Last Wednesday J turned 23; it was more or less a miserable day, and he wasn’t particularly happy or excited. The height of his joy was connected to the nieces and nephew calling to sing Happy Birthday in the evening. The rest of the day was as “meh” as “meh” comes…
Thursday, miraculously, a by-then fully 23 years old J was happy and enthusiastic about EVERYTHING. He was happy, benevolent, enthused, thrilled, joyous, affectionate, bursting with goodwill and cheer. This streak lasted until Saturday night and was so wonderful that (fools that we are) we hoped it wouldn’t be over too soon.
Sunday morning dawned and we had surly J back.
The weather, rainy and windy, didn’t really help. Within an hour of waking up, we were all absolutely miserable and cranky.
Monday brought no improvement.
J, you see, has become a hypochondriac of the highest order. Every day he wants to go to the doctor. Every day he is told he’s not sick. Every day he wants his weight checked. Every day I weigh him. Every day he asks about his next psych appointment. Every day I remind him of when it is scheduled for…
Today we went to the dentist. We were lucky to find an appointment very soon after his referral. They checked his film from the other dentist’s office, and they did a panoramic thing of his whole mouth. J was very good about this. He gave instructions (gloves, masks, light on, light off, say AH, touch here, look there), and -lo and behold- we are back in the OR on the sixteenth. Not only that…J got to do his pre-op appointment today.
He was weighed twice (he’s lost some weight…whee), had his BP checked twice, had his heart and lungs listened to most avidly. The issue with his heart is a right branch thing that means his heart has to switch the current, but we were told it is not a necessarily bad thing for the time being, even though no heart things are good things entirely, are they? Hearts are fragile things…I’ve read of commotio cordis...I am not a fan.
Just like that, in ten days, we will back in the waiting room of the OR, fretting and worrying, anxiously waiting. It is never easy to sit through these things. One has all the worst possible scenarios dancing around, tickling one’s worst fears in the chin and laughing. The last time we did this J took forever to wake up from the anesthesia, and he wasn’t oxygenating properly for a good while. We had some stressful moments then, and we had to contend with the bad cut he gave himself on the lower lip that we had to take care of, and that left a little scar. (And this is why we now have a wound care reference book in our family library…thank you.)
So we are, once more, on the brink of dealing with another significant intervention with J’s dental arrangements. A molar will come out…a rather sizable cavity that reaches almost to the nerve has developed, and it has to be taken care of…and that might mean that, as time progresses, J will find himself with fewer teeth than he’d like. He is rather vain, you know, and his smile is something he’s rather fond of.
Some of J’s insistence on “being seen” is justified. Dada has to stop for an antibiotic prescription on the way home from work. Is J sick? No. Does J not feel well? No, J doesn’t feel well. Have I been saying we need to trust his complaints? Yes. Have I given in to the notion that he might be seeking attention? Yes. Do I feel like shit because I have been telling him there’s nothing wrong with him? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes………
Does J have a hypochondriac streak in him? Absolutely. I say this because I was married to his biological father, and I lived in close contact with his biological father’s side of the family, for years. Considering that thirty-something years ago my ex-mother-in-law confided in me that she KNEW she had cancer and was dying, and she continues to be one of the healthiest people on the planet to this very day, J does have a streak of the melodramatic and hypochondriac in his genetic makeup. Panic attacks also abound in that side of the family, mostly among the males.
The crazy he gets from my side. There’s no denying that. Not only my mother, siblings…he gets it from me. I confess this much. I am far from “normal” and consider myself merely “functional” so I am not saying that all this is on J’s paternal genes. I can tell you, however, that my “functionality” comes from being reminded -day in and day out- as I was growing up that one has to keep plugging away regardless of circumstances. “Even without a limb, my dear, that floor isn’t going to clean itself, and babies will need their diapers changed…so you use the other three…and when you’re down to two, you use those…and if you’re down to one…” You get the picture…we plug away at being alive and living.
J has to have fewer molars. That is the gist of it. J needs to be seen and taken care of. That is the gist of it. We are doing all we can to help him, and we will worry and feel like crap because we’ve let ourselves be convinced that his hypochondria gets in the way of him telling the truth. There is some of his mania that is fed by anxiety, and we have to learn to navigate that while recognizing that he knows when something is wrong. Like I did when he was younger, I have to learn to trust my instinct while still smelling the bullshit he is capable of issuing…
For now, well, I will do my best to get him through this next rough patch…