Winter Colds and Snowstorms

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by Mary Kay |

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Just one look and I knew my well-laid plans for the day were for naught. Jessie woke up congested and tapping her nose. Sure signs of an impending cold. Within moments, plan B was enacted. I called her program to let them know she’d be out for the next two days. It was going to be a long weekend. Then, I made sure she was bundled up, asked Roxy if she wanted to go in the car, and left for my job. By the time we arrived, the car was heated, I handed Jess her iPod, and she and her loyal companion made themselves comfortable in the back seat.

Because a winter storm was imminent, only the horses whose stalls opened to private paddocks were changed to their winter play clothes, while the rest stayed in. This shortened my shift by an hour and a half and meant Jessie didn’t have to wait too long. If she had a fever, then I would have had to call out. Fortunately, Jess looks forward to going to the barn.

Watching the snow move in. (Courtesy of Mary Kay)

Afterward, we headed to the market to get supplies for her blooming cold. While waiting in line, I ran into a friend. Our kids rode the school bus together and we hadn’t seen each other in a while. Just as the cashier was finishing ringing up my purchases, I went fishing for my car keys. They weren’t in my pocket and they didn’t make it to my pocketbook, either. Oops!

I turned to my friend and said, “I might need you to drive me home!” I guess Jess being sick had me flustered.

As I walked to the car, Jess and Roxy greeted me with smiles (yes, my dog smiles, too) and it was then I saw the keys on the passenger seat. To keep Jess honest, she sits in the back seat with the child locks on. Jessie didn’t want to come in the store and I certainly didn’t want her leaving germs on shopping carts. As I was telling Jessie our predicament, my friend walked up just in time to witness our drama.

Here was the test. Would Jess listen to my instructions or laugh at our situation? It’s an Angel thing. She had to release her seat belt so she could climb over the front seat in order to grab the keys. Then, she had to push the correct button on the fob to unlock the door. With a lot of giggling, Jess saved the day. It didn’t take her too long to release the door. Of course, I knew she could do all of these things, but she has never been tested under pressure, and speed has never been her strength. Some people will read this and say, “Well, she is 20-something,” so why wouldn’t she open the door? I’ve learned not to underestimate her, but there was a fleeting moment of doubt. 

When Jess was 20, she had a job coach who used task analysis, an ABA chaining technique to teach Jess how to complete a job. Each task was broken down into steps. For example, if Jess was to feed the dog, she first had to go to where the food is kept, open the lid, reach her hand in to get the cup, fill the cup, level the cup, pour the cup into her bowl, return the cup, and close the lid. If we didn’t break it down in this way, Jess would miss a step and it would appear she was lost not knowing what to do. This chaining allowed her to organize. In essence, I used this ABA approach while asking Jess to unlock the car door. It isn’t that she doesn’t know what to do, it’s more about her motor planning being compromised.

So, here we are. The snow is showing no signs of stopping. Jess has had a steaming bath and is cuddled with Roxy. While they are watching about service dogs and seizures on Netflix, I have a pot of chicken adobo simmering. This tangy broth has a ton of garlic, which I believe is the first defense to fight off a cold. I have no proof that it does, but it always helps to feel like you are doing something.

Update. The storm was worse than predicted and her cold wasn’t as bad as expected. In times like this, I wish I had a weatherman’s job. You can be so very wrong and not worry about employment.

We seem to have caught her cold early, or maybe we were just lucky, but either way, it was good to be home. If we had been out, it would have been almost worth it to have seen this!

To read more about our journey, visit my blog. We wouldn’t even have a story if Jess hadn’t found her AAC voice. Also, check Angelman Syndrome News on Fridays for my upcoming columns.


Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News, or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.


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