We had a great time this Christmas break. Really. It was good despite the trip to ER that should have been a trip to urgent care and the five trips to urgent care after that. We're all well again, and I'm hoping that holds. In between a UTI, three nasty colds, one case of flu that we caught early, and two cases of strep, we enjoyed each other.
I would not call it time off. It was a break from the norm of Daddy going to work, driving Ryan to therapy, and all that kind of stuff. But it was not relaxing. Time off with kids isn't always, I suppose.
Ryan was the last one to get sick. He had that bad cold that started in Maelynn, then went to Richie. It spread to Ryan and we thought it was going to just go away. The only problem with that is the nightmare that is his diet.
No one else got the flu, but Ryan's immune system, weak from a diet of pizza, chips, cheese, ranch, and the occasional burger washed down with milk, apple juice, and water had a harder time with that nasty cold. Having only stayed for a feverish visit in Maelynn and Richie, Ryan's cold lingered and turned to the flu. On Saturday evening, having come home from urgent care with my own nasty case of strep, I got up from sleeping off a pain pill to find him on the couch with a fever. Ugh.
Eric took him off to the same place I went, and his strep test was negative. I'm still amazed that he was a trooper for both the strep culture and the flu test, which came up positive. The flu had apparently decided that Ryan's weakened state was a great place to camp out for a few days.
Thankful that we got a jump-start on it, my husband took him to the drug store with a prescription for Tamiflu. They didn't have enough liquid for Ryan, and since insurance wouldn't pay for the liquid for a boy his age, Eric brought home the capsules. That got interesting.
Before I go on, I'm on the side of keeping the illnesses that medicine has kept at bay or obliterated gone. I've had the full-blown flu, just last year. The Tamiflu was crazy expensive, so I used the money for buying it for my daughter, and after two doses she was back to herself. I, on the other hand, was down for about a week. D-O-W-N down. She got it first, and I was afraid we'd run out of money and the boys would need it, so I passed. Never again!
So we got the Tamiflu and after a 45 minute drive home, Eric got the first dose down Ryan. It wasn't easy. There was much screaming. Okay, so there's a lot of screaming at our house anyway, but this was different. He wouldn't swallow the pill, so we had to get creative. It finally wound up getting down him, with only two doses being thrown back up.
We will never ever ever go without flu shots again. Especially Ryan.
A sick Ryan is usually a calm, lethargic Ryan. I don't know if it was the flu or the Tamiflu, but after a couple of doses, he didn't address anyone with anything but grunts or screams. He was not feverish, but he was not himself. For days, he didn't eat much more than a bite or two, even of things he usually loves. We did our best to keep liquids down him, and getting him to eat was all-out war.
He lost his cool, we lost our cool. It was bad.
We were panicking. How can he keep not eating? What if the flu comes back? Kids are dying down here of flu, so we were determined to keep this stuff going down him. Through much cajoling, threats, leverage, if/then statements, and more all-out war, we would get him to take a few bites of food so he could get it down himself. And then it was the war of getting the medicine hidden in a dose of ibuprofen and praying that the nasty, powdery pill would make it down his gullet without a taste.
One taste, and it was game over and pill up. Not fun. Not one part of it was fun. Not the fear that he'd just stay like he was acting, that maybe it wasn't the sickness or a side effect of the medicine, for sure. We were afraid. REALLY AFRAID. What if this is regression? What if this is a change we just didn't see coming? What will we get him to eat?
But we had saving grace.
This Christmas season, we were blessed to have family here and to go and visit family. I don't know what I would have expected, maybe that they would have run screaming. But my sister and her husband stuck it out.
They sat at the table through the battles.
They smiled at us.
They continued conversation in between screams.
They patted us on the back.
They just hung around and treated us like we were their family, and acted like this was completely normal.
It isn't that bad all the time. As I typed that, Ryan pounded the table with his fist and yelled something, nearly making me jump off the couch. Haha. There are about four folks who rode through the scariest time we've had with Ryan in a long, long time. And they want to come back!
So to all of you with family members with autism, or friends who have kids with autism, you can make a huge difference in the lives of a family with autism simply by bearing with them. Being patient. Unshockable. By hanging out and asking questions and laughing at TV and sharing stories about college and your dog and everything other than autism. And by asking some honest, interested questions trying to learn about their life. It's simple. It's so much easier than you might think. Just be there.
To all the family we either visited or family-friends who visited us over the past few weeks, thanks. You're more than autism aware. You're blessings that make a difference in our lives.
Thanks be to God for Tamiflu, antibiotics, Clorox wipes, Lysol, and family and friends who are family... and for their regrets to leave and enthusiasm for coming back to see us again and/or having us again.
To my sister and her husband and our J and her friend, thanks a million times for loving us enough to ride through that flu/Tamiflu time with us. For not running like your hair was on fire. For even acting like you see this every day. Thank you.