Trouble In Paradise: 10-14-11

Oh Dear: Our daughter called at 9:03 a.m. today. And then again at 9:06. I was working but when I picked up the message at 10:15, it was something like this: “I am having a water problem.” Well, it has been raining fairly steadily for 24 hours so I assume there is a leak in the apartment. Actually, first I thought her water bottle broke. However, viewing the soggy mist and silky strands of abundant rain streaming outside my office window, I figured, flood. So I began the phone calling. No answers from daughter, apartment phone, staff cells or office numbers. O.K.

Active Fantasy Life: I left messages asking if the apartment basement had flooded or what was up. I have a prolific fantasy life for disaster and was already picturing the windows over my daughter’s desk leaking and corroding the wood surface. I also suffer from a psychological imperative to get at problems fast. I can’t stand the anxiety of a negative unknown. So I rush in disturbing all kinds of hornets’ nests in the process, often getting stung while making more of a mess along the way. It’s all about mastery. Trying to master my anxiety.

Bent Out Of Shape: Finally, I reached our daughter, who was at her Complete Cat volunteer job yet able to pick up her cell. No flood, no leaks, but a rumble and grumble with staff personnel. Apparently, our daughter gets super thirsty in the middle of the night, drinks water and then has to use the bathroom. This has created some disturbance and words between her and staff. “Bent out of shape” describes how my daughter was feeling. She was indignant that staff said or she took what they were saying as “You shouldn’t be drinking water in the night” and daughter responding, “I can’t help it. I’m thirsty.” She spat out at me on the phone, “I’m so angry at her.” So I did the usual mom/social worker dance of empathizing while trying to track what actually transpired. Never easy. I validated the intrinsic human right to drink water when thirsty and then evacuate said water from body. I mean, what about that is wrong? Then promised to talk to her staff member.

Sodium, Hydration And Resolution: Having scattered phone messages amongst staff, I was rewarded fairly quickly by a call from the administrative staff person who had some inkling already of this trouble in paradise. Apparently, our daughter had been getting up numerous times each night for several days. We reviewed various possibilities including daughter’s need to hydrate more during the day, sodium content of foods leading to water retention and staff concerns regarding a possible UTI (urinary tract infection). Shortly after that call, the alleged perpetrator of the unkindness checked in and we honed the content and context of the exchanges and possible resolution. What was really kind of hysterical is that the night of the most active bladder activity followed the meal at the Cheesecake Factory. Ah ha! Salt content of tomato basil flatbread sandwich? Anyone’s guess but guess high. And what’s more, what beverage was imbibed to accompany said sandwich? And what size was the beverage? Beware restaurant chains, notorious for sodium, fat and oversized everything.

Mother Detective and Cognitive Disability: I am a sleuth. In my work and in my parenting, I have to be a sleuth to trace what may have led to any number of unfortunate occurrences in the course of my daughter’s life. The aforementioned staff member and I reviewed all kinds of variables while the poor young lady crucified herself for hurting our daughter’s feelings. Again, here is where the cognitive disability gets confusing. Our daughter is so smart in many areas that staff is generally puzzled or surprised when something that to them seems obvious, like a brainstorming about the water, bathroom, nocturnal activity, is experienced as a scolding or disapproval. “Too many questions.” That’s what the staff concluded. She was asking too many questions and our daughter heard or projected disapproval and irritation, I’m guessing. And perhaps the staff did become frustrated or even irritated as the brainstorming bogged down. Who knows?

Paradise Momentarily Lost and Hopefully Regained: Well, I am glad that it wasn’t a house flood. The corrosion of wood and the need for repair would take longer and be more frustrating than this spate. I do believe they will correct things and that our daughter will say, “I forgive you.” She is good at that. Fingers crossed.

©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011

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