Friday, August 15, 2008

My Wrist Has an Attachment Disorder

Ten to twelve years ago I tweaked my wrist, ever so slightly. I dislocated a bone, I remember it happening, my arm fell instantly asleep. When it woke up it was hurting. I went to a doctor and was given prescription strength Naproxin and a wrist brace. After a couple of weeks it felt better.

Eight or so years ago it started to hurt again, baby carrying wrist. More Naproxin, wear the brace, on with life. Off an on throughout the years it has hurt, Naproxin would make the pain go away and soon enough it was sore so often I forgot that it was.

A month ago while visiting a doctor about my shoulder he was trying to discover how far down my arm the problem went. He was feeling down my arm and got to just below my elbow and asked, "what did you do to your wrist?"

"Oh, that..." and I told him the whole story. He told me that it was likely that my wrist problem caused my shoulder problem. We addressed the wrist problem and my shoulder pain has gone away. My wrist is so used to being all jacked up that it hurts to be normal. I go and get my wrist adjusted to normal and it hurts like crazy, hours or days later when I hear it pop out of normal it feels better, but I know it only feels better, it is broken.

How many foster kids are out there all jacked up, but have numbed themselves to the pain? Sure it used to hurt that their parents didn't care about them, that nobody bothered to feed them or change them, but eventually it became normal. Occassionally something would remind them that the broken nature of their relationship was not normal and it would hurt for awhile, then the hurt became normal.

Our job as foster parents is to adjust them back to the correct position. There is nothing we humans like better than feeling good, even when we are broken. We had a girl who would go door to door in our neighborhood asking for food and money. She had all she needed at our house, but it felt more normal to beg from strangers than it did to ask her "parents".

And like my shoulder tried to protect my wrist and then became the more noticable problem, these kids protect their broken normal and end up with other problems. In the seventh grade no one can recall if they were left for days at a time in soiled diapers, but their brain knows it. Their brain protects them from trusting too much, or relying on others too much, and then they develop the social disorders. They become Oppositional Defiant, or get a Conduct Disorder. And because we can't get the brain to let go of what happened twelve years ago we try fruitlessly to what appears to be the problem, but isn't the problem at all. If we could correctly identify what the problem was, then the compensating problem would go away.

I know that my wrist, after being out of place for over ten years, will not be better tomorrow, or next week. It may take years for what is normal to feel normal again.

1 comment:

FatcatPaulanne said...

Very good analogy.

You should get this published in a magazine or something.