Monday, September 14, 2020

A Small Victory for an Anxious Mind

I hate to admit that I struggle with anxiety, but I do. Anxiety is something that has been part of my life as a result of multiple hospital traumas and stress with my daughter, Jaycee, who has special and medical needs. The degree to which anxiety has affected my everyday life has varied over the years. At times, anxiety seemingly plagued every moment of my day, making my mind so busy that I woke up feeling exhausted. Other times, anxiety was a mild factor, and I could actually feel relaxed during the day. If you never dealt with anxiety, it is hard to describe its hold and presence in one's life. I know this- I hate anxiety.

I do, however, love that my daughter has been healthy lately. After years and years of repeated respiratory infections, my daughter is on a successful plan of treatment. She is now on a 15 month streak of staying out of the hospital. (Thank you Mayo Clinic!) You would think that during these months of good health that my stress and anxiety would be next to nothing. The problem is that for years I lived in a state of stress- dealing with one emergency situation or respiratory illness after another. It rewired my brain to stay in a state of anxiety. I have to work hard to keep anxiety at bay. 

Despite Jaycee's good health, these past few months have not been without some stress. The virus shutdowns affected the jobs of both my husband and myself for months. This and a dozen other things have created bumps in life, which I am sure that other people can certainly relate to. 

In the past few weeks, I have been trying to refocus and work on calming that anxiousness that tries to bubble up inside of me. I started reading and working through some exercises in Less Fret More Faith by Max Lucado. Little did I know that I would have a small opportunity to practice what I was reading. 

Three to four nights a week, a nurse works a 12 hour shift at our house, completing Jaycee's medications and monitoring her breathing overnight on her bi-pap. Shortly after Jaycee went to sleep one night last week, her monitor started going off. It was odd, but I figured it was a false alarm. I was busy with my son, so my husband was the one who investigated the alarm. A false alarm can occur due to a sensor going bad, the position that Jaycee is sleeping in, or the sensor not reading correctly. It is a true alarm if Jaycee's oxygen level gets lower than normal or her heartrate gets too high. My husband was puzzled because it seemed that Jaycee had a true, short oxygen desaturation for some unknown reason. 

I wasn't too concerned...until 30 minutes later. The alarm went off again and indicated her low oxygenation numbers. It was bizarre for her to experience this with no other symptom. My husband and I had a quick conversation with the nurse and formed a game plan for the rest of the night if she continued to have these issues. It was getting late, so I went to bed. 

I started reading on my Kindle as I do almost every night. I was torn between going to bed as usual and freaking out about Jaycee's breathing and alarms. My thoughts swirled: The nurse will be watching Jaycee all night, so she will be fine. She will notice anything out of the ordinary. She will take good care of her. But, if she is taking care of her, I won't know what is going on. If I stay in this bed, I won't know what is going on with my own child. If something is off with her breathing, then I won't be able to work tomorrow. I will have to adjust many things quickly in the morning.

My brain was jumping from reasons why I should stay in bed and sleep to why I needed to panic. 

Fortunately, I was able to shut my thoughts down quickly and go to bed. It was a small victory for me. I will admit that I woke up at 5:30 that morning, about 20 minutes before my alarm, because I was ready to get the hand off report from the nurse. However, I rested well all night before waking up. 

I was happy to hear that Jaycee had been completely fine the rest of the night. Nothing else happened. There was no reason to be anxious or panic after all. I was thankful she was ok, and I was grateful that I handled this fairly decently. 

In years past, when we didn't have a nurse, I would have stayed up for an extra hour or two and watched her numbers on the monitor. I would have worried, literally paced the floors, and worked myself up into an exhausted state. Because I would need to see with my own eyes how she was doing, I would not have been able to go to bed. 

The victory that occurred covered two issues. First, I was able to rest and shut down my anxious thoughts. Secondly, I was able to let someone else handle the situation. Having a nurse in our home for the past 9 months has pushed me to give up some of my caregiving. I need help, which is what prompted the initial call for nursing. In the beginning, it was hard for me to accept the help and let the nurse do things with Jaycee that I have always done. However, on this night, I was able to trust the nurse to watch my daughter, so I could rest and continue with my normal activities the next morning. 

Some victories come with accolades, trophies, or headline news. This victory was an anxious mom sleeping in her bed. I hope and pray that I can be victorious the next time. 

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