Just recently I was reading a blog that I follow – Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog. The title; What’s in my Purse. The post was about the many trips the family has made to the emergency room over the years and what the author learned to carry with her at all times. If you have a minute, check it out.
It made me realize how lucky I am to have made only ONE trip to the ER with DC – that is correct, ONLY ONE! (Knocking wood, Knocking Wood, Knocking Wood). The one trip came at age 21 and for the most ridiculous reason. As you may or may not know, DC is 23 with Autism. Safety is not something he has any awareness of. He IS a little better now that he is older, but he is better because he has been taught not to do this or not to do that, not because he really understands what can happen to him. He doesn’t really understand many things unless/until they actually happen. So not wanting him to get hit by a car in order for him to understand what could happen if he were to be hit by a car….. I have to hope that making rules, and pointing out everything around him, will have some impact on him.
I mean, I have really been lucky (still knocking wood), so much so that we’ve never had to use a Band-Aid. He loves Band-Aids and wants to wear them so much that he just wears them for no reason, or invents a reason the wear them. The one and only time he cut himself when he fell off his bike – yes, he somehow managed to tip over an adult three-wheeled bike – he was so excited to have a big raspberry on his chest, he wasn’t concerned about the fall, he just wanted a Band-Aid. He was so crushed that the raspberry was much too big for a Band-Aid, that I had to make up a reason to apply one to his leg, just to make him happy.
Band-Aids, especially “character-themed Band-Aids” are on his “odd gifts list” along with the rolls of scotch tape, mentioned in an earlier blog.
A few years ago, we took a weekend trip to Hyannis, MA in Cape Cod. He arrived Friday evening. The plan; have dinner and hang out at the hotel on Friday night. Saturday we would take the ferry, and spend the day in Nantucket. Sunday, we planned to stop in and visit one of my oldest friends (from grammar school, believe it or not) before we headed home.
We arrived on Friday evening. DC was happy to be in the hotel. As far as he was concerned, we could just stay there. He loves hotels. Saturday, as planned, we took the ferry to Nantucket. He loved the ferry. We searched out a few book stores as we must (see “Off to the Book Store We Go”), looked around, had lunch and took the last ferry back to the hotel. It was a nice day. We had a good time.
Sunday morning was going to be spent just hanging out in the hotel room until it was time to check out. DC was watching a movie on his kindle, Doug was on the deck and I was packing up the bathroom items. I was only in the bathroom for a few minutes. When I came out, DC was sitting at the desk; right where I left him. He yelled “Mom! Tears.” DC, as a rule almost never has tears, his eyes never water -even when he cries, he rarely has tears. When he is really upset and really crying and wants to make certain I know how upset he is, he will use water or spit to create tears, just for effect. Even as a baby, he did not have tears when he cried. But here I could see he had tears running down his face…… real tears.
I thought possibly his allergies were hitting him harder than usual – Doug had the deck door open and the deck was right on the golf course. “DC, what’s wrong, do you have something in your eye?”
“Mom! Tears! Ear!” On one hand he was excited about the real tears on his face but his excitement was mixed with a bit of panic.
I had no idea what he was trying to tell me. Then he showed me the ear bud from his Kindle. There were rubber covers on the ear buds and one was missing. Panicking, I yelled out to Doug something that probably made no sense, and ran DC into the bathroom. I couldn’t see anything in his ear. DC started to panic now that he realized that I couldn’t get it out right away.
This entire exchange above…. Tears, Ear and showing me the ear bud would normally be cause for celebration – DC being able to tell me that something is wrong and what is wrong is a very BIG deal, but all celebrating had to wait because he was getting more panicky by the second.
I still could not see anything in his ear. I dumped everything that I had just packed out and could not find the tweezers. I sent Doug down to the front desk to ask for a flashlight and tweezers, while I tried to keep DC’s fingers out of his ears and tried keep him from flipping out any more than he already was. Doug came back; the desk had no tweezers (?) and no flashlight (?).
We took DC down to the desk, he would be okay for a minute or two and then he would freak out. The man behind the counter did not seem to understand what we were talking about. I am sure he thought we were all crazy. I was somewhere between panic and laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of the whole situation while DC was making very loud noises, yelling out random words, flapping, stimming and doing everything else that comes with his anxiety. I’m not sure what the man at the desk thought was going on and why we needed a flashlight and tweezers, but seeing DC in the middle of the lobby absolutely loosing it; he looked frightened and asked his assistant to go check again. She came back with no flashlight and no tweezers. Seriously, what hotel doesn’t have a flashlight?
I was so trying to avoid the Emergency Room. It hadn’t been all that long since DC finally became comfortable with doctors. I didn’t want a long and scary emergency room visit to erase the years of progress he had made. The other issue was it was his EAR! For years, when we went to the doctor, he would get unbelievably upset and totally meltdown if anyone went near his ears. I remember one of the doctor’s assistants, who was either new to the office or had not had to deal with DC getting his ears checked saying, “Oh! I was wondering why we had to bring extra trash cans into the examining room! I get it now!” – Yes, every single time, he would get so worked up, screaming and fighting that he would vomit. This went on for years. The very last thing I wanted to do was to bring him to an emergency room to have someone poke around in his ear.
The desk clerk gave us directions to the nearest pharmacy and we took directions to the ER too, just in case.
I rode in the back seat with DC to keep him from pushing the ear bud in farther. Doug ran in to the pharmacy to buy the tweezers and flashlight. Now we are all in the backseat of the car, armed with a flashlight and tweezers, trying to see inside his ear. I can’t imagine what the other people in the parking lot must have been thinking. DC had enough at this point and was not cooperating at all anymore…and….. I still could not see anything.
I knew we had to suck it up and head for the Emergency Room. I still wasn’t positive that there was anything in his ear at all. Did he just think that it went into his ear and it was really just on the floor somewhere at the hotel? I didn’t know, but he was so out of control, I had to assume it was in there somewhere.
We arrived at the emergency room. It was a weekend in a tourist area; I was expecting hundreds of people waiting. I didn’t know how I was going to keep him calm and keep his hands away from his ear while we waited. We walked through the door and there was only ONE person in the entire waiting room! I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad sign but I was going with good. I took him to the desk and explained the situation to the clerk. One look at him flailing around and she asked if he needed to be sedated. I told her (with fingers crossed) that he would not.
They took us right in! (I love this place). They put DC in a bed, the doctor came and checked his ear. DC LET him check his ear! He really must have wanted this thing OUT! He told me he could see it but it was in there deep and he would need to use another tool to get at it. All I could think was “No way he is going to let you do that!” but I SAID “Okay, he’ll be fine with it”.
I explained the situation to DC and told him what was going to happen, not really knowing if he would understand what I was telling him, but he said “Yes! Ear!”, so I think he did understand.
The doctor went in with some sort of funnel-looking thing. I was truly amazed that DC was cooperating and keeping still. He was finally able to get the thing out. Of course DC had to examine it completely before they got rid of it, just to be sure, I suppose, that it was out.
DC calmed down immediately and we made a big deal about how brave he’d been! All of my worrying about the doctor, his ears, traumatizing him with an ER visit was for nothing. He was totally unscathed by the whole thing and was very proud to tell people that he had been in the ‘hos – i – bull”.
We were done and over it in time to get back to the room, finish packing – where he wanted to put those things right back into his ears!
“NO, NO, NO!” a thousand times, no.
We were also able to visit my friend as planned.
I went on a hunt for new ear buds without any rubber or removable parts as soon as we got home.
Coincidentally, as I was writing this story, DC received a belated birthday gift from one of my friends. This gift included two boxes of character Band-Aids that DC is already wearing proudly.