I guess I should have known something was going to happen when Alphonse refused to sleep two nights ago. He didn’t seem to be in pain (although the concept of pain must be very different for him than it is for us) but he was restless and a bit irritable. Since his nanny left for a vacation last week, he has been on self-injury mode– crashing into chairs and doors purposely, hitting his hands and arms over and over again against hard surfaces, and scratching the skin on his neck till it bleeds. I am forever running after him with a first aid kit.
When he woke up the other morning, he had a swollen right cheek. It was large enough to be noticeable right away. I palpated his cheek for any hard lumps and all I could find was generalized swelling. I checked his teeth and gums for wounds and abscesses and didn’t find any. I looked in his nostrils and could only find a small wound on the right side of his right nostril, again, a result of his incessant scratching and picking of wounds. When the swelling increased the next day, I brought him to his pediatrician for a consult.
The pediatrician recommended a seven-day regimen of antibiotics meant to target soft tissue infections. Her diagnosis, which was purely visual in nature, relied mostly on the appearance of the nasal wound so near the swelling. So far, on the second day of the antibiotics, the swelling has receded a bit and doesn’t seem to be growing any bigger. Crossing all our fingers!
I hope he gets better really fast, and I don’t refer to just the unusual swelling in his cheek. The absence of key people in his life has got him feeling insecure and unbalanced again such that he seeks the constant reassurance of our love and presence. We wake up in the middle of the night and find him back in the center of our bed, something he hasn’t done in months. He asks to be spoonfed and won’t stop until he gets his way (he dazzles us with his sweetest smiles), even when he is totally capable of feeding himself. And he holds our hands all the time, afraid to let us go anywhere. It’s as if he is fearful we will disappear on him too.
And yet for all these emotional wounds. he continues to do his best every day, fulfilling his duties here at home with such dedication that it makes us puff up with pride and joy. He does our vacuuming every day, wipes the table and cleans up after meals, mops the floors of his schoolhouse, and even goes to the store to buy bottled water! When you stack what he does with “normal” Filipino kids his age- kids who vegetate in front of the television or computer and do nothing but Facebook all day- I’d say he comes out on top. These are the small victories we savor every single day.
Sometimes, all we can really do is wait.