Autism, COVID and Freak Accidents
My title sounds crazy, right? But this unhappy word trio perfectly describes my life for the past two weeks. We had been looking forward to our son Matt returning home for the holidays to celebrate his 31st birthday with his autistic twin sister Samantha since COVID prevented us from sharing their milestone 30th together.
The day before Matt arrived home, Howard and I were at the 96th Street gas station. Howard was putting air in our tires, while I sat in the car deleting emails. Suddenly I heard a blood curdling scream. A big silver Escalade pulled up alongside our car and knocked Howard over. I jumped out of the car terrified that my husband was dead or seriously injured. Fortunately (IF you can consider any of this fortunate!) Howard was okay –except his left foot was pinned under the wheel of the SUV.
The SUV driver jumped out. “Are you okay?”
“Do you want me to back up?”
Another resounding no. Howard was afraid that the car would roll forward over his entire foot and crush his metatarsal bones before the car went into reverse. Needless to say, he didn’t trust the driver.
Slowly, Howard wriggled his foot out from under the tire although he was in tremendous pain.
“I’m so sorry…I saw you putting air in the rear tire, but I didn’t see you move to the front when I turned….”
Obviously, he didn’t look. Miraculously, an X-ray and MRI revealed no broken bones in Howard’s foot, which had swelled to the size of an elephant foot. Doctor’s orders were to ice for two weeks, keep the foot elevated and no walking…. Once again Howard was working from our dining room table in our new apartment (with one less room than the old one had).
The very next day, Matt arrived home after spending the night in Brooklyn with a close friend who tested positive for COVID.
“What should I do now? Matt lamented. He had only been home with us for a couple of days.
Now that we’ve moved from a three bedroom to a two bedroom, there was no easy way for our son to isolate. Staying on an air mattress in the living room was not going to work.
“The only way for me to isolate is for Samantha to move out of her room and for me to move in. But she will totally hate that idea. Never mind.”
“Can you blame her? She won’t enjoy sleeping in what she calls ‘your hot mess,’ but maybe I can talk to her.” I was totally DREADING the idea!
“I don’t like the idea of Samantha in the open living room,” Howard added. “She wouldn’t be so well protected. But maybe she’d like the idea of sleeping with us in our king-sized bed.”
My husband is a genius! Samantha agreed to the move, once she understood the necessity of keeping us all safe. She also enjoyed the idea of an extended sleepover date with us. After moving Samantha out (clothing, shoes, cosmetics) and Matthew in (think Coke Zero, bottled water and popcorn for sustenance), we shut the door.
The next morning Matt tested negative. So did the rest of the Elisofons. We all held our breath and maintained separate spaces until Friday when Matt went for another test. Lucky for all of us, our son tested negative. We all embraced and finally could be together without masks. What a relief! There’s a limit to an autistic sister’s generosity, not to mention her parents’ desire to enjoy some privacy after four consecutive nights of togetherness.
Samantha moved back into her room and Matt returned to the air mattress in the living room. Matt had enjoyed four nights of privacy and better sleep on a real bed. Mom and Dad had spent four nights sharing our bed with our 30-year-old daughter. The last time we’d all slept together, 9-year-old Samantha had come home sick from a playdate. The friend’s mom had accidentally given Samantha a double dose of Risperdal (her autism drug). On that occasion our daughter slept peacefully for 14 hours, and we were terrified.
At least this time around, everyone was healthy and there was no danger of an overdose. Samantha was an amazingly considerate bed partner and a much better sport than I could have ever anticipated. She always loves being in the middle, so sleeping between Mom and Dad was an unusual treat for her. For us, it turned out to be unexpectedly sweet.
Samantha joined us in bed after Zooming in the dining room with her friends, gingerly maneuvering between me and her sleeping Dad without waking him. She snuggled with me for a few minutes and then fell asleep before I turned off the news. Never snoring or thrashing, Samantha slept peacefully in her space like an angel. We’ve learned that our sleeping autistic daughter is nothing like the overanxious energizer bunny with a voice and temper that is alternately lovely and terrible when fully awake.
Howard is back on his feet and going to the office by car service. He has already abandoned his cane and shoe boot and will return to public transportation next week. From now on, he will pay a gas attendant to fill our car’s tires.
We must all do our best to protect ourselves. But freak accidents happen no matter how careful we are. One of the mutating COVID variants could infect us, despite our diligence with vaccinations, boosters and masks.
For now, we are all safe, COVID-free and planning to celebrate our twins’ 31st birthday inside a restaurant that will hopefully still be open on December 26th.
Your ordeal made me cry before I read that Matt was Covid free. What a creative solution for Samantha. I’m happy that all is well and hope it continues to be, my friend. <3
Never a dull moment, right? The happy ending was worth the angst of reading from the beginning. A sigh of relief. Happy new year??