A Tubby Tabby, Three Konekos, and a Life with Hello Kitty and Autism

When Real Life Gets In The Way

Running on emptyIt’s been ten days since my last visit, and for an empty page, it seems an eternity. They say that life can get in the way of blogging, and for many of us multitasking parents, this is more often the rule than the exception. These days, I feel like I’m running on empty. I feel overwhelmed. I am tired.

Since the start of the month, I’ve been struggling with a nasty cough and fever that’s made the rounds of the whole household. It couldn’t have happened at a worst time.  We’re in the middle of Nanny Transitions, amd things are iffy enough as it is. And just when we were making good progress, we hit another brick wall and everything came tumbling down again.

Mind you, we certainly can’t be accused of lack of planning. As parents of a child with autism, we have long learned that preparation was our best weapon in our arsenal of parenting tricks. As early as January, when  the old nannies made their intention to leave (one of them is leaving for good, the other is coming back after a brief vacation), we had set a timetable to start transitioning new nannies. We started looking as early as then, and by March, we had two new hires vetted by an employment agency. We got them a month and a half early to allow Alphonse the time to get to know them better, and vice-versa. Also, we thought that to make the transition more seamless, it was wiser to have the nannies’ stays overlap so when the first set leaves, Alphonse won’t feel their absence too much.

We got a pair of nannies with movie-star sounding names, Ruffa and Gretchen. (I kid you not!) Alphonse fell head over heels in love with Gretchen the day she set foot into our home, but completely ignored Ruffa. As is our practice with people new in our household, we kept them included in our home activities but initially limited their active participation. It was Alphonse who noticed their addition to our family. He saw both of them sitting in on his afternoon class, observing. Suddenly, he went up to Gretchen, smiled broadly, and gave her a big hug. Success!

Gretchen was with us two weeks when one morning, she passed out for no apparent reason. Alphonse and I were still sleeping when we were awakened by loud knocks on the bedroom door. Alarmed, I stood up to find Gretchen unconscious on the living room floor, the other nannies fanning her furiously and wailing in fright. I proceeded to check her vital signs, while I assessed the circumstances surrounding this episode. Despite our attempts to awaken her, she would not respond to any stimuli. We brought her to the Emergency Room at once.

The doctors were puzzled over the ambivalent signs they elicited from her unconscious state. They drew blood, put her on a cardiac machine, did a complete physical and neurological work-up- and found nothing. Two and a half hours later, she suddenly sneezed, opened her eyes, and looked at us smiling. Upon the recommendation of the neurologist, we had her admitted for observation and more tests. These, too, all turned out to be normal.  

During her confinement, I found out that she had had two previous episodes of unexplained loss of consciousness before, both of them already diagnosed to be of psychiatric origin. I was furious at the employment agency for their failure to inform us of her condition; they already knew she had a problem and yet continued to recommend her to people. The employment and medical records history submitted to us did not indicate any health problems, and naively, we took them at their word. I had to let her go after that. Her two weeks stay turned out to be an expensive lesson for us.

I stayed with her in the hospital during her confinement, and soon after, I started feeling ill myself. Then Alphonse got sick, then A, and then a week later, the other nannies succumbed as well.
Taking care of four sick people (five, including myself) was no joke, and many mornings, I had to literally crawl out of bed to get anything done. Thankfully, my fever disappeared after a prolonged round of antibiotics, but the cough simply won’t go. I still hack and hawk and wheeze and snork all day.

The old nannies left on schedule and we’ve been hard pressed to find new ones. Alphonse is depressed and is not eating. Since his nanny left, it’s been very hard to put a smile on his face. I reassure him as much as I can that I will always be here for him, but he looks for Nanny Michelle everywhere- in the bathrooms, in the laundry room, in the basement, even in trash cans. And not finding her, he sits and stares forlornly. Other times, he weeps inconsolably and clings to me as if lost. How can a mother ease her son’s heartbreak? 

And so, there is little time for myself these days. My world revolves around a son who seems lost in the world again. I am constantly by his side, waiting, anticipating, expecting. I have to keep running even when I’m almost empty myself. I’m afraid that if I stop even just to take a breath, I’ll get stalled.  

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