Thursday, December 15, 2011

A great therapist is worth her weight in gold

As I've noted this past few weeks, we've been in a bit of a funk around here.  And as I've noted in a very recent entry, I've been driving DJ crazy with my game of "20 Questions." So, when DJ had her appointment with her therapist, I took advantage of the opportunity to talk with DJ about this with her therapist, who we'll call....this a tough one because I don't know her personally which makes picking an apropos nickname difficult...Disc Jockey, because she has a mellifluous voice which sounds like she should be on the radio.

DJ and I sat down in Disc Jockey's office and I began by saying how bothersome I knew I was being but I needed to be able to check in with DJ to see how she was doing.  Now, as liberal, and able to see shades of gray as I'd like to think I am, it seems that when I would pose questions to DJ about her frame of mind, her mood, etc., I would be pretty black and white.  And blunt, very, very blunt.  I guess I wanted to "cut to the chase" so to speak and find out how unhappy, or not, DJ was feeling.

Bulldog and I both have fire and rescue backgrounds.  Currently, he is retired from the fire department, but works as a contractor for the federal government with issues like emergency preparedness.  I have made the following joke a million times, but it's worth saying again, here:  Bulldog has the perfect job because he gets to tell people what to do all day long and not only do they LIKE it, but they pay him to do it.  I, on the other hand, am currently employed as a firefighter/paramedic.  Our poor children have been subject to so many safety talks, lectures, horror stories and practices of preparedness that we have scared any of them off from ever pursuing similar careers.  And we often approach issues in daily life as if they are emergency scenes that we must mitigate.  This approach works really well if your house is on fire, or you are trapped inside of a car that has rolled over 4 or 5 times.  You would appreciate our blunt, get- to- the- heart- of- the- matter- so- we- can- fix- it- immediately method of incident mitigation.  But Disc Jockey pointed out, ever so gently, that perhaps I could find a different way of checking in to see how DJ is feeling.

She suggested using a "tool"-AWESOME-I am all about finding a tool to make things work better.  It's me through and through:

Can't find the paprika when you need it?  No problem, they make the perfect little shelves for spices.  I would further suggest alphabetizing them.

What's that?  You can't get out of your car because the doors are jammed shut after your wreck?  If I can't whack and pry your door open with my haligan bar, we can get out some hydraulic shears that will get you out in a jiffy.

You're having massive chest pain?  Believe it or not, I know of a tool that will help me figure out just how bad your pain is.  The Pain Scale.  "0"= no pain, "10"=the worst pain you've ever felt IN YOUR LIFE.

I can't help but wonder if Disc Jockey was attempting to encourage DJ to use a tool, or language, that DJ's literal-minded mother could understand, and was simultaneously "tossing me a (figurative) bone" (especially since she had just used that phrase in encouraging DJ to be a little more forthcoming with information) because she actually suggested using the Pain Scale as a tool so that DJ could give me quick but concise information about how she was doing without requiring a summit with heads of state in attendance.

Knowing how DJ's cute little mind works, and that I'm a sucker for goofiness, I suggested the Pediatric Pain Scale, which assigns little cartoon faces ranging from super happy to uber sad so that small children can describe how they're feeling.  Disc Jockey was thinking the very same thing and DJ approved.

Now we're both relieved:  DJ will not be subject to "20 Questions" but can provide me with the solid feedback I need to gauge how she's doing.  DJ, however, has decided to modify the pictograms.  At this juncture, a really good day will feature pictures of "unicorns, fairies and rainbows" while a really bad day will somehow depict a "chaotic zombie apocalypse", to quote her verbatim.  How she will depict feeling kind of blah or middle of the road, I haven't a clue.  But she has promised that when she draws this up that I can scan it and post it on this blog.

A really great therapist will help you navigate through your needs as a parent and your transgender child's need's.  Disc Jockey not only figured out that we needed a tool, but she helped us to come up with a solution that worked and helped us to keep our good will and senses of humor intact.  We left her office, both of us, feeling uplifted.  We celebrated with a great meal, the first time I've seen DJ really enjoy a meal in weeks.  High five to Disc Jockey!!

For a list of suggested therapists, by state, who are experienced in working with transgender kids, check the list of links and go to the "Laura's Playground" link, I believe it's under "Transgender resources".