Walking in Their Shoes: Patricia

Will, Maggie, PatrickAs a writer, I’m constantly asking my fictional characters about their motives, backstories, hopes, dreams, and fears. Over the years, I’ve become more empathetic to the choices we make in our own lives.

In the segment, Walking in Their Shoes, I’ll talk with real people in an effort to learn about their personal journeys. I’m sure I’ll find inspiration through their stories.

This week, I talk with Patricia. This working mom of Will (23), Maggie (11), and Patrick (6) is going back to college for a degree in accounting. She, her husband, and their youngest children live on the family farm. She’s one of the most selfless people I know.

Christina: So how do you balance it all?

Patricia: Well, I don’t think about it. I run on autopilot some days and do what I gotta do. My phone calendar is linked with my husband’s, so that helps. I schedule meals, homework, and school with as much detail as possible. Then, we review the schedule weekly adjusting for those issues that come up out of the blue.

Christina: Your youngest son, Patrick, was born with heart and liver problems. You found out soon after that he has Down Syndrome. How has your family adjusted to his needs?

Patricia: At the time, we didn’t know what Down Syndrome meant until we went to genetic counseling. Getting help early for him with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy was vital. He’s a regular kid with cognitive issues. He doesn’t talk much, but he understands, so communication is important. We’ve learned sign language that he’s become adept at. He also has an iPad with assisted speech technology that talks for him. Our church and school system are supportive as well, and we attend seminars through the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan.

Christina: What’s the toughest aspect within your family?

Patricia: I’d say balancing a special needs child with the others. Patrick takes up more of our time and attention. We don’t want Will and Maggie to feel left out.

Christina: How have you changed since Patrick was born?

Patricia: I have more patience now. For as much as I plan, I also have to go with the flow. Messes and dirty clothes don’t bother me. They’re a part of life. I embrace those moments of jumping in the mud puddles with the kids. It’s more fun than trying to prevent it.

Christina: What’s a guilty pleasure you do just for you?

Patricia: I just started going to the gym, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, and I drink a glass of wine in the evening.

Christina: What would you like people to know about raising a special needs child?

Patricia: Although I have family support, I’ve gotten a wide range of response from other people. For example, at a child’s party, the kids may ask why Patrick doesn’t talk. After my brief explanation, they nod then continue to play with him. I wish more adults would stop asking, “What’s wrong with him?” Nothing! Nothing is wrong with him! I’d rather they say something more on the line of “I notice he acts differently …” or “I notice he doesn’t talk …” I appreciate when someone is inquisitive and wants to learn.

Christina: Thanks, Patricia, for joining me today. To learn more about Down Syndrome, check out these sources:

Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan

National Down Syndrome Society

Holistic Science

Red Books

We are awesome. Not just me although I am! I mean our bodies are awesome. We have an innate ability to heal ourselves. A cut on our finger makes a scab for protection. A rise in our temperature kills viruses. Broken bones mend. In an amazing way, our bodies somehow know what to do.

Stress creates havoc within our bodies that can worsen into a vicious cycle. For example, stress may cause a headache, which, in turn, makes it hard to sleep. The lack of rest makes us tired. Fatigue prevents us from eating right or exercising, which causes more stress with more aches and pains.

Let’s start from the beginning. If stress causes a headache, the first thing we do is rub the area whether the headache is at the temples or the bridge of the nose. We do it automatically. Our bodies intuitively know what to do. We may then crave a cool washcloth or the heating pad.

From a science standpoint, we have four different types of nerve endings across the skin. Some detect heat and cold. Others detect pressure and pain. One type can override another. For instant, hot and cold packs or the Icy-Hot gels lessen pain just as finger pressure may override pain. Kids know that kissing the boo-boo actually works—the pressure over the pain.

Sometimes that helps. Sometimes that relief is temporary and we need a little extra help. Drugs help but usually have side effects that cause problems elsewhere. Doctors also recommend exercise or physical therapy. Many holistic modalities help break the stress cycle, so the body can heal naturally—like a reboot.

In Chinese acupuncture, the channels or meridians carry Qi (energy) throughout the body. Stress and pain can block energy causing other symptoms. The emptiness of energy in front of the blockage creates deficient symptoms like fatigue or depression while the buildup of energy behind the blockage creates excess symptoms like indigestion or insomnia. Acupuncture breaks it up and moves the Qi.

Stimulating reflexes on the hands and feet in Reflexology can help relieve stress and tension. Reiki helps replenish the positive energy. Massage over stimulates muscles which makes them relax. These modalities work on different levels—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—to create a healthy and balanced person.

Personally, I love reflexology or a good old fashion foot massage. Do you have a favorite? What works for you?

A Typical Day in My Writing Life

My day of writing starts at night just before I go to bed. During that time, I plan the next day’s writing schedule. Will it be new projects, edits, blogs, or research? It’s also the best time for my storylines to reveal themselves. In the morning, I must have my coffee with Cinnabon creamer while I tend to the social media aspect of writing. I’m still learning how to promote.

Then, in between laundry, menu prep, and other chores, I tackle my agenda set from the night before. This process keeps me focused, so I don’t get caught up in Supernatural rerun.

Most of the time, I’m a step behind on the learning curve, but I’m all right with that. There’s less stress and frustration. However, I continually have to remind myself that I’m not in competition with anyone. Instead, I strive to make my best better.

I’m not sure how other authors do it, but it seems to work for me. I’m happy. Are you a writer? What’s your day look like?