Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two Versions of a Tent-Camping Story

Each fall, our congregation reserves a couple of group campsites at a state park and we gather out in the woods for a loosely-planned weekend of fellowship and camping. This year was the first year since Joy's birth that we've actually dared to try & tent-camp overnight as a family. Herewith, the campout story.

The Diagnostic Version

We almost didn't go. The night before we were going to drive up to the park, Joy woke up crying THREE times. This never happens. She almost always sleeps through, and if she does wake, she usually stims and babbles herself back to sleep, rather than crying loudly. JoyDad reported that on one of the occasions, she was grabbing at her head. Plus, after the third waking, we gave her ibuprofen and then she finally fell asleep for the rest of the night.

We suspected ear infection. She's had quite a few, though it's been a while. It's very hard to tell, though, because she has an enormous pain tolerance and an out-of-kilter sensory system and doesn't have the language to tell us when something hurts. She had just the slightest edge of a fever. So I took her in to Urgent Care when they opened for the morning (of course this always happens on a weekend, right?)

Well, Joy's ears were clear. And her throat looked fine. And her mood was improving by the minute. So when I got her home from the check, we packed up and went.

It turned out to be a lovely time. We set up Joy's PeaPod travel bed inside the tent, where she took a nice afternoon rest and then slept the night without complaint. She didn't really do any dashing at all, nor did she try to play with the campfire. Instead, she ran around within the confines of the camp area, but deliberately kept looking back to interact with whomever was tailing her. She also managed to come on a bit of a hike with me and a couple of friends. And she ate well, and smiled a lot, and generally did great.

Oh, and no seizures, though our party-count-clock has been set back with a night-time seizure last week. (Which shouldn't count. But I think it does.)

So why did the campout go so well?

1) Maybe she's settling in to a recent epilepsy-meds dosage increase.

2) Maybe having had a whole summer to experience a backyard fence has helped reduce her urge to dash.

3) Maybe the intensive autism therapy is starting to get her into an increasingly interactive mode, which we'd love to credit for some of the wanting to be with people.

4) Maybe we just hit it lucky with a good-mood weekend.

And maybe I'm wayyy over-analyzing this and should learn to live in the moment! So, here goes again:

The In-The-Moment Version

We were so happy to be able to go camping with our friends from church, after briefly thinking that we wouldn't be able to go.

It turned out to be a lovely time. We set up Joy's PeaPod travel bed inside the tent, where she took a nice afternoon rest and then slept the night without complaint. She didn't really do any dashing at all, nor did she try to play with the campfire. Instead, she ran around within the confines of the camp area, but deliberately kept looking back to interact with whomever was tailing her. She also managed to come on a bit of a hike with me and a couple of friends. And she ate well, and smiled a lot, and generally did great.

Oh, and no seizures!

And I got to play Boggle with friends (and with Rose) by lantern-light after Joy went to bed.

What a blessing and a Joy.

8 comments:

therextras said...

Hi, Joymama,
I can't tell you how happy this post makes me! I (we - Hubby and me) love camping and I am such a fan of the activity I will declare it therapeutic!

I'm also happy because I like you and your family so much it's a pleasure to hear good news from friends - good that Joy's seizures have decreased, that she is more social, and you are enjoying time with friends and Rose. All good. All good. Barbara

JoyDad said...

It was a really great weekend. I almost didn't go because I wasn't feeling too good myself on Saturday morning. But boy am I glad I did....

Joy was a joy to be around THE WHOLE TIME!!! And Rose is old enough now that we didn't have to worry after her much at all. Within minutes of our arrival she was off in the woods with her friends having a blast. Whereas previous family outings have tended to be stressful affairs, this one was pretty darn relaxing.

And while JoyMama played Boggle, I sat by the campfire playing da blues on my guitar while people ate s'mores and talked. Ahhhh.... it doesn't get much better than that...

AuntieS said...

The two versions of the story really made me laugh!! And I think you are wise to stick with the "in-the-moment" version! Sometimes, I think you can make yourself crazy trying to analyze and figure out the "whys" of things. I am so happy for all of you that you were able to have a relaxing, refreshing, calm, and enjoyable time. Hang on to those memories when things get hectic or difficult again. Just close your eyes for a brief time and put yourself back in that "moment" and you will be amazed at how it will help you cope with the stressful times. Guitar around the campfire...boggle by lantern light...the only thing missing seems to be the s'mores!!
-AuntieS

Niksmom said...

Um chalk the wakefulness up to the dose change. Nik would always run a fever and be really uncomfortable for a few nights after every dose increase when he was on the Lamictal.

SOOOO glad you had a good camping trip. YAY! Don't analyze it, just enjoy it! :-))

Tiff said...

I love the peapod travel bed. Where did you get that? I'm so glad she wasn't sick. My boys get ear infections often. Despite ear tubes

rhemashope said...

yah! sounds like everyone had a good time! makes you confident about doing it again, yes? it seems sometimes when things start off badly (Joy having a rough night) and you think you shouldn't go - that's when things turn out even better than you expected.
i can also completely relate to the guessing game - is it an ear ache? is it a headache? was it a bad dream? is it a stomach ache? is it meds related. so glad Joy was just fine.

Mama Mara said...

I grew up believing that, "I worry therefore I am". Sometimes I feel like I have to be dragged kicking and screaming toward an "in-the-moment" frame of mind. Thanks for showing me how it's done!

JoyMama said...

Tiff -- you can find the travel bed online by Googling "PeaPod Plus". I think Amazon has it... we got ours from BabyCatalog due to free shipping.

And to everyone -- thanks so much for rejoicing with us! It's good to share the moments.