“Ouch, that REALLY hurt! No biting, it is not okay,” I loudly exclaimed after Caroline viciously sunk her teeth into my flesh. At the time Caroline was finishing an ABA session, her therapist did a great a job of not letting on that he thought I was being dramatic, “Kacie next time she bites you lean in, so you force her to release without doing anything that reinforces the behavior.”
Caroline’s attack was not unlike the vicious attack I had been receiving from life over the last eight weeks or so. Just before, we left to celebrate the holidays with my family in Arizona; a notice was posted on the front door of the house we rent informing me that the property had been foreclosed on. Later that same day, Cigna informed me that Caroline’s enteral nutrition supplies would no longer be covered and to add insult to injury, Cigna would be requesting that I reimburse them for two months of supplies. Caroline is also in the midst of what seems like an endless cycle of medical appointments and tests—she has developed a mysterious limp, her feeding tube site is very, very irritated, and she is having a series of studies to look into several instances of observed seizure like activity (the seizure like activity is not as bad as it sounds, she kind of freezes for up to a minute or so). And some other stuff happened – but I don’t have to tell you people everything.
It seems like “lean in” is trending advice, lately. Not only did I receive this advice from Caroline’s therapist but also from Sheryl Sandberg regarding my career. Okay, to be fair Sheryl and I are not close personal friends but she advised me and every other professional woman to lean in, in her bestselling book: “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”. So if leaning in was good advice to defend against Caroline’s sensory seeking teeth and to achieve my professional goals—I thought maybe it couldn’t hurt with addressing the rest of my life.
So I leaned and I leaned until I almost fell over. I was taking Caroline to appointments, filling out paperwork for doctors, fighting with the insurance company, applying for social programs, looking for alternative educational environments, pouring myself into my work, and trying to work on New Year Resolutions…ha I know! I felt like I was getting nowhere fast.
I gave up. I stopped making calls and became disengaged from the perils that are my life. I bonded with my electric blanket and caught up some mindless television.
A week or so later, Caroline got accepted to a charter school for children with autism that offers much better services than the public schools. We are still trying to decide if we will accept the spot. Caroline has an absolutely amazing teacher and all the therapists who she works with are wonderful but the district will not provide Caroline with the frequency of services she needs. Needless to say it is good to have choices. Later that same day, we got a call that Caroline was accepted to a program where students at UTSA under the supervision of their professor would provide Caroline with ABA therapy for an hour and half, four days a week (for a semester) at almost no cost. The challenge here is that the only time available was during Caroline’s school day so we may have to pull her out of school. But again, it is good to have choices. And then we found out that we might have unlimited speech therapy benefits with demonstrated medical necessity. So if the speech therapy comes through we could put together a pretty good program for Caroline for the rest of the school year. Again, on that same day I had a call with some members of the community soliciting my professional advice for a nonprofit organization—this made me feel like a part of the community. And it also allowed me to step out of the monotony of my daily life to think about something beyond my family and beyond my job and to use my talents to benefit others.
So while everything is not perfect and there is still a lot of uncertainty, I am doing my best to lean in whether Caroline – or life – bites. To be honest, I am not sure if leaning is the right strategy for me. I feel like I lean so far in that I regularly flirt with my tipping point. But in this moment, I don’t know if it is possible to avoid my tipping point. If I do tip over I will have John write a post a share a picture