By Cathy Jameson
A nurse from the one of the agencies that provides services for my son calls every 3 months. “Hi, Mrs. Jameson. How is Ronan? Does he need anything? Do you need anything?” Those calls are quick because Ronan’s been doing fine, he doesn’t need anything, and I don’t need anything either.
Every six months, the nurse calls with scripted questions that keep us in the system and qualified for continued care. Once a year, she visits us. I’m always prepared for those visits and have appreciated the extra medical resources her agency can offer. Besides resources, they can also offer medical supplies. Ronan’s benefitted from having those items, for which I’m grateful. Before the last home visit, I thought about what new items he might need but couldn’t think of any. I also looked back at my notes from previous visits and jotted a few things I wanted to ask about. For the next visit, the nurse who had met with us for years wouldn’t be joining us. It would be a new person joining Team Ronan.
I’m happy that the nurse who’d seen us through a few issues was moving on to something else. But getting new people on board after all the things we’ve had to manage, and have successfully avoided, didn’t feel comfortable. It felt like work. Keeping my child safe and healthy is my job, so I got to work doing a little bit more prep work for the in-home visit.
The day the new nurse came was less stressful than I thought it would be. She was kind, lovely, and had years’ worth of really good notes from the nurse we’d know for years. She even knew that flu shots are something we don’t care for. That topic would be the tell-tale sign – if she hassled me, I knew to do more listening than talking. If she didn’t, I’d still do more listening than talking, but I’d be open to hearing what she had to say. With Ronan no longer under 18, the questions on his forms changed, including social/emotional needs. No longer were they about which toys and activities he liked to do. They were questions you’d hear an adult being asked.
I have a good poker face, so didn’t let her know the first question shocked me:
Does Ronan feel safe at home?
[Geez, lady. What a question! He loves being home. LOVES it.]
With his special needs, I’m going to say he’s not out partying.
He’s not smoking?
The more questions she asked, the more one-syllable responses I gave. It satisfied her checkboxes, and it secured care for my son for another year. With that done, I thanked the new nurse for her time and filed the paperwork. On her way out, she could see that Ronan was happy, healthy, and safe with us at home.
Last Friday, we took Ronan out for dinner just because. Well, mostly because it had been an incredibly busy week for me, and I didn’t want to make dinner. We went to our usual place, but forgetting it was Friday night, the place was packed. We went to another restaurant that we know Ronan enjoys. Again, we saw a line out the door of patrons waiting for a table. We drove farther into town, but four times that evening, we left because the wait was so long. The fifth place, another go-to local eatery was open, empty, and perfect! Ronan loves it there, and we loved seeing him so happy.
Once dinner was over, we headed home. We didn’t have the energy to do anything else. And Ronan didn’t seem to mind going straight back. Walking into the house with his little sister, he smiled. He was home. And he was incredibly happy to be there.
Keeping him happy, healthy, and safe. It’s my job, and I’m very happy to keep doing it.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.
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