Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wonders and Worries Poster

So if you know anyone that has a chronic illness or condition and has kids you may want to try this idea that my friend who suffers from epilepsy did. And even if you don't have kids, you may want to try this project to help vent your own frustrations about your chronic condition.

My friend had a really rough end of last year with hospital stays, grand mal seizures, and a new medication that made her drowsy and forgetful. She said she felt like she was in a very deep fog. She had to sleep A LOT more because if she didn't it would bring on more stress and thus more seizures. She came to a Christmas party and told me later she doesn't even remember going to it. Since she had a big seizure in December, the State of Texas requires her to wait at least 6 months before she can drive again.

My friend has a kindergartner.

She said through all of it, she mostly worried about her child and how he felt watching his mother suffer so much from epilepsy last year. She reached out in her community and discovered a local organization called Wonders and Worries. The non-profit, free-of-charge organization counsels children in understanding the situation and handling the potential negative effects of a parent with a chronic or life-threatening illness. She said one of the ideas that the organization told her about was to create a poster that both her and her child could do together. The poster they would create was entitled "Why Epilepsy Sucks". They cut out images from magazines or drew pictures on their poster board that represented the negative effects of her disease. For example, they had a picture of a car (because she could no longer drive), a bed (because she spent so much time in it), a house (because they couldn't go out as much), a dad (because her son had to spend a lot more time with him), a doctor's office and a hospital (because she spent a lot of time there), a sad boy (because he worried about his mother), etc.

My heart arrhythmia condition and panic disorder has definitely caused me to worry about its effects on my child. I've wondered if I'll ever be incapacitated by it, will she inherit it, will I have to miss important events in her life because of it, will she worry about me. The list could go on and on. Right now, I'm a highly functioning person despite it, but I worry that some day I might not be. I've had anxiety episodes where I can't drive, go out, or sleep well at night. I've had arrhythmia episodes where I've had to remove myself from a place or situation to get my heart's rhythm back under control. Or I've had to sleep a lot to reduce stress and induce relaxation. So just knowing that there are places out there and things our family can do if my condition worsens gives me much peace. I will definitely try a "Wonders and Worries Poster" if ever need be with my daughter.