Wednesday, March 23, 2011

IEP Tremors: Nerves & Nausea & Meetings, Oh My

1mom_blackbeltIEP time.  This has really been quite a week for my nerves.  I had a root canal Monday that still has my nerves shaky.  I’d had big pain for 2 weeks before going in.  They/I couldn’t pinpoint the actual tooth, so I took antibiotics and he ground down a couple of crowns to adjust my bite.  The pain got better, then worse over the course of a week.  I returned to get my teeth cleaned and a recheck.  It got worse with poking around.  He wanted me back pronto to get into the tooth and see what the trouble was.  Turns out they called me with a cancellation time later that day.  Oh goody, the dentist twice in one day!  We found the tooth.  The dentist gave me silly gas, plus 3 shots.  When he drilled it open and started digging around I went through the roof.  He got vial after vial full of anesthetic and kept shooting it straight into the tooth, about 6, really.  I was jumping around until the last one.   My body was so flipped out that I was twitching and shaking – the whole night.  What a rocking great time!  Yikes.  It’s just now calming down 2 days later.  What in the world did people do before modern dentistry?  Those pros are worth every dime they charge.

Yesterday I was still in lots of pain.  My middle schooler got home and said he didn’t have homework.  2 hours later I checked my email and saw from one of his teacher’s classnotes that he had a paper due Friday, in 3 days.  My son claimed he didn’t know it was due this week.  I was upset, but had to move forward regardless, no time for big lectures.  Sometimes we don’t/won’t know if they’re being honest or not: offer it up to the parenting Gods.  I got him going on it and he got the 1st draft done with much tween angst: head in hand, groaning, sighing, slouching, tapping pencils, erasing furiously, slamming papers.  I sat right in front of him working on IEP stuff just to keep him on task.  My daughter sat with us to study for a test, and G and I worked on “homework” which is packets of worksheets from his teacher and workbooks of his.  Later, my darling daughter helped watch G as I stayed with N to do his report.  G had 3 pee accidents in a row - what?  Nary a slip up for months.  Murphy’s Law dictated his timing.  By the time my husband got home from work at 10, we were all agitated and exhausted…more than usual.  Plus I had a bonus load of laundry courtesy of G. 

I’ve spent whatever free time I have lately on prepping for G’s IEP.  I’ve attended several seminars, workshops, and meetings to learn how to prep for this IEP: my rights, the laws, the process, and so on and on.   I have books, notes, folders, reports, assessments, binders organized, checklists and agendas – galore.  As much as all this really helps to organize my thoughts, goals and paperwork; it FEELS like it’s working magic.  While these workshops are incredibly informative, they’re also partly a psychological trick for me, keeping me busy working off the nervous energy which chokes me.  Each year up until now the IEP process and actual meeting has been difficult, draining.  Our district is notorious for denying services, enough said.  This coming year G will be transitioning from a self-contained special-ed preschool classroom to a typical classroom at elementary school.  So many changes and so many worries. 

Today I went to a meeting with the principal at his new elementary school.  She’ll be at his IEP tomorrow, but I wanted to cover my big concerns and brainstorm with her before the crowded legalese-filled meeting.  You know, the one where I’m outnumbered at least 6:1.  I’ve known this principal for many years – my older 2 children have gone to her school.  I adore her and she’s incredibly responsive, cooperative, helpful and pleasant.  I’m thrilled to be working with her now and forward; comfortable that she knows me/my family/our kids/G.  I feel we respect each other – so important.  Today we agreed on everything I had listed as concerns and support ideas.  She suggested a few other strategies and supports to complement mine.  Peachy keen.  But, I talked too fast, I was charged up and felt/saw myself wringing my hands nervously (like G does!), eyes darting around as I talked.  Yikes!  “Calm down, Mama!”  I yelled to myself, inside my head. Finally the meeting was almost over and she walked out of her office to copy a form.  I looked down at my notes and…

I threw up a little in my mouth!

Ewwwwww!  I’d heard this phrase, as well as experienced it a few times.   So funny, and something everyone can relate to, but are too civilized to admit.  I’m not one to put dignity over a good laugh. I never saw this movie, but the clip is cute.  Watch below…

On my way home, I laughed to myself.  Then I gave myself a pep talk and told myself to chill.  I’d gotten through the most important meeting.   Even though I considered this to be a pre-meeting, idea session; this is where G is making his big transition.  His school home for 6 years.  If I have the principal on board, aware and with G’s best interests at heart, I can do tomorrow’s IEP.  All of his supplemental staff will remain the same, so we can discuss his needs and goals with knowledge and caring.  I’m mostly apprehensive for his safety.  This is such a huge move for him: from a class of 13 with 3-4 teachers at once to a classroom with 25-30 students and 1 teacher.  A sensory nightmare.  A bigger school, bigger days, bigger classroom, bigger bus, bigger transitions, bigger potential for “fight or flight”. 

Pressure, meetings, stress.  As an advertising professional, I’ve made a career presenting my ideas, my “other babies” to business owners, execs, clients, bosses and colleagues.  I’ve managed to pull those off with poise and panache, enough to keep working in an extremely competitive field.  Those meetings are emotional, stressful, important to my future – the same elements as today’s meeting.  I wondered, so why was today - with an approachable woman I’ve known for 6 years - the day I threw up in my mouth?  Because it’s personal, not business.  You’ve heard, “ It’s not personal, it’s business.”  Well, this is the ultimate in personal.  Being an advocate for your child, whether for a physical, cognitive, or emotional disability – is PERSONAL. 

If you know anyone who is prepping for IEP, getting a diagnosis, struggling with caregivers, goals, programs…Tell them they can do it.   Give them a boost: a big hug, a high five, a neck/shoulder massage, a really great cup of coffee or a blessed carafe of wine. If you’re not good at listening, don’t want to get involved, or are just not that close - throw chocolate and run! 

I’ve been chuckling all day about this “distasteful” little episode, so much that I decided to/needed to take a breath from my IEP prep crunch for a few moments to look up the video link and post about my nervous shakedown.  You’ve heard that popular phrase from parenting articles, “Put on your own oxygen mask first – you’re no help to your children if you can’t function.”  Humor + laughing at myself + distraction from stress = my “oxygen mask”…or is it a silly gas mask?

Wish me luck tomorrow.

I think I’ll slip a barf bag in my folder…just in case.


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