You Kinda Get Used to Weeks Like This

by Tim on February 5, 2009

I want to say this has been a crazy week, but I suppose it’s really just par for the course.

On Tuesday, the J-Man had a dentist appointment. I don’t think I need to give any more setup to this story than that; it speaks for itself. After being in the waiting room for an eternity, we finally got our turn. Both of the ‘special rooms’ – where all the frantic, special needs kids go – were taken (we learned why later) so we were out in the common area where dentist chairs basically circle the room. Sometimes I think they should call that area something like The Freak Show where kids can either scream in full view of the other patients or show their utter terror at all things dental, but since I hate dentists too, I could be showing some bias.

So here I am, at 6′ 3″ tall, reclined and parallel to the floor in a pediatric-sized dentist chair, with the J-Man (a.k.a. Captain Orally Defensive) on top of me with his back against me. In addition to that, I have wrapped my legs around his and am holding both his arms from behind. Oh, and I’m trying to make it harder for him to move his head around by using the only thing I have left – my own head. And by the way, Mary, the hygienist, the dentist, and a second hygienist were all working on (mostly in restraining) him while I was holding him like this. And in the end, I strained something in my low back because the J-Man is that strong. Yeehaw!

Consumer tip – Don’t let your kids wear chunky, heavy, new shoes to the dentist because it makes it too easy for them to kick the skin off your legs.

Consumer tip #2 for the guys – Protect yourself carefully from said chunky, heavy, new shoes. Just sayin’.

Thankfully, his teeth are in great shape. It’s their goal with each successive visit to introduce new things to get him gradually more used to the process, but I think they might be overselling a bit on how well their plan will work. Really, there’s no way to make the dentist a good experience right now. We just try to get through it without anyone getting hurt. All they do in this practice is work on kids, they’re very skilled with getting in and getting it over with quickly with special needs children, and they are calm people. All we could do is try to get through it as quickly as possible and hope he’ll forgive us for 10 minutes of trauma.

We did learn that around noon is when they schedule a lot of the special needs kids because they have more staff on hand to assist, and apparently that’s when they schedule fewer ‘regular’ kids so we don’t freak them out I guess. I understand the logic behind that, but I’d rather us not be cordoned off into Unhappy Hour at the dentist. But that’s another story.

Yesterday, we had a stupid two-hour delay from school because of the threat it might snow, which of course it never did. So, there’s nothing like a two-hour delay to completely freak out a class full of autistic kids who don’t like schedule disruptions. The J-Man did great at first, surprising us all by going to some toys and picking them out on his own initiative and playing with them ‘appropriately’ (still love that as a clinical term). This isn’t something he really does as he’s totally into his few favorite toys and doesn’t seem to acknowledge that any of the others exist.

Then after lunch he completely fell apart, though in fairness to the scheduling gods we later discovered that was due to a major tummy malfunction. So yesterday afternoon went totally to crap – OK, so not the best choice of words.

You know you’re a parent of an autistic child when your kid is upset and not feeling well and you can’t tell whether it’s an ear infection or constipation. Ah, the joys of communication difficulties. But those of you who’ve been there will appreciate the humor in getting a call from your child’s teacher during lunch saying, “He took a massive poop a while ago and is having a much better day now.” To which the only response I could think of was, “Well, I suppose that’s true for a lot of us.”

Thankfully today was much better after said intestinal issue resolved itself. The J-Man still hates the new leaving school routine (we can’t come inside and pick the kids up anymore, and I think it freaks him out that I’m not there in the lobby to meet him), but his meltdown about that is down to a couple of minutes now. So, we should have that figured out soon.

Mary’s still sick and, of course, still pregnant, so she feels like dirt. Thankfully, I’m nothing more than a bit tired. Usually when at least one of us is well, things can limp along around here. But we definitely want Mary to feel better soon!

So who knows about tomorrow. I’m afraid to jinx it, so I’ll leave it at that.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ecki February 6, 2009 at 5:06 am

I usually lay on top of my kids at the dentist, LOL. The other way never seems to work.

Ditto on the pain issue. Kayla is nonverbal so trying to figure out what’s wrong ends up being a game of 20 questions. Unfortunately, she’s JUST now gotten the concept of the YES and NO cards we made for her and when she’s screaming in pain, she’s really not in the mood.

Glad you are able to keep your sense of humor on the autism journey. I’m trying to maintain mine. Hard to do at 4AM (the time here right now) because your kid doesn’t sleep. I feel like I’m in a state of perpetual jet lag. Gah.

Mary February 6, 2009 at 10:15 am

The J-man isn’t the world’s best sleeper either, but we’re usually lucky that he sleeps through the night now. Of course, this morning that meant that sometime after he woke up, he quietly stripped completely, then peed on the bed, then jumped up and down in the wet spot, which caused him to slide… you get the idea.
One of the kids in J-man’s class OFTEN wakes at 4 AM. I know that has to be SO hard. I dread the newborn lack of sleep thing we’ll have soon. I remember being so tired I went to sleep standing in the hall holding the J-man…
I have had a really bad cold (J-man brought it home, was droopy for 2 days, while Tim seems immune) and have almost completely lost my voice. My ears are starting to hurt, and now I’m wondering if the J-man might have an ear issue after all.

Elysa Henegar February 6, 2009 at 3:23 pm

This post made me laugh out loud several times, because I’ve been there and done that.:) Adam is extremely orally defensive as well and the dentist is a nightmare. In a way that only other autistic parents would understand, it was strangely comforting to know that I’m not the only one who has to lay on top of my child to get him through a dental exam.:)

Elysa Henegar February 6, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Oops… I meant to say “only other parents of autistic children would understand,” but I happen to think all of us are a little autistic anyway, so it still works.:)

Tim February 14, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Elysa,

I keep meaning to write a post on all my little quirks and things that would probably check off some boxes on somebody’s ‘autism characteristics’ list. :-)

Dental exams really are just about survival in my opinion. It kills us to put them through that, but I suppose 10-15 minutes every six months is something we have to at least attempt to do at some point. We try to keep the crazy-making events as quick and rare as possible. (dentists, haircuts, nail clipping, etc.) Weirdly enough, everything but the dentist has gotten less nuclear of late. The last haircut didn’t bring about any discernible injuries to either Mary or me!

FWIW – my right wrist and right thumb have almost been deemed unsprainable now. Quote from chiropractor, “It ain’t supposed to do that.” (!)

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