We are home.
It has been a terrible week, one filled with too many moments of uncertainty and dread. With the grace of God, we have made it back home. Alphonse is not yet fully recovered. He is weak and irritable still. He sleeps most of the day and his appetite is nowhere near his usual. He is still covered in rashes but he is no longer bleeding. That he made it through this past week is a testament to the power of faith and prayers. We thank you all who have wished him well and said a prayer for him. We can’t begin to tell you how we appreciate your words of comfort during those tiring, difficult days.
It was time to remove the IV line, too. Alphonse’s hands, having been swaddled and bound for a week in bandages, had started swelling. There were wounds and bruises in his forearms where the wooden splints dug into his skin. His forearms had turned a rather ugly shade of mottled red and blue and we worried what we would find underneath when the bandages were removed. True enough, when we tore the bandages just before we went home, his hands were swollen and stiff. Worse, they smelled so bad that no one could stand being around his hands for long. Even repeated washings with soap, shampoo, alcohol, peroxide, and lemons could not eliminate the awful stench of his hands. Good thing he bears with the gentle teasing rather well. Say “stinky hands” and Alphonse will hold his hands to his nose and give us a wan smile.
It’s hard to be sick, even under the best of circumstances, and harder still if you add autism to the mix. The biting and gnawing have been carried home, as I feared. Today, he tried to bite off a refrigerator shelf when he got angry. I also caught him gnawing on a small towel which he later shredded with his teeth. We’re lucky this new behavior hasn’t been carried over to biting himself or us, but we’re always wary and conscious of it. His face still carries the marks of all his attempts to chew off his bandages; his lips are split, his chin has many shallow abrasions.
While Alphonse completes his physical recovery at home, we pray that the emotional trauma of being bound, restrained, and held over and over again will wear off in time. It can’t be easy for his mind to comprehend that all these were done with concern and love for him. He is very fearful of things. His emotions are still very labile and unstable; he seems on the edge even now. He has angry outbursts for no apparent reason, taking his anger and frustration on our material possessions. And just like in the hospital when all he wanted to do was to run away and escape, he tests our patience with his endless attempts to bolt and run away.
For all these, we are still happy to be home, back in safe, familiar surroundings. I have a week’s worth of chores to catch up on- laundry brought home from the hospital, cleaning, dusting, and even the half-finished Christmas trimmings. And yes, more shopping for presents. It seems impossible to think of Christmas after this whirlwind of a week, but perhaps the holidays will help Alphonse’s mood. I’m crossing my fingers.