Camp, Old Friends and a Little Bit of Anxiety

Yesterday was the first day of summer camp for DC and Salli. DC has talked about nothing else since I told him he would be going on Thursdays and Fridays for the summer. I did not tell him too early because…….

enough said.

He was excited, to say the least.

Not only would he be going to camp but his his favorite ex-group leader, “Giselle” (everyone is named for a Disney character or Princess) would be taking the head position in the after camp program this year!

What you need to know about DC is that no matter how much he wants to go somewhere or how much he is looking forward to going, there is always an element of anxiety that hits him when he arrives…. I like to call it “Arrival Anxiety”.

This anxiety is not anything new with DC, it just seems to be a little more intense, and dare I say, loud since he has been on his seizure medication. It is as if someone flips a switch and there it is. It can be brought on by anything or nothing at all. It just “is”.  It also takes him a little bit longer to shake it off now-a-days. For camp drop off, this means a big production until the switch gets flipped back and I am able to leave.

My other concern was that DC, as soon as he heard he’d be going back to camp, began asking for his friend Ron (see story below). Ron had moved out of state a few years ago but still came up to visit his aunt (who was the camp director) and volunteer at camp each summer. With his aunt stepping down as director I was not sure that Ron would be volunteering any longer.

I tried to prep DC ahead of time, just in case Ron was not there this year. He seemed to understand, but with DC one never knows if he is “getting it” until he’s faced with whatever I was hoping he was understanding.

I saw that flip switch before we even left the house.

“Please DC, don’t do this today. Try to calm down and breathe before we get there”. Yes, I know that I can’t just talk someone out of anxiety, but still one can hope.

By the time we picked up Salli, he was “roaring and growling”. It wasn’t looking good.

Somewhere between Salli’s house and camp, he turned a corner and he was just the happy, goofy guy he had been before he went ’round the bend earlier at home. It stops and starts just that quickly, with no warning and often no explanation.

I did not know what snapped him out of it in the car but I was relieved for the moment. I knew that this did not necessarily mean it was over as we hadn’t actually “arrived” yet,  but I was hopeful.

Still holding my breath, we pulled into the driveway and got out of the car….. and there was Ron!

ALL HAIL the the Spirit of Chief Gotchabagollie (it’s a camp thing, don’t try to figure it out)!!!!

They hugged each other and DC announced something like “It’s a beautiful day” – that was not exactly what he said, but I knew what he meant and his day was now made.

As DC would say; Phew!

More about Ron and DC (from 2015)

Best Camp Ever!

Yesterday was DC’s last day of camp. The last day is also always “Awards Day”. When DC came home I asked him if he got an award. He said he did. He didn’t have anything with him so I asked him where it was – “At the camp”. (I don’t know if he actually won an award). I asked him what award he won…..
“Best Camp Ever!”

I am sure he did not win an award for “the best camp ever” although he reported it that way to more than one person. I do know that he was really excited about camp that day.

Feeling bad that he had to miss so much of the little bit of time he was scheduled to go to camp this year, I arranged for him to attend on the last two days instead of just his scheduled Friday. It did not make up for the rest of the summer but at least he would be there two days in a row during the last week.

When I called to ask if he could attend the extra day the director let me know that her nephew *Ron would be there volunteering that week. Ron is one of DC’s favorite people at the camp. Ron has been around and volunteering for quite a few years. Like most of the volunteers, he spent a good part of his summers at camp.

DC really, really likes Ron and when DC likes someone – he really LIKES them, to a point that he really needs to be reeled in so as not to frighten the subjects of his admiration. DC really does not understand that not everyone wants to be hugged, not everyone wants him right in their face all of the time. He gets so excited over these chosen few that I really worry that he will end up pushing them away. You have not experienced fear until you see this guy come barreling at you at full speed.  Even though at this point I know he is running to give me a hug and even though I know he will be able to stop before mowing right over me,  as he is coming at me and in the moment, I am still convinced that he is going to knock me into the next town.

The friends that he sees often are used to this and because he sees them often do not always get the in-your-face DC…… not continuously, anyway. There are a chosen few that he does not get to see all that often, that really get the full DC-experience. If I know we may be coming in contact with any of these people ahead of time, I do try to have a conversation with him before we arrive.

He is supposed to ask permission of the person before hugging, unless of course it is someone we have already established does not mind being on the receiving end of that back crushing hug. Normally when I have to make a rule, DC is good about adhering it. This particular rule seems to give him a bit of trouble. He just gets too excited to think about the rules.

He has had a few experiences where someone was absolutely NOT happy with DC’s attention.  In one instance it caused a schoolmate to have meltdown. This upset DC for days. He doesn’t understand. It is not clear to him why he can hug some friends and not others. Some just try to avoid him, a few put up with it because they understand and others do not mind at all and actually are happy to see him. Ron is in the “happy to see him” group.

A few years ago, Ron moved down south with his family. DC continued to look for him at camp and every camp event throughout the year. As soon as he was aware that a winter camp activity was coming the very first question would be about Ron. It took a good long while for him to understand that he had moved far away. I am still not sure that he quite understands ‘moved away’ but he does finally understand that Ron will not be there all the time as he once was.

Ron does come back on vacation to visit his aunt during the summer and comes to volunteer while he is here. In case you missed that…… He spends his vacation volunteering at the camp. Impressed? I certainly am.

DC was so happy to hear that Ron would be there and I am so glad I opted for that extra day. Ron doesn’t seem to mind having DC all over him all day. He is very good with him and I don’t feel as if I have to give DC too many instructions beforehand because I know Ron can handle it.

Halfway through the last day of camp I received a text from the assistant director with this photo.

camp 20151

 

I know that DC did not win “The Best Camp Ever” award. I am sure he was telling me that he had the best day at camp ever  –  and a good part of that due to his friend Ron.

*****

*Name changed

 

 

 

 

Everything is related …. Camp “Special Days”

special-days

DC’s summer camp sports a calendar chock full of “special days” or themed days. Every single day is some sort of theme, if not a theme then a cookout or a group day (meaning each group gets a special day during the camping season). Every day on the calendar is filled with something.

DC, being DC loves themes and loves nothing more than wearing a costume. Not all days require a costume, but he loves going to camp wearing something specifically for that day.

Most of the Special Days are easy for him to get excited about and relating things, places and activities to his beloved Disney (and other) movies and characters makes it fun for him.

– Everything being related, many times, is the ability to relate one movie or actor to another. This has helped him to be more open to watching something that may not be Disney-based. This was not always the case, but now he can go and enjoy a movie with his friends or at an ARC activity without issue……..

Everything being related, oftentimes just explains his love for a particular city, game, song or some of the many other things that he does or says.

Some of the Special Days at Camp are:

  • Pirate Day, which of course he relates to Captain Hook, Captain Jack Sparrow and even the Dread Pirate Roberts.
  • Luau Day – Lilo and Stitch – what else?
  • luau glassesluau day
  • Western Day relates to Toy Story
  • Chief Day complete with a visit from Chief Gotchbagollie, the elusive Chief that lives in the “forest” behind the camp who ventures out of said forest only once a year –  for him relates directly to Tiger Lily in Peter Pan.Chief
  • Super Hero Day – DC has little interest in Super Heroes but he does love his patriotic songs so Captain America always   works in a pinch (but only after he out-grew his Captain Hammer shirt)
  • And of course, the beloved Hat Day which needs no relating. He just loves wearing silly hats.

 

A few years ago the directors felt the need to change things up a bit and added 80’s day and 90’s day (these days have since been combined into one day called “The Battle of the Decades”). Now, I can dress DC up in anything and he would go with it, but I really like him to understand and know what he’s wearing, so these additional days took some thought. He has more fun and gets into it more when he can relate the theme to something else and I wanted to be sure he could.

After giving it some thought, I realized that 80’s day would be relatively easy and better still, easy for DC to relate.

There are only a handful of songs that DC knows and likes from nowhere else but the radio. Almost everything else he likes musically has a connection to Disney, a movie or one of his TV shows. It always surprises me when he tells me to stop changing radio channels so that he can hear a particular song. Even then, most of the time the song is from a movie. The few that I have not been able to determine the DC connection are:

Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz (I’m going to guess that he likes it because, in his mind it’s about flying)

‘Don’t worry ’bout’ (DC-speak) otherwise known as December – Collective Soul

Light Shine Down – also from Collective Soul

‘Don’t you cry no more’ (DC-speak) otherwise known as Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas

‘Roses on a grave’ (DC-speak) otherwise known as Kissed by a Rose – Seal. I do know this song was in a Batman movie, but he has no interest in Batman and has never seen the movie.

We’re not gonna take it – Twisted Sister

Sister Christian – Night Ranger (I’ll admit that this one is only because I am obnoxious when it comes on the radio and I make him sing it with me).

The reason I am telling you all of this is because DC is definitely my “Broadway Baby” and he has seen quite a few Broadway shows. 99% of the shows we see are DC-related. On Mother’s Day 2012 it was Mom’s choice for a change and I wanted to see Rock of Ages. Doug and I weren’t sure that DC would be able to sit through it. I went on-line to find the song list and was happy to discover that “We’re not gonna take it” and “Sister Christian” were on the list. Also on the list were “We Built This City”, which he loves from “*The Muppets” – Any Way You Want It; **Glee and of course “Don’t Stop Believing” also from Glee but more importantly from Adam Sandler’s “Bed Time Stories”.

All relatable enough for him that he did sit through it and he loved it. He loved it so much that he saw it again for a second time locally with his friend BB and he owns the ***movie version.

I also have to mention that DC wants nothing more than to have long hair. Unfortunately his hair grows out instead of down so being able to wear his Rock of Ages shirt AND a wig to camp……. priceless.

Rock of Ages

80's Day

 

80’s day was a hit that year and the following year. Even though it was 80+ degrees both years, he insisted upon wearing the wig all day long.

Although the concept of ‘decades’ is not something DC understands, he knew he what he was wearing. He did not understand that the wig and the music and oh, I completely forgot – the tattoo arm sleeves were about the 80’s, he just knew that all of was related to a show and songs that he liked.

90’s Day was proving to be more difficult. I could not come up with anything, so I resorted to thinking about the songs he liked. While I was thinking about that and out of the clear blue sky I remembered the day not that long before this when he came running downstairs and through the living room yelling “I’m going to be late for the Smashing Pumpkins concert!”

What?!?!?!?!?!?!

“I am late for the Smashing Pumpkins concert!”

When he comes out with something random and odd like that I always have to ask what movie or show it is from, because it always is from a movie or a show.

“Sabrina”

Okay, I got it. Sabrina the Teenage Witch. (He has the entire series; he loves witches because they relate to Halloween and if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that in this house we LOVE Halloween). There is an episode entirely devoted to Sabrina trying to go to a Smashing Pumpkins concert. Does he understand who or what Smashing Pumpkins are? I do not think so. I am sure he is imagining people actually smashing pumpkins. I did try to explain that they are a band and that Sabrina wanted to go to see this band play in concert. Did/Does he “get” that? I am not sure. To this day any time any Smashing Pumpkins song comes on the radio, I say “DC, it’s Smashing Pumpkins singing” to which he always replies “Smashing Pumpkins Concert” because that is the way it must always be said.

For 90’s day… it was something – if only relatable to Sabrina, it was something. Thanks to Amazon, I was able to find a Smashing Pumpkins shirt and that was good enough for him.

Smashing Pumpkins Concert

 

“Look DC, I got you a Smashing Pumpkins shirt for 90’s Day at camp”

DC: “Smashing Pumpkins Concert”

“All-righty then…”

New Camp Special Days? We got this….

********************************************************

More “relatables”:

“*The Muppets” – With the exception of Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, the Muppet version of the Frog Prince and the song “Sir Robin the Brave”, DC was never a fan of Sesame Street or the Muppets in general. The one and only reason he is now the Muppets biggest fan is Amy Adams. Amy Adams was in Enchanted (and any princess is related to Disney) and he will now watch anything and everything she is in, including non-Muppet or non-Princess movies like “Leap Year” and “Trouble with the Curve”.

**Glee – Music and dancing always being a plus, he then realized that Mr. Schuester was Sir Harry in “Once Upon a Mattress” – one of his favorites. In addition, Kristin Chenoweth from more of his favorites, “The Music Man” and “Wicked” made quite a few guest appearances. Then of course there was Neil Patrick Harris in a guest spot that tied it all up for him. Neil Patrick Harris being “Dr. Horrible” and Barney from “How I Met Your Mother”.

I was thrilled when he started asking to watch “How I Met Your Mother” because almost all of the television series he does like to watch, like Full House, Sabrina and The Brady Bunch have been off the air for many years. It is nice when he discovers something contemporary that his friends might also be watching. How I Met Your Mother was a windfall of relatables for him. He got there originally because Lilly was Willow on Buffy, but then he discovered Marshall was Garry in The Muppets and of course Barney who we have already covered.

Speaking of Dr. Horrible: Dr. Horrible and Neil Patrick Harris not only brought him to HIMYM but it also brought him to The Big Bang Theory by way of the character “Moist” aka Howard on Big Bang. Next he noticed Penny, who was in his favorite Easter Movie, “Hop” and holding tight to that witch theme; Billie on “Charmed”. The few appearances by Wil Wheaton did not hurt at all. Wil along with Felicia Day (running neck and neck with Amy Adams as the love of his life) appeared in ‘Erica’ (DC-Speak – “Eureka”) and of course played Penny in “Dr. Horrible”.

Eureka: It is just a great show. He loves it. I love it more. For DC, there was Felicia and Wil and they had him interested enough to start watching episodes from the seasons before they appeared. He still watches the animated Christmas Special year-round, with the voice of the sheriff’s car being none other than Sheldon from Big Bang.

One big giant circle of relatability for DC and in all honesty, this is the way he comes to many things in his life, not just TV shows or Special Days at Camp. Relating things for him has helped him adjust and made him more open to a variety of new things.

*****

***movie version – Anyone that knows me well, knows very well that I would never spend money on anything that Tom Cruise is in. I knew he wanted the Rock of Ages movie and I also knew that I would not be buying it for him. He got it only because I added it to his “What does DC want for Christmas” list and one of my friends bought it for him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Camp Day – Silly Hats..

IMG_6137

DC’s favorite day of camp, Hat Day. I tried to talk him into the chicken hat, but he wasn’t going with it. He chose the green hat. He chose this hat because it had the long strings that are like long hair to him. There is nothing he wants more than to have long hair, but unfortunately his hair grows out and not down. He wore the hat. He won an award. Above all else, the morning went so much easier than last year, when I was afraid his favorite day would be ruined. Much easier….

From 2015:

Hat Day

 

Hat Day Today is DC’s first full day at camp. He has attended this camp since he was 5 years old. He loves it. Before he left the school system at age 21, he was able to attend 9 to 3 every day for 7 weeks each summer. Now that he has a “job”, he normally uses some of his allotted vacation time to attend for two weeks of the season.  He does and has always been able to attend the twice weekly after camp program.

He attended when he was at the camp full-time and still attends now after work. Because we took an extra vacation this year, he was not able to take an extra two weeks off to attend camp as he usually does, so I opted for him to go one day a week on Friday in addition to the two “after camp” sessions that do not interfere with his work schedule or his time off. This works out well because I am off from work on Fridays for the summer and I don’t have to figure out and schedule how he will get there each day.

The camp has what they call “Special Days” (more about that in an upcoming ‘Everything is Related’ post) listed on the calendar. Because of DC’s schedule he has missed one of his favorites, Hat Day (or “silly hat day” as DC likes to call it) for the past 3 years. He still has every single construction paper award that he has ever won for his hats on Hat Day and he is very proud of them.

Today happened to be Hat Day. As soon as DC discovered that he would be at camp on Hat Day, it was all that I heard about. We went through his collection of silly hats and he chose the cheeseburger hat.

We arrived at camp and he got himself situated. Although the director and assistant director are aware of his seizure, I wanted to stress again the fact that I really believed it had to do with the heat and the all-around stress of the day we had that day. I also wanted to talk to his group leader personally.

We were a bit early so the staff was still in their morning meeting. DC decided that he had to use the restroom. He came right out and informed me that there was no toilet paper.

(for someone who was so uncomfortable writing a post about toilet paper that I had to use a code word – ‘paper towels’, I do get that it is odd that  I am writing a post about it again)

I got him a big handful from the lady’s room and he went back in, no problem…. or so I thought. When he came out, he would not let go of the fact that there was not toilet paper in the men’s room, even though he didn’t need it any longer, it wasn’t there. I told him that I  would let the director know as soon as they were finished with their meeting – but he would just not calm down about it.

When the meeting was over he came with me – still ranting – to talk to the director. First I explained to her that what was going on right then was because there is no toilet paper in the rest room. She immediately called to one of her staff to replenish the supply. This did not do a thing to calm him down. It was too late. This coupled with his normal ‘arrival anxiety’ was too much and even when I showed him the new rolls, it didn’t matter, he was too far into this now. It went on for a while.

When he finally did calm down about that, he moved right into his normal routine of obsessing about me.

“I’m sorry, calm down now. I’m sorry. Not ‘crappy’ anymore “- (DC – speak “crabby”).

As many times that I have told him over the years that he has nothing to be sorry about (and as many times as I told him this morning),  this is what happens. If we are home together, this could and has gone on for hours. If I am dropping him off somewhere, I try to just get him calm enough so that I can leave, because if I am there he will continue to perseverate on me.

I was worried and having seizure flashbacks because it was hot and now he was upset, so I was afraid to leave when I normally would have. He finally did calm down to the point where I felt comfortable leaving – not to say I feel comfortable leaving him anywhere since the seizure, but as comfortable as I can be now-a-days.

As I was leaving he moved on to obsessing about whether I was going to come back and when I was going to pick him up. This is his regular obsession – I do not know why – I have never been so much as a minute late in picking him up anywhere, ever, but it has always been a thing with him.

Now that he had moved on to “Mom is coming back”,  his regular routine, I was sure it was safe to leave.

I hope his anxiety this morning does not ruin “Hat Day” for him. Fingers crossed that he comes home with that construction paper award today, because that will most certainly fix everything.

***********************

and later ……

award

Best Camp Ever!

camp

 

Yesterday was DC’s last day of camp. The last day is also always “Awards Day”. When DC came home I asked him if he got an award. He said he did. He didn’t have anything with him so I asked him where it was – “At the camp”. (I don’t know if he actually won an award). I asked him what award he won…..
“Best Camp Ever!”

I am sure he did not win an award for “the best camp ever” although he reported it that way to more than one person. I do know that he was really excited about camp that day.

Feeling bad that he had to miss so much of the little bit of time he was scheduled to go to camp this year, I arranged for him to attend on the last two days instead of just his scheduled Friday. It did not make up for the rest of the summer but at least he would be there two days in a row during the last week.

When I called to ask if he could attend the extra day the director let me know that her nephew *Ron would be there volunteering that week. Ron is one of DC’s favorite people at the camp. Ron has been around and volunteering for quite a few years. Like most of the volunteers, he spent a good part of his summers at camp.

DC really, really likes Ron and when DC likes someone – he really LIKES them, to a point that he really needs to be reeled in so as not to frighten the subjects of his admiration. DC really does not understand that not everyone wants to be hugged, not everyone wants him right in their face all of the time. He gets so excited over these chosen few that I really worry that he will end up pushing them away. You have not experienced fear until you see this guy come barreling at you at full speed.  Even though at this point I know he is running to give me a hug and even though I know he will be able to stop before mowing right over me,  as he is coming at me and in the moment, I am still convinced that he is going to knock me into the next town.

The friends that he sees often are used to this and because he sees them often do not always get the in-your-face DC…… not continuously, anyway. There are a chosen few that he does not get to see all that often, that really get the full DC-experience. If I know we may be coming in contact with any of these people ahead of time, I do try to have a conversation with him before we arrive.

He is supposed to ask permission of the person before hugging, unless of course it is someone we have already established does not mind being on the receiving end of that back crushing hug. Normally when I have to make a rule, DC is good about adhering it. This particular rule seems to give him a bit of trouble. He just gets too excited to think about the rules.

He has had a few experiences where someone was absolutely NOT happy with DC’s attention.  In one instance it caused a schoolmate to have meltdown. This upset DC for days. He doesn’t understand. It is not clear to him why he can hug some friends and not others. Some just try to avoid him, a few put up with it because they understand and others do not mind at all and actually are happy to see him. Ron is in the “happy to see him” group.

A few years ago, Ron moved down south with his family. DC continued to look for him at camp and every camp event throughout the year. As soon as he was aware that a winter camp activity was coming the very first question would be about Ron. It took a good long while for him to understand that he had moved far away. I am still not sure that he quite understands ‘moved away’ but he does finally understand that Ron will not be there all the time as he once was.

Ron does come back on vacation to visit his aunt during the summer and comes to volunteer while he is here. In case you missed that…… He spends his vacation volunteering at the camp. Impressed? I certainly am.

DC was so happy to hear that Ron would be there and I am so glad I opted for that extra day. Ron doesn’t seem to mind having DC all over him all day. He is very good with him and I don’t feel as if I have to give DC too many instructions beforehand because I know Ron can handle it.

Halfway through the last day of camp I received a text from the assistant director with this photo.

camp 20151

When my friend Tonya brought DC home that afternoon (her turn to drive) she told me that a couple of kids asked her to take a picture of them with DC. She didn’t know their names but she would send me the picture later that day.

2015campend

It was a another picture of Ron. DC was thrilled to have these photos. They are now the wallpaper on our computer, so he can look at  them every day. I can not say enough about Ron. He made DC’s last days at camp so much more fun and happy.

I know that DC did not win “The Best Camp Ever” award. I am sure he was telling me that he had the best day at camp ever  –  and a good part of that due to his friend Ron.

*****

*Name changed

*** The other friend that asked to have his picture taken with DC has been cropped out only because I do not know his name so I could not get permission to use his photo.

 

 

If wishes were horses……

 

Recently and jokingly I made the comment on an Autism-Mom post that my next post would very likely be titled “Bummer Summer” – I was serious about the fact that it has really been a bummer summer, with one thing after another, but really not serious about the post. I really should know by now, never to joke…….

I have mentioned once or twice before that DC attends a summer camp for special needs children and adults. He has attended since he was 5 years old. He loves it there.

Before he left the school system at age 21, he was able to attend every day for 7 weeks each summer. Now that he has a “job” year-round, he normally uses some of his allotted vacation time to attend for two weeks of the season. He does and has always been able to attend the twice weekly after camp program.

Because we took an extra vacation this year, he was not able to take an extra two weeks off to attend camp as he usually does, so I opted for him to go one day a week on Friday in addition to the two “after camp” sessions that do not interfere with his work schedule or his time off. “

DC really enjoys the after-camp program. There are only 10 to 12 campers that attend the program by invitation only –  first they have to be old enough and secondly have to be able to tolerate not only being at camp all day from 9 to 3 but staying on after camp until 8pm. That is a long day for many campers. Because it is such a small group, they do try to rotate the invitees for each session. When DC was finally old enough to be invited to stay, I’m guessing at 12 or 13, he was thrilled. At the time, DC enjoyed doing many things but he would always opt to stay home if given the choice. He would never ask to go anywhere. After he attended that first time, he actually asked me when he could go back. That was HUGE!

I am not one to ever ask for favors or special treatment, but he was asking me to go back! I called the director and asked if there was any way that DC could attend once a week, every week. I didn’t want to take anyone’s spot but… this was HUGE! The director at the time, understood (DC had attended camp long enough for her to also know that this was HUGE) and agreed. He attended once a week until he left school and started his job. Now that he is working and not able to attend camp daily, he has been attending the after-camp program twice a week, all summer, every summer.

The after-camp program comes to an end a week before the daily camping season ends. Thursday night was his last after-camp program for this summer. Last week was Christmas week at camp, this week was New Years Eve. He was excited.

At about 5:30 my phone rang. I saw the camp number on the caller ID. My heart stopped. I just knew. DC was having a seizure. *Tam the program director had already called 911. I could tell he was shaken (he really likes DC and the feeling is mutual) but he  kept his cool as I was panicking. Camp is a good 1/2 hour away without traffic and he didn’t know what hospital they would be transporting him to because the ambulance had not arrived yet. Doug, who only lives 2 minutes away came and we headed in the direction of camp and the two hospitals closest to camp.  Tam called back when the ambulance arrived to let me know which hospital they would be bringing him to.

As luck (seriously someone is watching out for this boy) would have it, a former camp employee, *Kim happened to be there visiting. Kim was DC’s group leader for many years at camp – many, many years. He knows him well. He even worked as an IA (“Para Professional” to some of you) at DC’s transition program at the college. Kim,  now a LPN knew exactly what to do. I’m sure Tam would have been able to handle it, we had discussed it after DC’s first seizure,  but it is always easier to have that extra pair of hands.

Kim rode in the ambulance with DC. I was in constant contact with Tam, relaying information back and forth. We somehow arrived at the hospital before the ambulance. Kim stayed with us the entire time.

The actual seizure lasted about 3 minutes, but he seemed to come out of it much more quickly this time. He was back to his old self long before we left the hospital.

I know that there are plenty of people who deal with this kind of thing or worse every day, but all of this is very new to me, so yes, I am freaking out, so please bear with me if I bring it up every once in a while. DC has been so healthy all of his life. He’s never been on any kind of medication other than the occasional antibiotics. Now at 24 he has had two seizures in a 7 week period of time. I am having trouble wrapping my head around all of this, while still trying not to make him nervous about it.

Like the last time, DC does not seem to remember the seizure. He thinks he was in the ‘Hos- a- bul’ because he ‘fell down’. After we were discharged, we drove Kim back to his car at camp. Tam and the after-camp staff were still there waiting in the parking lot. Tam had saved some of the New Years pizza DC didn’t get to have for him. This certainly helped to take away some of the sting of missing his last after-camp day.

I am grateful for all of these people. I can’t say enough about the care and compassion they showed DC. If this had to happen again, I am thankful that it happened while he was with staff and volunteers that knew just what to do, didn’t scare him and above all, made him feel comfortable. I can’t say enough about all of them. Tam even thought to send one of DC’s favorite Disney books with him so he had something to read at the hospital.

What does it say about this camp that even former employees love the place so much that they come back to visit ‘their campers’ as often as they can?  Once one becomes involved in camp, one is always involved with camp. This place never leaves them. The camp and the campers stay in their hearts forever. This is not just me gushing, this is a fact. Many of the staff started as volunteers when they were 12 or 13 years old, stayed on through high school and through college. Many have become Special Education teachers directly due to their time spent at camp and  many continue to work there during the summer. That says a lot about the camp, the campers and the people that love it enough to come back every year for 10, 15, 20 30+ years. Imagine 12 – 15 year old kids, not just a few but 15 or 20 who volunteer to spend their entire summer, every summer working at camp. I am always just blown away by that.

During the course of the evening while listening to all of our conversations, DC realized that he would not be able to attend camp the following day. Our day would be filled with – resting, filling his prescription, calling and possibly seeing the doctor, finding a neurologist and with any luck, getting an appointment.

He was not happy that he would not be going to camp on Friday, not happy at all! He was so angry that on the way home he stated point blank and  angrily   “Never falling down again!”

If wishes were horses……

*******

**Names changed

Hat Day

Hat Day Today is DC’s first full day at camp. He has attended this camp since he was 5 years old. He loves it. Before he left the school system at age 21, he was able to attend 9 to 3 every day for 7 weeks each summer. Now that he has a “job”, he normally uses some of his allotted vacation time to attend for two weeks of the season.  He does and has always been able to attend the twice weekly after camp program.

He attended when he was at the camp full time and still attends now after work. Because we took an extra vacation this year, he was not able to take an extra two weeks off to attend camp as he usually does, so I opted for him to go one day a week on Friday in addition to the two “after camp” sessions that do not interfere with his work schedule or his time off. This works out well because I am off from work on Fridays for the summer and I don’t have to figure out and schedule how he will get there each day.

The camp has what they call “Special Days” (more about that in an upcoming ‘Everything is Related’ post) listed on the calendar. Because of DC’s schedule he has missed one of his favorites, Hat Day (or “silly hat day” as DC likes to call it) for the past 3 years. He still has every single construction paper award that he has ever won for his hats on Hat Day and he is very proud of them.

Today happened to be Hat Day. As soon as DC discovered that he would be at camp on Hat Day, it was all that I heard about. We went through his collection of silly hats and he chose the cheeseburger hat.

We arrived at camp and he got himself situated. Although the director and assistant director are aware of his seizure, I wanted to stress again the fact that I really believed it had to do with the heat and the all-around stress of the day we had that day. I also wanted to talk to his group leader personally.

We were a bit early so the staff was still in their morning meeting. DC decided that he had to use the restroom. He came right out and informed me that there was no toilet paper.

(for someone who was so uncomfortable writing a post about toilet paper that I had to use a code word – ‘paper towels’, I do get that it is odd that  I am writing a post about it again)

I got him a big handful from the ladies room and he went back in, no problem…. or so I thought. When he came out, he would not let go of the fact that there was not toilet paper in the men’s room, even though he didn’t need it any longer, it wasn’t there. I told him that I  would let the director know as soon as they were finished with their meeting – but he would just not calm down about it.

When the meeting was over he came with me – still ranting – to talk to the director. First I explained to her that what was going on right then was because there is no toilet paper in the rest room. She immediately called to one of her staff to replenish the supply. This did not do a thing to calm him down. It was too late. This coupled with his normal ‘arrival anxiety’ was too much and even when I showed him the new rolls, it didn’t matter, he was too far into this now. It went on for awhile.

When he finally did calm down about that, he moved right into his normal routine of obsessing about me.

“I’m sorry, calm down now. I’m sorry. Not ‘crappy’ anymore “- (DC – speak “crabby”).

As many times that I have told him over the years that he has nothing to be sorry about (and as many times as I told him this morning),  this is what happens. If we are home together, this could and has gone on for hours. If I am dropping him off somewhere, I try to just get him calm enough so that I can leave, because if I am there he will continue to perseverate on me.

I was worried and having seizure flashbacks because it was hot and now he was upset, so I was afraid to leave when I normally would have. He finally did calm down to the point where I felt comfortable leaving – not to say I feel comfortable leaving him anywhere since the seizure, but as comfortable as I can be now-a-days.

As I was leaving he moved on to obsessing about whether I was going to come back and when I was going to pick him up. This is his regular obsession – I do not know why – I have never been so much as a minute late in picking him up anywhere, ever, but it has always been a thing with him.

Now that he had moved on to “Mom is coming back”,  his regular routine, I was sure it was safe to leave.

I hope his anxiety this morning does not ruin “Hat Day” for him. Fingers crossed that he comes home with that construction paper award today, because that will most certainly fix everything.

***********************

and later ……

award