Evicting the Elephant from the Room!!

An elephant has been living in my room. It’s never had a name and it’s never shared its story but some time ago, it simply moved in and it hasn’t moved out, rudely bailing me up in my own home.

Ever since, I’ve been feeling like a teeny, weenie, terrified mouse scrunched up hiding in the corner too afraid to come out.

After all, how could a tiny, little mouse ever take on such a monstrous elephant? It wouldn’t even need weapons of mouse destruction. It could just sit on me and I’d be flatter than a pancake. I doubt you’d even find my shadow.

Obviously, confronting an elephant is a serious consideration and not something I’d file as an “irrational fear”.

However, costs are mounting and I simply can’t afford to indulge its freeloading consumption any longer. That elephant has to go and I will do whatever it takes to get it out!!

For many years now, the elephant in the room has been my auto-immune disease, which is inconveniently known as dermatomyositis. That elephant moved on now that I’m back in remission. However, as we all know, elephants are very sociable and have fantastic memories. So once you’ve entertained one elephant, word gets around and another one quickly takes its place. You don’t even need to serve peanuts.

While having your own elephant might seem amazing, they’re actually very hard work. It might be fun riding an elephant to work or using it to clean the car, water the garden and even to do a bit of heavy lifting. However, take a serious reality check. Elephants are actually seriously high maintenance!

After all, elephants not only eat and eat and eat and eat. What goes in, must come out.

Talking about what goes in, a handful of lawn mower clippings is hardly going to feed this insatiable beast. Elephants eat 250-300 pounds of food per day on average and in a zoo, a typical adult elephant eats 4-5 bales of hay and 10 – 18 pounds, or 4.5 to 8 kg, of grain. Annually, that’s more than 29,000 kg of hay and 2700 kg of feed per animal. Naturally, buying all this food puts a serious dent in your household budget.

An elephant also needs to be bathed and thery don't exactly fit inside your tub!

An elephant also needs to be bathed and thery don’t exactly fit inside your tub!

Elephants also need to drink and in a drought-ravaged country like Australia, an elephant places an enormous drain on your resources. Their daily water consumption is 25 – 50 gallons per animal, or 100 – 200 litres. Let’s hope you’re not depending on a rainwater tank! I wouldn’t like to run into a thirsty elephant on the rampage!

Obviously, just satisfying the consumption requirements of an elephant, even a metaphorical one, takes an enormous amount of effort.

However, that’s only half the story and to be perfectly honest with you, that’s the better end of the story too!

Elephant Poo.

Elephant Poo.

As I said, what goes in must come out and in the case of a herbivorous elephant…out and out and out!!!!!
An elephant defecates from 12 to 15 times a day, a daily quantity of 220 – 250 pounds. This adds up to a yearly quantity of over 85,000 pounds of manure, more than 40 tons per adult elephant. That’s a huge pile of dung in your room and can become something of a Tower of Babel rising right up to your ceiling and you really wouldn’t want to fall in!!

Yet, that’s not all that comes out either!

Elephants also produce huge amounts of methane gas. Properly equipped, a car could travel 20 miles on the amount of methane produced by one elephant in a single day. That also makes having an elephant in the room, a rather stinky proposition, well beyond the scope of even the strongest air freshners. Urgh!

So after exploring the barest minimum survival, “nothing fancy” requirements of that elephant living in your room, perhaps you, like me, can appreciate that it’s time to send that elephant packing.

No more being nice!!

Miss in hospital waiting for her endoscopy. So brave but she also loved having her own remote control TV!!

Miss in hospital waiting for her endoscopy. So brave but she also loved having her own remote control TV!!

The current elephant in our room is our daughter’s health. She is struggling to eat and is seriously under weight. She’s 9 years old and eats less than 500 calories most days when she should be eating upwards of 1,800. Most of the time, she can only eat very small amounts and then feels sick. She also complains about bread and potato getting stuck in her throat and troubles with reflux.

You can just imagine the stress that we’ve been through having a child who doesn’t eat. She’s now 9 and this has almost been going on almost since birth. Well-intentioned multitudes have told me that they’ve never seen a child starve themselves to death but our daughter has certainly pushed the boundaries. It might just be the gastro bug that’s been going round or our increased awareness, but she seems worse over the last couple of weeks and is arriving home from school looking weak and off-colour but perks up with food and will eat something. At the same time, she’s a pretty active kid so it’s hard to understand where she is getting that energy. It’s been very perplexing.

Late last year, we took matters in hand and over the last couple of weeks she’s had a barium meal test, an endoscopy and a tube into her nose to check her throat. She’s been so brave and gone through this with courage and strength but even though I’ve had these tests myself, it’s awful to watch her suffer. My heart aches for her and I just wish I could simply kiss her and make her better! Yet, I can’t and rather than being the strong rock I’m portraying, I want to cry and cry and cry. Crumble apart like sandcastle being swept away by a sea of tears. A bit melodramatic, I know, but she’s my little girl…our princess!

So for us, dealing with the elephant in the room has meant documenting what she eats and after realising how close she is to running on empty, I’ve bought her some medical food replacement drinks to at least try to bridge the gap while we seek answers.

I know I probably should’ve been looking into her calorie intake before, but I’ve been trying to keep this low key. I don’t want this thing to evolve into an eating disorder and I wasn’t sure that teaching a child who doesn’t eat about calories was a good thing. The same goes with getting on the scales. I also don’t want her feeling bad about herself or thinking that she’s faulty in some way. I would love to be thin but the more I look into how she is, the more I’m noticing that she’s becoming like a car running out of fuel. Moreover, I’m also realising that whatever the elephant in the room might be, identification, classification and treatment are beyond my capabilities.

I don’t know whether my awareness has just increased but she’s seemed worse this last week. She’s come home from school really tired and lethargic a few times. Feeling completely confused, stressed and perplexed; I didn’t even know which doctor to call or whether I should go to emergency or what. I’m trying to limit her doctor’s appointments and so I needed to pick the right doctor out of the hat. After flapping around all week and getting some good advice from the pharmacist and some food replacement drinks, I finally rang her paediatrician yesterday. I was trying to get my story out and convey some sense of urgency but didn’t need to. She gave me an appointment this very Monday. The only thing worse than having to beg and plead for an emergency appointment is being offered one. Then, you know that your worries are really something to worry about.

At the same time, I am so relieved!! Whatever we’re dealing with, we are no longer alone. Our concerns are being taken seriously and help is on its way. Our paediatrician really is excellent and I know he’ll help us navigate whatever this is and find a clear path. We are also fortunate to know two people with delayed gastric emptying, who have been very helpful and supportive. I also expect we’ll be seeing a dietician and other health professionals who’ll enlighten us.

I’m sure that now we’re starting to expose the elephant in the room and reveal it’s true identity, it’ll either take off straight away or deflate from a 4,500 kilo elephant into a mouse-sized ornament.
I sure hope so!!

Thank you to all those of you who are supporting and encouraging me through this journey with our daughter. It is much appreciated and reflects so positively on the bonds of friendship forged through blogging and even though we have never met face-to-face, that we are connected, if not becoming good friends.

Love and blessings,

Rowena xx



20 thoughts on “Evicting the Elephant from the Room!!

  1. maxwellthedog

    There’s nothing tougher than that helpless feeling you get when your kid is sick and there’s nothing you can do. We parents are all ready to be ferocious in defense of the little ones but when you don’t know where to strike back, how to defend or even what the enemy looks like…it’s miserable and then you have the added burden of keeping the upper lip stiff.

    I’m going to “like” this post but actually I don’t like it all because it’s not a happy subject.

    I’m confident little Miss will do well with your care and love and this episode will pass. If there were a switch we could flick to make this disappear from your life, all of us out here in the blog-o-verse would be pushing that switch like crazy.

    Beyond that, thanks for sharing the poo habits of an elephant which is a topic long ignored on these blogs. The weight, frequency and cumulative totals plus methane outputs convinces me we did the right thing when our homeowners’ association voted unanimously to ban elephants from the condos.

  2. Midwestern Plant Girl

    I wish you the best. Autoimmune diseases are the worse. I’m dealing with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, a skin disorder. I had to inform my doctor is what it was. Sad.

  3. lorieb

    good riddance to the elephant! Good luck moving forward, sounds like you are on the right track

  4. roweeee Post author

    That’s quite common with auto-immune diseases…particularly the rare ones. My GP struggled for a long time and referred me to a few people but my uncle is a dermatologist and he diagnosed the dermatomyositis.
    Out of curiosity, are there any findings about the effects of sun exposure or therapeutic laser treatments? I am reading “The Brain’s Way of Healing” by Norman Doidge who wrote: “The Brain which Changes Itself” and he looks at the healing power of sunlight. I am supposed to avoid the sun and some auto-immune diseases flare with sun exposure but it’s just a thought.
    xx Rowena

  5. Minuscule Moments

    Rowena you must all be exhausted, it is so frustrating when you cannot find answers. So hopefully now you have got the ball rolling and that elephant shrinks down to something you can manage day by day until you have all the answers. Knowledge is power and hopefully all will be well soon. You are an amazing mum Im sure your kids already know that. xx

  6. roweeee Post author

    Thanks so much, Kath. We all just try to do our best and have our wins and losses. The irony is that sometimes while I’m working on something for the kids, they’ll want my attention and I’m needing to juggle those competing demands. I actually managed to get a haircut and colour before I took her for an appointment last Thursday. It has been so long since I’ve had my hair done, that my fringe had completely grown out and every one I bump into is complimenting my hair as though it’s never been like this before. It’s just so easy though to pop it up in a ponytail and it took about 2 hours so you do need to put aside a real chunk of time.
    I do feel we are on the homeward track now and I’m going to be completely frank with he doctor and say that it’s too much for us to nut out on our own anymore and that’s actually a really good place for me. I can be her mum and the doctor can be the doctor.

  7. roweeee Post author

    Thanks Tom. In some ways it’s funny discussing what’s going on with our daughter in the very public forum of a blog but for us bloggers, this is just as much our world and our “village” as the friends we meet in person and indeed, I think the people who read my blog certainly know me pretty well, even though you do miss a lot when you don’t have those physical interactions.
    When I told my husband about how I’d really gone into detail about the elephant in the room, he said that it was a metaphor and that wasn’t what was meant. However, I gained an added appreciation of all those hidden costs when we leave the elephant in the room and don’t shoo it out. I know a few of these metaphorical elephants have sat on me in the past.
    For a supposedly sick child, Miss has had a very busy weekend…ice skating, slumber party and another birthday party today. Perhaps, we’ve been giving her too much healthy food and the party food has done her good.
    Hope things at your end are going well.
    Best wishes,
    PS Australia just beat New Zealand in the cricket World Cup. I don’t follow the game but my husband and son love to watch. Stragely, NZ got wiped out so when Australia won, it felt like an anti-climax and quite a walk in the park…none of that gripping tension you get witha close match where you really feel you’ve earned that win. The only other thing I noted in the World Cup as a comment about Australia beating India something along the lines of India has a population of x millions and can’t find 15 cricketers good enough to beat Australia. For me, the best part of the World Cup is the end.

  8. Midwestern Plant Girl

    Thanks for the input!
    I’ve had this for 10 years now with no rhyme or reason as to when I’ll get a flare up. The areas that are effected don’t see the light of day 😃😃 so sunlight may help. It’s been said the same laser used for face acne has helped. I’ve been in remission for about 6 months now. Hot weather usually brings it out, but not always. I’m lucky to have a very light case of this, however I’ve seen horrific images of what this disease can do. Folks needing skin grafts… Yikes!
    I’m going to check out that book. I’ve got other issues to work on also! ! 😉

  9. Minuscule Moments

    Thats exactly right you cannot be everything although I know we try don’t we? I am reminded of myself when you explain how long its been since you had a good haircut and colour. I had mine done the other day and it was way overdue.

  10. roweeee Post author

    Terrible, isn’t it!! I was walking through Surry Hills while I was down for the Sydney Writer’s Festival and found a great sign in a hairdresser’s window: “Laziness be damned. Free the ponytail”. I photographed it along with a few other signs I found in this post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/finding-signs/
    Hope Monday is treating you well. I’m exhausted and off to Sydney for my daughter’s paediatrician appointment. I fell yesterday and of course had to fall on asphalt which grated my skin. It’s the stuff they usually reserve for school playgrounds to guarantee nasty grazed knees. Want to go back to bed!!

  11. merrildsmith

    I replied to your comment on my post, so it sounds like things went well? I do hope your young miss is feeling much better. Time to free that elephant! 🙂 Hugs!

  12. roweeee Post author

    I’ve had a bit of an chocolate onslaught myself!! I don’t know whether you’ve sen the new flavours of Tim Tam in the shops but the coconut flavoured ones are divine!!

  13. roweeee Post author

    I spoke too soon. I always find denial in others so easy to spot and miss the log in my own eye. I’m not going to be able to turn this thing around overnight and she didn’t eat her lunch again today and was cyclonic. Once she settled down enough to eat, she was great but that took quite a long time. I also need to work out ways to support her as she comes to terms with things. It’s all very well when people express themselves calmly over a cup of tea but that’s not generally how it goes. I know I didn’t handle my diagnoses well so why should she? It really makes me feel for families who go through this all the time and I am so grateful that despite the ongoing struggles, things should be improving. Thanks so much for your encouragement and concern!! xx Rowena

  14. Judy

    I really wish you and your daughter the very best in solving this medical mystery. It may have no relationship to your daughter’s gastro issues, but evaluate the foods and the issue of gluten sensitivity…and healthful, high calorie items like avocados. Although, when I was a kid avocado was the enemy. Mom wrecked many a great tossed salad by putting squishy little cubes of the fruit into the mix. Now I think its a miracle food.

  15. roweeee Post author

    Thank you very much Judy. We have been making some progress but the real test will come when she goes back to school. She’s had 2 week’s holiday.

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