Being Sick and Being Special Needs Mom

I’m battling another cold.  At least, I’m really hoping it’s just a cold.  It keeps getting worse, but I’m just going to chant “It’s not the flu, it’s not the flu, it’s not the flu!” and hope that keeps the flu away.

Illness is a fact of life.  Living with a preschooler – especially one who attends public school with hundreds of other children – seems to eliminate any and all immunity you once possessed.  Thus, this cold and flu season has been particularly rough in my house.  It seems like we’ve been battling cold after cold after cold.  I’m sure stress wears down my defenses, too, but the most likely culprit is the bombardment of infection I get daily from my own kid. 

Now, illness sucks whenever you get sick.  No kid wants to be laid up, unable to play.  Even as a kid, there was no joy in having a sick day.  I didn’t want to miss school and have to stay in bed all day, our old microwave-sized relic of a humidifier slowly dampening the side of my bed as the day passed by.  What can I say…I was a nerd, too.

Sick days have evolved as I’ve aged.  I never remember getting too terribly sick in college.  The first time I remember getting sick enough to keep me home and in bed was a few weeks after I had moved into my first apartment.  That first bout with illness, I was really concerned.  After all, I had never had to truly care for myself when I was sick before, but as an adult my health and welfare was entirely my responsibility.

I thought surely I was going to die, but I actually weathered that first illness alone very well.  In fact, I think it was easier being sick as a single adult than it is being sick as a kid or as a married adult.  As a single adult, no one cares if you can’t get out of bed.  The only obligation you have is to yourself.  So, if you have to spend 3 days camped out on your living room couch watching Star Wars and eating wonton soup (thank you, Chinese food restaurant, for ensuring I did not starve), nursing a cup of hot tea and a bottle of NyQuil, then so be it.  Hell, at that time I lived on the ground floor with my apartment facing a wooded area, so I could even get away with letting my dog outside in my pajamas.  Your only obligation is to keep yourself alive and progress towards wellness.  Not that I ever enjoyed being sick – I hated missing work – but I always found it easier to be sick at that time.

Throw a spouse and a child into the mix and the situation gets more complex.  Make that child a special needs kiddo and it’s even harder.

Sure, my husband is understanding, if not slightly antagonistic.  He’s really getting a kick out of the fact that I’ve lost my voice at the moment.  He helps out where he can, but the reality is that he has to go to work, too.  My job – on the other hand – is being Jack’s caregiver.  I can go back to sleep once Jack has gotten on the school bus, but I do have to go pick him up at school 4 hours later.  After that, he has to go to therapy.  These things have to happen regardless of whether or not I’m feeling well.

Unfortunately, Jack doesn’t understand “sick”, either.  He still needs help with his sensory diet.  He still needs to be crashed or swung or bounced.  Meanwhile, all I need is sleep and medication, both of which aren’t really in the cards while Jack is running around the house.  Jack also has no mercy when I’m sick – his needs still take precedent.  He needs to be fed, changed, and chauffeured around as always.

Short of plopping Jack in front of his iPad all day – a prospect that he would welcome, I can assure you – I have to find a way to tough it out.  I can’t just kick my feet up and watch Star Wars until my fever breaks.  I have to be like the Little Engine that Could…”I think I can, I think I can!”

Now, my hope is that the onslaught of infectious disease will subside as Jack gets older.  In the meantime, I’ll keep my pantry full of packets of Egg Drop Soup, my fridge full of orange juice, and a medicine cabinet stocked with Sudafed and NyQuil, because DayQuil doesn’t contain the good decongestant anymore and I only continue to use NyQuil for the sleep inducing aspects.  I’ll also keep the iPad good and charged.


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Jeanie Devine

0 thoughts on “Being Sick and Being Special Needs Mom

  • December 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

    In public schools, you have a mixture of people.  Well-off, middle class, and poor.  They all send their kids to school sick nowadays.  I know it is sad, but true.  So the germs spread and spread.  Working mothers or single moms can’t afford to stay home with the sick kids.  Hence, YOU get their germs!


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