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Meeting Dr Peggit

April 16, 2015

It’s awful watching Steven in pain. The rawness of his vulnerability, which is there all the time, is heightened, and it rips at my heart.

Steven has had toothache since Monday. When I first phoned the dentist, the earliest appointment they could offer was this afternoon. So it’s been painkillers and attempts at relentless distraction since. As anyone who’s ever had toothache will confirm, neither really work.

Steven doesn’t understand pain. He has the words for it now but pain still triggers screaming, destructive meltdowns. The house has been thrashed. We’ve been trashed. Steven has thrashed himself. He swings between smashing the TV and howling, “Make me better please”.

My anxiety levels go up because I start to fear his behavior being misinterpreted. I snapped at one of the support workers yesterday who seemed unable to make the link between the pain and the behavior. And I worry that the behavior will prevent any treatment being carried out. At times like this, Steven can put himself and others at risk, again crashing home how vulnerable he is.

Guiltily, I’m out of the firing line until this afternoon. I had my late night at work yesterday and slept at the flat. Today I work until 1pm and do the weekly shop, getting home just before we leave for the appointment. Yesterday I shuffled the shifts around. One of the support workers was meant to do 3pm to 9pm on his own. That’s a bloody long time when anything might happen. So, I got the earlier guy to stay on a bit and the night shift worker to come early. I think he thought I was undermining him but I believed I did the right thing.

Here’s another example of the power of his autism. Yesterday, I phoned the dentist to see if we could bring forward the appointment. The receptionist spoke to the dentist, who said bring him straight down. But as I’d already prepared Steven for a Thursday afternoon appointment, he wouldn’t go and it started another meltdown. The need and rigidity of routine trumping the chance to be relieved of pain. Routine is the bedrock of everything.

I spoke briefly to the dentist, partly to fill her in and partly to reassure myself that she wouldn’t reject Steven if he was being difficult. Steven gets quite excited about the dentist because he casts himself as Mr Bean visiting Dr Peggit (played by Richard Wilson with beard). The dentist agreed to play along with this, so hopefully the tension is eased with a Bean framing.

It’s going to be a long day.


From → Social Care

  1. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Oh Mark I really know what you are going through. It is so wonderful when you get a clinician that understands your situation. Nevertheless your anxiety levels must be heightened to almost bursting waiting for the whole dental visit to be over and done with so that Steven can be pain free.

    It can be such a nightmare taking our sons/daughters anyway near a doctors or hospital. It is only the kindness and patience and understanding of others that helps us to cope. I hope all goes well.

  2. Sally permalink

    I am so sorry Steven is in such pain and that you are having to cope with his distressed behaviour.You are both having a terrible time.
    I can really relate to the no win of weighing up an unexpected earlier appointment. This would seem like the answer to a prayer, except that, as you said ,Steven is now prepared for the later appointment and can’t cope with the shift.
    This sort of weighing up of equally terrible choices to try to decide which is the least risky (pain behaviour versus change in appointment distress) is I think one of the biggest stressors for a parent of someone with Autism. The World is full of parents of autistic people ,sitting head in hands mumbling ” He will freak out if I handle this by doing X but also if I handle it by doing Y instead. If I do nothing it will get worse. Help!”
    Oh,to be able to just go to the damn dentist !

  3. meg permalink

    Good luck Mark and Steven

  4. Best wishes & good luck to you both.

  5. Lisa permalink

    Hey Mark I understand this all too well. My son copes with pain the same way. A couple of shots of whisky and praying , on such visits, have worked so far. Whatever gets you through, I hope all goes well x

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