On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When trauma is therapeutic

Wonder Girl's mishap occurred yesterday afternoon when I was picking up Sissy from respite. Of course, the house was full of kids with various needs as it was a game-day party. And it was a riotous traumatic mess with police, EMTs, sirens, the works.

It makes me chuckle now, thinking of how it must have appeared to the emergency crew that arrived, walking into a house full of SpEd kids processing the trauma in their own ways. I'm sure it must have put them off a little because the ambulance driver specifically said to me amongst all the hullabaloo, "Mom, you can ride in the truck if you don't freak out too." I laughed and promised her I would keep a level head.

So many kids with so many needs, all of them trying very hard to process the events, the noises, the strangers barging in like storm troopers, I knew for a transitioning Sissy that it could go either way for her but my energies were directed toward Wonder Girl. Once at the ER, I called the IFI team and left a message asking them to call today to check on Sissy to make sure she didn't need to talk through her feelings. According to a few reports, Sissy was pretty upset.

It's hard for me to know exactly when Sissy is upset as an attention getter or when it's genuine. There have been so many times when she has feigned interest, concern or compassion because ... well, who knows why. Regardless, it has made it difficult for me to initially act toward her with empathy when she is upset. In the past, when I've acted like a "regular mom" would when Sissy expresses distress, I've discovered later that I'd either been duped or that her perceived sympathy for another person was really just her way of redirecting the attention toward her.

Even this morning, when she complained of an ear ache, my first thought was sure. her ear hurts. and my big toe has been severed by a phantom ghost ship. She is just acting out because she sees Wonder Girl getting attention And I rebuked myself for being so cynical, took a deep breath and made an honest assessment of Sissy's professed pain. Some tylenol, a heating pad and a decongestant and voila! she's made a miraculous recovery. Perhaps she really did feign pain for attention. Today, I don't care if she played me. I didn't have the energy to sort it through.

Today has been a day of phone calls and well wishers, emails and tears. Wonder Girl is going to be fine and we're all enormously relieved and grateful to God in heaven. The IFI team called and I reported that Sissy seemed to be processing the trauma well enough to wait until Tuesday to see them, Aspie Boy wants to protect his sister at all cost, demanding answers and action and I'm trying to process it all. I'm wondering if I will be able to get the traumatic event out of my memory, the images playing over and over, I'm hoping I won't be headlong back into PTSD and anxiety again, having just recovered and I'm fretting over how Wonder Girl will fare when I called K~ back and got some proof that sometimes, trauma is therapeutic.

K~'s husband B~ was the only dad in the house during yesterday's event and as it were, the hero of the day, carting Aspie Boy and Sissy back to my house and into the semi-capable hands of a drugged Dad (he's just so sick! Poor bunny), picking up Wonder Girl's insurance card and driving to the hospital to bring it to me and to retrieve K~ who drove my van. Did I mention God was amazing to orchestrate all of this so smoothly? Well, I have now.

B~ got a good view of how all the kids with their various needs were managing the event, particularly Sissy and C~, the two RADishes.

In the midst of all the chaos, C~ held Sissy on the sofa and let her cry. Two RADishes helping each other, making each other feel safe and comforted and as B~ added, maybe genuinely feeling empathy for Wonder Girl and not themselves.

I'm not happy Wonder Girl was hurt but I'm amazed that in the middle of trauma, healing can come, bonds of love and friendship can be strengthened and RADishes can find hope in their ability to love.

FYI - Wonder Girl's injuries are miraculous in themselves that she was only hurt on her ankle, that nerves, arteries, veins and tendons were all in tact, that she didn't need surgery and that her scar will be inconspicuous and minimal. THANK YOU GOD!


GB's Mom said...

They are beautiful children. Thanks for letting us know Wonder Girl is OK. I'll pray that the PTSD stays away!

FAScinated said...

I'm glad to hear it wasn't as bad as it might have been! Prayers coming your way. ~Kari