Friday, March 14, 2008

Drawing Us To Himself

Today was smoother. Not surprisingly, Daniel, my ADHD-prone child, soaks up any stress around him and then dishes it back tenfold, although not on purpose, of course. I didn't have any Calgon moments today, nor did Don, so the kids were fairly mellow as well. I am faced with the chicken and the egg question when it comes to the source of our stress. Do we pass it to the kids, or vice versa?

There was one bumpy time, now that I think of it. We had the exasperating picky-eater stress briefly at lunch, when Timothy, our tastebud-challenged child, decided, after 3.5 years of eating mac n' cheese, that he suddenly didn't like it. Could it be the whole-grain mac I've been sneaking in there during the past month? I've been mixing it with the regular, and to me it is barely discernable. But apparently Timmy, like the princess and the pea, notices even slight changes.

"Dear Lord, hear my heart on this! I want my family to be healthy in every way. Change my little boy's outlook on food! Help me to remember to pray for him BEFORE setting food on the table and calling everyone to it. Sprinkle our table with goodness, patience, pleasing conversation, and healthy appetites. May our family be blessed by your provision and may our hearts be grateful! In Your Name, Amen"

Headache History

I've had a bad time with migraines since my first one appeared at twenty-six-years-old. At first they came few and far between. But as I began to get more behavior problems over the years in my first-grade classroom, I suffered from more migraines. As my prescription medication ran out, I called my doctor's office for refills, which were almost always granted. I was unaware, and perhaps at the time the doctor was too, that using abortive headache medication on a weekly basis leads to rebound headaches. A rebound headache is one that occurs as a result of an addiction to an abortive medication - in my case, Acetaminophen + caffeine (aspirin-free Excedrin).

I didn't start out with just Excedrin, but the medication my doctor originally prescribed contained 3 different things, two of which were acetaminophen and caffeine. I found that aspirin-free Excedrin worked just as well, so I stopped getting prescriptions. My body got addicted to it, and for nearly ten years now, I've been waking every morning with a migraine. Usually, taking two Excedrin upon rising takes care of it. Other times, it will come back around 4 or 5 pm. As long as I take the Excedrin within ten minutes of feeling the initial pain, it will not become a throbbing, nausea-creating migraine.

I got them more frequently while pregnant, and I seem to be getting them more frequently now. Anyway, yesterday, a thought about stress as a trigger popped into my head. When ideas or thoughts or prayers just suddenly pop into my head, I usually see God's hand in it. I began thinking about how my body responds to stressful moments with the kids. I suddenly became conscious of my heart rate increasing, and a feeling of general nervousness and tension. Just as suddenly as I became conscious of this body change, I started breathing more slowly, thinking positive thoughts, and remembering that God is with me in EVERY moment.

Folks, through YEARS of praying about these headaches, never once had I stopped to monitor or think about my body's reaction to stress. Hard to believe, I know. Perhaps it's because stress is listed as a cause of so many things? And how does one alleviate stress, while raising young children? I just dismissed stress as a cause, since so many parents experience it, and yet not everyone gets migraines. I have known that glare and sunlight are triggers for me for sure, and I figured hormones and the rebound condition were the other factors.

Now, I truly believe stress is the number one culprit, which explains why the problem got worse when I was teaching first grade. Caring for multiple young children is by its very nature stress-inducing. I have the same situation now, as a mom to three children. They create noise, at times chaos, and their nearly-constant needs make it very hard for our bodies to relax. Add ADHD to the mix, and it's no wonder I have headaches. While teaching I always had at least one or two ADHD-type kids, and now I have my own son, Daniel, displaying the same behaviors. Dealing with an ADHD-type kid is like having a noisy fly constantly buzzing around your head. That sounds like a callous description, but it's so true. They can't shut off the constant buzz in their own brains, until they fall asleep at night.

Because I've been pregnant or nursing since about 2001, I've not been able to take advantage of other migraine medications, specifically those that deal with frequency. There are effective drugs on the market that would help my body get over the Excedrin addiction, and lead to far fewer headaches, but I can't try any of them until Emily is done nursing. I'm not willing to wean her at this time.

Another consideration is that the drugs on the market alter the body in much more significant ways than does Excedrin. The list of side effects is unsettling, to say the least. When the time comes to try something, my goal will be to only take it long enough to help me through the Excedrin-withdrawal phase.

I don't take any other caffeine in my diet, with the exception of trace amounts in small pieces of chocolate. I read the other day that over-the-counter meds containing caffeine are more likely to lead to rebound headaches. People who take pain relievers daily or weekly for other ailments, such as arthritis, do NOT get rebound headaches from them. Strangely, only people prone to headaches would experiences the rebound effect of addiction to over-the-counter pain relievers. Arthritis sufferers would not get rebound arthritis pain. It only applies to headaches.

Biofeedback is what I really think I need, but my time to get to any appointment is so limited. I have tried simply stopping the Excedrin cold turkey, but the headaches can last hours or days, and be debilitating; I can't take care of my family under those conditions.

For now, I am going to remember to monitor my body's reaction to stress, and to pray each and every time I notice a physiological change. God desires that we spiritually rise above our situation, in nearly every aspect of our lives. These headaches are His reminder to me; he knows how independent and stubborn I can be. God allows them, just as he allows ailments, many much worse, in so many other people's lives.

This is hard for Christians and non-believers alike; Healing is never guaranteed, as the Apostle Paul illustrates. We learn from Paul's story that God's grace is sufficient for us. The Lord knows that if he eliminated suffering from our lives, we would sit at His feet SO much less. Isn't that a sad fact of our human condition? We sit at His feet many times, not out of sheer love for him - although that is certainly why sometimes - but oftentimes out of a desperate need for His comfort, grace, and mercy. I think we all know the consequences of NOT sitting at His feet. In regards to health, as in so many other issues, I simply must trust and fight the desire to solve it in my own strength. I must continually give it over to Him, trusting that He never gives us more than we can handle.

Do you have an ailment or a situation that God is using to draw you to Himself? If so, let's pray for one another. Please tell me about it.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pam. Just passing through in cyberspace and found your blog. Last year I found a product called Sinus Buster that has been very effective for my headaches. Mine were sinus headaches, but they have a migraine formula too. Maybe it will help you. And there are no side effects, so no problems with nursing your baby. (My kids are young adults now, but I nursed them for 3 and 4 years, respectively.) Take care. Cindy

Ashley said...

I know how much energy a little boy with ADHD can have, and it really is exhausting. It's interesting that you talked so much about caffeine in the same post, because I know that caffeine (like other stimulants) can actually calm down a person with ADHD and help the "buzzing brain" get some peace and quiet. Of course, caffeine, as you pointed out, does have side effects, but probably fewer than prescription ADHD medication. My parents suspected that I had mild ADD when I was in school although they never took me to a doctor to have me diagnosed, and I know that caffeine will put me to sleep at night like a warm glass of milk. It's an even stronger relaxant for my little brother, who has been diagnosed with ADHD.

sara-anne said...

Pam, thank you so much for this post. I have found that it's often the darkest times in our lives that when we finish the walk through them, we realize how close God was walking through that time with us. I will keep you in my prayers as you journey.

I was so blessed by your comments as well on my blog...sometimes it's just knowing that someone else is out there going through similar situations that helps. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

Pam, I love reading your blog - your faith in God and love for Him just shines through. Although I do have my prayer requests they seem so trivial when others are suffering much more than me. So in the mean time I will continue to read your blog, which gives me encouragement and I will remember you in my prayers.