When we first started down the road of speech therapy, the biggest thing I wanted Nathaniel to be able to express was how he felt, so far as sickness or pain. It was so hard guessing if he was crying, unsettled or melting down because his tummy, head, ears or throat hurt. It’s always been hard to know what’s wrong until it’s ridiculously obvious and by then, he’s probably had a lot of discomfort that we weren’t giving him anything for because we didn’t know what was going on. There have been multiple visits to his pediatrician, on the hunch that he might have an ear infection (sometimes yes, sometimes no, copay always). He also suffered from very bad gas pains since he was a baby until relatively recently, but sometimes, when he’d wake up screaming from naps, we didn’t know if he had gas pains or some other sensory issue or a bad dream. Last Christmas season, before he started speech therapy, was awful with him being terribly sick. He’d had a runny nose & cough off & on forever it seemed, from never ending Daycare Plague, so it wasn’t immediately clear that this was different until it was almost totally out of control with him having a sinus infection, respiratory infection & ear infection. Last spring, he had constipation from hell, but it took days for us to know what was causing the worst meltdowns he’d ever had. (He was still going #2, so it wasn’t clear that it was constipation – plus during that time, he also had an ear infection). If we’d known sooner, we could have treated him sooner & would’ve spared all of us that trip to the children’s ER when we had reached our wits’ end.
When it came to us wanting Nathaniel to be able to express if something hurt, some therapists weren’t sure how or when he might learn to express it. I have never wanted him to feel sick, uncomfortable or be in pain – but I have wanted him to be able to tell us, so we can help make it better.
And somehow, this is starting to happen. A few weeks ago, Nathaniel told Daddy that he was cold. Last Thursday, he had an awful night’s sleep – he kept waking up whimpering, near tears, tossing & turning. He’d had a fever & some lethargy the previous night, but no other known symptoms. Before he went to bed Thursday, his temperature was pretty close to normal, so we didn’t give him anything. Finally, after the second or third incident of him waking miserable & me repeatedly asking if this or that hurt, he finally was able to whimper, “head hurt.” I asked him again if his head hurt, to be sure that he meant it & wasn’t just repeating what I’d said…he basically shouted at me “YES!” Advil was given. I felt terrible that his head had probably hurt badly for awhile, but was so relieved that he could tell me what was wrong, so it didn’t have to keep hurting through the night.
I do wish that he’d been able to tell us that his mouth & throat hurt though. On Saturday morning, we took him to the pediatrician, as Friday night, he was suddenly in clearly miserable shape. The doctor then found that his mouth & throat were horribly red, swollen & raw, due to Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease. He didn’t have any rash on his hands or feet, so without him being able to tell us that his mouth & throat hurt – even with me asking him repeatedly, we were making guesses again – until his mouth swelled up so bad that he could barely talk – and he was still saying “No!” when I asked him if they hurt.
But tonight, Nat informed Daddy, without even being asked, that his mouth felt better. Hallelujah!