When the Same is Different 2

September 23, 2015

During our weekend trip to City and State of New York we ate at two Diners. In both of them, Robert ordered the same dish: cheeseburger and fries. However, he hardly touched his meal  in the first diner while he clearly enjoyed every bite of the food served in the second diner.

Two weeks ago, Robert refused two small band-aids offered by phlebotomist to cover puncture wound caused by blood test in case the one Robert already had on will fell off.  Robert protested with very loud, “No, no, no”, and was very agitated.  When he is in such a state, there is not much for me to do. I manage to persuade him, to at least replace the band-aid that was already slipping of his arm with a new one (which didn’t hold either as his arm was covered with lotion earlier on) and exit leaving another band-aid in the lab.

A week ago, as a conclusion of a visit to his allergy and asthma doctor, Robert was given a spacer with a mask, a medicated shampoo, and pockets of special face cream. For a few second he hesitated if he should accept any of those items. His hesitation, however expressed itself mildly as slight movements of his hands toward himself and toward the nurse.  There was, no loud protests, no effort to leave everything on the physician desk.  After a few second of silent deliberation, Robert handed me each item expecting me to place them in my purse.  Which I did.

Robert’s opposite reactions to two hamburger plates and to getting things from two medical establishments forced me to realize obvious fact.  Robert doesn’t take anything at face value. He differentiates between things and event based on their qualities.

There was nothing wrong with the fries and hamburger in the diner in New York City.  They were not poisonous or undercooked.  Still, they were thick, yellow, and bland. I tried one fry. It was not appalling, but it was not tasty either. Even dipping it in ketchup or Robert’s favorite honey mustard sauce wouldn’t enhance the taste. I am not sure how the hamburger tasted, but even the cheese on top of it didn’t convince Robert to try it. Maybe that was something about the smell of the oil they were cooked in, maybe there was something added to the meet.  I don’t have any idea.

But, the fries in Hudson’s diner were thin and orange.  They were made from unpeeled potatoes.  They smell as they should.  At least as they should smell for Robert. It might be that diner’s insistence on using only organic products resulted in better outcome.  Maybe the chef who only used organic product treated the food with higher regard and thus put more thoughts and efforts into preparing his dishes even the simple ones.

There was nothing wrong with the way phlebotomist treated Robert.  She really tried to accommodate him. She took his blood in a professional way.  Robert remained calm throughout the procedure although he was slightly tense.

I do have difficulties trying to understand Robert’s varied reactions to getting extra items from both places. The only difference I could notice was the ease Robert was treated by his allergy doctor, her nurse, and her assistant.  He met each of them separately, but all of them were relaxed while working with him, be it weighing him, listening to his lungs, checking his throat, or practicing with him breathing through the spacer with a mask. They not only knew Robert from previous visits, but they probably already met many children and adolescents with special needs. They were at ease, so Robert was at ease too.  When Robert is relaxed he is more open to new things and to  persuasions.  It is a two-way process.

As wonderful as the phlebotomist was, it was clear that she was tense.  She became concerned as soon as I told her that Robert had special needs. She immediately warned me that she might not be able to take Robert’s blood if he would act up. I told her that in the previous year he had his blood drawn twice without any problems and I hoped that she would relax. She probably did… to some degree.

She was calm on the outside but she felt uneasy.  I sensed her anxiety, so Robert had to feel it too. When he senses another person’s anxiety he responds with his own. As a result he stops listening to the person and is directed by the environment of things and his own rigid rules.

 

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