Saturday, September 27, 2014

"Are You Serious" Awards - Volume XXXIV: The Fool Me Twice Edition

Let this be a cautionary tale to you...

Many of our kids, no matter what the label, have a multitude of diagnoses.  This means that our kids have more than one medical or social challenge that they need to give attention.  It's hard enough for adults to juggle a variety of treatments.  Harder still for our children!

As I always tell my kids, "It's my job to train myself out of a job."  In other words, our lives as parents include day after day of instructing of our children in self-care.  

What our instructions look like completely depends upon our child's ability to translate what we are showing them into activity.  For some kids learning to brush teeth comes as early as age 2, and others beyond the age of 18.  Growing to manage their own diagnoses is an important journey for our children with chronic illnesses or special needs.  It may be as simple as developing the wisdom to use noise-cancelling head phones when a sensory overload situation occurs.  It may be as complex as learning when their own blood sugar is too low.

That being said, I have to say that you must be prepared for some setbacks.

My youngest child has a multitude of allergies, some of which could end her life in the blink of an eye.  Since she first began encountering the worst of these allergies at the age of 18 months, this is an awareness that we have developed in her from little on.  Her eyes will nearly bulge out of her head at the mere mention of penicillin, as her rare erythema multiforme reaction was caused by that drug.  She can tell you that she can't eat pineapple or that other triggers make her miserable.

Still, she forgets.

Yesterday, was one of those days.  As I saw the dreaded school district phone number on the Caller ID, my heart sank.  It was my daughter, announcing to me that her grass allergy had slipped her mind, and she had broken out in a reactive rash after playing in the grass with her friends at recess.  I promptly zipped over to the school with Benadryl to treat her.  Thankfully, when I arrived, the rash was not as bad as I had anticipated.  Last year, when she had forgotten the same allergy, she rolled down a giant hill behind the school while she was out with her photography club.  That had resulted in a horrible, angry rash from head to toe.  This time, however, only required a dose of medicine, and she was back to class.

Problem solved, right?

Oh, no!  Life can never be that simple.  Once again, last night, she forgot about her earlier misery and took refuge in the grass while playing "ghosts in the graveyard" with the neighbor kids.  She came inside more covered in rash and experiencing greater discomfort.

  Are you SERIOUS?!

I promptly dosed her once again with Benadryl, but this time threw her in a bath with baking soda and lavender essential oil.  I obviously have more training to do.

While we don't want to scare our children unnecessarily, may I mention that there are terrific FREE resources on YouTube from authorities that are great teaching tools like this...

From experts like Mayo Clinic and Web MD to diagnosis specific groups like The Juvenile Arthritis Foundation and The National Autism Association, parents can find useful videos on everything from social skills to how to handle a seizure via YouTube.

Remember that our kids live in the era of technology.  Video tools like this can convey serious lessons that our kids simply do not absorb by listening to their parents or the doctor.  Appealing to both their visual and auditory senses at the same time, this type of tool is more likely to help children retain important instructions.

Sometimes, in learning to manage their own diagnoses, our children let things get worse before they get better.  When our son was first learning to administer his own IV's of clotting factor, it would sometimes take a painful bleed for him to understand the importance of not missing a scheduled infusion.  These times can be extremely stressful for us as parents because we realize that critical situations don't always afford us a do-over.  The best we can do is to pray for God's protection over our precious kids and continue to use every tool available to teach them the serious nature of their own personal medical care. 

~ Barb Dittrich


  1. Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for helping me feel NORMAL!!! I actually have to remind Evie that she CAN'T SEE!!! It's the way life has always been for her, so she "doesn't know what she's missing". I often attribute it to her cognitive delay that she could be so forgetful and naive, but this makes me feel so much better!!! Quite honestly, now that I think about it...why haven't I figured out how to avoid that "allergy" to too much wine and spirits???? :) I have never enjoyed the wrath I face the day after that, and yet, every 3 or 4 years I have a "wee bit" much and suddenly I REMEMBER it all.... Thank you, Barb!

    1. You are SO welcome, Tammie. LOVE the Contemporary English Version of Proverbs 22:15, "All children are foolish, but firm correction will make them change." We ALL go through this in ourselves and with our kids. The repetition of practice and the cool tools available to us these days will help us get there, with God's help.