Today was Scholar Owl’s surgery. My mom insisted that I bring Piggie with me “for my anxiety” but I didn’t argue. She’s the best person to translate for me anyway – whether it’s the staff that doesn’t understand what I’m saying or I don’t understand them. She also the best person to bring to help manage crisis behaviors if they arise. Luckily for me, my sister had the day off and was able to go.
Originally it was the doctor’s plan to remove all his toe nails, but when they brought him back from the OR he was pleased to report he only needed to remove the big toe nails. He said once he started scrubbing everything down to assess the nail beds, those were the only two showing signs of infection. He also had to surgically repair one toe where the nail had lacerated the skin. In other words, my son had a very serious ingrown toe nail.
When I expressed concern about this happening again since my son had hidden this so well from me, he disclosed that he recently came up here from Chicago where he had worked with many children like my son. He said infections like these are very common and there is a procedure called a “full body wash” which is where the child is sedated and goes through a full physical exam while be washed down. Scholar Owl is old enough that he would have to sign consent for it, but the option is available if needed.
He also wanted me to make sure my son understood the severity of the situation. Infections like these are not limited to the feet and if it had occurred in a soft tissue heavy area (like the groin) the damage from the infection would be more extensive.
The doctor even offered to have my son come in for trimming his toe nails if he wasn’t willing or able to do it himself.
So when I got him home, I had that conversation with him about how this is why hygiene is important. I also told him that if he wasn’t going to practice good hygiene then he would need to have skin checks done – either by a family member or by a doctor. This is when I told him about the full body wash. He appeared to be relieved to hear about the options for skin checks. He said he thought the full body wash was a good idea.
Even a regular doctor can preform a basic full body skin check during a physical exam if they don’t want to be sedated.
I felt it important to share this since I know I’m not the only parent with special needs children. It feels to me that as the kiddos get older, what I’m able to do or not allowed to do gets sketchy. The idea of me throwing a teenager into the tub and scrubbing them down feels illegal to me somehow. Maybe I feel this way because my children are the opposite gender. I don’t have any daughters so I will never know, but I do suspect their gender plays a role in my perception.
But I also feel it’s important that our children are made aware of the multiple options they have available to keep themselves well as they enter adulthood and increased independence.
There are many reasons as to why bathing creates a crisis in people of any age. Claustrophobia, water based phobias, and sensory processing issues are just a few on the list. If mobility is an issue, then the fear of falling is added to the mix. So people of any age experiencing these issues need to know there are many ways to maintain proper hygiene while addressing those valid concerns.
While the surgery had gone well, my son will still need a lot of follow up care to make sure the infection is cleared and his feet heal properly. I feel better knowing from this point forward, I have more options with my son’s care that preserve his dignity and privacy.