Call Me Maybe & Other Tales from the Dark Side

Have you ever wondered what happens when you call a special needs (SN) parent and tell them their child is sick or something could be wrong?

It’s slightly different than when you call a parent whose child isn’t a frequent flier in emergency rooms and Children’s Hospital. It’s even more removed from the reality of the non-special needs parent’s world if there are two SN children in one family. I’ll share with you about an hour of my reality from yesterday and what happened to me as a SN parent.

School Nurse: Nick ran into a desk or something and his tube site has a little blood.

I immediately verbally run through the tube checklist with her. Is the tube still in place? Are any large tears visible? Is it tender to touch? Does he seem able to walk and move without pain? I’m asking all of this while mentally calculating how long it will take me to get from my oldest son’s field trip out in BFE to the school and then to the ER. I’m also mouthing to my son, who is in the car with me, to get his phone ready to dial the pediatrician’s office. The nurse and I finish the checklist and we decide the crisis is averted, all will be fine, g-tubes are sturdy designs and we say pleasant good-byes.

Literally 25 minutes later into the drive back to the high school after the field trip, another school nurse calls.

School Nurse: Matt threw up in the cafeteria while eating his lunch. You need to come get him.

I immediately verbally run through the vomit checklist with her. Was he eating at the time? You do remember he has a sensitive gag reflex and if he’s distracted while chewing, he’ll gag, right? Did he continue eating, because this child refuses to eat on a good day, much less one where he’s not feeling well? Does he have fever? Does he appear to feel ill? She states he looks like he’s fine, yes he did finish eating and she’ll watch him for a short period of time to see if his wellness decreases. We say pleasant good-byes.

About 30 minutes later, my son and I are back to civilization and and shopping for running shoes. Matt’s school nurse calls.

School Nurse: Matt threw up in the classroom. You need to come get him.

My mind goes into panic mode as I drive to the school. If he’s really sick, who else in the house has been exposed? I am taking Nick all day tomorrow to Texas Children’s and Michael has an appointment. If I take Matt with us, will he be vomiting all over the hospital? They don’t like when you bring sick siblings to appointments. What if Nick gets sick? Do I still take him to his ENT visit? He needs to go, because he has hardly any hearing right now and the ENT will set a surgery date for tubes. This shouldn’t be delayed. Who else will catch this? Will Emma catch it? She can’t! She has a football game to perform at tomorrow! She’s in the front row when the marching band begins their show. She can’t be sick and miss this! She can’t be sick for Saturday, either, during the marching contest. What if Allen gets sick? He has 2 choir performances this weekend. He has the SAT test Saturday!!! What if I get sick? I fly out to Atlanta on Saturday for a 2-day photography session! I can’t be sick and do that! OMG – this means I have to Matt in my new car! What if throws up in my car? Do I have a bag?

“Allen, take your shoes out of that bag! I’ll need it for Matt!”

Great! Now I’m feeling sick from this stress. Should I pull over and ask Allen to drive? What if he freaks out? He’s only a kid. He doesn’t need to be driving his sick mother and brother around. Maybe I should text Michael and tell him to meet me at the school. Allen can take his truck and drive home and not be exposed to my and Matt’s illness. Does Michael have it, too? We always kiss several times a day. Maybe I passed it to him. We can’t both be sick at the same time. I’m going to tell him I feel worse than him and need to sleep first.

Agh! The little kids have CCE tonight. Should I let Nick and Jessi go? What if they get sick at CCE? Allen is supposed to help at CCE. Maybe he shouldn’t go. Emma is at an Alfie Boe concert. What if she gets sick there? Maybe Allen can miss CCE and drive downtown to get Emma. She’s going to be so upset if she misses this! I feel like I need to vomit. OK, I will pull over quickly if it doesn’t pass in 5 seconds.

“Mom, I go ‘gah’ in the trash can.” He holds his stomach like he’s seen on the movies, but never does in real life. Allen and I give Matt a hug and put him in the car. On the drive home, I test my sickko out, “Do you want to stop and get ice cream?”

He passed the test. And then ate half a pizza at dinner. As soon as I got home, I fell into bed and stared at the wall. Three phone calls about my SN kids had wiped me out. Maybe I’m a worry-wart. Or maybe it’s simply the dark side of my reality. I appreciate the school nurses calling to keep me updated about my kids and I want them to call me. Maybe.

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