That is the question....
It’s that time of year when we asthmatic types are invited along to our doctors’ surgeries for a jab to protect us against the ravages of the annual flu outbreak, and protect them from having wheezing malingerers cluttering up their waiting rooms at a busy time of year. Last week it was youngest son’s turn.
I made him go, deciding the hazards of mini medical procedure outweighed the headache of having him poorly, and because the horrific memories of last December’s dental debacle (there is nothing ‘routine’ about an autistic child having a general anesthetic for a tooth extraction, believe me) had lessened in their potency, I made him go.
By our standards, it went well. We even managed a whole two minutes in the crowded waiting room before he started yelling ‘I’m bored, when is it my turn?’ I succeeded in keeping up a jolly smile under the barrage of disapproving looks, and ignored all the tutting as his shouts grew louder. Everyone sighed with relief when he was called in, thanks, I’m sure, to a little tweaking of the patient’s list by the receptionists, who probably remember last time’s meltdown.
It was going very well, until we met the nurse. An older woman, neatly coiffed in her smart blue uniform, she was clearly nervous. Not good. She tried to initiate a conversation with youngest son, and was flummoxed when he did what he always does, and ignored her. Her hand started to shake more visibly when she asked him to pull his sleeve up and he said ‘no’.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I should have been more forceful with the pretty blonde nurse, since she’d obviously never dealt with anyone quite like youngest son before. ‘You’re going to have to seize the moment’ I said, meaning, ‘just get on with it’, but she was so frightened of hurting the dear boy – ordinarily commendable – that all she managed to do was scratch his arm with the tip of the needle. There came a point when I was about to say ‘give me the syringe and I’ll do it myself’, but with a deep breath, she found her courage, and younger son tore out of the room howling with outrage.
She stood holding onto the desk, biting her lip to hold back the tears. “I don’t know how you cope,” she warbled, and much as I felt sorry for her, I couldn’t help but let out a mad cackle, especially when a breathless receptionist burst into the room to report younger son had just fled out of the surgery’s main door. I caught up with him, he simmering with indignation, me still chuckling, and we walked back to the car. ‘I don’t know how you cope’. I don’t know how I cope either, but if I don’t, who will?
And no, I’m not taking him for a flu jab next year. We’ll stock up on inhalers, and wish for luck.