Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Into Each Life a Little Mucus Must Fall:

Look what they made me, Dad!
One of the worries about dealing with a non-communicative child is the difficulty in discerning how ill they are at any given moment. Then again sometimes information can come in startling ways. And in, what seems at the time, a wealth of over-information.
   A few months ago, Dude had a bit of a cough for a couple of days, but wasn't showing any more symptoms than that until one afternoon while we were both alone in the house. David was upstairs preparing to battle (or do) Evil depending on his mood and the game he was playing. I was downstairs, on the couch reading a book, when I heard him take a break from his Gaming to attend to the necessities of nature. Since no one else was in the house I clearly heard him start his business and with the slight smile of one who spent many extra years teaching his son to go when he needed to instead of just when told, I went back to my book.  There were no sound producing electronic devices or people in the house so there were no distractions to block the sound that I heard next.
   'My dick is bleeding!'
   My head snapped up from my book and my keen, analytical mind caused my mouth to say, 'What the fu....?' Trying to convince myself I hadn't heard what I knew I'd heard, I ran up the stairs to find David, business unfinished looking from me to his male appendage, almost as if he wanted me to 'fix it', like it was a broken controller or something. 'What did you say?' I demanded as I entered the little room. He looked  from himself to me and back to himself almost nervously. I suddenly realized that perhaps he thought that he was in trouble for using 'the D-word'.  I curbed my frustration (I've had a bit of practice with that) and asked him again, only sounding a little (ok, maybe more than a little) anxious, 'What did you say?'
It Burned!!
  He looked back up at me and said in a clear, but untroubled voice, 'My dick is bleeding.' Two quick strides and a downward glance assured me that, in fact, it was not bleeding. Despite his insistence of urinary exsanguination there seemed to be nothing wrong with either the appendage, or the steady stream of urine-colored urine falling into the bowl. 'It's burned.' he explained matter-of-factly as he finished up what he was doing and settled his clothing to something more suitable for public viewing, then walked past me to the other room to continue battling/doing Evil.
   It suddenly dawned on me what was likely going on. Dude is something of a Drama King. (no telling where he got that.... shut up Lorraine!) Nothing 'hurts' with Dave, it 'bleeds'. He'll stub a toe or drop something on a finger or even get a mosquito bite and immediately yell out, 'It BLEEDS!' So the Dude-dad brain should have translated 'My dick is bleeding!' to 'Father, I don't wish to alarm you, but I'm experiencing a certain discomfort in my genital area.'  With 2 ex-wives, 4 pregnancies, 4 sisters, and uncountable Aunts and female cousins in my experience, I've had dealings with, or heard about, just about everything that can happen to the urinary tract in graphic (and sometimes embarrassing) detail. So it occurred to me that my son might have some sort of urinary infection. Either that, or my son's generative member actually was on fire, I just couldn't see the flames.
   Trusting in the homeopathic remedies that have served generations of pregnant women so well, I started him on a regimen of cranberry juice and extra water and cut out what little caffeine he might have had. Within hours, seemingly, he was doing much better, and I didn't hear anything more about 'bleeding', but his cough continued through the Holiday.
    One sure sign that David isn't feeling well is when he doesn't eat. Especially when the meal consists of something with cheese, sauce, gravy, or pasta. (The perfect Dude-meal would consist of all of these elements and have the ability to be dipped in ketchup and ranch dressing) (Thankfully, modern gastronomic science has yet to develop such a thing) Since Thanksgiving is the gravy-est, most sauce laden holiday on the map, with cheese and ranch dressing thrown in and left-overs with pasta, it's nearly a perfect fit. So when Dude ignored his high-piled plate and didn't even touch the warm, freshly buttered rolls, I knew we were in trouble.
   Generally Dave is so healthy it could almost make you sick. When he does come down with the occasional cold a little extra sleep sets him to rights within a day or so. And so it seemed this time. Other than the fact that his cough didn't abate, despite cold medicines, and he was still only eating once a day, he didn't seem to be run-down or listless, but he just didn't get any better.
   Once the holiday weekend was over we decided to take Dave to the doctor. Somehow it was Raine's turn. I made the call, got the appointment, but I was bundled firmly off to work and Raine was the one who kept it. For one reason or another Dude has a lot of experience in Doctor's offices. He usually hates going to the doc's office, hospital (except for elevators!), care center, et al, so I distractedly went about my work and glanced at my phone every 10 minutes expecting to have to drop everything and rush to Beaver (it's really a town, and that really is its name) after a call from the Sheriffs Office Hostage Negotiation Unit to un-barricade my son from the Medical Center where he was running rampant. I'd show up and there'd be helicopters and news anchors swarming overhead and a crowd of people gawking behind caution tape with Japanese tourists snapping pictures of the carnage. Okay, so maybe I was a little paranoid... and very imaginative.
   When the call came it was Raine and not only did I not have to rush to rescue the public from the ravages of my offspring, but he was almost wonderful at the doctor's office. (the little weasel!) He charmed the front desk ladies with some witty and familiar banter: 'Hi babes! We're at the doctor's office to see the doctor.' And then when they walked him back to the examining room he reached up to flip the little colored indicator flags near the door. 'Not that one,' The nurse stopped him, 'it's the yellow one.' 'Yep, it's the Yellow one!' he said, merrily and flipped the appropriate flag. The doctor came in later, as doctors do, and started the examination. Dave was cheery and co-operative and more energetic than he had been for days. Everything seemed fine until the doc listened to his chest. 'Oh yeah, that's not good.' she murmured in a cheery tone, then moved her stethoscope, 'Yep, definitely not good.'  Dude could have cared less about the diagnosis, he was quiet while she listened to his chest, and then continued babbling once she sat back up.
   Raine was still anxious about Dude, despite the fact that like a car taken to a mechanic, he didn't seem to have a thing wrong with him. The doctor said admiringly, 'Look at him, you'd never know that he was a sick little boy, would you?' 'How sick?' Raine asked as the doctor looked down David's (for once quiet) throat, "Oh, yeah," she said, sounding as if she were announcing a birthday, "It's like a river running back there."
Feeling fine, and ready to go!
     So the diagnosis was something like: Aspirant pneumonia (that's walking pneumonia for us old-folks) caused by a sinus infection/virus. Now traditionally (Back in the olden-days, you know, when I was young) this was countered by a month-long regimen of antibiotics, strange smelling pee (don't ask), several days to two weeks of bed-rest, and a lingering addiction to prescription Robitussin (with codeine, Woo!Hoo!) Now it's a Z-pack and truck the kid back to the work camp (school). I would have felt more apprehensive about this except after the first dose Dave had seemingly returned completely to normal... Dude-normal that is. Which filled me full of wonder at the advances in medicine, but at the same time made me wonder why we'd gotten him treated. (Man that kid has a LOT of energy!)
  Of course the successful treatment of his ailment meant that he felt fine while Raine and I struggled through the cold that caused his pneumonia that, once he no longer needed it, he generously gave to us. I know there are benefits to having children. I may not be sure what all of them are, but I know that good physical and mental health aren't anywhere on the list.

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