Posts tagged: summer

Summer So Far

Ye gods! I just realized that the last time I posted on my blog was MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND!

I am a blog loser.

Well, I won’t beat myself up too much. It’s been a busy summer. I hit the ground running in June when my boys wrapped up their school year, and I traveled to Pennsylvania to teach a Tarot workshop for my good friend Gloria at her beautiful Spirit Education Center and Sanctuary. When I came home, I was ready to party with my theatre friends to celebrate the end of another successful community theatre season here in Cincinnati. By that time, it was July, and I celebrated my birthday with good friends in Columbus, Ohio. Here’s a glimpse of the festivities:

Yummy cake batter-flavored martinis created by my friend Jonathan. And  my husband baked a yellow cake with homemade caramel icing. I know, you’re jealous!

Once my birthday was over, it was time to pack and head to beautiful Lily Dale, New York to teach some workshops. I never tire of walking the lovely grounds there, working for Spirit at the outdoor message services, and meeting new people to share ideas and experiences. If you are at all interested in metaphysics, you should definitely plan a trip to Lily Dale for a future summer holiday. Here are some photos that might capture your interest:

The welcoming gate sign at the entrance to Lily Dale.

The Lily Dale Auditorium, where many famous speakers and mediums have addressed crowds.

The lovely Healing Temple, a space filled with amazing peaceful healing vibrations.

A gorgeous view of the lake from the Lily Dale grounds.

One of the gorgeous Victorian homes on the grounds. Need a new place to live?

While in Lily Dale, I also got to meet up with one of my best buddies, my dear friend, fellow author Char Chaffin. Without Char, my novel Merlyn’s Raven would not have seen the light of day. Here we are together for breakfast:

Photo taken by Char’s wonderful husband, Don, who was good enough to share his wife with me that morning. 

My workshops were well-received, and I truly enjoyed my time at Lily Dale. Coming home just last week, I celebrated my 22nd wedding anniversary with my husband. And now I realize it’s time to get back in the swing of things here at home. Only a few more weeks of summer remain until my boys go back to school. Time moves so fast, and we are left with our jaws hanging open, saying, “When did that happen?”

I have quite a few more things on my plate this summer. I am offering a one-day Tarot class on Saturday, August 4 at my office. I am starting a 6-week Mediumship Development class for beginners on Wednesday, August 8. On Saturday, August 18, I will go to Camp Chesterfield in Indiana to teach a 3-hour workshop on Protection. Lexington, Kentucky is my last destination of the summer, when I travel to Patti Starr’s Mystical Paranormal Fair on Saturday, August 25 for a book signing and gallery-style message event. Details for all of these events are available at the websites tagged above or on my website’s events calendar. If you are in the neighborhood and so inclined, I hope you’ll join me for some summer fun.

So now, I’ve got to wrap up this blog. My boys are learning to drive this summer, and it’s time to leave for our dental check-ups. The Universe continues to bless me with plenty to keep me busy. I hope you find the blessings in your everyday life, too.

See you soon!

 

Reflections on a Rainy June Day

It’s pouring rain today here in Cincinnati, and my 13-year-old twin boys are playing Guitar Hero. The sniping arguments have already begun–whether to play one person at a time or to play together, what song to choose, who gets what guitar controller. Most moms would roll their eyes and complain, “Geez, it’s the first full week of summer vacation, and they’re already at each other’s throats. This should be fun!”

I’ll tell you what: I’ll take it, and I’ll thank Creator for it.

Last year, at this time, one of my sons was in the hospital. We weren’t sure what was wrong with him. He’d become increasingly withdrawn from us and was losing weight at an alarming rate. He’d been to the emergency room twice in two weeks, and luckily, the doc at the second visit was the head of the pediatric G.I. department at Children’s Hospital. He ran some tests and wanted to see us back the next week. When we went back in, he admitted my son because he’d lost even more weight since the doc had seen him a few days before.

It was the scariest week of my life. My son was placed on the G.I. ward, and the docs were cautious about diagnosing anything. They ran a battery of tests, but their first priority was helping him to gain weight. To accomplish this, they inserted a nasal feeding tube and put him on a liquid diet, which consisted mainly of Boost supplement drinks. Standing at his bedside while they inserted that tube was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a mother. He was so brave and so calm, but I had to stand a little behind him so he wouldn’t see my tears. I didn’t want to scare him, but I couldn’t help being petrified myself.

After the first day or so, the psychiatric team was called in. My son had been seeing a therapist to deal with what he characterized as “bad thoughts” and his fear of growing up. What we soon discovered, however, was much worse and much more frightening: my son, my wonderful, thoughtful, funny boy, had developed an eating disorder. He was severely depressed and had tendencies toward obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, where bad thoughts would constantly plague his mind, never turning off but playing over and over on an incessant loop. His withdrawal was a symptom of his depression, along with a complete lack of interest in everything he’d loved before. And those bad thoughts about himself and his body had taken on a disturbing reality: he was fat, unloveable, and the only way to be better was to starve himself. He’d gotten very good at disguising his disorder and hiding the fact that he was eating very, very little before he was hospitalized. As his father and I learned more and more, we started recognizing the signs that we’d missed, simply because we had not known to look for them.

Eventually, after he reached a certain weight, my son was released from the hospital and put on a re-feeding regiment at home. His nasal tube stayed in, and he had to be fed his liquid diet in our home. He would be hooked up to a machine for hours at a time, and my husband and I had to learn how to check the placement of his tube, how to work the machine, and how to make sure it was actually going into his body and not backing up somehow. The first few days at home were horrifying. The hospital staff had started my son on medications to help his depression and thought processes, but those did not start to work until they’d been in his bloodstream for several weeks. His disorder was so pronounced that he fought the feeding tube at home, screaming, crying, kicking, doing everything he could so that he could avoid feeding. It was a terrible experience for myself, my husband, and for his twin brother, who felt, I’m sure, completely helpless and frightened by this radically different person his best friend had become. 

The doctors also recommended that my son attend an all-day treatment program for teenagers. His feedings were at night, while he was sleeping, so we began to take him to this program Monday through Friday from 8 am until 4 pm. There, he had group and individual therapy, and they worked closely with him to get to the root of his eating disorder and to help him re-learn good eating habits and coping techniques for his anxiety issues. It was an extremely difficult summer. My husband and I still had to work, and my other son spent a lot of time alone. We’d already planned that the boys would have their first summer without a sitter to supervise them, but my younger son was now subjected to this without the comfort of having his brother with him. We planned play dates and the like for our second son, but I know he had to grow up a lot, and I’m sure it was difficult for him.

We somehow got through the summer. Eventually, my son’s feeding tube was removed when he proved that he could gain weight and eat orally again, but not before he pulled it out himself while staying with his aunt and otherwise sabotaged his nightly feedings. The eating disorder was insidious, and it took a long time for those terrible voices in his head to finally be silenced with the help of his medicines and all of his therapy work. 

The next challenge looming for him was returning to school. Some people warned us that he might not be able to do it, that he might benefit from home schooling or from postponing his return. But my son really wanted to go back. School is a place where he excels, and I think he knew that he would feel better doing something to boost his confidence. We planned his return along with the school administration, and they worked closely with us to determine what he needed in terms of snacks and eating supervision. I went to school to have lunch with him and his friends for the first couple of months, and eventually, we no longer needed to do this. He was able to eat his snacks and lunch without too many problems, and he adjusted well to the demands of his 7th grade private school classes.

Now, I look at him standing before me, playing a video game with his brother and making jokes. His younger twin is significantly taller than he is, but his new pediatrician, who specializes in eating disorders, has run a gamut of tests, and she believes this is due to the delays caused by his malnutrition. She is confident he will have a growth spurt soon, and eventually, he’ll catch up with his twin. His winning personality and his confidence have returned. He has maintained a healthy weight since last August. He has regained his interest in Legos, computer games, and drawing, and he’s added movie-making, creative writing, and music to this list. He is staggeringly smart, proven by his outstanding grades and his ability to make first honors at school all four quarters. He enjoys his friends again, and he pesters his brother incessantly. Last week, my husband threw out the last cans of Boost we’d saved “just in case.” 

My son is back. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

I’m no fool. My son will still struggle. He’s not completely out of the woods. He gets stressed, and it affects his eating. But we know the signs now. We know what to watch for, and we feel better equipped to help him if he goes through a rough patch. And we know that he doesn’t want to go back to that awful place where he was before.

Eating disorders are terribly misunderstood, as is childhood depression. Please, please, please–I can’t say enough about educating yourself as a parent about these disorders. For more information on childhood and adolescent depression, please go here:

http://www.webmd.com/depression/tc/depression-in-childhood-and-adolescence-topic-overview

For information about eating disorders, please visit:

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

This information saved my son’s life, and it saved ours, too. 

Now, go hug and kiss the people you love, and remember to be grateful each and every day for their presence in your life, even if they sometimes drive you crazy. I just hugged my son, who read this piece and gave me his permission to publish it.

xo

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