I just took some chocolate chip cookies to the neighbor’s house. Normally, I do that to express sympathy. I eat for comfort. Surely you do, as well. But today, I was saying, “Thank you.” We barely know these neighbors, a married couple with teen kids. In the three years we’ve lived here, we’ve exchanged maybe thirty words.
But when Sam jumped out of my car today, they drove Scott to the hospital so he could be with us sooner, rather than later.
Let me back up.
Sam had speech therapy this morning, and that went well. At the end, he spied the candy in Miss Becky’s cabinet, and I said OK, so she gave him a pixie stick. While I was talking to her, Sam left. As in walked out the front door, and headed across the parking lot. Let me just say, all that running and exercise I’ve been doing but hating? Today it all paid off for me. I booked it through the busy hospital parking lot at track runner speeds to catch that kid, and he was running all out, too.
The consequence for this behavior, which is unfortunately frequent, is the loss of a privilege, as well as having to walk back all the way to the beginning and repeat his walk with me. I try to stay low key at these times, firm but happy. “This is just how it is, and it’s not a big deal, and you need to remember.. .etc.”
The privilege he lost was the candy.
In the hospital (the therapy center is located inside a hospital), he started screaming for it back. I said he could earn it by walking with me the right way through the parking lot. He threw himself on the floor and said, “No, NOW.”
I said, “I’m walking to the car now. I love you. I hope you come with me.”
So I picked him up to carry.
He started screaming and kicking, and then he wriggled loose again in the parking lot, and holy shit he nearly got killed. After the truck swerved around him, he sat down in one of the lot islands, in the middle of some grass. We eyed each other warily from either end of the island, and I called Scott to let him know that we needed backup from the psychiatrist.
Sam has a cold right now, and the good doctor has told us that the infection is basically screwing with his brain so that his medication isn’t helping him, reducing him to a pre-medicated state. But when we talked to him yesterday about Sam’s escalating behaviors, he said that if it got worse, he could prescribe something different on a temporary basis.
Standing in that green island, I was pretty sure it had just gotten worse. So I called Scott. And then Sam seemed to come around. If he wasn’t calm, he at least wasn’t running away.
Oh. There’s something you need to know first. After he nearly got killed, I blew the mental screw-it whistle and agreed to give him the candy anyway. Temper tantrum, whatever, not worth dying. He rejected the candy. I knew then it was a meltdown (temper tantrums end when you give the kid the desired object), and I should have realized the calm that followed was all kinds of wrong.
He was still carping, but I buckled him into the car and started out of the lot. The kid lock is turned on, so he can’t get out of his own door, and it wasn’t until I realized his gripe session had moved to his sister’s side of the vehicle that I saw he was out of his seatbelt. I looked back just in time to see him open his sister’s door (her kidlock is off, she being trustworthy enough not to pull shit like this). I slammed on the brakes and he jumped out onto the pavement.
I jumped out, too and we performed another mini-marathon through the hospital lot. Again. Exercise does have an upside. So does adrenaline. I caught him a second time without being winded. I had thrown my cell phone on the seat, so I couldn’t call anybody. We were on the other side of the parking lot, away from the hospital, and I had exactly one option left.
There is a doctor’s building across from the hospital, and I was nearby. It’s actually where Sam’s pediatrician’s office is located. I pinned Sam behind my back (easier than it sounds) and headed over there. This woman with a cell phone followed me the whole way. I actually and sincerely appreciated her concern. Sam looked like a kidnapping victim, and I am grateful to know that if somebody did try to take him, there are people brave enough to stand up and try to do what’s right.
I just wished she would have gotten close enough to beg for help. She lost interest when I walked straight into the doctor’s building with him, so I was left to stagger into the elevator, ride up a floor, and make my way to the pediatrician unaided.
I walked through the pediatrician’s door and said, “Help me,” and things moved fast. In rapid order, I was able to call the psychiatrist myself and talk to his receptionist while two nurses pinned Sam down for me in a room. And both the pediatric secretary and the psychiatric one agreed to call Scott. Also? The pediatric nurse went down and drove my car to a parking slot. Can anybody say “above and beyond the call?”.
In the end, Sam was so out of control that we had to squad him back across the parking lot to the emergency room. He finally came out of the melt about half an hour in, so that by the time the squad arrived, he was actually reasonably calm, and I could have probably carried him across. Hell, when we got to the hospital, he murmured, “I’m sorry I jumped out of the car, Mom,” in this miserable little contrite voice.
In the meantime, Scott got the message, but in garbled translation. He had two nurses telling him Sam was having a bad reaction, possibly to his meds. So his mind flew to allergic rather than behavioral reaction. Sam is taking an antibiotic (Cefzil) for the sinus infection that comes out of this cold. He has a penicillin allergy. As long as he isn’t part of an unfortunate 5% of the population, Cefzil should be OK for him to take. But when Scott heard “bad reaction”, he had some bad moments.
And his car was in the shop. He called a cab, but he wasn’t sure how long it would take to get to him, so he also went door to door asking for help. And that’s where the neighbors come in. This neighbor who barely knows us, agreed without a second thought to drive Scott to the hospital. The potential risk to themselves was outweighed by the desire to help.
And so I took them cookies. Because it’s all I can do to say thank you.
We’re all home now. The doctor has prescribed Sam the temporary medication (Risperidone). He was still unholy all afternoon. But he was unholy at home where our options for making him safe are so much greater than in the car. Today, we were helped by a whole variety of people who barely know us. Tomorrow, I’ve got a lot of cookies to bake. And tonight? Tonight, I’m drinking a glass of wine.
Yes, things are better now. You can find out how much here Sam Part IV, and Fix You
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.