I have been volunteering at Children's Hospitals & Clinics for two years now and I love it. They have been so good to my kids and my entire family, I have great respect for the staff there and just love them all. I serve on a few committees and also speak on different panels. In my career in education and as a youth worker, I have spoken in public and at conferences a million times in front of small groups and large groups. I have presented to school boards where my job is on the line, on budget issues, on very edgy diversity issues, presented to several thousand at national conferences, presented at conferences- what I'm saying, is that I am fairly comfortable speaking in front of groups.
So about a week ago, I had the opportunity to present with about 5 or 6 other moms to the Board of Directors at Children's on the Family as Partners program at Children's, along with the Coordinator of the program. We met twice to prepare for this presentation. Each of us were speaking for 2-3 minutes, and we were just sharing about the projects that we are involved with at Children's. Easy as pie. I could talk about this in my sleep, right? You would think.
We had a nice Powerpoint that had been put together. When it was my turn, I got up there, and started babbling like a total drunk fool. I sounded incoherent and was having a hard time finding words or making sense. A few of the Dr.'s who were there and a little bit familiar with me and what I was trying to say were trying to fill in the blanks for me. The Coordinator of the program finally told me to move on to the next bullet point. I finally had to excuse myself and just go sit down.
It was horrible. I have never ever had that happen. I sat down. The next parent got up and started her turn. I sat there and was wondering what just happened. I then got up and went out in the hall and went to the bathroom. I was feeling fine, I didn't feel emotional, or weird or anything. My brain felt clear for the most part, but I could not figure out why I completely lost all of my words and thoughts when I was in front of the podium. It was the most bizarre thing that has ever happened to me. I was totally embarrassed. I wanted to leave, but I didn't want to freak out the ladies, so I grabbed a drink from the coffee shop and waited. They all came out, thinking I would be a basket case, and I wasn't. I should have been. Again, I was completely embarrassed. But I wasn't feeling like a wreck.
Eventually I went home. I got home, processed the event, felt even more embarrassed. I had been to an emotional Dr. appt before the speaking event, but that wasn't what was getting to me. It was all too weird. Then, the phone rings, and it was the very kind Dr. who is in charge of Children's calling to see if I was OK. That is how stupid I looked. Even more embarrassing!!!! Ha. How nice is that. Yes, I told him I was fine. Thanks for calling and making me feel even more dumb. :) Gee whiz.
Then I emailed the three Dr.'s that I work really closely with on a committee to tell them that I blew the report as they knew I was going to be talking about our committee. We have a lot of fun smarting off and I knew they would get a kick out of my goof up. They all responded with love of course. After that, I needed to send an email to the Dr. who is in charge of the ER for Children's to ask him to write an article for our newsletter and it needed to sound professional, so I needed to put some thought into it. This email took me forever to write. You would have thought I was drunk as I was typing this email. I kept having to delete and rewrite this email. It honestly took me over an hour to write. I finally realized that something was wrong with me.
I was having cognitive issues. And then it hit me. I am on a med called Topamax for migraines. I started it in January, but my neurologist and I have been increasing the dosage every two weeks as I have had no symptoms, and we have been going to a pretty high dosage. Well, it has obviously hit me. I was functioning normally for the most part, but with the "higher level" functioning skills, I was struggling. I emailed one of the docs to see what she thought, Akila's pediatrician, and she emailed me back and said I was probably right as this med's nick name is "Dopamax" which I remember reading when I first was going on it.
Anyway, I was relieved to figure out what has happened to me. It really was very out of character for me. A three minute presentation on sharing what I have been doing for the past year, a no brainer. Not even something I need to prepare for or memorize if you know what I mean. Everybody kept saying to me that this was an intimidating group. I really didn't feel intimidated. I was way more intimidated when I was presenting to the school board that I worked for and my job was on the line and I was on live community TV and there were was a cross dressing community member in the audience who didn't like my diversity group and wanted our diversity day cancelled and was shouting obscenities at my students and I felt like a mama bear protecting her cubs and I was all of 23. Or when presenting to the school board on my youth center budget and having a hostile board member tearing my budget apart and asking me questions that I had to try to figure out on the spot and sound knowledgeable about.
Needless to say, I backed down on my dosage and came out of the fog. As I sat there that night, I did realize that I was feeling a little foggy. I thought I was just a little tired like us parents just get sometimes. But it was a medication fog. This experience has been a really good empathy lesson for me. One person asked me if it makes me want to take Akila off the meds. Just the opposite. It makes me want to work hard to find the right balance. Topamax really has helped to reduce my migraines. I have not had a vomiting migraine since February and have not had a bad headache since March. That is truly amazing considering that in March, I had a headache over 50% of the days.
The key, is to find the right balance in the meds, and that is what I have done with my topamax, and that is what I need to do with Akila. Meanwhile, I am calling myself the village idiot of Children's! I am co-presenting a training on FASD with a Dr. in June for all of the pediatricians at the general peds clinic and I met with the Dr. last Friday to plan the training. I had to share my speaking flubber with him in case he has heard about so he is not nervous about presenting with me (rightfully so), so I could reassure him that I would have my meds adjusted. He got a kick out of the story and was of course understanding.
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