The sun hadn’t cleared the horizon this morning when my Fitbit buzzed my wrist to wake me up. (Sidebar: If you don’t have a Fitbit, this feature alone is worth it. I’m far less likely to murder someone with a flying alarm clock when it’s my bracelet that offends me) I was already awake because A) Little Bear is the worst sleeper ever and B) HOSPITAL DAY!!! I was a ball of nerves when I went in to wake Pea up. Would he be able to do this? Would he be too frightened to speak? WOULD IT HELP? The answers to these questions would finally be answered and I was both excited and flipping the freak out.
We tiptoed downstairs together – as to not wake up the baby that only sleeps when I have to be awake – and it felt like a school day. I packed a lunch, got everyone dressed and we hit the road nice and early to avoid the nightmare that is driving into the city. Daddy took the day off to stay with the offensively sleeping Little Bear. We talked the whole way and Pea was excited and nervous in a good way. Do you know how sick a little boy has to be in order to be excited to go to the hospital? Yeah, there’s that. The drive was uneventful and we even managed to stop at Starbucks for breakfast, where Pea agreed to try an English Muffin and actually liked it. It’s the little things, folks.
Once we arrived to check in, the paperwork started and the wait time was just long enough to give the thoughts time to run around Pea’s head. He started to clutch my arms and try to crawl inside my skin. He ducked his head into my chest and began mumbling into my shirt about how scared he was and how his stomach hurt. And I had the feeling I always have – FIX THIS. MAKE IT BETTER. LOVE THIS AWAY. I’m never able to actually do those things, which doesn’t get easier – no matter how many years have ticked by. And that’s not just an anxiety mom thing. It’s an ALL MOM THING.
By the time Pea’s name was called, he was in full on panic mode. We were lead to a conference room where Pea was given some legos and a smile by what turned out to be an AMAZING nurse. The paperwork and chats about history got underway. There was a LOT to talk about and record. I kept wondering why Pea needed to be here for this part – shouldn’t we get him started first? It’s so stark and boring in here. But we kept going. As it turns out, there was method to their madness. There were two nurses with us at this point and they would intermittently address Pea in some way, to which he literally could not speak or respond. But the nurses just merrily kept on as if he had. They would chuckle to each other about the joke he didn’t respond to or the question he didn’t answer. And slowly – ever soooooo slowly – he started to relax. At first it was just a hint of a smile before he ducked his head. Then a few whispered answers that were so faint, I couldn’t make them out from beside him. Then they got a little louder. At no point did the nurses make a big deal or acknowledge that he was opening up. They stayed the steady course. I kept doing my part, answering questions and putting my signature on 10,748 documents. Inside, my heart was swelling. These women KNEW. THEY KNOW MY PEA. I don’t have to explain how to help him. THEY KNOW. At one point, I felt tears threatening and I NEVER EVER CRY in front of Pea. Not because I was sad, but because the relief was like a tidal wave. This was the first time in our lives that I was with a team of people who knew even better than I did. I wanted to launch across the table and hug them and say, “THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME. THANK YOU FOR UNDERSTANDING US.” Help is a powerful thing. Taking a burden from someone, even if it’s just for a moment, can change a life.
The brilliant tricks continued and before I knew it, Pea had been taken back without me with absolutely no hysterics. I was in awe of these people. It was very hard not to ask them to move into our house. 😉 After all of my paperwork and doctor consults were over, I walked outside alone and sat in the shade for awhile. It wasn’t incredibly hot yet – still just 10:45am. I needed to breathe for a minute and feel the breeze on my face. I needed to close my eyes and let the sensation of relief wash over me. These wonderful people took my load today and carried it themselves. I felt it in my soul. And it was good.
When I picked up Pea, the reports were glowing. He had used his words all day. He participated in everything they did. He only got truly upset and overwhelmed twice and both times, he was able to tell the therapist exactly what was bothering him and why. This is unheard of for Pea when it comes to strangers. I quickly learned that these folks would never be strangers to him. They speak his language. He knew instinctively and immediately that they were his people. The drive home was positively blissful. He perched in his booster in the backseat and twitched and bounced gleefully as he told me about each and every staff member and all the cool things they said. He kicked his skinny little legs against the seat in anticipation of what would happen tomorrow. He gave me unlimited gap toothed grins as he shared what one of the other kids joked about at lunch. They made him peaceful. And they gave me hope.
Pea went back to being Pea when we got home. He cried and clutched me when I tried to go to the gym. He got angry with himself for needing to be corrected about something and ran out the front door to hide in the bushes and cry. I don’t know how much this program is going to help him. We will just have to ride it out and see. But I know that if anyone can help, these people are the ones that will do it. And I’ll take just about anything at this point. Today was enough to lighten my load. For that, we are blessed.
I know there are probably parents reading this who have been on the fence about seeking medical help. You have a child that is coping with his issues, at least a little bit. Maybe you think that you are managing pretty well on your own and the problems aren’t severe enough. (This is a typical mom move. “Oh, I’ve got this. I don’t need help”) Some of you may be loathe to give the issues a name. I know that seeking a diagnosis, especially one involving mental illness, can be daunting. Sometimes it’s easier to tell yourself it’s not that bad. “We’ve got this under control.” Please let me speak to your heart. Share your burden. Seek out a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. Let someone help. You will likely hear me say something like this a million times on this blog.:
If your child had diabetes – or you thought he might have it, you would take him to the doctor and get it checked. Of course, you would. This is no different.
There are amazing people out there that can help. Really. Amazing. People. Don’t feel guilty seeking them out. We all need a team. Teams are awesome, my friends.