Monday, November 21, 2011

Reaching for the Stars

Last week was a long and arduous one for me. It was week two of my toddlers intensive eating therapy in Iowa City.  As if week one wasn't crazy enough, this week felt like a wild roller coaster ride. We started out well, little bits of eating here and there, not so much fussing, but by mid week all hell broke loose.  The specialist told me that a crescendo of resistance and behavior was completely expected at that point, and he needed to go there in order to settle into compliance.  It was going to get worse before it got better.

But I had no idea how much worse. WOW...what a crescendo it was on Wednesday morning. He screamed and fought so hard against food and drink that by the end of the session he was slumped over in his high chair, eyes puffy and swollen, tears streaked down his face, head bobbing on his chest. Too exhausted to even blink.  He'd literally screamed himself out and was sitting there in complete withdrawal, complete servitude.  I don't know what was harder to watch, the fight, or the surrender. Of course I excused myself for a moment and cried my own heart out in the bathroom.

But these people are complete professionals, the best in the business, in fact they are considered amongst the best in the world.  That is why we are making the two hour trek to Iowa City at 5am every morning.  This is all this team does, they work with some of the most challenged and disabled kids in the country, teaching them to eat.  They've seen it all and I have complete confidence that they can help my bubby.

Nonetheless, it was hard to watch. They explained to me that it's critical that there are no reactions to his tantrums and resistance, and even more critical that everyone remain steadfast in the process, no flinching.  It was like a game of mortal 'chicken' between Thomas and the doctors, with me on the sidelines.  All I could think about was little T's spirit, his fight that has kept him alive this far.  Were they going to break it, were they going to change him?  But the reality is that T has no chance at a normal future unless he can learn to eat and drink independently, it's now or never.

By the end of last week he was actually beginning to take food on a regular basis, and to top it all off we spent the week fazing out his bottle and only giving him a cup.  There was no doubt that his overall calorie consumption dropped, along with a little of precious weight, but he is being monitored very closely.  Well, back we went this morning to start week three and I am very pleased to report that he took all his food in all his sessions without the slightest fuss.  In fact he was opening his mouth to each bite, leaning into it and closing his mouth around the spoon.  SUCCESS!!!! Tonight I get to try to feed him a meal at home, just him and me.  I don't know how we'll go, but everyone is confident that we'll both do fine.  I guess we'll see.

So over the weekend, as I sat at my drawing table in my pj's at 4pm in the afternoon, refusing to get dressed, listening to hubby and the kids watch "The Wiggles", I actually allowed myself to indulge in some optimism.  Had we finally turned a corner, were we able to start thinking about doing normal things now that T is learning to eat??  Then my thoughts ran away and I found myself reaching for the stars, thinking of all the places we could go, all the food I could give him, and all the normal things we could start doing. 

While I was daydreaming I doodled away at this page of planets, playing with my Twinkling H2O's. I saw a post by Jill Berry on "Geo Paper" and was totally inspired by her design. I didn't follow her tutorial per se, but I loved her idea using circles and lines.  I decided to experiment with wet-on-wet washes using acrylic resists under the very wet Twinks, then I dappled some acrylic paint over the top to add dimension and contrast.  I don't often do abstracts, but sometimes when my brain and heart are full of so much worry and clutter, I can only focus on colors and not form.  Next time you're stressed, turn on some soothing music and give it a try, it really helps.

Wish us luck for week three, and thanks for checking in.  xx