A bitter pill – well, not quite

2 Jun

A long time ago, I discovered that George and pills should not be combined, in the same way that bulls and china shops should not be combined. Both mixtures are a recipe for chaos and mass destruction.  So when George came down with a UTI a week ago and got put onto medication, I specifically asked the pharmacist to provide it in liquid form.  My theory was that I could just put the goo into his milk and he’d drink it, without ever knowing that there were drugs involved.

But my subterfuge did not work.  For a start, the medicine, which is the colour of Pepto Bismol, made the milk turn pink.  I did not honestly think this would be a problem.  The milk was put into George’s favourite (and opaque) Thomas the Train cup, which has a lid.  You couldn’t even see what colour the milk was.  However, we ran into an additional problem, which is that the medicine made the milk taste funny.  Still, I nonchalantly handed the cup to George, who took a mouthful and then immediately did something very strange with his face.  He scrunched up his eyes and kind of sucked his face inwards (imagine someone trying to turn a lemon inside out), and then his face erupted outwards again with a kind of “THWOO” sound, and pink milk exploded all over the place.

OK, this was clearly not a feasible plan.  I had to switch to Plan B, which was to just put the medicine in a syringe, aim for George’s mouth, and hope for the best. I recognized that his arms and legs were going to be the problem.  If I could keep the arms and legs still, I’d be able to pull this off.  I couldn’t be intense about it, though.  This is an autistic child we’re dealing with – I had to constrain him and get the goo into him firmly but gently, with lots of encouragement and no sign of any emotion that would escalate his anxiety.  Since I was going to have to get his buy-in to do this three times a day for a week, my approach for that first dose was crucial.

I laid him down on the couch and used a blanket to wrap him up like a burrito.  He was a little bemused by this odd action, but apart from squirming a little, he did not protest.  I sat astride his legs to keep him from kicking, and picked up the loaded syringe.  Holding his face gently, I got the medicine into him, bit by bit.  He did not like it.  He cried and complained.  He tried to get away.  But he swallowed the entire dose without spitting any out.  The whole time, James was lying beside him on the couch, kissing his cheek, hugging him, comforting him, saying over and over that everything was OK.  The sight of this four-year-old – so young and yet so intuitive – taking care of his brother was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

Now, with just one or two days of the medication to go, George is more used to the routine.  He still doesn’t like it, but he voluntarily lies down on the couch, and I only have to cover his arms with the blanket instead of actually wrapping him.  He always protests in the beginning, usually to say “James’ medicine” in hopes of avoiding the inevitable.  But he takes the medicine and is not too traumatized by the whole process.

Once the medication issue was under control, I had to deal with the little plastic jar that the doctor had given us, with which we were required to collect a urine sample.  I was worried: how was I going to get George to pee in a jar?  He has very set ways of doing things, and I thought this concept would just be too strange for him.  As it happened, we did have an issue, but not the one we expected.  George had no problem peeing in a jar, and we had the requisite sample with the minimum of fuss.  But now that he had done it once, he expected the jar to be a part of the regular bathroom process.  For about two days he tried to hold it in because he didn’t have the jar.  We have managed to knock that on the head, thank goodness.

So there we have it.  George is becoming a pro at taking medicine (in liquid form, anyway), he seems to be gradually getting better, the jar and its contents have been dropped off for analysis, and relative peace reigns in my household.

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