Some days I sing Dory’s refrain, “Just keep swimming” to myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed. What? I like Finding Nemo. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re an autism parent. Meetings, appointments, doctor’s appointments, schedules. It’s a never ending loop than can catch you, drag you under and flip you end over end, just like a big wave in the ocean. So I swim. Most days.
Hallee started telling me yesterday that her tummy hurt. This isn’t something unheard of in my house…a lot of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) kids have tummy issues. But as the night progressed, she started looking pale and getting more and more anxious, she started coughing. I should have seen it coming. I went in to get her up and ready for school this morning in the dark, wee hours and was met with a very feverish, aching kid. Her head hurt. Her back hurt. Her neck and hips hurt.
I get her settled back into bed, call the doctor and they can’t see her until 12:15. We can make it, but I still have to get her little sister to school across town. Mark is at work, my family is in New Jersey, my sister is in Texas. The ocean feels vast and lonely on days like this.
At the appointed time, I put a fevered, aching, kiddo into the car and call to make sure that my practice is running on schedule. Nothing worse than sitting in a waiting room with a dozen hacking, snotting kids and their also hacking and snotting parents for an extended period of time. We arrive. And we wait. And wait. And wait. At 12:45 we get called back. (remember, our appointment was at 12:15) Her anxiety goes up…my anger grows. I called to make sure they were running on time. Hallee’s been coming here since she was 5. They know that she gets overly anxious if we have to wait too long. They know she’s sick as a dog. At 1:05 our provider walks in. At this point, Hallee is a shivering, upset, mess who didn’t deserve an hour’s wait.
Long story short, they suspect flu, even though we all had our flu shots. They didn’t want to risk trying a flu swab after the strep swab. (it didn’t go smoothly) Her ears are full of fluid, so amoxicillin on top of Tami-Flu are called in.
Because it’s snowing like a son of a bitch and the roads are a mess, I take her home first since I know it will be at least an hour wait for the prescriptions to be ready. After getting her back in and cozy, I call the pharmacy to make sure they scripts were called in only to be told that they don’t carry Tami-Flu in the Bangor store, we’ll have to pick it up in Brewer. BREWER. ACROSS THE BRIDGE IN THE SNOW WITH A REALLY SICK CHILD IN THE CAR ALONG WITH HER STILL HEALTHY LITTLE SISTER. Breathe….deep breaths….freaking out isn’t going to help anyone here.
So I remind myself…things could be worse. They could. None of us are walking the floors in a pediatric cancer ward. We’re together. We’re home. We have prescription medications available to us, even if they’re in another town. (Mark is picking them up on his way home…Godsend) We have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge and double ply toilet paper. Really, in the big scheme of things, we’ve got it pretty good. At least that’s what I tell myself when the autistic waters get rough.
So when I get tired of swimming and feel like I can’t swim any further…I tread water. I stay in place, get my breath back and eye the horizon. In a little while, the swells will ease, the current will gentle and I’ll swim again.