Addressing the elephant in the room…now that we know it’s there

J’s tooth hurts.  J has admitted that something in his mouth is causing him pain and discomfort.  J now allows his face to show that he is not happy with this situation.  He keeps his hand wrapped up because, like I do when I have a headache that won’t go away, he’s trying to send the actual pain there…where he can handle it.

I know this because I have been doing this all my life.  For some reason, I learned early on to say “I am going to send the pain I feel in my tooth/back/whatever location is truly painful to my little toe…and it’s going to sit there and it’s going to stay there.”  I don’t know where I got that…maybe it’s something someone said to me when I was young and I misinterpreted its meaning.  But, yes, other than when I stub my toe while navigating a room in the dark (I swear the furniture moves to block my path,) I send pain to my little toe so that it becomes manageable.

Now that we know the hand is the lesser of his problems (but a problem nonetheless,) we can handle this better.  Early Thursday morning we’re having his mouth checked by the same surgeon who did the last extraction.  I’m trying to introduce the subject of how, from unpleasant experiences, we need to remember that good things can come…  The look of skepticism in J’s face says it all.

As for the hand…

The reading of J’s x-rays from the other night says there’s no fracture, but the words “apparent mild medial deviation” and “early degenerative changes” are in there.  They are referring to his fingers and the joint at the base of his thumb.  The hitting of the head isn’t, as we have known all along, harmless or easy to ignore.  That it’s still early days in J’s life and these things are officially on paper…well…you do the math.

Of course, that we know these things now doesn’t cancel the concern we feel about possible mental health issues for J.  We are not trying to, as they say back home, “cover the sky with one hand.”  The dreaded grunt was back last night, and all because I asked him to take off his band-aids while we did a family task together.  I even put a timer.  The grunt happened, as did the SIB.  It took some stern negotiating to get at the kernel of truth lying somewhere in his mouth…

None of this (meaning J, the future, his health, our health) will be easy.  If anything, complications will become the nonpareils sprinkled on top of everything.  We will have them in areas we don’t think they should be…nonpareils on meatloaf, tuna tacos, cake, coffee, Vicks VapoRub, weekends, holidays, a random Monday morning in the month of May.  Complications and surprises…

I wonder how many of us think about this when we’re hoping to have children.  I wonder how many of us think of it as our children get older.  Children are, for so many people, the culmination of a dream, the extension of  a life plan.  When you find someone you think you truly love you think “do I want to grow old with this person?  Do I want to have children with this person?”  Ours is not that scenario where the kids come back from college seeking asylum until life sorts itself out.

This is it.

Complications and surprises that we are half-expecting…half-hoping won’t happen…

We move forward, the elephant in the room is present and accounted for, and maybe on Thursday the view will be a little less blocked by it.  We move forward.


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