It's been a long week here, and it's only Wednesday. Tuesday Janey had a scoliosis checkup at Mass General hospital, and today I had the special big event that comes with turning 50, a colonoscopy. Monday I'd had a ultrasound to try to figure out why the Framingham Heart Study, which I am a part of, saw potential scarring in my liver as one of the routine research tests they do. To top off the week, I have a mammogram this Saturday. So not my favorite kind of week, and not Janey's, either.
The colonoscopy was fine, harder to prepare for than to have, and it didn't show any problems. I don't know all about the liver tests yet, but what they saw was consistent with autoimmune liver disease, which I had some blood test positive for also. I'm not letting myself get too worried, because I don't know enough yet to worry and I can't do much about it until I know more. But this adds another potential autoimmune issue to a family pedigree full of them, and adds another bit to my feeling that Janey's autism is in some way autoimmune-driven.
The good news is Janey is almost done being screened for scoliosis. They got a very good x-ray of her, which she stood still for in a booth-like place where she had to hold her hands up high. She would not do that at all six months ago when we last went, so we were very proud of her, and it showed her curvature at a level low enough not to need a brace or surgery. However, evidently the X-ray took up all her patience. She was very ready to go after that, but we had to wait and see the doctor. Janey let us know that she wasn't happy by means of her signature scream, loud and hysterical and I am sure heard by everyone in the hospital section.
When things calmed down and I was dressing Janey, and it was evident we were actually leaving, she said to me "I don't think there is any need for quite that much screaming!" Well, that's a direct quote, but not one I had said that day at all. I can't remember when I said it, but I think it was quite a while ago, when I had reached the end of my rope at some point. It was one of Janey's longest utterances in a while.
What Janey said reminded me once again that nothing I say to her is unheard. She listens very well. She might not show any sign of it, or give any response to it, but she hears it and remembers it. I need to always keep that in mind when I speak to her.
Last night, reflecting on all of it, as I was snuggling her to sleep, I said "Janey, I know you have a reason when you scream. I might not know the reason, if you don't tell me, but there is one, I know. You might hurt, or be scared, or be frustrated because you can't find the words to tell me what's wrong, but I know you are communicating when you scream. I want us to find a way to tell each other what is wrong" Janey didn't answer, but she gave me one of those looks that speaks volumes, a surprised and pleased intense look, a look that tells me as much as words could.
And so we go on. We take it day by day. When we have a tough day, we look to the next day. When we have a good day, we don't take it for granted. And by "we" I don't of course just mean our own family, but the larger "we", all of us with children that can't fully communicate, all of us with children that need us so very much. It makes every fear, every concern, every health scare, so much more intense. The stakes always feel high. But we aren't able to have the luxury of thinking too far ahead. We are needed too much in the present day. And that's not a bad thing, to be needed that much. Janey, sometimes maybe there IS a need for that much screaming, even if I say there isn't, but we will try to keep the screaming at a minimum and the hope at a maximum.