There is NOTHING like getting a call from the hospital telling you “by the way, Mrs. J’s mom, the medical insurance says they won’t cover J’s dental procedure because the policy states it has to be an ACCIDENT for them to cover OR and anesthesia.” OK…wait…maybe there IS something: hearing that, unless the medical insurance covers it, you will have to find eleven-thousand and three-hundred dollars to cover a procedure that is, oh, ten days away????
Kids nowadays can text at breakneck speed. I am from the good ol’ days of written letters, rotary phones…and yet I dialed every number necessary to get in touch with the medical insurance company at a speed that would have impressed even the most world-weary Instagramming and Twittering fifteen year-old. I pressed those buttons and got through to a rep as fast (nay…FASTER!) than a Kardashian or a POTUS.
(Let’s just say I’ve realized that I’ve got the talent when it counts, and I’m grateful for it.)
Of course, the call could have gone better. I can dial back the sarcasm (such as when I told the rep that taking a hammer to my son’s face and calling it an accident was out of the question,) and I can not hyperventilate into the phone. I am pretty sure that I said (rather emphatically) that the use of the OR and general anesthesia was not elective, or to prevent J from having to go through pain or discomfort. I remember being cool-headed while hyperventilating, and saying “help me help you help him.” It was all strangely Jerry Maguire, but I didn’t launch into Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’…thankfully. Now the ball is rolling in the right direction and, hopefully, we will have a positive result in the course of today.
If not…well, to quote Sally Field’s Emma Moriarty tells the bank officer after being turned down for a loan in Murphy’s Romance: “I’d go out on the streets, but you’ve only got one.” We would, somehow, figure it out, but it wouldn’t be easy.
J is feeling the anxiety. It’s been a bit of a week around here. For one: TGG’s youngest was born on Friday after a rather long and difficult labor. She is healthy, and she is very sweet. We met her on Saturday, but left J at home with his sitters because going to hospital is not a favorite activity, and being surrounded by toddlers and nurses overstimulates him. We will wait until the baby is older, and J has had time to get used to pictures of the family together, of his brother holding a baby and sitting with other kids. Overprotective much? Maybe, but it all depends on how you look at the situation; we don’t want TGG’s stepchildren to feel intimidated by rather imposing figure that is J, and we don’t want J to feel like we’re forcing him to interact with children he doesn’t know well-enough. Dribs and drabs will have to work for now.
The weather has improved and soured, improved and soured, and seems to now be improving. I am hopeful of a walk to the mailbox and to take the trash later, but I am not counting on it as a certainty. There are still plenty of dogs out there, and J knows it.
The primary care physician cleared him for surgery because his heart seems to have an issue that doesn’t preclude general anesthesia. This doesn’t mean we’re not anxious. We try to cover it, but it’s still there. We exercise and tweak the diet, but the anxiety lurks under the normalcy of our days. One day J runs 2.5 miles and another he does 5; other days he does the Island Lap on his Wii Fit, and there are days when he is on the elliptical. He doesn’t lose weight, but he doesn’t get winded while exercising. He does, however, get anxious and that makes him breathe rapidly. This, of course, doesn’t help matters for us. One week away from the surgery, and we are a ball of carefully camouflaged nerves…
How well we do with our attempts at looking as cool as cucumbers is anyone’s guess. I think we fail miserably because J suddenly gets into “hovering” mode. How realistic is it that we are completely denuded of anxiety? It isn’t. We can’t help it. Even in the best of circumstances we will know it’s there, and once you know it’s there…well…
So what do we do? We don’t lie to J. That’s one thing. We will not tell him “this is all good, and we are not worried.” We tell him that there are things we need to work on; we tell him that we are doing our best, and that it’s perfectly fine to not be 100% sure of anything all the time…
Stress is a given in our lives. Everyone, regardless of how Zen they think they are, has stress. How it is handled is up to each individual. We have our own stress factor built into our home life. Autism isn’t a factor to be taken lightly, and it is an inescapable one in our household. The stress factors we do have a degree of control over are outside factors, and we are (carefully, thoughtfully, after considerable reflection) doing more and more to pick and choose our battles. We now go over stress factors with tweezers and a magnifying glass, holding them up to the light for inspection.
A lot of things are going.
This is not an easy (or painless) process.
All we need right now is to make it through next Friday, and have J’s wisdom teeth out, and then help him make his way through the convalescence that ensues. This won’t be easy…or painless. Maybe it will be a temporary step back. Maybe it will be a couple of temporary steps back. Maybe we will regret it for a brief period of time. Maybe it will spring us forward.
Who knows? Who ever knows how these things will go? All we can do is try to figure out the best way to handle J’s needs and take the best care we possibly can in fulfilling these, and soothing his anxiety (and ours) in the process.
I wait for the phone to ring as I continue to look for change between the cushions of all couches we own…