the meantime, I'm loathe to medicate her for ADHD since those symptoms don't seem to be causing her problems and, what if they take away the essential Lola-ness that she has to be funny and crazy and impulsive (well, I could lose some of the impulsivity...). Are the tics Tourette's? I long suspected that Dad had some form of Tourette's, but he's gone now and there's nobody to corroborate that.

I'm at a crossroads and wondering whether there is some concrete Reality/Truth out there that is discoverable. If so, should I kill myself to find it? If not, what's the best course of action? And whose perceptions trump whose? Is Bubba's reality more real than mine? What about Lola's?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

How much do I wish that perception would become a reality...How much do I wish that things would go away when we don't think about it, although dwelling on them is not helpful either. I also think that recognizing that there is an issue that needs to be addressed is the first step in finding the help she needs and deserved.
The fact in itself that she recognizes that she has a problem that she cannot control and that she came to you about it, would be enough for me to look for help. It does not mean that it is a major problem to the medical community but it is a major problem to her now.
From what you are writing I also don't see any indication that it is somehow improving on its own.
I wish I had any advice at where to proceed from there. Unfortunately it can be an absolute nightmare as parents to know how to proceed in these conditions, when our kids do not fit in any well defined category. How many times did I feel that I wanted to give up when all the Doctors were pulling in different directions, blaming each others for not finding a diagnostic. It is extremely hard to maintain your sanity in these conditions, but the love for your child and the unconditional support of a few friends will help you to pursue the issue.
Finally, Lola is a very bright sensitive girl who would more live in the moment that dwell on problems. I think that she knows very well that there is a problem that needs to be addressed and she wants your help in finding a solution. I personally think that the fact that you recognize that her problem is real will already help her a lot, even if it takes some time to find what can really help her.

-Isabelle

Deb Shucka said...

Oh, Kari, what a difficult dilemma. I have no advice, only prayers and love for you all. I love how you've allowed Lola to be the one to decide when she wants to change a thing. That's not about perception. That feels like love and understanding to me.

Carrie Link said...

Let's talk off line.

love.

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