Cautious or Over Protective?
This next month will bring two important dates for someone important to us. It’ll be a year since our friend had what doctors call “the widow maker” heart attack, and he’ll turn 50. I vividly remember the ride to the hospital when I wasn’t sure whether he made it or not. It was completely terrifying. Add that memory to the fear that I’ve felt since Ethan was killed and I’ve become an overprotective, anxious mess.
Josh has high cholesterol, which we’re working on fixing with meds and diet. On our last visit to the doctor I asked when we should start worrying about blockage in his arteries. I expected the doctor to tell me I was crazy because he’s only 26, but instead she gave us a referral to a cardiologist. (I’m fully aware of how difficult it can be to get a referral when it comes to HMO’s or Medicaid.) So I was feeling pretty good about our appointment today – just in case.
With Josh, it’s best not to tell him about upcoming events until the last minute. If it’s something he wants to do, you’re liable to end up with him staring at you for days asking if it’s time to go. (No concept of time. “Yesterday” can actually be last year and “last year” could be a decade ago.) Not to mention if something happens and plans change, then I’m in BIG trouble for days. If it’s something he doesn’t particularly want to do, he may pout about it for a while and I don’t enjoy that either.
With that said, “the last minute” for Josh is actually several hours before we have to be anywhere. The man takes his time! It usually takes a minimum of two hours from the time I ask him to get ready, and that’s if he wants to go. Apparently it takes that long to pick out his clothes, take a shower, and get dressed.
This morning, I told him about the ‘heart doctor’ appointment. At first he laughed at me and said – “You said fart!” “No,” I corrected, “I said HEART doctor.” (UGH! Guy humor) He just kept laughing and walked away. As he left he shouted back, “I’m not going.”
I sat for a moment, stunned and wondering if he was serious or still playing with me. I didn’t hear him come back to get ready so I went to investigate. I said, “Are you gonna get ready?” He laughed again and said “No, I’m not going.”
So here’s where the theory and reality smash into each other. Theory tells me that I want him to be independent and in control of his own life. He is 26 and can legally refuse to go. I can’t, and some would say shouldn’t, force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do. The reality is that his health is important. I know that. As a mom it’s my job to ensure that I do everything I can to keep him safe and healthy. Even if, as in this case, I have my own doubts about whether this fear is rational or not.
I have not, and don’t want to apply for guardianship of my adult son. But, as things like this start to come up, they can be a source for further self doubt and stress.
As I’m looking at him and he’s still laughing at me and grabbing “the flipper,” in order to prove that he’s done talking to me and moving on, all this flashes in my head at once. It’s all I can do to laugh along and say “Yeah, ya are. Come on silly.”
I returned to my room and waited. The seconds seemed like hours. What would I do if he was serious? What if he REALLY didn’t want to go? Would I have to think about whether he didn’t want to go because there was something on TV that he wanted to watch, or did he really object to more tests? And does that matter?
Theory would say no. It doesn’t matter WHY he doesn’t want to go. It only matters that he said no. When he was a minor, it was my responsibility to see that he did these things. Dentist appointments, doctors, exercise, sleep, diet, all the stuff that mom’s do. After he turned 18, it was his choice. Would you want your mother telling you what to do with all of those things?
I have given over control of his hair… For years it’s been a source of family debate and struggle. Finally I told him it was his decision. He doubted my sincerity to say the least. He kept saying “Really?” Like he was sure at any moment I would (or my mother) make him cut it.
Happy Ending or Just the Beginning?
So, luckily for me, he did decide to go to the cardiologist today. Otherwise I’m not sure what I would have done. Even once we got there he said “Bye,” to me and acted like he didn’t want to get out of the car. That didn’t make me feel any better about making him go.
Good news is that he had on one of his favorite T-shirts. It features a picture of Johnny Depp in one of his lesser-known parts, but Josh’s absolute favorite. One of the nurses said “Love the Cry Baby t-shirt.” OH MY GOODNESS!!! I wanted to hug her! He was shocked! He said, “I like that girl!” Not too many people know that movie. Suddenly, it was all better. For Josh at least.
He’s scheduled for more tests and a follow up visit in June. Let’s hope he remembers the “girl” in office and wants to go back…