Thursday, June 19, 2008

What bruise?

"What did you give him?" This was my friend's question after she saw my two-year-old son a few days after her son rolled a rock down a slide onto my boy's head. There was hardly a mark on my son where we both expected a goose-egg or at least some royal shades of blue.

First I gave him two pellets of Arnica, a homeopathic remedy for bruising and soreness. I started with this because he is keen to take "pellets" as though they are candy (which he never has!). Then, as I searched for the Emergency Trauma Solution (ETS) from Perelandra, I put on some topical Traumeel lotion, a homeopathic ointment that contains arnica and a number of other things. Since I couldn't find the ETS, I gave him some drops of Rescue Remedy then and a little while later. This combination of five Bach flower essences is supposed to help his electrical system recover from the shock and give his physical body the freedom to use all its energy repair itself. I added individual essences of Star of Bethlehem and Rock Rose for fright and shock. Later I found the ETS and gave him a few doses.

In my interactions with my son and our friends, I tried to stay calm. I remember very clearly a scary incident from my childhood. It was the first time I removed my new earrings, and in all the excitement, I rinsed my mouth out with hydrogen peroxide instead of water when I was brushing my teeth. I now know this is absolutely no big deal, but I was scared at the time, and when I told my parents, my father shouted to my brother, "Start the car!" I thought I was going to die on the way to the emergency room. Poison Control set us straight, but my father's overreaction caused traumatic fear for me. So when my son got hit with the rock, I didn't want to belittle my son's pain or shock from the blow of the rock to his head, but I wanted to be sure I didn't add unnecessarily to his feeling a lack of control. Children look to parents to decide how to read a situation, and I figure that if I overreact, my son probably will, too.

I calmly accepted my friend's apology while looking at the injury site and saying, "I'm sure that hurt. That was probably scary. We'll take care of it, and it will be okay." I kissed my son's head and walked at a normal pace back into the house. When I asked EJ if he was okay, he said through his tears, "Yes, I just bumped my head."

He wasn't very excited about the ice, so we made a game of it by holding the pack to his head to the count of ten a few times. I doubt this helped much, but at least we gave it a shot, and he giggled. I also took some responsibility without turning it into blame, acknowledging to my friend, "I could have made a no-rock rule for the slide, and that probably would be the thing to do." Before the incident happened, she was going to tell her son to stop and looked to me to set the rules, since it was my house. I said I didn't mind kids learning about gravity, as long as no one's head was at the bottom. Then I failed to notice when my two-year-old's noggin was right in the middle of Rock Central. I reassured her we were fine and apologized to my son for not seeing what was going to happen. I didn't belittle her apologetic overtures to us. I just said, "I know he didn't mean to hurt EJ. Accidents happen, and that's how we learn." Fortunately, she did not castigate her son or spiral down a cycle of blame, either.

Of course, I was upset that my son was injured, and hoped he would recover. I took some Rescue Remedy myself to remain calm. My friend told me to look at his pupils later, but I knew the bonk was just on hard bone and was unlikely to have done any serious damage.

Later I asked EJ what happened, and he was able to articulate that his buddy had put the rock on his head. I replied, "Yes, he was playing with rocks and didn't realize your head was in the way. He's sorry that he hurt you. We will all be more careful next time. Let's remember this the next time we are playing with rocks.

I hope that my son can learn to accept his pain and fear but not let it define him. I want him to be compassionate with himself and others to take time to heal and to apologize but not to live in the land of regret and blame.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Drinkin’ and a-Runnin’

Who knew that May 31st was the day before June 1st?

When my friend’s husband asked if I was available to come to a surprise birthday party for her, I didn’t put it together that the half-marathon I’d just registered for was the following morning, Sunday, at 7:00 a.m. – a hour away. We talked at length about the ideal time for the party – 5:00-7:00 p.m. – to maximize the chances of folks getting childcare and enjoying the catered wine tasting.

Once I set out to make hotel reservations for the race city, I realized the problem with the dates. Don had already booked the caterers for Saturday night, so I decided we’d skip spending the day in Annapolis and instead head there after a decent dinner at home. The boy would fall asleep on the way, we decided, and I just wouldn’t do more than sip a few of the wines.

Once we got dressed up and dropped our son off at a friend’s, where he was happy to play with her and her daughter, it was hard to hold back from fully enjoying the night. This was the first time my birth class buddies and I had been together without our children in tow! I sipped and sipped some more, and by the sixth out of eight wines to be sampled, I realized I’d moved beyond mildly buzzed. My head felt only a little warped, and I was happy to have had so much fun with my friends. I’m so sensitive in my body now, that’s where I felt it. I had the sensation of my blood becoming toxic and my liver getting perturbed. But I had a race to run in less than twelve hours, and there was still dinner to make and eat, packing to finish, a toddler to nurse (not the cleanest milk he’d ever had, I know), and a drive to do (with my husband behind the wheel). I didn’t feel great about exposing my son to the alcohol, but now that he’s over two and doesn’t nurse a whole “meal,” I decided he could handle what came into my milk from less than three (maybe even only two) glasses of wine over two and a half hours.

My real concern was with myself -- would I be in running condition the following morning? I hadn’t ever studied up alternative tonics to mitigate intoxication – I hadn’t needed to. But this night, I’d imbibed beyond any level I’d had for years. I tried to focus on believing I could cleanse my body and purge the toxins. While my husband drove, I placed my hands on top of my liver and on my back, trying to send healing energy to move the alcohol through my body rather than settle and store itself in my tissues, a technique I learned by reading John Upledger’s primer on craniosacral therapy, Your Inner Physician and You. I took deep breaths and tried to cultivate compassion for myself and my body and not to shame or blame myself. I had, indeed, had a great time with my friends, and I realized that the party and wine buzz may have given me some freedom from the fear I might have otherwise had about the race. Six months earlier I sprained my ankle less than two weeks before the first half-marathon I’d registered for, and it’s been a long recovery of body and mind to believe I could come back to health and complete my goal without another major snag. Maybe I needed the push out of my over-analyzing brain.

On the solely physical level, I drank lots of water in small sips and also drank some of the Vita Coco coconut water I’d purchased on a whim for post-race recovery, noting its claim as a “nature’s sports drink” and “natural rehydrant” at the bottom of the package and being impressed with the vitamin content and claims to replace electrolytes with no added ingredients – no salts or sugars. Shortly before we got in the car, I saw in my race materials that Zico, another brand of coconut water, was going to be giving away samples at the finish line (see Zico's nutritional information), so I figured this was a good hangover buster.

Alcohol has always affected my metabolism, making me ravenous. After a big dinner of chicken and vegetables and a snack of banana and nuts in the car, I nursed EJ back to sleep in the hotel bed around 11 p.m., said goodnight to my husband, and stayed up get my gear ready and to finish dinner’s leftovers (and snack some more on top of that). I took a few doses of Perelandra’s Emergency Trauma Solution (ETS), and of a solution of few Bach flower essences – Crab Apple for cleansing, Gentian for discouragement , Larch for fear of failure, Impatiens for desiring a hasty recovery, Walnut for major transition and White Chestnut for monkey mind/thoughts going round and round in the head.

There were wedding guests in the hotel who’d had a lot more to drink than I had, and the sleep I found between 12:30 and 5:45 a.m. was disturbed by hallway noise more than once. I started the morning with some water, coconut water and the remainder of the green juice I’d made right before we hopped in the car the night before – parsley, celery, lemon and garlic. I sipped it slowly as I got ready. Before I put on my shoes I mixed some Valor essential oil blend from Young Living Oils into some lotion and rubbed my feet with it. Young Living claims: “Valor® is an empowering combination of therapeutic-grade essential oils that works with both the physical and spiritual aspects of the body to increase feelings of strength, courage, and self-esteem in the face of adversity. Renowned for its strengthening qualities, Valor enhances an individual's internal resources. It has also been found to help energy alignment in the body.” Ingredients are: Spruce (Picea mariana), rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora), blue tansy (Tanacetum annuum) and frankincense (Boswellia carteri) in a base of almond oil.

At about 6:30, I ate a half a banana and a few small leftover coconut flour pancakes before leaving to walk the 0.8 mile from the hotel to the start of the race. My husband waved goodbye from bed, but EJ stayed asleep next to him, marking the first time we’d start the day without nursing. In fact, he later told me, “I slept with Daddy the whole time!”

The run was great. I felt strong through mile nine and only then felt a little like the slight uphill should have been in the other direction. When we exited the bike trail for the last mile along a steamy, sunny highway, I was glad to be almost done. But, cheered on by another runner, I finished very strong and have smiling race photos to prove it. My time was better than I’d expected, and I felt no ill effects upon finishing. After the race I drank a lot more coconut water, ate nuts, seeds, and chocolate-covered goji berries, took some Rescue Remedy and ETS, had a great shower, ate a lot of food and enjoyed the day -- including getting lost and walking another two miles back to the hotel with my boys. I could have fallen asleep on the way home, but once I got past that, I had so much energy, I stayed up until 1 a.m. that night.

The next day my muscles felt used but not especially sore. I was happy that I’d finished the race and enjoyed myself and also that I’d been able to manage the ill effects of unwise decisions in drinking. Later in the week I went to bed early and felt more tired than I had in a while. After that post-CST exhaustion I described in the last post –and my lofty goal of turning in before midnight and getting up to at least walk early in the mornings – I’d reverted to my night-owl habits. Since the race, I’m finding it easier to honor more reasonable hours. And I’m looking for the next candidate for a long race to keep up my momentum.