Not Dead=Okay

Yesterday my son had another allergic reaction.  We left the restaurant where we had eaten a late lunch.  My son had ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and fries. The restaurant does not serve calamari nor is the shrimp on the menu deep fried—which should have made the fries safe.  We have eaten there dozens of times and didn’t even consider the possibility of cross-contamination from shrimp or fish on the grill, which the restaurant later confirmed. We left the establishment intent on doing some school shopping and drove to a store to look for shoes.  By the time we arrived my son had begun to cough.  As we debated styles and sizes I looked at my son whose cough was worsening and realized he was swelling and having trouble breathing.

“You DO have your EpiPens?” I asked.  (He is customarily very good.)

“I don’t like the pockets in these pants,” he responded with a hint of panic.  We left immediately.  I had some Benadryl in the first aid kit in the car that was two years out of date, but I had his sister give it to him anyway.

Ten minutes later we arrived at home.  The coughing was worse.  He was wheezing.

“I think you should take the epi,” I said. He hates needles.  He has been known to hide under the doctor’s desk at immunization time and to require a team of orderlies to hold him down to draw blood.

“Yeah,” he conceded, gasping. “Can you do it?”

He handed me the device, removing the blue safety cap.

He signaled to me in the same way he does if we are diving into the swimming pool simultaneously, with his fingers—one, two, “Ow!” he shouted, wincing. (I knew better than to wait for three.) Then he started counting again, down the ten seconds the needle was to remain embedded in his thigh per the instructions.

We gathered ourselves and our things for an emergency room visit.  I am supposed to call 911 if we use an epi, but the boy was breathing better almost instantly and I had another poke ready if it was necessary. I drove ten minutes extra to a hospital with a pediatric ER and stellar reputation, ten minutes that was made up for by not having to wait forty minutes in the waiting room as we did several years ago when Little Man was bleeding and crying with an puncture wound clear through his foot.

During that episode, Ex (remember him? I barely do) was more concerned with who the caregiver was at the time of the accident than he was with the condition of the child.  His response to any such trauma once he determines no one will die is ‘whose fault was it?’ (Surely, not his.) Even last summer, as soon as he had ascertained that Little Man would not die, he started working overtime to avoid responsibility.

As we were leaving, I sent Ex a text message that we were en route to the emergency room with an anaphylactic episode.  I will say quite honestly that among the worst parts of any real drama in our lives is the prospect of having to inform Ex. It requires an interaction that still—even after all this time—can upset my peace and disturb our family equilibrium.

Ex replied, “Please keep month [sic] posted. You never told me that any allergies were confirmed before.  What is he allergic to?”

Jesus H. Christ. (Sorry to offend sensitive readers.)  Ex responded to “son’s life may be in jeopardy” with “you haven’t properly informed me of the probable cause.”

No, I haven’t, because I still don’t know exactly which among the suspected proteins he is allergic to.  Oh, and let me point out that when I do find out, it won’t be because Ex helped one iota.  He won’t have haunted a single waiting room.  He won’t have attended a single appointment, and in all likelihood he won’t have spent a thin dime.

“Is he okay now?” Ex wrote.

Define okay.  He’s not dead.  For Ex, not dead = okay.  I don’t even know what to say about that.  Is there a psychiatrist in the house?  This is just more of his black-and-white thinking? It’s just weird. I replied from the emergency room with just the facts ma’am: “…steroids …coughing …observation …several hours …more difficulty …seems less severe…”

To which he responded presumably having discerned for himself that the boy was not dead and therefore okay: “Thanks for the update. I will wait a while and call him afer [sic] he has rested some.”

Oh, did someone invite him to call and make my son uncomfortable on top of all this?

Just to be clear I wrote: “Anaphylactic shock can be life threatening.  That is why we are here.”

To which he responded:  “That is why he would probably like some voice time with his Pop and why I am respectfully waiting a bit to call.”

What an F-bomb A-hole. (Apologies to more sensitive readers, the cursing is a direct measure of my annoyance.)

Of course, Ex had not been mentioned at all in this crisis, not by anyone.  “I might die, I’d like to call the man whom I frequently refer to as “idiot” despite being encouraged to resolve such negative feelings by my mother and other significant adults,” the boy was not not likely to have said.

“…he would probably like some voice time with his Pop…” It bugged me. It bugged me like something in my eye or a blister worsening with each step and a long way to go. It bugged me while I watched Up with my son while waiting in the ER to make sure that he could breathe once the steroids kicked in and the Benadryl and epinephrine wore off. It bugged me as I drove home with my increasingly groggy son.  It bugged me because his “Pop” wasn’t thinking of the child at all, the child who frequently avoids phone calls with him, the child who was in crisis.

Bad Mommy. I finally wrote that we were at home and my son was asleep. I probably shouldn’t have, but I included: “I’m sorry.  [He] hasn’t mentioned you.”

That’s when it got ugly.  Ex replied:  “Of course he hasn’t mentioned me.  You punish him every time he does. Don’t ask me to pretend I don’t know your particular brand of insanity.” He also promised to call the other children “later.”

I did not immediately reply.  I called a friend to defuse.  Then, I texted: “[Ex], you are paranoid and delusional. I don’t ‘punish’ the children at all, especially not for expressing their feelings.  They are free to discuss whatever they wish and unlike you, I do not view their love for [the other parent] as a betrayal. (To do that as you do is a cruelty to them.) Do not reply or I will block you from texting me at all.”

The phone rang within five minutes.  It was him and I passed the phone to my daughter without answering.  “It’s your father.”

“Hello?” She came to me afterward.

“That was weird,” she said. Ex had asked after my sick son and been told the same details I had already related, and that he was sleeping.

“So he’s okay then?” Ex had asked her. (Remember, okay=not dead.)

“It’s anaphylactic shock,” she had said, “it’s pretty serious. It was scary—he could die from that, you know.”

He said it was strange that her brother had never had any allergies before and all of the sudden in the last couple of months, this…  (Five minutes on Google could have resolved that bit of ignorance without troubling us at all, but no…)

Thin as Paper, a devil, by Little Man

It’s more likely that I must be making this sh*t up.  Obviously, I am just aching for ways to spend our time and money in drama and suffering, probably for no other reason than to torment him [Ex]. It’s all part of my evil plan.  BWAA HA HA HA HA. Ex has probably arm-chair diagnosed munchausen syndrome by proxy from nine hundred miles away with fifteen minutes on the phone per week (assuming he is functioning well enough at any given time to make the calls).

“Don’t ask me to pretend I don’t know your particular brand of insanity.”

God, do I wish I didn’t know his particular brand!

Later, when I woke my son to give him another dose of Benadryl, I mentioned that I had communicated with his father.

“He had hoped to talk with you and wishes you well,” I said.

“That’s nice,” my son said dreamily, closing his eyes again and pulling the covers back up over his bare shoulder—a shoulder that is more a man’s and less a boy’s with each passing day.

I tell myself that the boy is on track to becoming a worthy man—and not one like Ex.  It’s really all that I can do.

9 comments to Not Dead=Okay

  • Please give your little guy a hug and a kiss for me. How terrifying that must have been for him and for you… I hate your Ex – truly. He has now officially joined the ranks of my evil MIL and my hubby’s bat-shit crazy ex as one of the most evil, rotten people I have ever had the displeasure of knowing (he was on the fence but leaning heavily toward that side before this but this knocked his pathetic, lazy, alcoholic ass over the rest of the way). I’m so sorry… **hugs**
    FrustratedStepmom recently posted..Feeling lostMy Profile

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  • Ooookay, I have a login now and can comment. That ASShole! I’ve been an unwilling player in the blame-game before, and had to put up with this kind of bullshit, so I’m EXTRA-furious on your behalf. Nothing quite like having something life-threateningly wrong with a kid plus having to deal with a shithead while on your very last nerve…ugh, ugh, ugh! I hope your son feels better ASAP, and that you’re able to find some peace in all of this for your own self. xox
    MFAMama recently posted..the one where I am blahMy Profile

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  • Set the controls

    I am thankful that everyone is safe and healthy.

    1. I don’t enjoy reading one person lambasting another, particularly when the lambastee is defenseless. That is not sporting.

    2. I don’t enjoy reading the faithful fill in the blanks of the writer’s vocabulary. Personally, I would reserve judgement for people whom I’ve met. Likely, not even then.

    3. Verbatim accounts of phone conversations might make “Ex” (and others) think that recording devices are rolling at all times, making it less likely that people will call.

    4. I understand that the medical implications of anaphylaxis are dire, and allergies are a bear to live with. I live with them myself. Every time a babysitter or relative is feeding my kids they ask to be reminded of their allergies, and I’m thankful they ask. As much as parents of kids with no food allergies find it difficult to relate to the situation of parents of kids with allergies, allergies dominate so much of that family’s food experience, and it has done so since they were diagnosed at age two or three. I estimate food has dominated 50% of the relationship between me and my kids, and allergies have dominated 70% of the food experience-that’s how ingrained it is. If one is not living with it every day, one might be excused not knowing what the allergies are off the top of one’s head. Ex did ask, and a person’s allergens can change. Maybe in the interest of *future* cooperation this point may have slid.

    5. Writer is spot-on re cross-contamination in restaurants. No way would I take my kid to a soy factory Chinese restaurant and ask for a grilled cheese sandwich.

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    • Regarding points 1 & 2, are they in reference to the comments made by myself and MFAMama? If so, please do not assume that we do not actually know “Ex”. We may very well know him and/or know the ‘other side’ of the story.

      Regarding point 3, if the other parent is not calling to be abusive or calling to instigate trouble and be a general ass, they shouldn’t care even if “recording devices are rolling at all times”. Besides, I really do not believe that is what is keeping “Ex” from calling more regularly.

      Regarding point 4, yes allergies do change from time to time. However, when being told that your child is in for an anaphylactic reaction, that is not the time to give someone grief about what all the allergies are, why wasn’t I told, blah blah blah. Ask once the child is home, after everyone has had time to relax from the stress of the episode, and the situation in general is calmer. Also, if he gave a flying rat’s backside about the child or was even REMOTELY involved in the child’s life, he’d know the child’s allergies as food allergies are absolutely no joke.
      FrustratedStepmom recently posted..Feeling lostMy Profile

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    • Safe and healthy is good, wishing the same to you and yours.

      1. I don’t write posts like this one for “sport.” This situation is hard. The support of others and writing helps immensely. It amuses me to hear Ex called defenseless. No doubt he would think of himself as such, and has been known to indulge recklessly in poor-me-the-victim thinking.

      2. While “faithful fill in the blanks of the writer’s vocabulary” is a very catchy phrase, I have no idea what the criticism actually means. Of course, you are invited to vote with your eyes and refrain from reading work you do not enjoy. If you are of the opinion that I am a lousy writer, you are in no way obliged to read. I would also invite you to reserve your judgment of me, especially since we are personally acquainted. If you would like to meet the kids’ father the next time he is in town, it can probably be arranged. Somehow I doubt you’ll find him friend material, but who knows?

      3. The only thing that seems to deter Ex from calling are his cycles of depression and alcoholism. If you are gently informing me that you or others are dissuaded from interacting with me because I blog, then thanks for the heads-up. I have tried to be judicious about the telling of other people’s stories and have no interest in upsetting others (even Ex), but especially not those I care about. I do not record conversations and I generally don’t even listen when the kids are on the phone with their dad, though I am nearly always available afterwards and often write about what they feel or report.

      4. I certainly hope for future cooperation and your point here is taken. I carry a list of a certain young someone’s food allergies in my wallet.

      5. It makes it rather hard to eat out!

  • Set the controls

    I would not ask someone to speak for someone else. That is called gossip. However dignified a presentation of the other side may be, I think it would add some much-needed balance to the discussion. And Stepmom, I think presumption should be the eighth deadly sin. I have no basis to assume I know your relationship with Ex.

    I do not like my voice recorded, and I like to be given the choice of being recorded or not. That’s just me. Again, I wouldn’t want to speak for someone else.

    Perhaps Ex, from the sound of it not one to be given the benefit of the doubt, was reacting in the way he felt was most sympathetic and constructive. Not the way the writer or me or you thinks is the most sympathetic, but in *his* way. Just maybe, he is doing his best, and who are we to judge? I am not speaking to you, but more from my experience, when I suggest that people who exhibit annoying behavior, whether it is narcissism, inattentiveness, boorishness or alcohol dependency may have a psychological disorder of which they may not be aware, they have given up hope trying to treat it, or they do not have the means to treat it. Without hanging a label on them (the ninth deadly sin), knowing that a person has a psychological disorder makes him easier to live with. Your support often pays off in spades. No question, though, it is difficult.

    I am not describing Ex, much less speaking for him. Personally I would have dropped everything and traveled the nine hundred miles. But who are we to judge, on one person’s say-so?

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  • I think it’s pretty safe to say the kids are always the losers in a contentious divorce, even years later. It only takes one parent to make it bad. However angry Ex might still be, in an emergency the spotlight is the child, period.

    But the real tragedy isn’t that he hasn’t been clued in by someone; it’s that he doesn’t feel it. When their kid is in trouble, an involved parent doesn’t need to be told where to focus. The involved parent feels it firsthand and can’t think of much else. If their first instinct is to fight and blame — and by text message! — they don’t feel it. That’s not a parent, it’s a correspondent.
    andrew recently posted..The Day the Ceiling FellMy Profile

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    • Set the controls

      I couldn’t have put it better. I for one can’t say what it’s like to live apart from my family for, how long? Maybe correspondent is all he can summon.

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