Chronic Illness and Homeschooling High School, Interview with Tricia Soderstrom

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Chronic Illness and Homeschooling High School, Interview with Tricia Soderstrom.

Chronic Illness and Homeschooling High School, Interview with Tricia Soderstrom #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #HomeschoolingWithChronicIllness #TriciaSoderstrom

Chronic Illness and Homeschooling High School, Interview with Tricia Soderstrom

Sometimes life hands out challenges that we would rather not face. Chronic illness is one of those challenges that can make day-to-day functioning challenging. One of the most common chronic illnesses is Lyme Disease, which can be so debilitating physically and mentally. In fact, the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that 86% of healthcare spending goes toward treating chronic illness and that 31.5% of Americans are living with multiple chronic illnesses.

We have been thinking about our homeschool mom-friends who are successfully homeschooling their high schoolers (and youngers) while dealing with chronic illnesses. Vicki contacted our friend, Tricia Soderstrom, of Abounding in Hope with Lyme to share some encouragement and tips.

Tricia Soderstrom

Tricia Soderstrom, photo used with permission

 

Tricia was a mom of four kids. She has three homeschool graduates and one middle schooler.

When Tricia was pregnant with her youngest she started having symptoms of exhaustion. Her obstetrician told her it was related to her age (because she was close to forty years old by that time). Unfortunately after her son was born, her symptoms became worse. Her fatigue was overwhelming, even to the point of sleeping so deeply she did not hear her baby crying at night. Her husband would have to wake her up.

Then she began having so much pain that she had difficulty holding the baby and moving around. She began experiencing brain fog and having difficulty with her memory.

Her oldest was twelve years old at the time and her next oldest was ten. They and her husband were enormous helps during that time. (Especially important was her husband’s prayer and support.)

She pushed her doctors but most of them discounted her symptoms, saying that Tricia was simply “stressed out”. She spent two years going to specialists trying to get an answer to these challenging symptoms. Finally she found a doctor who listened to her and tested and began treating her for Lyme Disease.

Vicki points out that she has seen this type of thing happen with several of her counseling clients who have chronic illnesses. The illnesses are often discounted as anxiety or depression and left untreated until, after long searching, the client finds a doctor who will listen and help. Vicki points out that anxiety or depression may occur along with a chronic illness, as a side effect of the illness or related to the frustration of being ignored by doctors.

However, counseling will not cure a physical illness. Counseling helps with the anxiety and depression, but it is not going to fix illnesses that doctors need to fix. So, yes, get counseling for the anxiety or depression but also push for the treatment you need from your doctors.

During the most difficult times of her illness, Tricia’s family made adjustments:

  • Her husband took charge of being homeschool supervisor and resource manager.
  • They switched from lots of library-books/real-book approach to homeschooling, to using the simpler “canned” curriculum, where her kids could open the book and do the daily work.
  • They moved from a daily structure/schedule, to a more organic homeschooling rhythm.
  • They moved from a high expectation (of mom, for herself in her part of homeschooling) to an acceptance of doing “good enough” homeschool-momming.
  • They gave their homeschoolers lots of free-time for interest-led learning and self-directed learning.
  • They maintained a few important outside-the-home activities, such as piano lessons because they were important to the kids.

With chronic illness: adjust curriculum, adjust expectation, hold onto grace. Tricia Soderstrom. Homeschool Highschool Podcast #HomeschoolHighschoolPodcast #HomeschoolingWithChronicIllness

Vicki reminds listeners that we do not live in a storybook world. When hard things happen, we adjust the best we can. Graciousness and humility are important character traits for hard times. Lowering high expectations and doing “good enough” are important for real life.

Within a couple of years, Tricia’s oldest daughter was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. One by one, all her kids picked up Lyme or PANS. Then her husband was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

Now that her kids were sick, the family had to adjust their homeschooling expectations again. It was a hard time, but again, they adjusted their expectations and curriculum.

While the entire family was sick, Tricia concentrated on:

  • Doing what they COULD do for homeschooling. (She kept realistic goals for the circumstances.)
  • She studied her homeschoolers:
    • To know them well
    • To be their cheerleader
    • To encourage them in God’s word and His love
    • To pray for them
  • To build on what they could do, rather than worry about what they cannot do

Tricia has some tips for organizing important family information:

  • Keep a notebook or journal that includes:
    • Each person had a section that includes
    • Daily health (with chronic illness, this is a daily log)
    • Their medications
    • Doctor visits and testing

Tricia could walk into a doctor’s office with the notebook. This helped the doctor diagnose her youngest kids and keep up with the family’s health.

BTW- As Tricia would explain her notebook to audiences at her speaking engagements, people began asking for help creating their own notebooks. Tricia created the ebook:

Risk Management for the Homeschool Mom (check this out along with Tricia’s other resources at Abounding in Hope with Lyme).

Trica keeps her family organized with:

  • Chore charts
  • Bills and account information in a notebook

Vicki points out that teens benefit by keeping personal journals that help them become self-aware, including daily asking themselves the 3W’s:

  • What am I feeling?
  • Why am I feeling that way?
  • What am I going to do about it?

This helps teens “become their own scientists”, to know themselves well, and to be able to care for themselves well or advocate for themselves well.

Visit Tricia Soderstrom at:

Join Vicki and Tricia Soderstrom for an encouraging and help chat about chronic illness and homeschooling high school. Also check out these resources:

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Chronic Illness and Homeschooling High School, Interview with Tricia Soderstrom

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