Me: “Table for 4 please. But, can you please remove 1 chair?
I have yet to encounter a restaurant that understands this request.
They usually say “oh do you need a high chair?”
Even though Dinah is sitting right beside us. In her wheelchair.
I would assume that it would be common sense to remove a chair so that the wheelchair can fit at the table.
But, my assumptions are probably jaded.
Family outings in any closed environment can be quite a production for us. On one side of the table 2 ½ yr old Kay is dropping crayons on the floor, requesting fallen crayons be immediately rescued, playing in her food, opening sugar packets, and talking nonstop. On the other side of the table Dinah is very excited, loudly squealing her excitement (she loves food), banging the table with her non-spastic hand, and yelling when we do not feed her quick enough.
We are used to this. It is our normal.
But, it is not normal for most people.
Usually we get several different responses in one sitting.
The elderly couple that keeps giving us a knowing sympathetic look. Sometimes if they are in earshot they will say things like
“Well aren’t they just darling?”
“You all have your hands full!”
Then there are the younger people who occasionally look at us with pure undisguised irritation. It’s worst if they are there on a date. (Which hey, I can understand…kid noises do nothing for a romantic ambiance).
Then there are the outright rude people who just constantly stare. Kind of with disgust. Kind of with intrigue. This is my least favorite response.
I usually give back uneasy apologetic smiles when I can. To everyone.
Meanwhile, I am trying to co-manage the unorganized chaos, make sure the kids both get most of their food in their belly, keep myself from having a negative moment, and still have pieces of conversation with my husband.
The worst thing that can happen is Dinah needing to have her diaper changed. That can be a HUGE dilemma if we are not close to home. Public bathroom diaper tables just are not designed to accommodate a 7 year old.
These are things that just are.
Kaylin will get older. She will stop requesting crayons at some point. She will be able to sit quietly. This is just the toddler phase. That is uplifting.
Unfortunately, I find myself grasping at straws when I try to have this same type of uplifting glance of the future concerning Dinah.
I start to sweat thinking of her being heavier and taller. Harder to lift. More awkward to transfer to and from her wheelchair.
Eventually we will need a wheelchair-accessible van. Which is a tough pill to swallow considering that I don’t even like minivans.
But ya know…this is that living in the moment stuff I talk about so often.
Last year I started having some serious anxiety issues after Dinah became too heavy for me to comfortably lift. I started having a horrible dread of the future. I started to wallow in self-pity.
I spiraled down to having panic attacks on a weekly basis and ending up in the emergency department (which is very embarrassing when you are also an emergency dept RN).
This form of anxiety was completely new to me. It was by far the ABSOLUTE WORST feeling I had ever encountered.
It took lots of prayer, changes in my diet, and most importantly, CHANGES IN THE WAY I COPE AND THINK to overcome the A monster.
I finally realized that this is my life. No matter what the circumstances, it is my life. And I had to learn how to cope with it.
Eventually I overcame the pride that was holding me back and started going to a trauma therapist (I still do not know why there is such a stigma with seeking therapy when you clearly need it!).
She saw very quickly that I had a truckload of anxiety due to my dysfunctional coping skills.
The first thing she taught me was to live in the moment. To be present here. Right now. And just breathe.
I could write a book about my experience with panic and anxiety. But, at this moment I want to encourage anyone dealing with those issues to see their medical provider right away and also look into therapy.
Anxiety almost always has a root cause. It could be physical (like electrolyte imbalances or even serious issues like a pulmonary embolism) or emotional (like bottled up stress or a history of trauma). But, it is not ever normal and you should not have to live with it.
Anxiety and chronic stress go hand and hand. And more and more research is indicating that chronic stress is a precursor to every disease ever known to man.
You can overcome anxiety as I did. I still have my moments occasionally, but they are not anything compared to the panic attacks I was having before.
Do not put it off. Get help today.
Life is so much sweeter when you are not living in fear.
© Kelley Daniel, http://www.missingmarkers.com, 2014