Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sick Day

Remember when I said last week that Ryan could deal with a stomach virus easier than a mosquito bite?  If you missed that post, it's right here

Well, I've had the opportunity to test that theory.  Okay, so it wasn't as bad as a throwup bug, but it was *ahem* intestinal in nature.  And it required much cleanup.  There were Lysol, Clorox wipes, and many loads of laundry.

The call came Tuesday, just as I was about to leave to go help out at the middle school.  He had a lower intestinal virus, one of those happy little things that gets passed from kid to teacher to kid easier than one of those fun folded piece of paper notes when I was in school.  Turns out the three other kids and the teachers and their kids in his class have all had it, and his number was up.

Not being one to say much about his feelings, emotional or physical, I kept him home Wednesday even though his last episode was Tuesday evening right as his Daddy got home.  I had no idea how he really felt, or if he was really over this, so I kept him home to make sure he had the chance to get completely over it.

It was another one of those days that seems to live you more than you live it.  It's a sick day, right?  Let the kid do what he wants, right?

Maybe that's okay for kids who don't get their security and understand their place in the universe by routine.  No, I know it is.  But take a random, slap-bang in the middle of the week Wednesday, have him wake up and tell him that there's not school today, but there is school tomorrow.  This is when I spend a good amount of time every day and night answering his "No school tomorrow, Mama?" question with the days of the week we go to school, then the weekend.

Talk about hard for him to understand.

Still he was happy to be home.  He ate his breakfast (which did stay in place for the proper amount of time) and played with his brother and sister.  Then, around 10:00 AM, I sat down with him to start his make-up work.  There wasn't much.  Two very short stories with five- or six- question worksheets to follow.  He could do these with his hand tied behind his back... but hear me on this one... he needs one-on-one help at school to get things done.  And when he's home, there's no exception.

We struggled through not the ability to do the work but the willingness, answering questions with his pencil after I struggled to help him answer them verbally, and that's in between his outbursts of tears and hitting and screaming, "NO THREE TIMES!"

He didn't want to write his spelling words three times, like his teacher requests.  I sat there with him, he did, but it wasn't pretty.

After this, I had a fit of normalcy and decided he'd get to watch a little more "Oh no James and Edward" than usual.  Usually, I sit and play DJ for a while in the afternoons while he picks YouTube videos of Thomas and his rail-riding friends.  They're mostly kid or parent made, and many of his favorites are of another kid unboxing a new Thomas set.

This went on for a while, then I needed to get the kids dressed.  As soon as a video was over, he read me the title (my rule, just a little reading practice... and hey, it's effective communication practice too), I hit play, and ran to get Maelynn's clothes (because yes, we kinda had a jammies day yesterday).

Then it got interesting.  He wailed and screamed and cried and hit and thrashed.

I misunderstood and started the wrong danged video.

There's no time for head-slapping, though.  I have to help him calm.  TV off, which was a very unpopular decision, but when it makes you flip out, it goes away.  That's a house rule around here.  That decision is one that I'd like to make in front of someone who thinks we just hand him whatever he wants.

As I'm working to stay calm and help him find calm again, I notice that he needs to use the bathroom.  He's had a small accident, and not of the scary kind that requires much bleach.  He just didn't want to leave the TV to potty.  So he goes wailing off to the bathroom.  I found something from the day before at this point that made me run for the Clorox wipes, but that's not terribly unusual around here.

Off to the bathroom, where the meltdown continues. After the previous day's bathroom routine change (you have a Montezuma-type thing and tell me it doesn't change your bathroom routine) he was afraid, for some reason, to sit on the potty.  So I'm hugging him, he's crying, and after a few minutes we're good again... or we were until he looked at his hand.

He had a scratch.  Just a place where he'd hit something and it peeled back a little flesh.  He wanted it OFF.  NOW.  More screaming.  More crying.  More terror.  OVER A SCRAPE.

It took a long time to convince him, first, that I couldn't take it off or make it instantly go away.  He even asked me to kiss it, then looked at it rather disappointedly.

No, buddy.  I can't fix it.  I can't make it go away.

I tried to explain in kid terms how our bodies heal themselves but that it will take time.  Days, even.  But no, he wanted it fixed now.  He scratched it, bit it, poked it, and tried to take it off.  Not kidding.  As much as it hurts to read, it hurt more to watch, and I'm sure it hurt him to do it.

The worst part for me?  Watching him hurt.  Watching him experience this terror over something so simple.  The feeling that I'm standing there watching him drown and not being able to explain how to use the floatation device I just threw. Trying to explain what it was.  How to grab.  And the whole time he doesn't seem to hear me.

The rest of the afternoon, once he allowed me to go and get his change of pants, then wash his hands, then go to the kitchen for a paper towel, which was a fight because I'd thrown all the bathroom towels in the wash, we put a band aid on his boo-boo.  Ten minutes later he ripped it off, yelling for me as he did so, and then another twenty later he wanted "Mommmmyyyy!!!!  Wash your boo-boo!" again, and another band aid.  Off and on for the next few hours, it was rinse and repeat.

It's hard.  You just want to make it right.  To find the words to bring him back to understanding that this is just part of life and it's okay.  Holding his exhausted, sweaty head, thanking God that he finally realizes sometimes that he can seek comfort from his mother's arms, I'm exhausted too.  Tired, too.  Ready to scream.  It's just not pretty.

But it's his life right now.  It's his life and I'm grateful for his life. I don't know why he struggles so much.  I don't know what causes autism, and although I can speculate and tell you ways it has made me a better person, I don't know why our boy.  I'm glad Richie and Maelynn seem to be neurotypical, that the don't seem to struggle the way he does.

All I know for sure is that we've lived through every meltdown so far.  Some have ended in Eric and I apologizing to each other.  Some have ended with us holding Ryan, apologizing for not being patient.  But they've all ended.  They've ended and Ryan has gone back to being his stimmy, happy, smiling, yet randomly shouting self.

I don't know why him, why our family... but I know that we made it through another day, just like we have so many other times.  It wasn't easy at times, but it ended well.  It started well and it ended well.  And now, it's time to thank the Lord that his mercies are new and he promises to be with us and do it again.

Thanks be to God that his mercies are new every morning.

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