Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The power of suggestion, in three acts

This is not the post I sat down to write, but witnessing the events unfold might give us something interesting so I'm going to roll with it.



I am feeling extremely nauseous right now.  I'm not even kidding.  I might have to take a break and step outside for a moment.  Okay, I got a glass of cold water and threw the hat across the room.  That's a little bit better.  I wonder how long it will take to pass?

No, it is not something I ate.  No, I am not coming down with something.  All I did was put on a crocheted stocking hat, and within 30 seconds I needed to sit down or puke or both.

See, it's chilly in the house because the thermometer is on its way down to 36F tonight.  Although I have a fair bit of hair now, it is short, and as my neck got chillier and chillier I thought I'd put on one of my favorite crocheted hats from cancer treatment rather than turn on the furnace.  Mistake!  The nausea came rushing in.  I'm still having trouble shaking it.  I might have to eat a piece of chocolate zucchini cake just to show my body who's boss.

What a horribly powerful response from a seemingly innocuous accessory.

I think it's clear that my body is associating the crocheted hat, or perhaps the feeling of a head covering, with the side-effects of chemotherapy.  I wonder what I can do to get over this.  Is this yet another thing that I just have to power through, boldly wearing hats until my gut is desensitized?  Between the passage of time and the colder weather necessitating hat-wearing, I hope to overcome this nausea-induction soon.



The girls have been exceedingly tricky at bedtime lately.  Other words for tricky include naughty, argumentative, manipulative, crabby, over-tired, whiny, and pesky.

Eleanor's thing is to persistently get out of her bed.  She has always done this, but the problem has been exacerbated since starting daycare.  No, it has nothing to do with them, it's me.  I pick her up and cuddle her back to bed where I used to just lead her back to bed.  I used to just be able to steer her head back to bed, but with the advent of daycare I miss her and want to make sure she's getting enough love.  So when she wanders out of her room to find me, saying "Want to cuddle?  Want to cuddle?"  I melt.  I cave.  But this short on-the-walk-back-to-bed cuddle-tease just makes her more persistent.    

Azalea's thing is to never have anything quite right.  Mom, the water bottle isn't full.  Mom, my pillow's not good.  Mom, my sheet is neither covering my foot nor abutting my bed rail nor laying precisely parallel to the long edge of my mattress.  These things go on, and sometimes she works herself up into hysterics for no reason at all and is inconsolable.  This is all happening, mind you, while Eleanor is escaping and returning.

With Eleanor I had a good idea how to solve the problem (don't pick her up, idiot), but with Azalea I was a bit lost.  I consulted the best child-rearing book ever and learned that one strategy might be to make sure she feels safe in her room.  She might be stalling, and upset about failed stalls, because she is feeling insecure about some element of going to sleep.  Also, this book reminded me of something I know but didn't think to employ at bedtime (because they're just supposed to go to sleep, dang it!!!):  positive reinforcement.

Well, for three nights now I have upped the ante on my bedtime parenting, and already it is working.  Every time Eleanor got back into her bed, I showered her with accolades.  Whenever Azalea started to fuss, I assured her that her room was safe, that I would keep it safe, that I would be nearby, and that she could ask for me if she REALLY needed something.  I told them both that they were being good girls.

Success!  Tonight Eleanor only got out of her bed twice, and in the first three minutes after I left the room.  Azalea only had one small issue with the coordinates of the sheet and no tears at all.

Now who's manipulative and tricky, huh?  Thanks for your suggestions, Ms. Leach.



In my last post I had much to say about being comfortable with my new body.  It was as much to empower myself as to empower other women.  That's not to say I don't believe those things, but it helps to say it to believe it.

Yesterday I got two really great compliments on my glasses, of all things.  One day, two compliments from complete strangers.

It struck me as funny that I spend so much time thinking about how different I look, both from how I think of myself and from other women, but it turns out that other people don't even notice or care.  They just really like my glasses, and perhaps the way they compliment my face.

The compliments suggested to me that perhaps I'm looking good these days.  This was good to hear because I still see myself as looking better than that time I had cancer.  I stubbornly associate "looking good" with how I looked before cancer.  Perhaps it's time for me to adjust my self-image and take the suggestion.


  1. oh dear, maybe you'll have to become an earmuff person :)

    I'm glad Penelope saved the day once again!

  2. I heard from a seasoned principal at a turnaround school (read: someone who really knows what she's doing to be put in charge of 1,000 kids, 80 teachers, rock-bottom test scores, skyrocketing poverty rates, and an educational institution that most people look at and label "FAILURE") that, according to research, it takes an average of four positive reinforcements to change a (one single) behavior.

    Also I have to wonder what behavior would result in evoking a "getting really pissed" behavior from Heather. I'm thinking maybe genocide...