These last few weeks have been difficult. Jess has been grinding her teeth. Like nails on a chalkboard, this sound makes me cringe. As it became increasingly constant, it felt like Chinese water torture. When she started grinding her teeth at the dinner table, I couldn’t take it anymore, she pushed me over the edge and I asked her to leave.
Bruxism can manifest due to anger, anxiety, frustration, stress or tension. Jess didn’t appear to be suffering from any of these issues, however, this was some sort of coping strategy but what was causing this distress?
When issues arise, all I can do is chain backward. For the last few months, Jess has been taking Miralax for chronic constipation. At first, it worked and gave her relief. We then used the generic version. After a month, Jess started to have night-time incontinence. This did not make sense. Out of desperation, I googled Miralax side-effects and discovered that it is an uncommon symptom. Since we hadn’t had problems with the brand, we stopped the generic and returned to the brand name. We had been advised that Jess could stay on a low daily dose without side effects.
The following month, the teeth grinding began. It got so bad, she stopped eating her meals. Again, we chained backwards and took her off the Miralax. Within three days, the grinding decreased and today she was back to her happy self with no grinding.
We did ask Jess “where it hurt” and she put her hand on her lower abdomen. I asked her if she wanted to go to the doctor and she said no (on her Talker). Though we presume competence when Jess uses her Talker, there is an aspect that often isn’t considered. When someone is non-verbal and we don’t understand what they are trying to say, it can be assumed that they don’t understand us, however, more often than not, it is because we don’t understand them.
When Jess was grinding her teeth, she would glare at me. I thought she was angry with me and felt it was something she could control. I must confess, I get mad at Jess when she does things that annoy me. Of course, I feel like the worst parent in the world when I realize the cause of the problem, she was not at fault and that I was wrong. The one thing I know for certain is that there is a reason for every behavior. It’s my job to sleuth out the answer.
Yesterday Jess was watching a movie with subtitles. It was in Spanish. She was laughing in all the right places.You’d think after so many years, I’d learn to give her the benefit of the doubt and stop underestimating her. She’s always surprising me with what she knows and I need to stop questioning her abilities.
Hopefully, I’m learning my lesson. There is a reason for everything.
PS- Jess is on a special diet to help with her slow-moving gut. We’ve cut out carbs (bread, pasta), we’ve reduced 98% of her sugar intake. She loves salads and veggies. The first line of defense is diet. Unfortunately, I didn’t balance the fiber with enough liquid, It takes months to get the gut right after going so far off the rails. Seems I’ve been down this road before.