Recently, my little guy fell ill and had to visit the walk-in, then hospital.
I know there is not a parent in the world that looks forward to a busy walk-in on a Sunday afternoon but I think we can all agree that a child with extra needs sometimes makes this visit just a little more trying.
I took my son around lunch time, and the wait was an hour plus long. He was quiet and sat still enough but was not so happy to be there and as time passed he became more adgitated..you could feel the tension growing.
“Why are you here, son?” a very kind elder gentleman asked Lincoln, probably to pass the time more than anything but also my son is a beautiful little guy, with gentle eyes and cherub face. People LIKE too talk to him. He looks sweet and laid back on the surface, and in normal situations he is just that.
Lincoln refused to answer and never lifted his gaze from the magazine he was impatiently leafing through.
“I guess no one likes to be here. That is fine, me neither” The gentleman responded to his own question. He asked again and I smiled tiredly at him and his wife.
“Lincoln has Autism. He is listening to you, but sometimes he doesn’t answer. He’s a little under the weather…like everyone else here” I smile warmly and talk softly as not to come off as angry or annoyed, which I am not.
“George, just leave him alone. He doesn’t want to talk!” his wife hisses. I gaze at her, and smile again, showing her it is ok.
Time passes slowly and soon the resistance I am expecting rears its ugly head.
“I do NOT need to see a Dr. Nope. Not on my list of things to do. I’m NOT doing it.” Lincoln advises me. I ignore the comment. I know better than argue in this situation.
“MOM! I am NOT going to the Dr. I wanna go home. I. Wanna. GO. HOME!”
I pull him close to me, a hug normally helps sooth the irritation and I say softly .”Me too. But your sick, and it is my job to make sure you stay safe. I have to get the Dr to look at you”
“NO! I wanna go home. I wanna go home!” It becomes a mantra. And although he voice stays low, his general unhappiness brings stares and I try again to reiterate we have to stay, it is our time soon, and then we can go home.
The breakdown happens and he starts to get panicky. I start to cry.
“Our time is soon, we can do this honey. We move to the window and start to count cars by colour. He spots and interesting sun panel in the building so we discuss the architecture and I welcome the distraction. Time ticks on so slowly…we watch for transport trucks, one of Lincolns favorite vehicles. I swipe uselessly at my eyes and swallow back the tears, feeling silly.
We move back to the exam room. We made it.
The Dr’s visit and the follow-up visit to the hospital went well. 7 hours in emerg was actually less painful then an hour wait in the clinic. Bloodwork and blood pressure test were smoother then the packed waiting room and close quarters with sickies in masks and snotty nosed children.
Why? I’m not certain 100% maybe there is less distraction at Emerg. We did get there a little later in the afternoon, went straight through to triage and we moved quickly to an exam room. We brought a backpack full of cars and a really cool animal book..perhaps the familiar toys helped in making my son feel safe.
I had taken his socks off to show the dr his swollen ankles and spots and then refused to give him his socks back until we could go. It sounded silly, but he accepted it and knew that without socks, he couldn’t possibly leave. He stopped fighting and settled in. I had to giggle though when a few times nurses or Drs said he could get socks and boots on and I refused.
“He will think he can leave if he gets redressed.” I explain. They acknowledge how an autistic mind works by nodding in agreement. Sometimes you work out of the box.
I can say that the patience he showed through the first round of bloodwork did not continue later in the week. We were asked to come back for tests 3 days later and it took 5 adults to get blood taken and lot of tears and yelling.
The good news is my boy is getting better and we are now able to go to our own family Dr who he trusts and is comfortable with. The rapport that is made with others most certainly adds to helping make things run smoothly.
IF I could do it over I would most definitely bring more familiar items and I was told if I had mentioned he had Autism, the clinic would try to move him quickly though the line OR provide a quiet place for him to wait comfortably. Sometimes, it is advantageous to let others know you do have a child with extra needs…even though you may want them to follow the same rules as others (which is what I was trying to do) it isn’t fair to expect they can manage all the noise and distraction the same. Feeling awful doesn’t mean behaviors are going to be best, and lets face it…nobody feels or acts their best when they are ill. So why expect it?
Lesson learned and situation survived 🙂