Saturday, January 17, 2009


Where do I even begin? Forgive me if I'm rambling in places, but my thoughts are a bit disjointed.

Beyond all the other crap that is going on, the major life wrench we are dealing with at the moment is a situation with Ariana. She hasn't eaten anything but pudding pops, pudding, juice, or a milkshake in almost two weeks. I left on the 4th for my last week in Madison only to have a phone call that night sharing that she swallowed a small choc chip from her ice cream and was freaking out. Many nights that week I listened to her cry to me on the phone that she was scared. And it broke my heart.

About a month ago, she and I had a discussion about choking and I told her that I had choked on a piece of candy when I was about 10yo. She was fine when we discussed it, but the chip episode flared up a huge, no ginormous, fear of choking for her. She is refusing to eat anything that resembles solid food. No mashed potatoes, no jello, no Little Debbie heart-shaped snack cakes, etc. She literally freaks out when you ask her to try a small, tiny bite of food. And I'm lost about what to do.

We visited the pedi on Monday (great first day on the job BTW...oh yeah, I need the afternoon off to take my daughter to the doctor, boss.) and there's nothing physically wrong with her. No bumps in the throat, nothing stuck in her esophagus (had an xray to make sure), no yucky throat, etc. So, we are seeing a therapist as the pedi thinks it's anxiety-based. Thank god we have state insurance now and I don't have to pay a freakin' copay for something I already know. Can you tell I'm having issues with this? I'm glad we took her in, but we are incredibly frustrated. The therapist can't see us until Feb 9th. So basically my daughter is supposed to just freak out until then.

I'm fucking pissed at the situation, pissed at myself, pissed at my husband, pissed at her even. Not that I let that show to her, she's got enough shit to deal with without me acting like a douche to her. To have my last week of out of town training filled with anxious thoughts about what's going on at home, knowing she's crying on the phone and that your husband's patience have run out. It was not my best week. Things were not handled in the way I think they should have that week, but we're dealing with that now.

Monday I picked up pediasure to help get some nutrition in her, but she thought it tasted "yucky" and at $11+ for a 6 pack, that was absolutely thrilling to hear (little shit). But I came up with the idea of a milkshake which she now drinks about 3 a day. We can't afford to keep her on pediasure for a lengthy time, so we started them out thin and have been making them more thickly so she'd maybe try some oatmeal or malt-o-meal with success. Yeah, about that...not working. I don't want to push her as I don't want the anxiety to rocket up, but I want to be firm that she needs to try something. At this point, I don't know what to fucking do. And neither does my husband.

Which is a whole nother issue. He and I haven't been seeing eye to eye on most of this up until the last few days and quite honestly it was very rough going. Touchy for a moment or two. I'm not happy with how he handled things initially and it pains me to know that while I was doing something very necessary for our family, I wasn't there to help her with this. And that I can't seem to do anything now to help her. I'm not even going into the depth of feelings I have and I won't, so don't worry. I just want my little girl to get better.

I googled "children's fear of choking" and found some info. There's an actual diagnostic term for it and while I don't know for sure this is what she has, lots of things fit. Small incident of choking (or vomiting), sudden fear of eating. On a message board I found there are kids who have had to be hospitalized and have behavioral conditioning to eat again. You can just fuck me if this gets that bad. I think I will lose my mind if it would come to that. I didn't share some of it with Jason as he was in alarmist mode and I was in my "let's take care of it" mode, but he did find it himself and was pretty stunned to read some of these families stories.

She's been wanting to play school lately, so the other evening I was the teacher and she wanted it to be pajama day at school. I had a light bulb moment and asked my class what kinds of foods they'd eat for dinner at a slumber party. Pizza, hot dogs, popcorn and lots more made our list. After each shout out, I'd ask if anyone had eaten that food before. And then I'd asked if anyone had choked on that food before. Then I'd say it must be a safe food if you take small bites and chew it up well. Brilliant idea if I say so myself, but didn't fucking help one bit.

I feel like a big piece of shit as a parent. I think Jason does as well. To not be able to help you child and wonder what you did wrong. Why her? Why? Is there something wrong with her noggin and she needs help for it? I've always wondered about her sensory issues, others have questioned possible ADHD, and she's so damn sensitive at times about things. At what point do you stop saying "that's just who she is" and start saying "what is wrong with her?" I hate that word, wrong. Hate it with a passion. But let's face it, no one ever wants something to be wrong with their child. I feel proud and worried about her uniqueness. I worry most that at some point she won't fit in because she does have her quirks. I just want to help her be the best person she can be. We all have issues and shortcomings, it's how we deal with them and view them that can make the difference of a positive life.

I sit here typing with tears rolling down my face. Worried about my daughter. Worried about the relationship between myself and Jason. Trying to hold it all in when the damn just wants to let free.


niobe said...

It sounds like you're doing everything possible. The school idea *was* a brilliant one and, maybe, over time that kind of reassurance will have an effect.

I was a very, very phobic kid -- while I didn't have this precise issue with choking, I did go on food strikes when I wouldn't eat anything because I was terrified that I was going to eat something poisonous. It must have driven my parents crazy.

Aunt Becky said...

I've had many issues with food in my house already, so I know how awful they can be. While I'm not any sort of expert, I do know how it feels and I'm sorry you're going through this. If I can do anything, let me know.

Lowcountry Mom said...

(((((((hugs)))))))) I'm so sorry about all of this, Denise. No miraculous ideas or suggestions from me, just hugs. Ethan (when he was a baby and up until about 2 1/2) would not swallow anything but liquids, and it was definitely a sensory thing. I know your situation is different in so many ways, but I still can't help but make the connection.

We did OT for quite a while, and racked our brains forever for ways to get him to tolerate any kind of chunkiness or texture in foods. One idea the nutritionist had was mixing wheat germ into things like milkshakes or pudding or whatever the child IS eating. Wheat germ won't disintegrate, won't dissolve in, so it continues to have a gritty texture even after mixing. We tried just mixing tiny bits in, then gradually increasing it.

I wish I had more ideas. I'll get back to you if I remember anything else. I sincerely hope and pray it doesn't get to that point of hospitalization etc like you described. And you guys are NOT terrible parents...absolutely not!

Anonymous said...

First of all, you're not bad parents. You're stuck in a bad situation. It's normal to be angry and frustrated. You're doing all the right things to help her - it'll just take some time. In addition to the wheat germ, try adding some ground flax seed meal to her shakes. Flax has a ton of protein, omega-3's, and fiber. Sending good thoughts and hugs your way, too.

Donna said...

Just another 2 cents... You can get protien powder to mix in the shakes. It doesn't add any texture but it would boost the nutrition.

Anonymous said...

I really can't add much to help, but can let you know I'm here if you need to talk or vent.

Be strong for Ana. You will find help soon, and not to be cliche', but "this too shall pass".

Good luck, my friend.

Christie O. said...

I'm so sorry! How hard this must be, I don't even know where to even begin to give you advice! Love the school idea, that was really great! I wish I could help but just know that I'm here if you want to vent, dear!

Heather said...

Gah. We've been dealing with issues of anxiety with Nicolas, and it's driving me insane (and honestly, like you said, makes me mad at him, but he's very genuinely terrified). He has food issues, but those aren't intertwined with the new anxiety (I may want to kill myself if it was -- so you have my most profound sympathies -- for real). He won't sleep (for the first time in his life) for more than a couple hours at a time without waking up screaming. He thinks the house is going to collapse, burn, be demolished in a flood everytime it rains, he's afraid wind will literally carry him away, that squirrels are going to break in and eat him. I'm serious. I know it's sounds hysterical, but it's not when he can't sleep he's so afraid. I've been debating whether to call the ped or not, guess we'll ride it out and see. He seems to ratchet up when things get a little more chaotic. We had family in over the holidays, and he was through the roof.

Anyway, you are NOT alone. Sorry to write a book and make it all about me. Just wanted you to know it's nothing you're doing, and I'm thinking of you.

Jen said...

Ah jeez! I'm sorry to hear this D. Ariana will get it together again. My Gracie suffers from sensory issues and it is amazing how their need to control sensory input can fast become OCD-like. HUGS! I have no sage advice...but wanted to share that Gracie went through about 4 months of obsessive hand washing and had cracked and bleeding hands that shocked all who viewed them. I was at my wits end, but overtime, it subsided. I swear it is like their little brains go a bit haywire and then it eventually resolves. I know that provides no comfort when in the middle of it, but know that you are doing all the right Mommy things... 1) making attempts to get her to eat everyday, which sets expectations over and over 2) loving her no matter what and 3) being you. She needs you and Jason, which you know already. HUGS