It’s only 2:20pm and I’m ready for a glass of wine and my pillow – and I still have to pick up the kids from school.
This morning my daughter, G, had her annual physical. She hates doctors. She saw so many of them when she was a little, that just mentioning the doctor makes her anxious. Understandable for any of us, but for a person with autism, who is also on the cusp of puberty and all the hormones that go with it, everything gets amplified.
Luckily we go to a great practice, and the doctor knows us well. She was able to keep G fairly calm, only a few tears over laying back on the table to have her tummy palpated. We talked about concerns I had regarding her feet and her gait. She’s always been pronated (meaning her feet flex inward, ankles turning in) but I’ve noticed it getting much worse so that now she walks with her toes pointed outward, almost waddling. In the course of the exam we discovered that she’s grown over six inches in the past 15 months, and that can throw things “off kilter” for anyone. The doctor recommended seeing an orthopedist, and that G will probably need orthodics molded to be put in her shoes to correct this before it causes back problems. Wonderful. Another doctor. The pediatrician also noticed a strange curve in her back when screening for scoliosis, I could even see it myself. The doctor wasn’t sure if it was spine or muscle related – another reason for the orthopedic referral – great…
Then came time for the really hard part. Vaccines and hemoglobin test – three sticks. She started SCREAMING and flailing. The nurse went to get help, and I asked that she get a specific nurse, a woman who has been with this doctor since G was born – we know her and G likes her. “Nurse Karen” came in and tried talking her down but it was no use. It took myself, Nurse Karen, and the nurse with the needle to hold her down while she SCREAMED to stick her finger and give her the needles.
She recovered pretty quickly, but I was spent. I have had to hold my daughter down for more shots, more procedures, more simple exam things, than I care to remember, and it always leaves me shaking and sad. She’s 11 years old. I shouldn’t have to hold her down. But thanks to autism, there’s a lot of things that I shouldn’t have to do for her anymore, that I do.
At least she knows on one level that these shots are to help her – that we’re not just being sadistic. But the fear of the momentary pain takes over her whole body and she can’t make herself submit to logic.
I almost didn’t take her to school afterwards. She was still upset, talking about shots all the way to school, but in the end I decided that she needed to get back to her routine, and I needed some quiet time to myself to recover.