A Breasty Situation

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“You will need to return for a sonogram” were words strung together and thrown at me. Me. Clearly she didn’t know who I was. I’m a doctor. I’m a warrior mom. And our type don’t get … nevermind.

Secretly, I’ve always thought that those multiple breast jabs and elbow stabs that I’ve endured from my dual-diagnoses, Autism/ADHD, son was bound to show up on a scan somewhere. He is relentless.

But true to my profession, I’ve ignored “self-care” and the phone call. Not to mention, it took nearly an act of Congress to get me to the Mammogram. My doctor sent me that prescription in all forms but a telegram. It eventually got done. And again, true to my profession, I strongly recommend you getting one.

But now they want me back. Oh for heaven’s. What for?

Alright. Let’s run the possibilities.

1)It’s fake. The results are fake news. Aka, artifact, aka scars (thank you, Nolan), aka plain-ole tissue density. Yea. Yipeee! All because I paid the extra $75 for 3-D imaging in search of every spec. And … thinking deeply … paying for that kind of test kinda means that I do want to know. Doesn’t it? Moving on.

2)It’s real. The results are truly news. Aka, not artifact. Aka, not scars. Aka not plain-ole breast tissue density. Alright. I’m breathing. Then what the heck is it?

Let me ask you a question? Have you ever taken a photo of a pond, through a screen door and then converted it to a black and white photo and then tried to determine what kind of bug was flying by as you snapped the shot? Neither have I.

But you would be close in saying that it was a flying insect as opposed to a leaping frog. I’m also sure that it would be challenging to say that it was a yellow jacket and not a bee.

To be certain, you would have had to be by the pond and notice the bee and the hive up close in person. In medicine – we would akin that to a tissue biopsy.

But the nice thing about imaging, whether it be a picture or a mammogram, is that it gives you a very good idea of what you are looking at. Aka, it’s a flying bug or it’s a mass that does not look like the surrounding tissue. The limitations, however, are such that it cannot be specific.

Yet, here I sit, tooled with knowledge, having not made that phone call.

Is it because 2 years ago, I went through the same and the follow-up sonogram was negative and now I’m complacent? Or is it because I’m a dual-diagnoses autism/ADHD mom and I have a plethora of annoyances that leaves me too drained to drive? Or is it that I’m using my love of blogging to procrastinate?

Yes.

Seated with you, in the office, hearing you rattle off the above, I would level with you and say “Stop making excuses.”

And would likely have gone on to saying something like “The sick you is of no good to the busy you or to your life’s priorities. So, make the call. Get your screening done. Complete your follow-up.”

Pausing for effect. And my own thoughts.

What’s my final action? Thanks for the talk. I’m ready now. My booth is waiting. I’m off to make that call. Cue the soundtrack to Super-Doctor-Mommy!

When Day Care Is Not An Option

It seemed simple enough. Walk into the daycare. Fill out an application. Leave a check and walk out with start date. It was suppose to work that way. But, one look at my son and the conversation changed. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a looker. Well, actually, he won’t look at you but he’s dashing … across the room. You know what, he’s very good looking! And 5 and Autistic.

“Is he potty trained?” was a question I fought with. The real answer was “kind of ” but when that wasn’t acceptable, I felt a sense of shame mixed with “Isn’t this a daycare? Didn’t that little tot just run past me in diapers?” But it was more than that. They were fishing for cause to say no without saying “We don’t care for special needs.”

For the love of God… I came in specifically asking that question. Do you care for special needs kids? It’s a Yes Or No leading question. There’s no need for jargons and permutations. I’ve walked into salons and asked “Do you have a stylist that works with Black Hair?” With my face, no one has ever said “Do you mean as opposed to Brunette?” No. they knew that I meant race and the answer was either Yes or No. With my son’s seal sounds and flapping hands, they knew they were looking at a special needs boy. “No, we don’t” would have prompted an about face. Rather, I received statements akin to “We will gladly accept him once he can…” Let me finish that … act like the other 5 years olds?

Regardless, I really wanted him to be in a social setting so I pushed. And they gave us the tour and said things like “I will call you but I don’t think we have the space.” At first I felt condescended upon and thought, “I’m never going to that place. They are so rude”… you know, still thinking I had a choice but the next place was no different and the 3rd place simply said “is he always this active?” To which I may have lied and said “No, just overly stimulated right now.” But, I was not taking No for an answer. I had just lost my Nanny of 3 years to her having her own baby and the summer was fast approaching and I needed him in a social setting! So they needed to come up with something better.

One representative finally levelled with me. She said “We had one student in the past. We thought we could handle him but we couldn’t and it created a problem to the point where we had to ask the family to leave. From that experience, we learned about the IEP. Get me that plan and I can tell you if we can provide what he needs or not.”

Finally! Someone who can move past stigma and judgement and give concrete answers for their NO! One look at his IEP and she had it. And I got a concrete: “Unless you provide him with an aide, we cannot accept him.”

Provide an aide. As in bring a Sitter to the Sitter.

Okay. Got it.

Day care is not an option.

It was a sad realization that day. I didn’t want to accept that. Here I am, trying so hard to matriculate him into “normal.” My neuro-typical daughter was already accepted and age matched with friends for the field trips. Dark moments gave me pause as I felt his future pain knowing that his acceptance in this world is highly conditional with no promises. I was hurt…for him. I cried. And I held him. And breathed.

But, we needed to move on.

I called agencies and individuals. And the bottom line was we need more cash to care. Fine! No Problem! However, when I asked for training or experience, I was met with “I have a friend with an autistic son” or “I’m a quick learner.”

How do we manage? How are other autism parents getting by? What’s the secret sauce! Had it not been for incremental changes in my life – sanity would have been a lost cause. So, I’ve come to one conclusion – and that is … we are super! For those of us who are able to obtain assistance, whether it be from government, institution or next door- you are super! And for the us who are at home – you are super! and the us who work outside the home – you are super! and the us who are still searching – you are super, too!

Shake off the blues and pick up the phone. Call your Early Intervention Agencies. Call Sitter Agencies. Call Autism Mom Hotlines. Call our Special Ed PTA Directors. Call your ABA instructors. Ask your teachers. Stop by your local college and post a job by the Education department or child psychology department. Post questions to your local facebook autism group ( ie SASI, SEPTA) and do not settle for high cost, low service. I did. Because I was too tired. Too frustrated. Too overwhelmed. And it costed me.

What did I end up doing? It took me 6 years but I finally asked for help. And that was super! Because my mom said yes.