Stress and migraine


Hubby has suffered from migraines for years.     When he gets them, he usually takes to his bed to sleep it off for anything between a couple of hours and a couple of days.     More often than not, they don’t properly subside until he has vomited.      After years of trying different kinds of medication, he presently has tablets that seem to do the trick, and – touching wood as I type this, hasn’t had a really bad episode for quite a while.

Both boys are very highly strung – I think you will know that if you have read anything about them I have said in the past, and as such as prone to finding what many of us would class as regular situations, extremely stressful.     It is just part of who they are and I believe an obvious example of their autism.      They both deal with the stress in different ways.     D bottles it up until he explodes.

M on the other hand tends to manifest his stress into physical complaints.        For years it has almost become an expected thing to hear him with a barking cough the day before he is doing something out of the ordinary.      Even if you didn’t look at the calendar, two days before the start of every term, he barks himself through the night.      It is as if his body clock has programmed the cough as a back to school alarm.        He then started complaining about having hot heads – a perfect way to describe a headache I think.       These hot heads were more often than not accompanied with violent vomiting.     We wondered if the pattern, which followed his Dads, was meaning he was also a migraine sufferer.       We took him to the doctors and he was diagnosed with abdominal migraines –        The medication he was given is to be taken when he feels sick, to calm his stomach down – apparently at his age, they don’t like prescribing anything strong as he may well grow out of them.        It works fine, when he realises what is happening, and says he has a hot head.    However, M is not one to talk about himself very much, and isn’t forward at offering information, so it can be a bit of a Miss Marple to work out what is going on with him.       One sure sign is that he become overly cuddly.     He isn’t one for too much personal contact, unless it is on his terms – he just doesn’t like his personal space violated, so if he is being touchy feely, then it is usually a sure way of telling something is up.     This week was back to school, and so we were expecting him to be a little out of sorts.    Monday morning, sure as anything, the first words out of his mouth were asking me not to make him go to “that place!”.     But when I told him he was going, he didn’t bring up the subject again, which was good as D was in such a state –      M has had a few dodgy moments this school year with his interactions with our children being difficult at times, but he has a few strong people around him – all girls, that seem to accept his quirkiness and enjoy his company.      Within the classroom he seems to be doing well to the point of us seeing enthusiasm from him that we have never witnessed before.      Usually when project work comes home, he just leave be to take it from his bag, but the joy that oozed from him as he talked me through the work about the rain forest – last terms topic, was wonderful to see.     He was made up by the creature he had sewed from felt, and now wants to learn from Granny how to mend his cuddly buds!       So he seems to be in quite a happy place at the moment – and long may it last.        It was therefore quite surprising on Wednesday evening when he said his head was starting to feel hot, and he ran to the bathroom to be sick.       He perked up after being sick but wanted a lot of cuddles before bedtime.      Now, I am a great believer of the 48 hour rule – staying away from school for 48 hours after the last time you were sick to ensure any bugs were not going to be passed on,  to the point it makes me quite angry when parents happily tell you how ill their kids are but they’ve put them to school anyway.    I do however think when the sickness is not germ related there is flexibility, and I spoke to one of his previous teachers who agreed with me on this point.      Yesterday morning he got up, but was so floppy , that I put him back to bed.     He had what Hubby describes as a migraine hangover – feeling rough after the worst of it has past.        He therefore was to be off school.     He spent the day doing very little but snuggling with me – it did mean I got to sit on the sofa most of the day, but my jobs didn’t vanish while I was there!         I managed to get him to finish his homework but it was hard going, not with the usual anti-homework attitude, but his head was still all over the place.     This morning he still wasn’t quite himself so I have kept him home, much to the annoyance of D.

I can only assume that the return to school has been stressful for him, and that in time he will tell us if he feels ready.    It is difficult at times to understand how stressed he must be to become physically ill, and it is hard when it happens as, like most parents, I feel I should notice those little changes in the build up to an episode and feel irrationally guilty when I don’t.     He is more himself now, but still a little lack lustre so I don’t think I will mention going to school this afternoon!!!

Loch Ness Adventure.


Last week we were on holiday.      What was extra special about this holiday was that it was paid for with vouchers I had won last year from a competition on the boys Listerine mouth wash.       The prize came in the form of vouchers for Farm Stay -          The prize was enough to book a week in the Lake District in the summer, a long weekend away last November, and a week away during the Easter holidays – or Spring holidays as they should be called as they weren’t at Easter!

We spent quite a while going through the website deciding where we wanted to go, and decided to head north.    M had long said he would love to go Nessie hunting, so the decision was made.       We found a holiday complex near Loch Ness  in a village called Tomich –

It was a worry taking the boys out of their comfort zone of always going to Haven, but it was a risk we were willing to take.    Both did cope well with the change, M though a little better than D.

Hubby did his usual, researching food in the area – he can tell you every meal he has ever eaten on holiday!     I was a little more practical and looked at things to do, coming up with a nice list of activities, but not too much as this was going to be a chilling break.

We are still having problems getting social services to look at Old Persons needs.    We therefore were unable to arrange respite for her, and so had to take her with us.    The boys were quite upset by this as they see our time away as time for the four of us, and not the five.     That isn’t them being mean or selfish, it is just the way holidays have been.

The drive up north was fairly straight forward with two new stretches of new road open since the last time I had been to Inverness.     We therefore stopped in the outskirts of the city for a pizza lunch.

Once we left Inverness, the beauty of this part of the country was evident.      It also became clear how remote the place we were staying was, as we drove along slow-moving country roads, often single track with passing points.

The location was stunning.    Totally surrounded by farmland and woodlands.        The lodge we stayed in was clean and tidy, with 3 bedrooms, and a main kitchen living area.       It was just right for our needs.     We wandered around the converted farm buildings and found the pool, and games room.     The pool was lovely.   It wasn’t too big, but with just one exception, we had it to ourselves every day.   I have decided that I really need a pool of my own!       The games room was a little sparse, with equipment that really needs replacing and updating – pool table, table football, table tennis…     But, this area was a draw as it was the only place on site with Wi-Fi.      The connection was so slow, that I only bothered once, to wish a Happy Birthday to a friend.   M didn’t seem to mind being without the internet, but D and Hubby went over every day!      I also found that I didn’t have a phone signal, and so was totally electronics free.    It was really liberating!      Hubby though being the news junkie that he is, when we went out and about, he was glued to his phone!

One thing we realised was things we had thought about doing were further than we believed, because we hadn’t accounted for country miles!     We did however get out and about, as the weather was kind to us, with only rain over night.

We visited The Black Isle Wildlife Park, -  which was a nice place to go, but it didn’t quite live up to expectations, or value for money, as many of the animals were not back after winter breaks.    The boys however enjoyed it, with the highlight being a baby donkey called Abigail – she was born during the storm.    Both boys – and me, fell in love with her, but she wouldn’t fit in the car to bring home!

We had a brilliant boat rip on Loch Ness, with Jacobite Cruises –      We went on the 2 hour journey, and the time just flew with a brilliant commentary which was both informative and amusing.      Even the boys loved it – they have been known to get bored on boat trips in the past, not realising how long we were aboard.     They did however say they didn’t see Nessie, and in fact the only monster visible was their Granny!!!

We took a drive south along the loch and visited Fort William, finding  a lovely pub lunch!       We then headed back up stopping to see the lock gates at Fort Augustus – http://www.fortaugustus.netu     It was fascinating to see the distance the locks take the boats.

The boys did find a favourite eatery in the next village from where we were staying.    The Slaters Arms -    The food was good home cooking, but I think it was the 3 dogs roaming the bar area that really took their fancy.      We actually ate here twice during the week as it was so good.

The highlight of the trip I think for all of us was actually  was a trip we took to the Plodda Falls –     Breathe taking is probably an expression that is over used for many mundane things, but these falls were truly amazing.       You hear the water as you walk through the woodland to get there, and when you finally see them, they are breathe taking.        Looking down on them from the viewing platform you don’t really get the scale, but once you make your way to the bottom, you realise how stunning they are.

It was a lovely break, and being only 2 hours from home made travelling so much easier.      We were lucky with the weather, but on the morning we were coming away, the snow decided to put in an appearance, with flurries a lot of the way down the road.

Taking Old Person with us, was not by choice, but I think it was good for the boys to make some memories with her away from the normal environment.

I would highly recommend this area for a total away from it all break.    There are plenty of B&B’s and eateries, but it is not overly touristy – although the boys did come home with cuddly Nessies!


Sad Boy


I think one of the hardest things any parent has to do is see their child suffering and not being able to wave a magic wand and make it all better.      When they hurt, it makes us hurt because our primary task is to keep our kids safe and well.    Well isn’t just physically well, but mentally also.

D is a worrier.    He always has been.    I have said many times before that I believe he was born middle-aged.     I believe it is his constant thirst for knowledge that drives his fear.    It is as if not knowing something is wrong and has to be punished.    The way he punishes himself is to get wound up, frightened that something bad will happen because he is missing information.     The fact that he is just 8 years old throws no bearing on his self punishment.     He should know things, and when he doesn’t it leads to a great deal of distress for him.     Trying to tell him it is ok not to know everything, is of no comfort to him.     Now, he is a ridiculously clever little man, and extremely skilful in trying to hide that at school – although luckily he’s had teachers that have seen the boys who just wants to learn!      It is very much a chicken and egg situation, which came first, the thirst for knowledge because he believed he wasn’t good enough or the not believing in his self and trying to better.       He doesn’t accept that he is young and has plenty of time to fill his brain with facts and information, instead he has to binge, and like a binge drink who keeps going until they can take no more, he gets to the point of saturation and explodes into meltdown while he processes everything he had fed his brain.

When he was little, he admitted the reason he doesn’t like going to bed is because he might miss something important.     We had to promise him that should anything important actually happen during the night we would wake him to let him know.    Of course we never needed to.      We had many nights of forcing him into bed, and laying with him holding him tight until he fell asleep – after much talking and question asking.       I read recently that the average child – is there such a thing?, asks about 300 questions each day.    All I can say to that is there must be some kids out there who don’t ask any to make up for the volume D gets through.

D’s thirst for knowledge and some very positive teachers, have meant that he gets on well at school.    He is a rule follower and gets quite annoyed by those that don’t want to spend the lesson time absorbing information.      However, he would much rather spend his days playing with computers, and playing football – much like any other child his age, and it gets to the point where I spend many hours each week batting excuses for not going to school.      There have only been a few times when it has been for a legitimate reason, usually bullying which the school has dealt with once informed.

During the recent school holidays though his anti-school behaviour was far more verbal.      In our kitchen, we have a blackboard wall where I write what is happening during the week.     I had just written 2 weeks of holidays, and left it at that.     When I returned to the kitchen a while later, he had added, “then evil S. word”.     A little confused, I asked him what SWORD was!!       He told me we were not to mention the S. word during the holidays, as he didn’t want to think about it.       Happily we went along with it, and if it needed mentioning we called it sword!!      It did however get a bit silly when in the car and he shouted “beep” when hearing the word school on the radio!       We didn’t take his behaviour as anything more than a child wanting to enjoy his holidays.

The day before back to school, of course the place had to be mentioned and this lead to some quite aggressive behaviour.       He really didn’t want to go back.       Now, like most parents, we have had many a night before back to school persuading our kids that it is a good thing, and like most children, ours don’t believe us, but they know they have to do it anyway.       He wouldn’t add any detail as to why he was so adamant he was not returning to school, so we had to just tell him he would be and ignore the abuse that was returned to us.

About half an hour after they had gone to bed, I could hear a strange noise.    When I went to investigate, D was sitting up on his bed, sobbing his heart out.    Tears were streaming down his cheeks.      I sat with him and hugged him, not saying a word.      He was inconsolable.      When I did ask him if he knew why he was crying he said he was just not happy – a very logical response!    Eventually he cried himself to sleep with cuddles from Hubby.

First day of term is always a mad rush finding things they have forgotten where they put them.     I went into Ds room and once again he was sitting there sobbing.        He didn’t want to go to school.     I asked him why not, and he said he just didn’t.    He then thought for a moment and said he was just 5% happy and 95% a combination of sad and angry.      When your child says things like this, it breaks a little bit of your own heart.     I managed to calm him a little, but he was determined school would not be happening for him, and when I begged to differ with his opinion I received a torrent of abuse from him, and even when you know it’s not meant, being told by your child how much they hate you, it really does hurt.

I managed to get him to get dressed by reminding him that one of his close friends was being allowed to walk with them to school for the first time, and so he had to go or he was letting his friend down.   M could see how upset D was, and he packed his bag for him!     They stormed out of the house, slamming the door as they went!

I was exhausted after all that emotion first thing in the morning!    My first coffee of the day never tasted so welcome!

When he got home from school he was  much more himself.     The day hadn’t been as bad as he was thinking, his best friend who has been off sick a lot was in all day, and his new teacher was nice!

Penny dropped!

He was having a new teacher, and this was obviously what had been upsetting him.     His main teacher was staying the same, but the second teacher was becoming the school PE teacher and so they were getting a job share into the class to replace him.      Something as simple as this, to him is a major thing.     I should had thought it through to be able to help and support him during this unexpected mid-year transition, but had thought that as the main teacher was the same it was no big deal.      It still amazes me that things we take for granted can alter  my little aspies whole perspective on life, destroying his confidence.

Today, he still didn’t want to go to school but he got dressed without telling me how much he hated me, so I see this as a good start to the day!