I have a little confession, I've started thinking of KayTar as a normal-ish kid. Yeah, yeah, I know the list of medical issues. I know that she has physical and processing differences. I know we've completely rearranged our life to facilitate our current level of normalcy. In spite of all of that, I do think of her as normal-ish most of the time. Most days, good days, she appears normal to the outside world, to the people who don't have access to her medical files or are not trained in spotting developmental differences, because of that, we've started to see her in that light, too.
When BubTar started swim team at the YMCA, we let KayTar decide if she wanted to go to the daycare room or watch BubTar swim. She chose the playroom, so we allowed it. We didn't give them any special instructions outside of DO NOT FEED THE KAYTAR, which is non-negotiable due to her propensity for anaphylaxis. We didn't mention her asthma, poor balance and muscle tone, neurological episodes, hearing loss...none of it. We are always on site, available at a moment's notice if anything goes wrong, so we decided to let her try her hand at normalcy for a change and allow her to function in an environment without special considerations. So far, so good, minus the time they fed her a snack. They have noticed she is quite clumsy (walking into things, falling) and my mom mentioned to them that she is deaf in one ear, but she's done a pretty good job holding her own with the neurotypical kids.
KayTar started swimming lessons this week and I decided to take the same position, let her start out as a run of the mill kid and disclose what I had to, when I had to. On the first day, she wasn't responding to their commands, so I had to disclose that she is deaf in one ear and if she doesn't respond they'll need to speak up or move to her right side. Today, they walked to the other side of the pool and I was going to stay in my seat and let her do her own thing with her class. I watched from across the pool and noticed she wasn't opening her eyes and she was fussing. My stomach dropped and I immediately worried she was having an episode. I booked it over to the other side of the pool where she was definitely having a difficult time and I ran through the questions, "Are your eyes sick? Are you spinny?" She said no, but still couldn't open her eyes. I helped her sit down and she put the towel over her head like a tent. Of course, the swim instructors were eying us at this point, so I said, "She has neurological problems and sometimes the sunlight makes her sick." I sat with her while the other kids had their turns and eventually it passed enough that she could take another turn, with her eyes squeezed shut. Once they got back to the regular side of the pool, a more shaded area, she seemed fine, but I was shaken.
These things happen to her, frequently. There are many days she can't tolerate the sun. She has episodes. Asthma attacks. We tube feed her. She falls over. She can't always keep up with kids her age. She might be able to pass for normal frequently, but she isn't REALLY normal...our life isn't REALLY normal, though most days we forget that it isn't. My stomach turned flip-flops the rest of her class, I could not wait to get her out of the sun. I was so afraid an episode was dancing around the edges and by letting her continue her lesson, I was giving it a chance to take over. At the same time I wanted her to complete her lesson, to enjoy herself, to be with the other kids. I did let her finish, while I wondered if we would be headed to the ER today and if my math final could be rescheduled and I kicked myself for not picking up her Imitrex prescription yet. She was okay after the lesson, but when we stepped back outside to walk to the car, she couldn't open her eyes or walk and I scooped her up and carried her, her still body in my arms, her head lying limply on my shoulder. My stomach dropped again. Is it? Isn't it? This was how the episode at the butterfly museum started. It wasn't an episode this time. Once she was out of the sun, she was fine again, but I am still anxious, my stomach in knots worrying over our lake vacation this weekend, worrying about the episode that is due Monday, worrying when if and when it will happen, worrying about the new medication and the trip to the emergency room. I know that this anxiety won't pass until we are safely on the other side of it all, and I am reminded once again that as close as we might seem to it on a good day, none of this is truly normal.