Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Wherein I am rogered by a cactus

. . . for two-and-one-half hours, no less. Youch. Here's the deal. My son still suffers from daily headaches. Propranolol and ibuprofen are helping some, but he's miserable a lot of the time. Someone (okay, it was me) had the bright idea of having him see a psychologist who specializes in headache. Karen and I hoped he might teach Jake some useful techniques for managing pain -- visualization exercises, meditation, etc. No success as of yet. Karen and I both think his headaches are organic, not psychological, but if you show a hammer a nail, don't expect a Hello Kitty purse. At some point, something was said by someone (me again) which made Jake a bit weepy. The psychologist felt this was Significant and asked him, "What are you thinking right now? What's on your mind?" After fifteen minutes of Jake's silence, I asked the doc, "Can any 9-year-old answer that question?" He had me tripping through Flashback City. When I was thirteen, a psychologist asked me that same thing. Thirteen. Four years older than Jake. I remember looking inside, trying to find an answer, and finding instead: (A) a wall of white static (B) a radio that wouldn't stop playing -- oh, back then, let me see, I wasn't particularly cool; I'll bet it was Yellow Brick Road -- something that passed for music. (C) sheer terror that all I could find inside me was (A) and (B) (By the way: this was in '74, well before Roger Waters did his rock opera schtick, so my wall was not a tired metaphor. ) Point -- points -- being: (A) I couldn't understand how Jake could answer a question like that, and (B) this line of questioning was making me squirm. See, I've gotten used to being empty inside. I realize it's a superficial sort of emptiness, and I'm okay with that. I mean, there has to be some degree of depth in there somewhere, otherwise where does the fiction come from? Or am I merely channeling someone who has an inner life? Jake couldn't answer the question any better than I could thirty years ago. It eventually emerged (the passive voice was created for situations like this) that he is upset by the way someone raises his voice too often (two guesses who), and Would Like It To Stop. Lest you think I'm a child-abusing ogre, I grew up in a household where the decibel level caused permanent noise-induced hearing loss after twenty minutes. Jake may hear a yell, but all I hear is a warm-up to a yell. Not even that. A yell isn't a yell unless the neighbors three doors down know your business. The pets should run and hide. Next day in school, people should stare at you and whisper. Aw, don't mind me. I'm simply adjusting to the idea that it's all my fault. And here I thought that our mothers were always to blame. D.


Blogger Jona said...

You’re feeling bad ‘coz you raise you voice? Come on, Doug, a loud voice is better than loosing your temper and using your hand (at least that’s what I tell myself and my children!) I can promise you without a doubt, there is no way you’re louder than me!! And I don’t feel guilty for a second. Anyone who remains calm and quiet all the time, just isn’t entering into the spirit of parenthood! Our job is to prepare them for the world outside, and the world outside is irritating beyond belief and enough to make anyone shout.

Very few people have an ideal childhood, and if the worst Jake can say about his is that he dad raises his voice more often than Jake likes, then you’re doing a brilliant job!

6/30/2005 02:32:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Makes me think of the old bit, "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about!"

You're getting at the root of my frustration, though. I look at his life, and I think of what I went through, and I find myself even more flustered than ever.

Which gets into yet another old bit: "When I was your age..." Never worked for me, and I doubt it would work for him.

6/30/2005 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Demented M said...

Have you ever thought that it's not the yelling, but the headache with the yelling--perhaps it's making the pain worse? I come from a loud family and I am perfectly comfortable with a high decibel level. While I suppose someone could end up hating noise, I think we're more likely to become accustomed to it.

Beyond that, don't forget all the new age hippie treatments.

Massage, maybe try craniosacral. It's controversial, but harmless and if it works, it works very well. Other than that maybe try neuromuscular--check out Dr. Travell's neuromuscular books, she says some interesting things about headaches.

Have you looked at his posture habits? Backpack always on one shoulder? Did he sleep wrong one night a few weeks ago? Any injury or chronic posture habit no matter how slight can lead to problems (I'm sure you already know that).

Relaxation exercises will help him control the pain if not the headaches. Sometimes the more stressed we are about pain the worse it gets.

BTW thanks for the shout out below.


6/30/2005 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi DM,

The psychologist has been trying to get him to do visualization therapy. Jake doesn't think it's helpful. The doc mentioned massage yesterday, and I'm a big fan of massage, too. That'll be the next step. Craniosacral: I've heard of it, but I've never looked into it. It sounds like a scholarly way of putting one's head up one's ass, but I'm SURE I'm just demonstrating my profound ignorance here!

Thanks, Michelle.

6/30/2005 12:26:00 PM  
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