Jeremy Dean is now 20. That’s a milestone within itself. His birthday festival was spread out to accommodate the hot cross bun baking schedule at work, but he managed dinner out on the weekend before his birthday and on the night of his birthday, and he is off to the Gold Cast for a convention and a few days of combined working in the business that was started by his friend J (CritterScape) plus a few days of chillaxing with friends and E. Certainly, working full time has given J some challenges in regards to balancing the physical demands of work, his role as a member of a household and managing the aspects of his medical care. In 2015 in Australia there were restrictions placed on the prescription of testosterone and it can only be prescribed when “clinically justified” which translates – even for transmen whose bodies do not produce testosterone – to a yearly assessment by an endocrinologist. Now we know this, we have known for a year that J needed to go to the endo for an assessment of his T levels.
I’ve followed up, I’ve asked questions, I’ve offered to make phone calls. But J is an adult and wants to manage this himself. I’ve stepped back. The whole referral to the endocrinologist has not come together and now J is overdue for a T shot.
In managing this I had a choice. About a year ago when I was really angry about another family matter my beautiful and wise sister asked me to be curious not furious. It was her way of saying “ask why” instead of reacting to the situation. As a strategy it’s pretty freaking good.
While J is now 20, he has not outgrown all the social anxiety that has marked his late teens, and he is not very experienced in negotiating when the medical professionals drop the ball. 20 is still pretty young. At 20 the biggest medical emergency I faced was running out of birth control, for J the impact is much more significant if he continues without testosterone including, as I have discussed previously, his menstrual cycle starting again. Talking to E and Luke it was also evident that some of those old anxiety behaviours had crept back into his daily interactions. Recently he and I had clashed over exaggerations that he had made and I found that he was impacting on his closest relationships by showing very old behaviours that were negative and made people suspicious of him and what he said.
So I looked critically at the situation and realised that J was kinda drowning in the looming reality of his situation which was freaking him out instead of spurring him to researching what his options were and planning for a worst case scenario. I am sure that this is in part because anxiety makes him so immobile he cannot think beyond the problem to a solution. It was probably most evident when he yelled at me that he was completely incapable of managing his medical needs. It is no good handing him the solution at this point, he needs to find the way through himself. Because he can manage, he just needs a little mum wisdom to help him through. So I started a bit of research, calling a specialist LGBTIQ clinic where E goes, checking in with J and letting him know what I had found, and encouraging him to make calls. I also provided the safety net that he needed offering to take time off work, make calls, whatever he needed to get through this step to get the appointments he needed. The good news, he got there. Appointments are made and he is back on track.
I was angry though. I’m pretty freaking tired and I keep hoping that maybe now at 20 he can deal with things. But dealing with things is a big ask and adulting doesn’t spring fully formed from your forehead, it is a path of trial and error and risk taking and mistake making. I hope that being a mum who continues to ask why instead of yelling why not will steer Jeremy through this next phase of his path to adulthood.