Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why me?

Yesterday I had one of those "Why me?" moments.  Every parent of a special needs kiddo has had them.  Heck, I suspect every parent has had them!

That moment when you think, "Why does this crap always happen to me?"

Obviously, Alan broke his arm a little over two weeks ago.  Alan is a climber.  We've kept him inside as much as possible since he had the cast put on in an effort to minimize his climbing.

Yesterday afternoon I heard a loud crash from the basement.  He had attempted to climb the shelves in our storage room.  But those shelves were not meant to hold up a 170 pound kid.

Over the years, he has climbed so many things it isn't funny.  DH has covered many of our pipes and wires in our mostly unfinished basement with plywood in an effort to protect them. 

We have installed grip bars near many of Alan's favorite climbing spots in the basement.  For years, we kept him out of the storage room and the work room with keyed locks but lately he just wasn't climbing where he wasn't supposed to climb ... much.  So we started leaving the doors unlocked.

Then he broke his arm and we started keeping him inside.  Apparently those sensory needs are building and he's started climbing the walls ... literally.

When I was growing up, my mom used to say, "I'd say I was paying for the sins of my youth, but I don't remember having that much fun."

Well, unfortunately, I did have that much fun.  And I'm paying ...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Halfway there

It was two weeks ago today that Alan broke his arm.  Two weeks now that we've been giving him sponge baths (ooooo, is that a treat!)  Two weeks now that we've been dealing with scrapes to our walls and cars.  Two weeks now that we've been trying to limit his climbing.

Surprisingly, it has not been that hard.

Happily perched on his favorite branch!
Okay, it hasn't been a picnic by any stretch of the imagination, but if you had told me three weeks ago that I would NOT be counting the days until the cast comes off, I would have said you were having a drug flashback or something.

Alan has been a trooper.  The first day he kept telling us "clean up" and "take off" and "help" and holding out his arm.  But then he sort of resigned himself to the thing.  We actually have not heard any requests for the cast to come off in at least a week -- which is pretty amazing really.
Climbing with the cast

We kept him inside for 11 days with constant pestering for "outside" and "climb tree".  Finally on Friday we relented and let him climb but told him that he had to climb down instead of jumping.

This worked for about an hour before he decided to go for it and get that sensory feedback that he craves from jumping. 

School tells us pretty much the same thing.  He has been an amazingly good sport about the whole process.

But today I get to call and schedule the removal of that darn thing!  And then I will probably start counting the days ... 

Happy Monday.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"I'm Sorry"

I have heard so many times from special needs parents how much they despise the words "I'm sorry" when it comes to their children.  Well, I'm sorry, but I don't get that one.  What would you rather people say?  "Congratulations!"???

There isn't a person alive that thinks when they are pregnant "oh I hope I get a special needs child!"  But that doesn't mean we don't love them all the same.  Now there are amazing people out there that choose to adopt special needs children and all I can say is "Wow!  More power to you!"

But when it comes to a child you gave birth to or that you adopted not knowing their issues, I think "I'm sorry" is a fine thing to say.

A person that says "I'm sorry" isn't saying "I'm sorry that your child was born."  They are merely saying "I'm sorry you have these difficulties."  Some days, I feel sorry for myself, too!  Other days I am pretty thrilled that I don't have typical kids.

Usually when I hear "I'm sorry" it is because I am trying to get some form of accommodation (like no waiting at the doctor's office) so I just say "thank you" and move on.  Occasionally I hear it when I am catching up with an old friend and I am explaining why my 18 yo high school graduate is not looking at colleges.  Then I usually respond with some snarky comeback like "well at least I don't have the tuition payments you have!"

On the other hand I do get tired of people telling me what therapy to use or how I should parent.  I'm sorry, but live at my house for a week and then make your snarky comment about how unhealthy my child eats.  Do you honestly think I don't know that it is unhealthy?

So for all those parents out there that despise "I'm sorry", I'm sorry, I just don't get it.  There are a lot bigger issues out there.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Baby steps

Yesterday was "doctor day" in the Sparks household!

First morning after breaking his arm.
Between two previously scheduled "well" visits, a follow up on my foot, a follow up on Alan's arm and a nasty outbreak of poison ivy on Joe, I spent a good bit of time yesterday at the doctor.

The good news is that everyone is on the mend.  Joe got some steroids for his poison ivy, Alan's arm will not have to be reset and I am healing nicely with nice mobility in my toes.  Yay!

At the doctor's office yesterday.
Alan has been surprisingly accepting of the cast.  The first morning he backflipped out of bed and slid down the stairs (cast first), but has been more sedate of late - although he was climbing in the basement stairwell yesterday!  He also decided to do some weird balancing at the doctor's office.

His constant pestering to "go outside" and "climb tree" (two things he had never in the past requested with his talker but had requested relentlessly via talker on his first few days of being housebound) has abated.  He still asks a few times a day and tries the back door for good measure, but we haven't had a single meltdown over his house arrest.  Yay!!

The walking wounded
He also seems to like his new school.  He even asked for me to pack his lunch on Saturday (his way of asking if it is a school day) several times which I took as a promising sign.

He also cooperated with getting x-rays and having the pediatrician listen to his heart (although the ears were NOT happening this year!)

So ... baby steps ...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back to school ... Alan style!

Like so many things he does, Alan did his first day of high school in his own signature style. He started the day by coming down the stairs in his usual fashion and getting on the bus like any other kid. He apparently had a fairly good day at his new school other than not liking that lunch was later than usual.

Later that evening, he was climbing (as usual) in his favorite cherry tree and he jumped out (as usual) and apparently landed bad (most unusual). He started screaming and crying and came inside. We checked him out and DH noticed that his wrists felt different. On his right wrist we could easily feel both bones but on the left, we could only feel one.  He was also allowing us (even encouraging us) to put pressure on his left wrist.

So about 7:40 last night we packed up and headed to the local ER. Once again, this hospital was pretty fantastic with only a few mishaps. They got us out of the waiting room in record time and into the pediatric wing.  They brought in a cool sensory light machine that actually distracted him for a little while.  They went and found trains when we said he liked them.  They even got me some pillows so I could elevate my foot.

Although Alan was NOT happy about being there but we did get him X-rayed after a little struggle and the ER doc said he had a 30 degree angled break in the main bone of the arm. We needed to sedate him to set the bone and first we tried the liquid sedative that he took for his MRI, but we could not convince him to drink it this time.  He fell asleep on his own about 9:45 and the nurses came in to give him his sedative shot about 10:15 but he freaked out and we had a huge wrestling match and the sedative didn't take.

Of course, as DH pointed out, he had learned not to fall asleep at the hospital so he was fighting it pretty hard.  They came up with a second medication (at this point there are so many meds in his system they had to be super careful about drug interactions) and were planning to come in with another one.  We weren't sure how late we were going to be there at this point so I called my sister to come get me (I can't drive because of my foot) and I left a little before midnight.

They came in to give him the second sedative and this seemed to work.  Then they took another X-ray because one of the nurses apparently heard a "grind and pop" during the wrestling match and they were worried we had done more damage. Turns out we set the bone perfectly.  (What is that saying about God protecting fools and small children?)

The orthopedist opted to do an above the elbow cast because otherwise we figured he would pull off a wrist only cast like an uncomfortable sleeve.  Before the orthopedist came in, the nurses told us that it would probably be a splint and he'd get his cast in a couple of days after the swelling went down.  Luckily there was no major swelling and he came home with a plaster cast.  He can't get it wet.  DH could have opted for a fiberglass cast because those can get wet but they can also be picked apart according to the doctor which would be bad with Alan's OCD (the consummate picker!) so he opted for the plaster.

Alan goes back on Monday for another X-ray but right now the plan is to have the cast stay on 4 weeks.  Of course, he is supposed to go to the sedation dentist in 5.5 weeks so that might be taken into consideration.

DH and Alan finally got home about 1:30 am and we all crashed as best we could.  Alan does not like the cast and pulling at the soft edges a lot at first. Of course this will leave the rough plaster exposed so we are trying to stop him. He doesn't like the sling although that would probably take some of the weight off his arm.  He is getting much better although he did fall off his chair in the kitchen when he reached down to pick up a dropped item and the weight of the cast upset his balance.

And that was how we spent the first day of high school ... Alan style!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Das Boot

In so many ways Alan is oblivious to what is going on in our house.  But he has been surprisingly affected by my foot surgery. 

The first night after my surgery he was very upset.  DH had essentially locked me in our room with my foot propped up.  We were both worried that in Alan's "gusto" he would bang into my foot and hurt it somehow.  So while he likes to hang out in our bed (snuggling, wrestling, watching his iPad, etc.) we do frequently have to lock him out of our room (when one of us is sick, tired, DH is working weird hours, etc.) and it is never much of an issue.  However the night of my surgery Alan was very fretful.  Finally shortly before it was his bedtime, DH had Alan come into our room to give me a kiss goodnight and after that he was noticeably calmer.

After that first night we allowed him access to our room and he has been very gentle with my foot.  He has checked it out, but always gently.  He watches me strap on Das Boot or cross a room on crutches but he doesn't get in my way.  He even threw out trash for me (although getting him to hand me my drink cup is still a bit of a challenge).

He has been a lot more agreeable for the last day or so since I've spent more time in the family room and less in the bedroom.  Even though I am on "his" section of the sectional, he moved to a different place without argument.

This afternoon he was pestering to "go bye-bye" until I took off Das Boot and put my foot up on some pillows and then he sat down to his plate of food without further argument.

It is sort of funny and nice to see these little expressions of maturity.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Another one bites the dust ...

Alan is so hard on his clothes.  We just bought him all those cute shirts a couple of weeks ago and two of them are already ripped ... and I'm not talking a tiny hole!

Today (before he ripped it) he was wearing the t-shirt that says "Yes, I'm autistic and a blessing to those that get to know me."  We were out shopping and one of our stops was at the supermarket.  We also get our prescriptions filled there and I was making my monthly pick up plus a few extras since I am having foot surgery on Wednesday.  Alan was pushing the cart and just kept pushing it past the pharmacy to the checkout lanes.  I could hear him jabbering and cooing but I couldn't see him.

When I finished at the pharmacy, I walked as fast as is socially acceptable to get over to the checkout lanes.  I was very curious what he would do.  Turns out he got in line but didn't go so far as to take the items out of the cart although he was up to the cashier.  The young man running the checkout lane smiled at me and said, "I really like his shirt.  I'm on the spectrum too.  I have Aspergers."

As Joe would say, the good news is that the shirt was seen and appreciated before it was torn.  Hmm, I wonder how I will patch this?

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Joe comes out with the funniest observations on life.  Mostly I've just shared them on my Facebook page and with family, but I decided to collect as many as I could remember and put them in a blog.

I was dressed all in purple one day and Joe told me that I "looked like a plum."  Since he likes plums, I think it was a compliment, but it is always fun to try to translate the autistic mind.

He told me earlier this year that he hoped if he had kids that they were more like him and not like Alan because "Alan is just work, work, work, work!"

Joe took one look at this house (across the street from Alan's camp) and said, "That is really unsafe.  Alan could NOT live there."  (In case you can't tell from the picture, there is a second floor door that opens to a porch roof and there are no handrails.)

Once Joe's homeroom teacher had been out sick for several days.  When she saw Joe on her first morning back she said, "I really missed you, Joe!"  His response?  "Well I managed to do just fine without you."  Luckily, she laughed and he amended it, "Well, I mean, it is good to have you back, too."

One night when we had Chinese for dinner and my fortune was something like "Your house will always have peace."  Needless to say, this gave DH and I quite a chuckle.  When we stopped laughing, Joe says, "That will never happen!" in a very matter of fact voice.  Another night there was no fortune in my fortune cookie and Joe decided that meant I was "unfortunate".

A few weeks ago, when I mentioned to Joe that I had a stomachache, he asked me if I thought "I might be getting pregnant."  (At that moment?!?!)

When I had a minor fender bender less than a year after totaling my previous car, Joe wanted to know if the new car survived.  (No query on me, I guess he figured I was walking and talking so I must be fine.)  When I told him that yes the car would be fine, it just needed a little repair, his response was, "Good.  Because I thought you were going through cars awfully fast."

Most parents try to prepare their child for the world.  I think I might have to prepare the world for my child!