Anyone who reads this and has known me for a long time will laugh and roll their eyes at the following statement: I can spend hours, days even, without talking. I am a lot quieter than I seem.
I hope the pause has been long enough for you to expend your disbelief and your desire to roll around the floor laughing, like the monkey I got J from thinkgeek.
It is absolutely true. I don’t talk as much as I seem to, and most of my social talking is in response to the awkwardness of silence. Do I come across as stupid or morose when I don’t talk? Do I seem saturnine (an expression my mother would throw at me whenever she wanted to remind me I’d never attract a man with such an attitude) or crabby? If the person sitting or standing opposite me seems even remotely bored, I go off on what can only be described as rapid-fire conversation…and I say the STUPIDEST and most INANE things you can possibly imagine. I walk away rolling my eyes at myself and wanting to kick my own fanny.
So…we went to the psychiatrist yesterday. (You see where this is going, don’t you?) We had not been since January and, on that day, my darling husband was there with me. Our doctor, like the majority of psychiatrists, sat there asking random questions, gauging our body language and seeing if it matched what we were saying as he typed notes into his computer. The tack, tack, tack, tack, tack of the keyboard seems to increase in speed only to, quite suddenly, stop cold (as in disbelief) and then resumes. Yesterday was no different, except…
The last time we went in I had a full head of hair. I’d yet to have the big hot flash crisis of February which, compounded with menopausally (I KNOW it’s not a word, but bear with me) thinning hair and my natural inclination to lose my patience with my own grooming (heaven help me were I ever to be reincarnated as a feline,) inspired me to cut all my hair off in much the same manner I shear the men in the household from time to time. Because of the full head of hear, the one facial feature I’ve been most self-conscious about and concealing for the past…forty-seven years?…was not apparent. Yesterday, balder and bolder, I sat across from the doctor and watched him watching us.
TGG is not the most emotionally forthcoming individual. He also feels that psychiatrists are a waste of time because his months-long interaction with one yielded little more than uh-huh…yes…hmmmm, and left him feeling like he’d done it all for naught. J, of course, sits silently, holding his boxing gloves and looking around the room (this time the furniture had a different placing so he was trying to commit it to memory) and I…well…I had to fill the void with my chatter.
How are things?
I HATE that question because there is no answer that will please the listener, elicit a response or make me look less over-compensating, is there???? I explained that J seems to be doing well; he has his moments when he gets angry at us and displays his discontent quite openly, stomping up the stairs and wanting to assert his will over ours, but that we don’t give in to his demands. I also mentioned that he goes out without his boxing gloves now although he was carrying them yesterday. I mentioned that he has had moments when he wants to be alone, or he wants to cry, but he resolves his desire for solitude and cries until he feels better…and that this doesn’t take long. I mentioned that, more and more, we see adolescent reactions to us grown-ups and we make sure that we don’t crowd him physically or emotionally.
All this was said quickly, animatedly, with a lot of hand gestures…and I tried to imbue it with the same humor I apply to everything.
I told TGG to please interject and express whatever he thought was necessary, and -in the usual fashion- he said very little. The doctor asked if J seemed depressed, we both said no…with varying degrees of alacrity. The doctor asked about whether we’d want to still try reducing the dose of Risperdal over the summer and I said yes, we would, with the caveat that we would want to discuss it at the next session based on observations I was willing to take down regarding J’s behavior. I wanted to document if there was a spike in crying, anger, tantrums or self-injury so that we could make a fact-based decision and know more of what we might encounter during the “experiment” over the summer. I also told the doctor that, because J is very routine-centric, I’d like to continue to give him the spoonful of medicine with the usual amount of Pixy Stix once a day, and a dummy version of it at the time when the other dose would have been dispensed.
And we were almost out the door…
And as I was lifting my butt off the chair and the kids were shuffling to head out, “is there anything J might be worried about?,” the doctor said looking at my head. “I see the haircut. The…(he motioned towards the side of my face where my birthmark sits)…has there been any testing????”
Cue the over-compensator.
“It’s just a haircut! I was tired of my hair and…swoosh…off with it. My husband did it! That’s a hemangioma…I’ve had it since I was born! No, my health is fine!!!”
The doctor didn’t get defensive, but he seemed…doubtful?
We agreed to meet again in mid-June. We walked out. We scheduled the next appointment and then the boys and I walked to the car.
“He thinks I have cancer????,” I said to TGG. “Sure sounded like it! WHY?,” he responded, a lilt of WTF in his voice. No idea. We were pretty stunned that the doctor would look at my hair and assume I was not telling him there was a major situation going on that might affect J. I, ladies and gentlemen, who chatter away and tell him things like “I know that my role in their lives is changing and I’m trying to adjust to it, but we know he realizes that he’s not the same anymore either and we respect that.”
My husband was pretty slack-jawed when we told him. “It’s a HAIRCUT! Did you explain?,” he asked as we navigated out of the hospital’s parking lot, driving home from picking him up at work. I told him I did…I felt I shouldn’t have had to do it, though. I felt it was rather…indelicate? Wouldn’t I, who have e-mailed the doctor to tell him that J sat in a restaurant to eat!!!!!, given him a heads-up so that we could deal with a significant source of turmoil?
At three in the morning, I sat bolt upright in bed. I woke up and realized, SHIT!!!!!! This man thinks that’s a bruise, not a birthmark! The doctor thinks I’m chatty and TGG is saturnine, J might be depressed and my husband wasn’t there BECAUSE HE BEATS ME!!!!!!!!!!!!
This has happened before…the misunderstanding, not the beating…at the grocery store, well over 20 years ago, a woman walked up to me and asked if I’d been beaten…I pointed to my ex-husband and said “oh, yeah…every morning…with a coffee pot!” And I laughed. How can anyone mistake a smooth-surfaced port-wine stain 2 inches in diameter, located over the right eye and clearly visible when I’m angry or anxious or irritated or excited or crying for a bruise? Wouldn’t I have tried to conceal it? Wouldn’t I have tried to cover it with makeup? I have spent a lifetime trying to make it less visible because it made me feel ugly, and now that I am sure of myself and flaunt it…
Yeah…that was indeed quite awkward…