Sometimes when I write about my kids, it’s really sweet and loving because being a mom is a joy and a blessing and I want to share all those warm, delightful feelings with whoever can restrain their gag reflex enough to tolerate reading my mommy-love word vomit.
Don’t worry. This is not one of those times.
(Look at you, all relieved. There there. It’s going to be okay, I promise.)
No. Today we’re going to talk about what it’s like to bring a child on the autism spectrum to the emergency room.
Andreas is 6. He was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in February of this year. The story of that can be found here. Suffice it to say, that Andreas is a bright boy who doesn’t like new people, new places, bright lights, loud noises, or being in pain. He struggles with conversation and making or maintaining eye contact. Are we setting the stage enough here? Are you imagining the train wreck I’m about to describe to you in detail? Good.
So we got a trampoline this summer.
(And everyone who’s ever worked in an ER or ortho clinic just did a collective cringe. I know you did. I saw the trampoline awareness poster in the ortho clinic and felt the harsh trampoline parent shame.)
On that trampoline, my children did jump. Even Rosalie, at 18 months was jumping like a little toddler pro. I feel the need to say that we don’t let the baby in with all the
crazies big kids. And there’s a net around it. It’s like a bouncy prison play pen. I swear I’m a good mother.
You know who else jumped on that trampoline? My husband.
(And everyone who’s ever worked in an ER or an ortho clinic knows just threw up their hands in collective exasperation.)
Daddy got on the trampoline. Daddy bounced with the kids. And wrestled with the kids. And one night, while I was out with my mom, I got a phone call from the
love of my life Father Of My Children.
“Um. Don’t rush home. Andreas got hurt on the trampoline. He’s crying, but I think he’s okay. I called the Health Link and they said to take him in to get checked just to be sure. But finish what you’re doing. It’s okay.”
-All the while I can hear my child sobbing in the background.
Don’t rush home?
That’s not what you say to the
love of your life Mother Of Your Children when one of them is crying and needs to go to the emergency room to get looked at. And especially not when it’s the one with the autism that you have to explain to all the people who do all the nodding and being understanding.
Naturally, I stopped what I was doing and rushed home. Got the boy loaded into the van and started talking to him in an attempt to make him feel better. Note: talking to him is not what makes this kid feel better. Not talking makes him feel much better. But talking made me feel better so I asked him the questions that moms ask. Which is when I got the true story of what happened on the trampoline.
Daddy threw me on the trampoline.
It was at that very moment of confession, that my mother, who was still with me at that point, looked like she was going to rip the Father Of Her Grandchildren a new one. So I call Glenn and he tells me that they were jumping and wrestling and Andreas fell funny, and I ask him when he was going to share that information with me.
(Spoiler Alert: we’re still married and Glenn still feels awful about the trampoline incident.)
But don’t you even worry. Because Andreas was sure to share that information with every single person at the hospital who asked him what happened. The triage nurse. The admissions person. The nurses. The people at radiology who took his x-rays. The doctor. You know. Whoever was in ear shot in that hospital was well and fully aware that Andreas’ Daddy threw him on the trampoline.
When the doctor heard this tale of woe, and asked Andreas where his Daddy was right then, I replied by telling the nice doctor, “Daddy is in time out.”
Lucky for us, the ER wasn’t busy that night. There was a guy being guarded by a cop a few beds over, who was having some kind of episode. But it’s okay because Andreas took the laughing at face value and told me it sounds like someone is having a fun time. Obviously.
When asked by a nurse where he got hurt – was it his arm or his elbow? He looked at her like she was brand new and told her “no, it happened at home.”
While laying in the bed waiting for x-ray, he also told me, “the less I move it, the more it won’t hurt.” Always a good sign.
But the lights were bright and the noises were noisy and he wanted to go home. The nice thing about the hospital is that they always tell you what’s going to happen next. We’re going to weigh him. We’re going to take you guys to x ray. We’re going to sit on this little stool here and put his arm on the x-ray table and just bend it a little.
They can tell him what they’re doing but it doesn’t mean he understands why. And he was so, so brave, my fragile boy who didn’t know what was going on, while they took those awful x-rays that made him cry big, big tears while he sat very, very still in all that pain. But it was impossible to explain to him why they needed so many pictures and why he had to move his arm different ways. He wanted it over and so did his mama.
And when we got back to his bed after the x-rays he stopped talking. Just shut down, had enough, quit responding. He does that. The other day we had people over and once he’d had enough of all of us he asked me for his headphones so that he didn’t have to listen to all the talking. Politely, of course. Because telling people outright to be quiet would be rude.
He was told that after his x-ray, the doctor would look at the pictures and come tell us what’s what, and fix him up so we could home. Which means not much to a kid who takes everything literally if you don’t tell him when the doctor is going to come.
As we’re sitting there, him on the bed not talking to me anymore and just smiling at me when I asked him rude questions like, “do you want anything to drink?” because I’m a good mom, remember? – he just blurts out, loudly, “WHY IS THIS TAKING SO LONG?”
We’d gotten through triage, admitted, into a bed, and through x-rays in not very much time at all. I guess my smart boy figured the doctor would materialize him or herself in an equally timely fashion. Which would make it perfectly reasonably to ask what the hold up is so that the entire emergency room can hear you. I’ve said before that Andreas is very much like a little Sheldon (character from Big Bang Theory) and that gem of a moment is why.
Not to worry though because the doctor did show up, tell us that Andreas’ elbow was broken, instruct me to burn our trampoline, and get the ortho nurse to put his arm in a half-cast wrapped in a bandage, held together by a sling.
By the time we left Andreas had a new story to tell everyone who would listen.
Daddy threw me on the trampoline and broke my elbow.
Lord have mercy.
Edited because the first comment to this post had to do with social services being sent to harass us over this: this happened in July. Social services was not sent to harass us. Had they been, we’re an open book. And a boring book at that. Andreas has been followed by a developmental pediatrician, assessed by a psychologist, OT, and speech path, and closely monitored for allergies by a specialist since he was 2. Trust me when I tell you that the medical profession has my sweet boy in very good hands. With 4 kids, we’ve seen our share of doctor’s offices and the emergency room. They are hyper vigilant about abuse and unsafe situations for children and families – as they very well should be. If this blog turns into a debate over that, I absolutely will delete and block comments. This is not the forum for that. And also, because apparently it needs to be said, my hubby doesn’t bounce the kids on the trampoline anymore.
copyright (c) 2013 Jenna Pelias // all right reserved