First and foremost: we are well. A little harried and tired, but fine. Everyone’s health, thank goodness, is pretty good. I won’t say it’s awesome…we are, after all, entirely human and aging; this makes us prone to aches, pains, and petty ailments that cannot be considered “illness”, but that still trip us up in our day-to-day life.
J is doing well. Last week, and this is part of the reason I’ve been meaning to write but haven’t got around to it, they called to tell us they had a cancellation and would we like to take him in for his dental procedure on Thursday. You don’t spit in the eye of these opportunities; you seize them. And we did.
Before the dental procedure, of course, came the first minor crisis we had to resolve.
A week and a half ago J’s beloved iPad started freezing and turning off of its own accord. Off we went to get a replacement. We now have three iPads; two are back-ups (of course) and there’s the new one (with lots and lots of memory) that is for everyday use. Picking up the iPad required a trip to a mall we’d never been to, and J was fascinated with the place: Disney Store! Lego Store! ThinkGeek Store! Money flying out of mom’s wallet! But we found a Lego he’d been looking for, and J found some cute t-shirts and pajamas for the kids.
The iPad crisis of 2018 sent us on a dash to solve it. That it happened BEFORE we found ourselves in the ACC with a faulty iPad that would cause J anxiety we are very grateful for indeed. The unexpected call about pushing his dental procedure to NOW rather than May put us on our toes…
Of course, this made a week that had one appointment already on the schedule even busier. On Wednesday it was the psychiatrist, and on Thursday (in the wee hours of a very dark, very rainy morning) we started our trek to the ambulatory care center. I will say more in a moment, but let me get to self-inflicted crises in my roundabout sort of way.
As you all know, J is deathly scared of dogs. In spite of this, he has been consistently asking for a dog since sometime in early winter. We did our trial runs of going to the pet store with no push-back or hysteria from J, and we told him (repeatedly and clearly) that if he wants a dog he can have one. His insistence didn’t wane if anything it waxed.
We discussed this with J’s psychiatrist, and we threw in (for the sake of being honest) that WE want a dog, and we don’t think that J should unequivocally and unilaterally rule everything about our lives simply because of his Autism, and his fear of dogs. We believe, we explained, that J can overcome his fear if the dog is trained properly, and the psychiatrist, much to our surprise, agreed and encouraged us to do something for ourselves for once.
One result of the visit was that J is up on the Prozac and down on the Risperdal. That is: he takes more Prozac now, and he’s down to one-quarter milligram of the Risperdal. We move closer to the intended goal.
And so Wednesday, immediately after the psychiatrist’s visit, we drove out to the pet shop. J was absolutely chill about the whole experience. And, believe me, there were LOTS of dogs there…some loud, some mellow, some hyperactive, some big, some small. We had seen that they had just received a female Golden Retriever puppy, and we asked to see her. J didn’t balk, squeal, squeak, jump, cower; he was all smiles.
We returned later in the afternoon. J didn’t want to interact with the puppy, but he smiled at her and kept asking for her.
Thursday morning we traveled to the ACC, and J was in the OR for four hours. He behaved beautifully during pre-op and he had a bit of a rough time coming out of the anesthesia. We explained to new anesthetist that he had trouble waking up and being functional the last time around, and -thanks to modern technology- she accessed his medical records and concluded that he had been over-medicated. They had given him enough to keep him pliant and then some for a good long time. She didn’t agree with this course of action and asked if we were ok with the less is more approach. Considering that J had been in the recovery room for a long time, and seemed groggy for quite a while after we took him home, we told her to proceed in what she thought was best for him.
They had to remove three molars (he is blessed with strong roots and crappy teeth, it seems) so he now has had to learn to eat with the molars on the right side of his mouth. It’s not his favorite thing, but he has rallied. He had a bit of nausea and was wobbly for a while, but the anesthetist explained that he would bounce back much more quickly this time around. She didn’t lie. Once we headed home and he realized that he could relax when he got here, J was happy and mellow.
He spent a good part of the day relaxing in his bedroom watching Lady and the Tramp, eating vanilla pudding, and not complaining of pain or discomfort. The only time he had to take Tylenol was on the second day, and that wasn’t related to his teeth; he had a bit of a headache which is normal after anesthesia. Prudent eating, resting and learning to navigate his new dental arrangement helped J recover and he was his usual self by early Saturday morning.
We took him to breakfast and then we went to the pet store. And now, my friends, we have a dog.
J is still prudent and mildly guarded around her, but we’ve established sufficient boundaries to satisfy him for the time being. She has a pen where she hangs out while we eat, a comfortable cage where she sleeps (through the night until about 4 a.m. when she needs to go out), and J is inching closer to her every day. It will take training (for the dog, J and for us) but we will coexist rather happily in due course.
Of course, that is what I mean by a self-inflicted crisis. We have, in only a few short days, gone from a household that was neat and organized to a house with dog treats, dog toys, puppy pads, leashes, clickers, bowls and a wagging tail. We keep strange hours now, and we have baby gates that we didn’t expect to have until the grandchildren came for a visit in April. J has a baby gate on his TV room doorway with a sign that reads NO DOGS, PLEASE. There is another baby gate to keep the puppy out of J’s bedroom when she comes upstairs (which she only does at night).
J makes sure there’s always music playing when she’s alone downstairs (because I do have things to do elsewhere in the house), and that she is acknowledged when he walks in or out of the area where she is (between the sitting room and the dine-in kitchen, where the bulk of our time is spent throughout the day). When it’s time for her to go out, he watches through the window with enough interest to make me feel he will soon want to come out with us.
It’s a process. A self-inflicted one. A minor crisis to disrupt our previously somewhat calm life, but we’re all working on this new thing. We’ve explained to J that the puppy is a baby, and we will teach her how to behave. I am the boss, I tell him. I am responsible for her, and I am the one who will teach her (and J) how to occupy the same space peacefully, but it’s not an overnight thing.
I hope I’m right. I know this dog has a sweet nature (even though she is a puppy and, by definition, rambunctious and disorganized in her thoughts and actions still), and she will make J a good companion.
Those are the latest developments. I will keep you apprised of our progress with the new addition to the family, and the existing members. We are up to our ankles in puppy things, and consulting the Dog Whisperer frequently…let’s see how that goes.