John was always very rigid when it came to any medical intervention. He told me once that if he ever developed cancer he would cure it by just “changing his diet”. I used to have to beg him to allow me to give James Tylenol when he had a high fever. He never really had a good reason. He just didn’t trust modern medicine. When this only impacted John it wasn’t a big deal. I would mentally roll my eyes and move on. But this mentality quickly began to negatively impact my children.
As Quinn got older she began to develop incessant ear infections. She would go on antibiotics for 10 days, her ears would clear up and four days later we would be back at the doctor’s office. After about a year of this, I noticed she was developing a slight lisp and that she didn’t seem to hear me all of the time when I was speaking to her. Her pediatrician was beginning to get concerned as well. She asked me to take Quinn for a hearing test. The results were that she had a slight hearing loss in her left ear that was likely being caused by the ear infections. The doctor recommended placing tubes in her ears and having her adenoids removed.
Of course, I attended all of these doctor’s visits and specialists visits by myself, so it fell on me to explain the necessity of the operation to John. His first response was to walk behind Quinn on various occasions and whisper her name really loudly. When she turned around in response to him he would say, “See?! Her hearing is fine!”. I tried to explain that the doctor was not claiming that she had a full hearing loss. She had a slight hearing loss and was missing the nuances of language. I tried to explain that the hearing test was more scientific than saying her name and seeing if she would turn around or not, but he put his foot down and said no to the surgery.
I watched my baby girl suffer from ear infection after ear infection, and I kept trying to reason with John. See, medical doctor’s won’t do anything if one parent is very clearly refusing treatment, even if they feel it is medically necessary. This has caused many problems for my children that I will write about in the future. One day, in front of John, I said to Quinn, “Hurry up and go potty and then you’ll be all done.” She repeated after me, “Go potty and then we’ll have fun?”. I tried to point out to John that this was an example of her hearing affecting her understanding of what was being said. He scoffed in my face and said, “She’s just playing around and making rhymes”. As an elementary teacher I knew that it was not developmentally possible for my 18 month old to be making rhymes. I tried explaining this to John, but he got angry and responded by telling me he said no and walking away.
The next day I asked my mom to watch the kids. I took John out to a nice lunch. I thought if I could maybe talk to him again …. if I could figure out the perfect way to word things…. he’d let me help my child. I felt completely helpless. I knew she needed this procedure… and I couldn’t get it for her.
While we were sitting on the patio of one of our favorite restaurants, I asked John if we could talk about this again. I asked him why he was so against the surgery. His response was, “It’s just not the way my family handles things. We don’t believe in doctors”. I was so confused. Aren’t we his family? Does he not think of the kids and I as a part of his family? (It would certainly explain a lot.)
I replied that the kids and I were a part of his family now and we get to determine what our family does and does not do. Our child has a medical need…. and there is something we can do about it. I asked him if he would be willing to at least do some research so we could have an educated discussion about the pros and cons and try to work together on doing what was best for her. He refused to research the surgery. His response was, “Why? If I do research will it change your mind? Because if not, I don’t want to waste my time.” See the only reason he could think of to learn more about the doctor’s recommendation would be if it would make me bend to his will. He didn’t care to learn about whether or not it might be medically necessary for Quinn. He just wanted to make me cave. Control. Power.
I begged him to call the pediatrician or the audiologist or the ear, nose and throat doctors that I had been bringing Quinn to and talk to them about why they made the recommendations. He refused. With tears in my eyes I looked at him and said, “Please. There must be some compromise we can come to”. He looked me directly in the eyes and with disdain stated, “Compromise?! That’s not a real thing. There’s no such thing as compromise. It’s either I get my way, or you get yours.” Him vs me. Everything is always a battle. There needed to be a clear “winner” and a clear “loser”. This had nothing to do with my poor child.
I didn’t know what to do. I felt so powerless to help my child. I had never felt so desperate in my life. (It would not be the last time I felt this way unfortunately.) There is no worse feeling than knowing your child desperately needs something that you could get for them, but your hands are tied because the other person who is supposed to be in charge of their well being is working against you.
A week later I was at the pediatrician with Quinn, as she had another ear infection. The doctor turned to me and once again brought up the recommendation the specialists had given in regards to tubes.
I burst into tears. I explained to her how I tried and tried to get John to see the importance of the surgery but that I could not reason with him. The kids’ pediatrician has always been amazing. Deep down I think she has always suspected something was going on in our house. She told me she was going to call him and take care of it.
I have no idea what that miraculous woman said to John, but he finally agreed. Quinn went in for the procedure a few weeks later. She is currently five and she has only had one ear infection since the surgery. She still has a slight lisp, but the pediatrician is confident that will clear up in time.
This was my first experience in which I had to fight and beg my “partner” to provide what was medically necessary for our child… but I’m sad to say it was far from the last time. This incident is when I realized that, I wasn’t only parenting alone… I was parenting against John. It was going to be an exhausting journey.