Just say yes to drugs, kids

By Mir
January 22, 2011

I continue to be shocked and amazed by this child of mine. Years ago, when Monkey started orthodontia, his sensory issues were such that he gave up food and drink for about a week because it hurt and he is stubborn. So I was ready—as ready as I could be, anyway—for this weekend to be utter hell.

It almost feels like I shouldn’t say it out loud (lest I jinx it), but so far… so good.

It’s kind of a study in the weirdness of his brain, really. We always say he either feels things way more or way less than a neurotypical person, but then, of course, the last few months of hell were (we assume) a result of him not recognizing that Hey!, he was really quite sick, and instead of laying down and drinking juice and whining like a normal kid, he continued insisting he was fine but periodically, you know, punching people.

So it’s not that I didn’t know he might not process his post-surgical pain quite the way we might expect, but still, I’ve been completely astonished.

Save for the first thirty minutes after he came out of anesthesia—which did include one very shaky, VERY pitiful and plaintive, “I feel TERRIBLE!”—Monkey has been… just fine.

I’ve been religious about giving him the pain meds, regardless, because they say if you can keep ahead of the pain you’re all set, but if you wait until it hurts, it can be hard to beat it back. But it’s hilarious to every four hours be all “It’s time for your meds” and him replying, “But I feel fine.”

It’s doubly hilarious because it’s obvious he does NOT feel fine. Not by my definition of fine, anyway. When he swallows, his face contorts in a terrible grimace. The first couple of times I saw him do that, I said, “Baby, is your throat hurting?”

“No, I’m fine,” he answered, like there was something wrong with ME.

Also, I’ve twice tricked him into napping, now, by telling him I’m tired and I think I’ll lay down. “Want to lay down with me in the big bed for a little bit?” I’ll ask.

“Well, I’m not tired,” he’ll say, “But I’ll come keep you and the dog company.” We three will then pile into my bed, and about ten seconds after he finishes telling me how he’s not sleepy at all, he’s out cold.

Otto and I discussed whether this is Monkey being an Aspie or this is your Monkey on drugs, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I think the most interesting part, for me, is that he’s on some pretty hardcore narcotics and it hasn’t made him loopy at ALL. If anything, it’s just made him sort of calm and agreeable. And because he keeps insisting he “feels fine,” it’s actually been a very pleasant couple of days ’round here. He’s watching TV and playing his Nintendo and “not napping” and enjoying his pudding and ice cream and generally being a delight.

I’m thinking maybe we keep the Lortab as part of his regular routine, even after he recovers. (No…?)

[Bonus hilarity: Because Monkey’s dad was unable to be here for the surgery but was, understandably, worried, I made sure to snap/send pictures of him along with regular email updates from my phone while we were at the hospital yesterday. When we finally got home and were able to talk, my ex thanked me for the regular updates, and I said he was welcome, and pointed out that I’d also put a picture of Monkey on the blog yesterday, so he could get another picture that way.

“Oh, okay,” he said. “What’s the address, again? Woulda… coulda?” You know, because he doesn’t have it bookmarked, hasn’t been reading it every day for years, etc. See, I can share this with you on account of he JUST ASSURED ME that he no longer reads here. So NO WAY would he see this and get mad!]

[Bonus bang-your-head-on-the-desk hilarity: The ex showed up this morning to fetch Chickadee for a competition she’s at today, and in spending a few minutes with Monkey, asked how he’s feeling.

“I feel GREAT!” said Monkey. “Really, no pain at ALL!” He beamed at his father.

“That’s great, buddy,” his dad answered. “But you know, I have a friend whose son had the same surgery, and he felt great the first couple of days, too. The third day he felt AWFUL, though.”

A strangled sound of MIGHTY DISPLEASURE may have escaped my mouth as my hands involuntarily flew into the air in the universal gesture for “I give up.”

To his credit, he at least seemed to realize he may have made an error. “Oh, but I’m sure you’ll be fine,” he followed up, avoiding the DEATH GLARE I was now shooting in his direction.


(Again, he can’t even remember the blog address, so it’s perfectly okay that I shared this, right? Right.)]


  1. Amanda

    Totally agree with you about the narcotics changing the aspies! Seriously, why can’t they figure out if that stuff can be reproduced without the “bad” to make our lives a little easier? Especially our Aspies! LOL

    Glad he’s doing well… I am hoping day 3 is much better than 1 and 2!

    Did the doctors warn you of the STINKY odor once the scabs form from the tonsil removal? Oh that was the worst part (for me) haha

  2. Little Bird

    Hey, he doesn’t read this so it totally shouldn’t matter!

    If I were Monkey, I wouldn’t really be awake well or long enough to say “I’m fine!” I’d be fast asleep.

  3. Sheryl

    Whew, I am breathing a sigh of relief with you and hope, hope, hoping that this is the end of Hulk Monkey.

  4. Jessica

    First off, I’m so glad Monkey is doing well.

    Second, I’m not sure why exactly, but my first reaction to the last half of your post was “Mine is an evil laugh! Ha! Ha! Ha!” (My evil laugh is much better, according to my husband, but I’m still allowed to say, “Mine is an evil laugh!” before or after completing said evil laugh.) I’m sure no evil laugh is/was intended, however, as ex doesn’t read here anymore anyway, eh?

  5. Varda (SquashedMom)

    I am so glad that it’s worked out so far & Monkey is feeling “fine”. It seems like kids on the spectrum often have really “other” reactions to medications. Makes sense, since their neurobiology is different, so will their response to meds be. Some things that are supposed to knock Jake out just make him alert and happy instead. Go figure.

    Hope it all continues to go smoothly.

  6. Megan

    Oh hooray! (wait. Didn’t I already say that? And again before? yeah, creative I am NOT at the moment) Isn’t it wonderful when you’ve been all screwed up and prepared, sort of wincing, for something that might be really truly awful and then it ISN’T and rather than be fussed at all that wasted worry you’re just thrilled to bits that the sky didn’t, after all, fall? SO so glad that Monkey is having such a good recovery – for the rest of the family as much as for the small hero. I do think that there is a proviso in the legal code for homicide if the circumstances are something like Extreme Stupidity That May Just Ruin Everything (you big dope)(lucky he’s not reading). At least he tried to save it at the end!

    Hope day 3, and day 4 and day so on ad infinitum just keep on getting better!

  7. kelly

    Day 3 for us, still doing well. Not quite as active, and although he has not complained of pain still, I can sense it is a bit worse today. Still all-in-all recovery has been much smoother than I thought. Hope my updates are helping, as I was dreading this, and found minimal positive recovery stories. Hang in there!

  8. Sarah

    Glad to hear that the recovery is going well. About the narcotics – when my brother was in the hospital and on a morphine pump for several weeks after a major bike accident he only got loopy twice when they gave him an extra shot before a procedure.

    The rest of the time, the doctors explained, since he needed the drugs the pain used it up and he couldn’t get loopy or have other side effects.

  9. Flea

    Here’s hoping that even though your ex is technically correct about the third day, the drugs render Monkey a sweet, pain-free child. Have fun, Mir!

  10. meghann

    Yeah, Ryan got morphine once, when he had been electrocuted at Walmart. (Long story) A chunk of his finger was gone, and they needed to clean it. Did the morphine knock him out or make him loopy? Nope. He just got very pleasant and chatty with the nurses.

  11. Katherine

    Can I ask a question? So obviously it DOES hurt to swallow and you have said he doesn’t perceive pain the same way as you and I – have you asked him “what does it feel like to swallow?” I am just curious what his answer would be. Maybe learning what he describes his throat feeling like will be helpful in the future? Just a thought. So glad there has been calm – it certainly is well deserved & needed.

  12. Mamaspeak

    I was told the se thing about pain meds as Sarah. I was on Vicodin for a couple years w/my back problems. My PT is the one who said it to me. Told me it was also why I never became addicted. Not sure I believe it, but whatever, as long as it works.
    You’re smart to stay ahead of the pain. I know that part to be true.

    I’m glad this has thus far been a “pleasant” experience & hope that continues. Sending hugs to you all. (((hugs)))

  13. Lucinda

    My kid’s worst days were the first couple. So if he is doing well now, I’m sure he will just continue to improve. We did not see a downturn like your ex describes nor have I heard of such a thing from my several friends who’s children went through the same thing. So I’m glad he is doing so well during what is normally the worst of it. : )

  14. raina

    Hopefully Monkey keeps “feeling fine””! My son is the same way. We are just getting over the flu here and my son kept insisting he was perfectly fine. All while running a fever of about 104. But according to him he had never been better!

    Its weird how they cannot process these things.

  15. navhelowife

    Keep giving him those pain meds – I think you are wise to keep ahead of the pain.
    Keeping good thoughts coming your way.

  16. Karen


  17. Nelson's Mama

    Glad to hear good news about your sweet Monkey. I’d only heard good recovery stories from friends, so I was keeping my fingers and toes crossed for you!

  18. Patricia

    You know I have this friend who had an ex husband just like yours, until the third day when she killed him with her bare hands and buried him in the back yard. Oh — wait, I just dreamed that.

    In better news, Here’s to Monkey’s continued recovery and feeling betterness!!! I’m thrilled he is doing so well thus far — and by having such a good start sounds like he is on the road to being better. May the awful ick that is now no longer on the inside have taken with it all the other things you’ve been dealing with — so you may begin to worry about something else, like who will eat those bonbons or a cruise?

  19. Nancy R

    Did you clang the pots and pans with a wooden spoon like the lady in the commercial for Spaghetti-o’s or whatever now has a full serving of vegetables?

  20. Stimey

    Narcotics, huh? Who knew?

    I’m so glad that things have been going pretty smoothly. Three cheers for feeling fine!

  21. Becca

    I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned, but I had 8 foot surgeries, from age 18 to 23.

    Personally, I found in the first few days post-op I had zero side effects from the narcotics. My theory is that the sheer amount of pain and endorphins from the surgery burn through the sedating effects. It usually took me about 48 hours to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time. Don’t be surprised if he suddenly starts getting stoned in another day or two – it’s normal.

    Oddly enough, I found my sensory issues tended to calm down after the surgeries. It seemed like all I could do was focus on the physical, and all of my usual stress reactions melted away. My head was usually quiet then, and most days it’s all I can do to keep the noise (sensory input) contained.

  22. Beth R

    YAY! And how sweet of Monkey to want to keep sleepy Momma and puppy company – he must be feeling better :)


    And I haven’t yet figured out the emoticon for a margarita for Mir… I’ll have to do that :)

  23. parodie

    So so happy and relieved to hear things have been going so well! Here’s hoping it continues!

  24. Momma Chaos

    My 4yr old is not an Aspie (that I know of.. ) but also has sensory issues among other things. He’s had 4 heart related surgeries and both times reacted the same as Monkey. He wakes up from anesthesia and is owie for maybe 30mins-1hr and then is fine. We normally stop all meds within 1-2days of surgery & I am instead fighting with him to stop tearing all his steri-strips off his incisions (he’s a picker). Enjoy the calmer Monkey for a few days!! :) I’m glad surgery went well, I’ve been thinking of you guys!

  25. g~

    The best part of any surgeries my kids have had is the pre-op “calming medicine” they give–which makes them act as if they downed a VERY STIFF martini. Awesome Stuff.

  26. g~

    Also, my sensory-issues son had ZERO effect from the same surgery. Like, absolutely NONE. He didn’t even NAP. And we were SO LOOKING FORWARD to the napping/sleepy/cuddling. He was younger when he had it so that may be a contributing factor but by the next day, he was ready to Run! And Jump! and Play! Imagine how fun it was to keep him down…er…wait, we let him rot his brain with non-stop Ds and Wii and TV. Good times.

  27. Cele

    I am glad you are suffering a respite from the daily rigors of an Aspie on pain. Burp is the same way, I (nor Psam) ever have a clue he’s not “fine” until he throws up.

  28. Daisy

    My teen (an Aspie!) gets totally knocked out by most meds. He can’t even take Benadryl without planning for a nap. He came home from camp with a sunburn-like rash. I gave him a half dose of Benedryl and he slept. through. supper.

  29. Kailani

    Nice Monkey!
    I’m so glad he is recovering well and I’m sure he will continue to do so. You are smart to “stay ahead” of the pain, it makes all of the difference! Both my Kiddos have had the exact same surgery, and it has made all the difference in the world!! Here’s to things looking up!

  30. Sassy Apple

    Huh. I wonder why Monkey sometimes struggles to understand social niceties and correct conversational topics???? The apple never falls far from the tree.

    Okay, now that the snarky part of my e-mail is over, so glad Monkey is feeling better. I know your readers really appreciate you updating the blog during this time. Hope the convalescing continues smoothly…..and who knows??? Maybe there will be some narcotics leftover for mom! :)

  31. RuthWells

    Wonderful news!

  32. Sara

    I was 19 when I had my tonsils out. When my friends were all going on Spring Break, I was sucking down morphine and making the same faces as Monkey when swallowing. It took me three weeks before I could eat anything harder than a baked potato. Meanwhile, the 4th grader who had her tonsils out the same day I did was eating pork chops 4 days post-op.

    Here’s to Monkey being able to chew and swallow cooked pig without grimacing! Hoorah for all of you for enduring life as you know it for the last several months. May it only get better from here.

  33. Heidi

    Ooh, let’s see a photo of your Death Glare!

  34. Laura

    This recipe is for you, although your kids might like it too. Somehow I think this might make your day better, unless there are peanut allergies in your midst. It’s chocolate and peanuts, mixed until they’re a nutella-like consistency.


  35. Peggy

    Hurray! Hope Monkey continues to recover well!

  36. Brigitte

    Yay! For Monkey and the rest of your family surviving his surgery.

    And giggles imagining the hits your blog will get from the title now (plus the inevitable self-righteous troll who doesn’t actually READ the post). ;-D

  37. Carolyn

    YEA!!! May this be the new beginning of many “I feel fine” days for Monkey… :-)

  38. Little Bird

    I have to say, I have odd reactions to painkillers. Some work, some don’t. Sometimes the pain that I deal with on a regular basis, is not what many of my friends would have any comprehension of. Apparently, some of the pain I deal with is something that none of the people I know have. To me, it’s just normal. I never knew what the absence of pain felt like until I was totally sedated. Oddly enough, I bruise easily, and the slightest graze hurts. But, pain is relative. It works in odd ways.

  39. Kathy

    Sounds like you’re all doing GREAT! That is such good news! I’m sure that days 3 and 4 will be terrific … especially as you are keeping ahead of the pain! You are doing a great job and it’s paying off!! ;)

    Happy healing to Monkey! I hope that are plenty more “naps” in your future!

  40. MomCat

    Aww, Monkey, hope you heal soon! Don’t listen to the silly father!

    When my daughter was ten, she had bladder surgery and whatever they gave her wasn’t strong enough for her pain. They kept telling her to wait a few more minutes and the drugs would ‘kick in’ and she finally was just laying there, writhing and screaming. My Mom-empathy pain sensors were completely off the scale, so I might have been screaming a little, too. The doctor prescribed her a combination of opium and belladonna. She slept peacefully after that and I was able to bring my heart rate down to near-normal levels.

  41. Aimee

    Geez… your ex sounds like my dad. If there’s a potential bad side, well, he will look on it!

    So glad that things are going smoothly so far.

  42. Scottsdale Girl

    Margarita or Martini emoticon >–| its the best I could do, Tilt yer head to the left. :)

  43. Katie in MA

    Heeheehee – your sponsored ad is for a drug rehab. I shouldn’t be surprised, but it makes me giggle all the same. Glad Monkey is handling everything okay and I hope he keeps surprising you in happy ways. (I wish your Ex would learn that trick, but I think for the most part Exes are, by definition, beyond hope.)

  44. Mike Reynolds

    The next disconcerting thing about tonsil/adenoid surgery is around the 1 week mark, they develop such bad breath that it could knock you over…

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