Before the Medicine
Ah, sick days.
In my childhood they meant being able to stay home with my mom, snuggling, and drinking Ginger Ale (does that really have any medicinal properties? I got it every time I was sick no matter the ailment. Maybe it’s a southern thing…). Just laying in bed all day watching Cinderella, Legend, and The Neverending Story on repeat and mom occasionally checking in on me and bringing me fresh compresses and fluffing my pillows while I drifted to and fro from dreamland.
Childhood memories are so overrated.
Let me start off by saying that Jp is a relatively healthy kid. Well, as healthy as a person can be that spends the vast majority of their time playing with things and going to places where other children sneeze on, cough on, and put everything they see into their little germ filled mouths. I attribute this to my belief that over sterilizing everything actually brings about more illness. Being the science geek that I am and always have been, I was an active participant in the state Science Fairs in high school. We’re not talking about the exploding volcano here, either. I saw a National winner in Microbiology that discussed and proved the affects of germ reproduction in sterile environments vs. the reproduction levels in clean environments. I’ve never shaken it. And don’t even get me started on sponges or washcloths…but I am getting off track here as usual.
Back to the subject at hand. Scoff as you will at my methods but Jp has only run one other fever in his lifetime that was classified as more than low grade teething fever. Ear infection and this one. The ear infection was one night of sheer terror and trauma and then the antibiotics kicked in, also it was around one and he hadn’t developed his food aversion yet so medicine was no problem.
But now. Oh, but now…
This last couple days has been nothing short of a stress test worthy of NASA. After making it through, I am fully qualified to be shot into space. This level of insanity would break most grown men down into sobbing, crying messes. When Jp’s fever hit on Friday morning, it was as though all of the progress he has made in the last months went straight out of the front door-along with my sanity. We were back to the nonsensical fits, the echolalia, the screaming with no bargaining to be had, the refusal to eat or drink anything, the lining up of objects, the sensory aversions to an extreme degree…some pretty standard toddler behavior and some just Jp’s special way of being sick since I can’t explain to him what being sick is. I can’t make him understand that it will get better. While there are days that his receptive language disorder goes mostly unnoticed by me, as it has become the new normal for us, this was not that time. I would have given anything to have him be able to understand any of the things I was trying to convey to him.
Seriously. Anything. An arm? Have you seen Soul Surfer? If she can surf with no arm surely I can live without one. Just please, please, please make him understand if he doesn’t drink the water, the Gatorade, the Pedialyte, or the juice he is going to have to go to the hospital to push fluids and that is what he will really hate. Please drink the water, buddy, please. I lived in constant fear for two days that he was going to dehydrate. I sat next to him with a 3 different cups of fluids trying to coerce him into a sip for days.
Then it was what I will call, “The Pantry Drama”. He was sick and hungry but couldn’t decide what he wanted no matter how many times that we went to the store. This is how these conversations went for two whole days:
Jp: Want. *tears*
Me: What do you want?
Jp: Want *tears*
Me: Can you show me?
Jp: Show me *tears*
Me: Do you want something to eat?
Jp: Eat *tears*
Me: Do you want to help me? What can I get for you?
Jp: For you *tears*
You’re getting the point here. I could never figure out what he wanted since all he could do was repeat what I said back to me. Also, I am quite sure he didn’t know anyway. He was just uncomfortable and sick and knew he wanted something but nothing was making him feel better.
Except the one thing on the planet that he refused -flat the heck refused– to go anywhere near. Medicine. Jp has some severe food aversions. Namely, all fruits, vegetables, and meat. There are a few exceptions…but food and drink has always been a major struggle for us. So I took to the autism forums which is where I get all of my inspirations for getting the additional nutrients he needs into him since he doesn’t eat half of the food groups required. I tried it all. I bought every flavor of medicine on the market, put it in food and juice, bought the dissolving tabs and told him it was candy, and when that didn’t work I crushed them up and put them in his favorite juice. Nothing. Absolutely nothing was working and I could see that back molar that he was pushing was brutally painful-all red and swollen. He was hysterical. Crazy pants, off the wall, screaming like a banshee with a hernia, hold-your-ears-’cause-this-is-gonna-be-a-bumpy-ride, hysterical. So finally, we did the last resort thing on the forum. We wrapped him in a papoose and held him down and syringed it into his throat.
Oh, the agony!
When I was a child I would hear that old adage when I was being punished, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.”. This is the first time that I understood it. It had to be done. There was no other way that I could get it into him and I spent half a day trying while he felt worse and worse. But holding him down and making him was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do as a parent (worse even than the eye test when he was a 5 lb pound preemie and I almost smacked the doctor out of pure instinct and made her take the contraption off of him). I have no issue with discipline for misbehavior but here was my sick baby and I was perpetuating this madness on him and I can’t even explain it to him. I have never worked on sickness vocabulary, I haven’t needed to yet. There is nothing I will ever hate as much as a mom more than I hate doing that.
Though when he was running around playing twenty minutes later and I saw a glimpse of his normal self I was glad that it had been done.
Though each and every time I cried with him. I cried because it is just so unfair to make him do this, even though it was for his own betterment. I cried for my poor child that didn’t understand why the two people he trusts more than anything were forcing him to do something that he didn’t want when he already didn’t feel well.
Yes, I would have given an arm to be able to rationalize with him the last few days, given any appendage to have him understand that we weren’t trying to hurt him. How frightened he must have been, no matter how many times we told him that we loved him, and I had to tell myself (over and over) that since he felt so much better afterward that NOT doing it was me being selfish since I didn’t want to feel the pain of frightening him and it actually didn’t do him any favors because without it he was so uncomfortable and miserable. I kept repeating it like a mantra. Though it still broke my heart every single time he looked up to me because I am the one that is supposed to save him from pain -I am the one that whisks him away from the awful pediatrician when she gives him shots; the one that picks him up when another child pushes him on the playground- and with lids full of tears he plead with me with his tiny brown eyes, “Why?!”.
Oh, the unparallelled agony.
This morning he woke up and ate not one, but two strawberry waffles. Drank an entire cupful of water without me standing over him and begging. I’m feeling pretty good right now. We will have to wait and see what the day brings us…but I am hoping we are in the upswing of this (crossing fingers and praying). I hate to see my poor baby in so much pain!
After the medicine…finally comfortable! (And I’m a little more sane..)
I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.