Saturday, April 18, 2009

Playing House Again...

Yup, we're home all weekend, playing 'House'. Unfortunately, it does not involve any kind of standard domestic bliss. This House is the doctordrama on seemingly on every cable channel on the planet. It's one of those shows that is probably playing somewhere in the world 24/7/365. If you don't know the premise, Dr. Gregory House is a diagnostician par excelance with an attitude that makes Don Rickels look like Richard Simmons. He spends his hour on the tube with his fellow doctors sifting through the various possibilities that could be making his patience bleed through their ears, making them see visions of Abe Lincoln, or whatever the bizzarro symptom of the illness of the week is.

Back to the past, Friday we took the day off to give the kids a well deserved fun day out. We had planned on the Bronx Zoo, and the world class effort it would take to get all seven of us out before 9 to beat the rush to get the best parking. But as with seemingly every other best laid plans, Livie woke up at 3 and didn't go down until 5, leaving me a little too tired to motivate the other half to get up, who was up until 2 getting stuff ready for the voyage. This is fairly normal for Livie, but this time when she was up, she seemed more agitated than normal; she was upset and crying at points rather than just awake and playing.

We wound up going to the lesser zoo in Staten Island on Friday, 2 hours less travel time total and no guilt missing any animals; we covered the place from stem to stern in a little over 3 hours. But all were satisfied with the place and we'll probably go back again when in a pinch for something to do. But Livie wasn't exactly herself again; not that we were overly concerned, she just wasn't eating like normal and she was just a little too compliant. The kids were all pretty great aside from a terrifying 5 minutes when Grace wandered away in an exhibit under the radar. 75 new gray hairs, 336 days off our lives, but all's well that ends found.

We made a proclamation to the kids after we got home that we would try and get to the New York Aquarium on Saturday; again, get out early and beat the crowds. We realized we were thwarted earlier in the night at least. Linda, the night owl tells me she was up around 11:30; me the early-to-bedder realized we were in trouble around 12:15 when I heard that blood curdling scream of Livie in discomfort. I held out in bed until 12:45 and finally came out; realizing that in Linda's shoes, I'd be looking to the bullpen for the relief pitcher by now. She had given up on comforting Livie by now; there was nothing that was consoling her at this point. She had been given the 'standard' sleep potion an hour ago (chamomile, Valerian root and her prescription Clonidine), but there was no signs of sleep coming; something was definitely bothering her.

I decided to go in and try and calm her down and evaluate the patient. I had woken up from a pretty deep sleep, mind you, so my diagnostic skill weren't exactly at their sharpest. But like any other parent in the middle of the night has learned, you have to take the emergencies when where and how they come, and night is the triage that you really have to get right. Here we go: Patient: 6 year old female, non verbal autistic. Since patient cannot convey what hurts, we need to diagnose from behaviors. Behaviors: uncontrolled screaming, kicking, holding hands on her ears, no desire for food or drink; general agitation toward anything and everything. Much as I'd like to claim to be House himself, I'm more like one of his flunkies; my focus was on the ear holding, I was looking at the strong possibility that she had an ear infection. House, I mean Linda, had another diagnosis: constipation. She had all the symptoms on her side: she noted that the last time the patient had a BM was Wednesday night, and it was strange. She also had not been eating as well as normal the previous night and Friday.

I was still hedging, I had not seen her pull up her legs or react favorably to a belly rub, so I still had ears as an equal possibility. So now, just like in the show, we have to weigh treatments. We gave Motrin; that was pretty much a no branier. Linda also talked me into Miralax; a prescription stool softener that would surely help start the battle against impacted stools if that were the case. She rationalized that this would be the steps that the doctor would take if we took her on Saturday and she could not see any outward symptoms of constipation. It would blow and chance of going to the aquarium, but that was pretty much shot anyway. So we began treatment and waited it out. Linda laid with her and Liv fell asleep moaning at around 2; I made like House and kicked off early.

I got the early shift; 7am Grace walked out of our room and I followed, only to find Livie already out on the couch. She was very lethargic but no fever. Usually, with an ear infection the fever would eventually show up, my hypothesis was rapidly fading. She still didn't want to eat; now she was even hesitant to drink. By noon, she hit another crying jag and Linda House was pushing for more drastic measures: three words...e-ni-ma. As long as I was the holder and not the kicker trying to get it between the uprights, I was okay with this. Because this is network TV, I'll cut out the graphics and just say, after 15 minutes, the kick was good and our child seemed much much happier. The 'kicker' was that she was actually hungry for dinner tonight and there has not had any outbursts since.

We are now doing all our Sunday jobs today, in an attempt to get the aquarium tomorrow; our three kids were troopers today missing out on a simply gorgeous day for our little medical crisis. I hope that we finally both get a full night's sleep tonight and we can be energized to hang out withe the fishes tomorrow. Another happy ending brought on by good diagnostics.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Post Mortem

I have to finish up the deer story, because I had so much fun with it this week. First and foremost, my yard is now doeless, Jane was taken away on Thursday afternoon. The cost was less than the 300 dollars originally quoted. But when I got home Thursday night, my mom-in-law confronted me saying "I would have done it for 50! I could have made a couple of bucks..." The ditch digging careers were short-lived for me and Dillan; no way I was spending a rare weekend off in hard labor; besides, the rains in our area have once again turned our backyard into Lake Monmouth. I would have had to weigh her down with boulders to get her to the bottom.

My best moment, however, was April 1 at work. My whole area was well versed in the now legendary ex-deer and my predicament. Late in the afternoon, I called home and got no answer, so I held on the the receiver and decided to have some fun.

"Hey hon, did the guy come yet to pick up the deer? What do you mean your mom went back there? No, no no your kidding me? With a KNIFE? Wait, wait when did the cops get there...and she was bloody? OK, OK, OK calm down! I'm sure the neighbor across the street can watch the kids while you go down to the station. I know I know, but Aly can watch the girls. OK, you want me to come home? What's that? APRIL FOOL?"

Suddenly, the office broke out in quiet snickers, as they had heard the whole story. I retorted and held up the receiver and said "The jokes on YOU all, there's no one on the line!" I had been looking all day to get them and I finally did!

My performance was nominated, and I'm sure it will win, the Robert Newhart Academy of Telephone One-sided Conversations Award... affectionately know as the 'Phoney'. I am out a tidy sum getting rid of that animal, but I sure did have some fun with it!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Autism Awareness Day

I feel remiss of late because I have not been heavily focused on the area of talking on the internet and fighting for rights and legislation and general visibility for those on the spectrum and those who care for them. Today, of course, is Autism Awareness Day and I think many families on the spectrum are in the same spot that we are in: we have far to much to do to spread awareness. I did wear one of my Autism Awareness golf shirts to work today; I still got berated for being late for a meeting because I choose to help my wife get my two autistic girls on the bus in the morning. There are far too many people out there who have that 'pick yourself up by your bootstraps' attitude and refuse to believe that THEIR priorities are THE priorities and that accommodations are for the weak. I however, have grown to a new understanding and have new definitions for the words 'accomodation' and 'weak'.

I've had a very weird and tough week and much of what I have had to deal with has had nothing to do with autism; but I find that, in many cases, it indirectly does. Late because of the extra accommodations my daughters need to make sure they get on the bus; I'm tired because Livie got up in the middle of the night (it's been much better of late, but still); my wife's still ferrying the girls to after school therapies. We always have that specter of whether we are doing too much, not enough and what is best for each girl.

I guess that is what I'd like everyone to be aware of: that it is still a daily struggle. But then again, after 4 years on this road I have grown so much in my capacity to appreciate the small things in life. My love for my girls and pride for what they have, can and will accomplish knows no bounds. My pride and love for everyone in our family and how they have grown to meet this challenge as well, astounds.

I just hope that every family dealing with autism can grow in their capacities the way ours has over these past 4 years. Yes we do need 'accomodations'; but we are far from weak. God bless us all and those looking from the outside into the spectrum, keep us in your thoughts today, this month and throughout the year...