Ignore Her At Your Own Peril


We're superstitious in our house. I mean, really superstitious. If you've followed Tess's progress for a while, you might know this story. There was the time we were frantically trying to get to the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire to make a flight, and someone in our car said: "Well, at least it's not snowing!" And then one instant later, big flakes of snow started falling and coated the roads before our eyes. We go back to that example all the time, talking about how not to tempt fate. THE last thing you want to do in our house if things are going well, is to mention that they are going well. 

So, I unfortunately ignored this general rule recently. I did it on my podcast, by saying something about how Tess's new seizure medicine is known to have the side effect of irritability, but she's just happy as a clam and maybe we'll be lucky enough not to see irritable Tess. As if this wasn't enough, to put it in my podcast and publicly put it out there, I then repeated this same idea to our friend Lauren when she asked how Tess is doing. 

Wait, wait. Let me back up. Earlier this summer Dana broke his wrist. Just a few days before our ER trip with Tess. And he got a cast. And then it was time to get a new cast. To have the old one taken off with a saw, get an x-ray, see his orthopedist--our friend Lauren, who I mentioned--and then get a new cast put on.

On the day when all this is supposed to happen, we are, sadly, without a BHP for Tess in the afternoon. I figure she'll come with us. We'll take turns keeping her occupied. No problem. We drive up to Auburn, which is about 35, 40 minutes away. Me, Tess, and Dana. 

Tess is fairly cheery on the ride. We feed her a snack. Things at the medical office go about as fast as they can. Tess is patient for a while. We take turns holding her, singing to her, walking around with her. When we get in to see Dana's orthopedist, our friend Lauren, she asks how Tess is doing. And I foolishly say that Tess is cheerful. That we haven't seen any sign of irritability. And within a few minutes, Tess hits her expiration date. Goes ballistic. Full-on tears, pushing and headbutting me, trying to bite us both. There is no calming her down. No taking a break and coming back. I scoop her up and head to the exit. 

If you have never done this with a screaming child, you should know. It's really something to experience. As your child is losing their shit, everyone inside the place who is within earshot will stop what they are doing for a moment. People will stop watching "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" on the waiting room's TV. They will look up from People and Real Simple and Cosmo. They will do this so they can look. Who is flipping out? Why? How bad a parent are we dealing with here? They want to know these things. Even if they aren't in the room with you, those people'll come find you. They'll peer around corners, come in from adjacent rooms. 

I'm not sure what the best way to handle this is. The best response when you have, like, 50 pairs of eyes following you and your tantruming child out the door. I'll tell you what I did, though. I tried to laugh it off. I tried not to be concerned about this sudden flipout from Tess, which is waaaaay out of character. I tried not to be upset. To just let it roll. And when I got outside with her, I just needed to get to the car. 

And it was at this precise instant that the sky opened up and it began to rain. This rain was no ordinary rain. It was biblical. Cats and dogs. Huge raindrops, pelting the ground. There was no leaving. A woman who was standing out there told me I'd literally missed my window of dryness by about 30 seconds. Dana came out, with his cast on. Apparently the dude inside knew we needed to get moving, so he got that cast on the boy lickety split, and did a great job. Standing there holding Tess, I talked to Dana about the best move, given how hard it was raining. Tess didn't like this. She didn't want to wait anymore. So she did something she figured would really get the message across to me about how done she was with this whole medical appointment. She opened her jaws and bit me. 

The bite was in the soft part of my shoulder. I know--my shoulders are rock hard, right? Of course there IS no soft spot! Seriously, find your collarbone. Then walk your fingers up over your shoulder to that fleshy part, kind of on your back. Yeah. Right there. It was so startling that I didn't even realize what was happening. She'd never bit me that hard before. I put her down and let Dana take her, and I ran to the car. I got completely drenched within two steps. Apparently Tess bit Dana at some point in there, but I was so focused on trying to get us home that I didn't catch that. We got Tess in her carseat, and she was crying and still trying hard to scratch us. As we drove away, I remember thinking: this is probably not safe, trying to drive in this. Flash floods, massive puddles, cars pulling over. On the highway the speed limit was 70 but we couldn't go that fast and still see the road. Back at home, Tess calmed down. She seemed happier once she was in our house again, in a place she knows and likes. Tess's bite left massive dark teeth marks but somehow didn't break the skin. 

It was pretty upsetting to see Tess like that. My wife asked me afterwards why we hadn't given Tess her talker device. Which would have been a good idea, I suppose. We had it, but I'd left it in the car. It definitely helps her calm down sometimes when she can express herself with the device. So leaving it in the car was a mistake. 

What it comes down to though is that we really can't put Tess in that position anymore. Or ourselves, for that matter. Over and over my wife and I tried to think of a solution, a way to not have Tess go to that appointment with Dana. But I just figured, enh, we'll tough it out. Well, we're not doing that again. Next time we'll reschedule. Find a way. Whatever. I just know we can't be doing stuff like this. Is this irritability because of the meds, the medication she takes to avoid seizures? I don't know. Since that meltdown we've seen other ones. Not as bad. But reports. Word coming back from school that she tried to nip somebody. Got upset. I don't know what's going on. More to come on this.