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  • Mika Hartman

Hudson's Journey: EXTRA Audibles

By Mika Hartman

Hudson's Journey: EXTRA Audibles

The word “audible” automatically makes us think American football; I can hear Peyton Manning yelling “Omaha” as I am typing. Actually, calling an “audible” can be applied to most everything we do. Some people are great with the quick pivoting and some have difficulty in change(s) to routine. In my world, “audibles” are a must. I actually seek those who can make changes quickly to best serve Hudson. It’s a game changer for our family. 

Every year, we visit several medical specialist here locally, some out of town and even a couple out of state. I call everyone on our team “Team Hudson the Strong”. Now that Hudson is 6, I have had many years of figuring out what works best, what he will tolerate and what we just have to “grin and bear” and get through. 

The people and professionals who call “audibles” for Hudson are my faves. They see him, truly see him, and call plays according to his behaviors during this visit, not solely to their checklist.

Example of an audible:

Hudson has sensory issues with his dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism. Brushing his teeth, trimming his nails, cutting his hair, etc., all cause him to become very upset. If you know me, you know I often say, “Momma tried, momma failed, but I tried”… I will always try and pivot as needed. This is because I know one day the “momma failed” part will be omitted. I know one day, this will be easier for Hudson. And when “audibles” get called, it helps us get closer to this goal and more quickly. 

Last month, I called an audible and switched Hudson’s dentist to a new one, new to Hudson. Our last one wanted to start using a restraining board. Nope. I chose to go with someone that we already have a relationship with the family; this family also has a EXTRA bundle of joy. Making this change was easy, because I knew the understanding was built-in; however, I still had not taken Hudson to see if the fit was right. Boy, it was! The entire staff all “called plays” as we went. The first one being the dreaded paperwork for a new patient. I ran in and left Hudson and Henley, my 16 year old daughter, in the car. Hudson has a true sixth-sense about medical buildings and scrubs… all are bad. Avoid, if possible. So, the lady at the front desk gave me what was needed, told me what I could skip, and let me fill out in the car. After we went in, they called us back quickly, second good “play call”. Then, the dental hygienist realized the challenges we had and brought the dentist straight back to look FIRST. Hudson is 6 and this was the first time we 1) saw the dentist first 2) our dentist had me hold Hudson like a lap hug and lay him back into his lap. Hudson did awesome; he was way more relaxed, no papoosing or restraining him causing more fear. Lastly, the dental hygienist watched and learned this method, too. She used the same way to clean Hudson’s teeth. Our best dental experience to date. All because our new dental team each called “audibles” for Hudson… and mommy, too.

Our pediatrician and team all work amazing for Huddy and his care: audibles, new play calls, outside the box thinking and listening. 

Example of sticking to the checklist:

When we go to doctors appointments I can feel Hudson getting tense; but, I can also feel me getting tense too. I know some nurses or staff will absolutely not make changes to a routine and the weight of this can be heavy. When you or I go see the doctor we understand the whole “first, then” of what’s to come. Hudson is already on high alert. Hudson: “Will they need blood?”, “Will they need to stick instruments in my ears?”, “Will they hurt me?” It’s a very different experience for Huddy. He’s not wrong. He has been to enough clinics and through enough appointments to know what might happen. So if you are determined to get a blood pressure, well, good luck. All that is going to happen is try, retry, retry, retry, give up and leave Hudson even more distrusting. He has been bruised by the cuff, restrained to the point of choking on tears and snot, and has even cause bruising to his spine from the force he’s using to be free. It is awful. And when you get the “let’s try again”, it feels devastating. Oh, and, now let’s look at or listen to his heart. Really? It will not be accurate, he’s just been put through major anxiety and I am pretty sure the information is all inaccurate. 

What an audible here could be is to get the most important data needed at the start and then worry about blood pressure, height, weight, etc. Working backwards would ensure that the reason for the appointment was met. Yes, I agree that all information might be required for the full picture, but any good assessment is better than the whole thing going poorly and always talking about sedation. These conversations always lead to more appointments. Counterproductive. 

Call a darn audible.

Help, not force.

The audible might not work, I know. Trying is the key to finding out what will work better. Our next trip to see the dentist, Hudson might not lay back. New may have to pivot again. And that’s okay. It’s the willingness to pivot that matters.

If it was a life or death, do whatever you need. If we want Hudson to ever be okay, you can’t hurt him at every visit with you. I know the staff gets frustrated. Guess what? So do I. Talking quietly when we come in never helps, working with us seems like a better conversation that we should have together. If we had more options of “specialist” on the coast, I would have already called for some new players on our team. 

I share this to say to people “be aware of your surroundings”. The way you would want to be treated is exactly how we do too. It may look different, but our need to do all of these appointments is great and shouldn’t be so difficult. We recently took Hudson to Great Wolf Lodge for his birthday. Our first evening after the drive we only had time to play in the main lobby area and go to dinner. Hudson was having a great time and then he tripped on a ramp. CJ heard the parents of the other children playing, telling them to back away and don’t look. Seriously? As a parent, you just missed a beautiful opportunity to call your own audible and teach your kids to be better humans. Down syndrome is not contagious; however, the world would have more love if it was. There are already challenges we face, and it should not be in our healthcare team, too. 

When life throws you negative looks, negative comments, negative vibes even, the least your own team should do is what is best for your child. These are the reasons why I will always advocate. 

Hudson makes the world more beautiful; calling EXTRA audibles could make his world a little easier, and we are grateful to those on our team who do. 

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