Our family’s primary care physician, Dr. Rodriguez, came over to our home yesterday to give Ryan a general examination. Physically, Ryan is doing very well, so he believes. He was quite impressed too, telling me “this is the best Ryan has looked” when he was wrapping up. It made me feel good to hear this.
Keeping Ryan in pristine condition is always paramount to me. Everyday I check every square-inch of his body for changes, be good or bad. I look at the health of his hair and nails. I look in his ears, eyes (what I can get to), and mouth. I check his bottom and groin for rashes. I inspect between his toes and fingers for skin breakdown. If something look different or suspicious I immediately have it documented (size, shape, appearance) in the nursing records.
Some might be a bit grossed out by this, but I bet most people don’t think about it either. Hey, I once was the same. Urine tells a lot about a person’s health. With each output I inspect it by sight and smell. That’s right, I smell his urine and don’t even think twice about it. The odor alerts me to many things; most importantly infection, blood, and dehydration. Just ask any nurse (worth their weight) and they will tell you this is a sure-fire way. This also works for the mucus from his nose, mouth, and throat. Ear wax is not excluded from this approach.
If that made you a bit queasy then I suggest you skip the next paragraph.
Bowel movements. Like everyone else, Ryan has them… twice a day. One when I get him up for the day and one before I put him to bed. It took time, but I was able to get him into this pattern. I found techniques to get him started, which I’d rather not share. This routine is important because an increase or decrease in frequency might indicate an issue. Again, it’s all about sight (consistency, volume, and color) and smell. For people not on solid foods (puree or formula), their bowel movements look markedly different… like chocolate pudding or mud pies that we made as youngsters.
Here’s my point, it’s messy work. It, quite literally, stinks.
A common misconception I constantly try to right is that people in Ryan’s condition just lounge in bed. I suppose some might, but they still must perform bodily functions. They also need their nails clipped… hair combed and cut… teeth brushed… face shaved… and every other thing we do.
This is why I was so proud when Dr. Rodriguez was amazed by Ryan’s appearance. It lets me know doing right by my son.