This summer has been a huge trial for me physically. I am not the type of person who is sick all of the time. In fact, the last time I was hospitalized was when I had my son. However, I have discovered that I am not invincible even though I would like to be and even the healthiest mom can be knocked off her feet and out of the loop.
I have never been so sick in my life as I was when I told my husband I needed to go to the ER at the end of May. Thankfully I did, because I had a severe case of pneumonia. I was so oblivious to my own body’s rhythms that I didn’t realize I was even sick! As caregivers, we can forget to take care of ourselves and somehow in the thick of things I lost my way in knowing I was ill or that something was wrong with me.
My son took this bout of illness really hard because unfortunately we had to take him with us to the ER. His grandma was out of town and we don’t really have someone who could take him in these situations other than her. So he witnessed them poking and prodding me even though my husband tried to remove him from the room before it began. This started the spiral of him worrying about me and being afraid I wouldn’t come home.
It’s difficult to explain to young children what is happening, but a special needs child is even more difficult. It just broke my heart to see him so upset. And the pneumonia lingered for so long that he was almost used to seeing me struggle to breathe or do basic things.
Just as I started feeling better, I relapsed and then my doctor told me I might have a blood clot but they don’t know where. So another round of testing and trying to explain to my son that mommy is being checked out to make sure she is ok.
Once my doctor was satisfied that I didn’t have a blood clot, I went in for my scheduled biopsy for my celiac disease and had extreme pain right after the biopsy. No more than an hour after coming home I was back in the ER with severe pain. I now had 3 kidney stones almost large enough to have surgery.
Now we had to explain that he had to be careful with mommy as she is sick and needs rest. By the end of the summer, he began to understand that I was not well and so he wanted to take care of me. Special needs kids are very intuitive and know when something is not right even if they don’t understand why.
My son was so protective that one time I slept, he brought his crayons and coloring book to be with me and used me as a table. He just wanted to be close to me. He was so sweet with me and kept telling me that he would make me better. Having been in the hospital to visit me and seen the doctor check my heart and breathing, he was able to imitate it exactly. He was constantly checking on me.
I learned this summer — besides discovering I am not “Wonder Woman” — that although I tried to protect my son from this part of life, I can’t always do that. I just need to be more prepared for these types of things and know going in that he will be upset but have a way to guide him through it. It’s been a rough summer, but hopefully the hardest part is done. I just need to drink more water and listen to my own body more so I can rest when I need to rest. And maybe, my son might want to help other people when he grows up. One can only hope!