Jun 08, 2012 0 Share

Frightening Questions

Emergency Room sign outside hospital.

Monday morning, my sweet son became violently ill and then collapsed. I did my best to break his fall but all I could do was to keep his head from hitting the brick tile floor. It was evident that he had some sort of extremely vicious stomach virus. It was such that I didn’t have time to be scared at that point, I just went on autopilot.

I helped Cody dress, then got dressed myself. I started to help my son to the car. We walked outside and stood at the stairs. Suddenly I watched his eyes roll back in his head and he started to go down again. This time I managed to keep his head from hitting the railing on the deck. I let him sit for a moment to get his bearings. Then I instructed him to scoot down the stairs on his rear end.

Finally we made it to the bottom of the stairs. Cody stood, and I put his arm around my neck and as quickly as I could, I guided him to the car and helped him in. We then began our 30-mile journey to the hospital.

Upon arrival, I ran inside to grab a wheelchair. Bill met me at the door and helped get Cody out of the car. We wheeled him to the front desk and explained why we were there and they immediately rushed us through the unit doors. There, the nurses and doctors were quick to act.

The nurse attempted to do an orthostatic blood pressure. Lying and sitting he did fine; standing, was another story. She couldn’t get a reading the first time. She tried again but before the cuff was fully inflated Cody began to fall backwards onto the gurney. Upon standing, his blood pressure was falling through the floor.

Blood tests were run and within a short time the results were back. Cody’s white cell count was sky high. His first temperature reading was fine, but when it was taken again a little while later, he was running a low grade fever. The doctor did not hesitate to say, “He needs to be admitted.”

While the staff on the floor had been informed that Cody was autistic, they really were not sure what an overnight stay would entail for him or them. We explained to them that either Bill or I would need to be there with him round the clock for communication purposes.

At first, they were asking Cody questions in the same way they would ask any neurotypical person. They quickly learned that got them nowhere and they needed help.

But there was the HIPPA law to deal with as well.  Something hospitals take this very seriously. Cody is legally an adult, so how was this going to work?

Bill and I both carry photocopies of our Legal Guardianship document from the court with us at all times. Bill pulled his out of his wallet and handed it to the nurse. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone quite as relieved as she was at that moment. Now we could begin to make some headway toward my son’s care.

IVs were started and antibiotics were on board. A chest X-Ray was taken and a CT scan followed. He received pain relievers and anti-nausea medications to relieve his discomfort. In a short while, they brought him some Sprite, some Jello and some broth. He was able to eat and drink and very soon, he was resting comfortably.

I lay in a recliner next to my son’s bed that night and prayed he would be alright. I stayed awake till about 1:00 a.m. just watching him breathe. And then I finally drifted off to sleep myself. The next day, Cody was well enough to go home.

Now I think about what kind of problems we could have faced had we not been prepared. What would have happened if we had not had that document in our physical possession at that moment when questions of legalities surfaced? Would the doctors and nurses have been legally bound to go strictly on what procedures Cody gave permission for? What if he said no? Would they have given up when they could not get legitimate answers to their questions? I shudder to imagine the horror we could have faced, especially if Cody had not responded to treatment quickly.