The Side Effects of Being a Caregiver – Insomnia.

Here’s the second post in a series about the numerous side effects of being a caregiver. I gave a short list of many of the side effects I’ve experienced in my journey in last week’s post where I highlighted a recent struggle with hair loss, and the ways I’ve combated this ridiculousness.

The next most common side effect I’ve experienced related to being a caregiver has been insomnia. Part of this is absolutely related to caring for 8 children, and part of it, I’m sure, has to do with this lovely stage of life I’m currently in called peri-menopause.

Now given, I am the most OCD sleeper on the planet, and I hate this facet of my personality. I am way too in my head and really struggle to sleep outside of my normal environment or routine.  I am extremely envious of people who can sleep anywhere and everywhere but this is not my reality.

A few things that I must do before going to bed.

First, good nights and hugs for the kids, read Annabelle a story, and give Luke his meds. Draw the room darkening shades and curtains. I require pitch black  in order to sleep. Then I do 15-20 minutes of restorative yoga, take a warm bath with Epsom salts (I like these)

and take one willow bark – a natural Advil alternative

 

 

 

and one  L-theanine which is good for relaxation and gut health.

 

 

After my bath, I take two of these magnesium supplements which I have found to be hands down the most helpful in my journey towards natural sleep preparation. In fact, I ran out of this particular brand for about two weeks, and I used another brand which I had on hand, and I kid you not, I did not sleep very well.  This brand is AMAZING.

 

I really, really try to avoid Advil or Benedryl because I know they’re not great for me or my liver.

And, at 9:30, it’s time for  yogi tea mixed with Reishi mushroom – both which have a calming effect on my racing mind and take approximately 30 minutes to kick in and then it’s lights out at 10:00 p.m.!

I’d say the tea and mushroom put me to sleep quickly and the triple calm magnesium keeps me asleep (for the most part) and last but not least, I rub tiger balm on my hips which have been aching since giving birth to my baby 5 years ago!  Get some here. 

 

 

That’s it. My extremely OCD sleep routine which is admittedly ridiculous, but I can’t function without sleep – especially as a caregiver to 8 children. Yes, I’ve tried Valerian and Melatonin. Both give me weird dreams. Maybe this routine will help someone else in need of a solid night of sleep.

Just keep livin!

 

 

(This post does contain affiliate links which I may receive compensation for).

A Holy Shift

I descended the stairs, immediately irritated by what was awaiting me with each scream originating from my 15-year-old son. Great, I muttered as the uninvited stench rose to greet my nose. Luke, my son with profound special needs, required yet another diaper change – a chore that was becoming increasingly able to grate my very last nerve over the past few weeks as his father recovered from shoulder surgery – a recovery period that did not allow for diaper changes.

I opened the door slightly and held my breath. The third of the day so far. My least favorite job in the whole world.

I did what was necessary – cleaned my big 15-year-old man child, and as I prepared to leave, he reached for my face, met my eyes and sang in his sweet jumbled way,

Oh God you are my God, and I will ever praise you.

Continue reading “A Holy Shift”

A Resurrection Only Occurs After A Death.

When Ryan and I met in 2010 we were in a season of death with the passing of our spouses, & this death included a burial of lifelong dreams and expectations.

The next few years we enjoyed a resurrection as our lives merged and birthed new realities: our marriage & family, a simple life in rural America, the birth of a book, a teaching career, a non profit & another child. Lots of growth & beauty.

We now find ourselves back in a season of decay; broken bodies over the past year: Ryan’s, mine, and Luke’s; broken ideals and dreams as we restructure & determine how we’ll proceed, lots of unanswered questions and concerns & the burial of systems that no longer serve us emotionally or spiritually, and we wait because we know. We know because we’ve been here before – this is familiar soil, deep & dark & rich soil where we’ve been planted and now we await our reemergence into the light.

We wait for our resurrection.

And we are confident that it will arrive in due time because that’s how life works.

Everything remains in motion; a continuous movement of death and resurrection, waves upon waves washing away the brokenness and moving what remains to the shore – natural disasters and coronavirus and despair not excluded – it’s all involved, collectively and individually; ashes to beauty and back to ashes again, circular movements until the maestro sweeps his baton for the last time & bows his head in holy reverence, that moment when his beloved creation leans into the finality & releases a labored breath – bursting through the birth canal into an everlasting resurrection.

And until then?

We just keep livin.

WHAT HAPPENS?

I spent an intense morning with Luke at the eye doctor. Honestly, we’ve been frequenting doctor’s offices most days. Yesterday was PT for Ryan my husband, today, eye doctor for Luke, tomorrow and Friday PT for Ryan, Saturday, family doctor for a new wheelchair for Luke…

This is life for special needs families.

I made this appointment months ago – before Ryan had committed to his new surgery date in Feb – before when the original date was Jan 6 but then Luke was still in PICU & so we rearranged our schedules.

Today – 8:30 a.m. Feb 25, 2020. 5 days post op for Luke’s father who usually joins me on these exhausting excursions because it’s hard. But Ryan couldn’t join today with his arm in a brace, and I bribed my oldest daughter Mya to help. Bribed her with the promise of Starbucks. She agreed because that’s the kind of person she is. A lover of people and a lover of hot chocolate.

At 15 years old, Luke hates almost everything out of his ordinary – “GO TO SCHOOL!” was heard loud and clear – repeatedly- during our time spent in the serene waiting room added with the ants in his pants which resulted in a loud “GO WALK!” to the cacophony of chaos as mothers quickly shielded their children from his outstretched, unstable movements which threatened to grab or lick or stumble headfirst into their small toddler’s bosom.

What happens?

I asked myself – my blood pressure rising and heart palpitations quickening with each high pitched scream as Mya and I stared at each other with helpless looks as we tried to wrangle our big man child back into his stroller.

What happens when he becomes too big, and I can no longer physically restrain him?

What happens when he can’t go out in public because he might cause harm to another person?

What happens when my mental stability is hinging on instability?

What happens when his iPad isn’t interesting to him anymore?

What happens if he needs a diaper change and there’s nowhere to change him?

We were able to calm his anxious soul today quite by accident. The nurse played classical music from a contraption with green blinking lights (price tag probably $5000) to get an idea of vision capacity. He loved it and relaxed. I asked if we could keep playing the song on repeat for the remainder of the visit. She agreed & patted his knee “it’s ok buddy, it’ll be ok.” She was looking at me.

It’s okay is what happens. Mercy happens. Compassion happens. Occasionally someone really sees us – that’s what happens. Hot chocolate and strong coffee happens.

Moment by moment as we “just keep livin”

That’s what happens.