Blood Draws are Exhausting

Today was our once-a-year trek to the doctor’s office for an “official” height & weight, and usually little else. Trek is a bit of a misnomer. Our office is barely a ten minute drive away. But the visit itself was most definitely long and arduous. So trek it is. 

Let’s get the good news out of the way. My barely more than a month away from being 14-year-old is 5’5¾” and put on enough muscle weight the doctor was concerned about his weight gain. My two weeks away from being 12-year-old is 4’10” and is a little overweight. Which we knew. And that is what led to our long and arduous visit.

He needed a blood draw to check his hemoglobin, cholesterol, thyroid, and something else that I can’t remember and probably wasn’t important anyway. Last year I’m pretty sure we checked the same things, and they came back normal. Last year we fought him and had to hold him down and he vomited all over the floor after and I imagine all I was thinking was “good, that’s what you get for traumatizing my son!” I just think Mister Man is built like his daddy and he’s a solid chunk of love.

So I send him into the lab with Michael. I figured he would react better (meaning, not at all) if I wasn’t there. You know how some kids are. I mean, my mother had to take my oldest into kindergarten because if I took him he thought he had separation anxiety. If mom took him he was all “whatever, bye!” Except Malachai wasn’t all “whatever, bye!” about this blood draw. About 10 minutes or so after they’ve gone in I hear my name. Uh oh. So I go into the lab and see Michael trying to hold Malachai’s arm down and he’s asking me to hold his other arm and Malachai is obviously freaking out and trying to back away from everyone. So I squat down and have him look at my face and we spend five or ten minutes just trying to calm him down. I tried to see if his iPod would distract him enough to get the stick. I tried to have Michael prep him for it. I asked if they could use a rubber tourniquet instead of the blood pressure cuff looking one they were using because he *really* hates those things and its use isn’t helping to get him to calm down. We ask if he wants to go lie down in a private room where he can stretch out while they take the blood. I start playing a game on his iPod. I put his iPod away in the wrong pocket. I bribe him with food, something I hate doing, but I tell him we can go to TooJays and he can order anything he wants, even pancakes!, if he just calms down and lets them do the stick. The worst part is the cuff, I promise! I try to hold him down because it’s been so long and there is a line building up in the hall and the phlebotomist wants to get us out of there. We’ve all backed away and gotten closer again. I can see him shutting down. He isn’t looking at anyone, but he is looking everywhere. His arms are across his body, obvious body language saying move back, leave me alone, you’re crowding me. I have to leave. I see my day breaking down because he is this close to a full on meltdown and he’s too big for me to handle now. The doctor goes in to see what’s wrong, and I gather he and Michael held Malachai still and managed to get the two vials of blood they needed. I go in and his eyes are still wide, and his skin is flushed with exertion. He’s on the verge of tears. I gather him and take him to a chair and we sit and cuddle and I’m careful to not restrain him and he leans back into me. He looks for his iPod, but it’s still in the wrong pocket and he wavers for a minute until I remind him that I put it in a different pocket in his cargo shorts. We sit for maybe another 10-15 minutes waiting for the results. I can tell he is collecting himself. The initial results are fine. We leave. He walks out on his own and I hope that it means we won’t have a bad day after all.

After he walks out the door he walks right into the street. He hasn’t looked. There is a car coming. He never looks. I yell and rush to grab his shirt. This time he doesn’t pull away, but usually he does. I had asked if the doctor will fill out a form for a handicap tag because this is getting more and more common. Except it isn’t that it’s more common, it’s that he’s so big, too big for me to carry or hold to restrain. I have that form ready to take back to the doctor’s office next week so we can maybe take care of that before school starts.

After the doctor we dropped the littlest one off at camp. She was only an hour late. She would have barely been late at all if it weren’t for the fiasco about the blood draw. Then we went to TooJays. He did order what he wanted, but it wasn’t anything with bread or dairy. At the end of our meal, while waiting on the check and whatnot, he decided that over the back of the booth was the way to get out. Then we went to the pet store to look for hermit crab shells and we oohed and ahhed over the ferrets and birds and cats and hamsters and gerbils and bunnies. He got super excited but was willing to leave when they didn’t have what we went in for. Then we went home, and other than the usual obsessive need to share iFunny, and parody youtube videos, and sitting on his computer, we had a pretty normal day. For us. It followed his expected pattern. We went to therapy. I broke form and had to go to the store after, which was ok, right up until they didn’t have what I was there to get and had to go considerably out of the way to another store to get it. Commence with the whining. Luckily the compact flash cards were near the Wii display at Best Buy and he was able to wander off to those while Dorian and I went in search of a memory card. We got home, he turned into the NakedNinja™ and all was right with his world. Our evening has been pretty child. He even got his bandaid off and told me it wasn’t just a stick, there’s a bruise and a red spot.

So I’m exhausted, and he’s laying on my bed giggling at iFunny while we watch Girl Meet World and I type this up.

I forget so often that he is autistic. When I get confronted with it, I think it still scares me. Not because I can’t handle it, but because I do forget. That means that other people probably don’t notice, until they do, and then it turns into a “thing”. I worry about his future in ways  that don’t even cross my mind about my other children. I worry that he won’t ever find a group of friends he fits in with. I worry that being so “high functioning” means he is missing out on services that will better prepare him for life. And then I kick myself, because I can prepare him for life. I can’t be his best friend for life, but I can be his best friend for now. One day he’ll slot right into life with everyone else and that’s good enough for me.

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