Sunday, January 27, 2013

Alex's Questions

As I explained in my last two blog entries, “Telephone Tracking” and “Telephone Tracking Two,” I’ve been spending time on the phone lately, trying to find information regarding Alex’s blood tests to monitor recent medication changes and his Medicaid benefits. Fortunately, my tenacity paid off, as we received a letter from Medicaid this week stating that Alex still qualified and would continue receiving his disability benefits. This came as a huge relief that his file had been updated correctly. Also, I called his psychiatric nurse practitioner’s office this week to get the results of his blood tests, only to discover that they had never received the test results. Then, I had to call the lab to request his results be faxed (or faxed again, as I’m not sure what had happened) to the nurse practitioner’s office. Once they received the results, her nurse called to tell me that the results were normal and that he should continue on the current medication dosages. Again, this news was a blessing because he is responding well to the slight increases in medication, and we were thankful that his blood tests indicate no problems with these changes. Although I would have preferred that gaining information about his benefits and health had not required so many phone calls, I’m pleased that in the end, the news was good.

While I’ve been on the phone acting as Alex’s personal assistant, he’s been busily coming up with questions for me to answer. When he first came home from the hospital this summer, he seemed to be in a mental fog, his senses dulled by the medications needed to keep him calm. Over the past several months, he’s gradually emerged from this drowsy state, and we’ve been pleased to see his personality and curiosity return. In fact, when he was little, Ed used to call Alex “Mr. Curious” because he was always checking out things and asking questions about them. We enjoy his inquiries because not only do they show he’s alert and aware, but they also give us a glimpse into how his mind works.

One area of his questioning has to do with the past. He has an interest in things that happened before he was born or things he can’t remember because he was too little. As I’ve explained in previous blog entries, Alex qualifies everything by numbers, so calendars and clocks and dates are very important to him. The past few weeks, he’s been asking about when various businesses in town opened. Specifically, our town has a new hospital that opened in August, and Alex wanted to know more about the old hospital it replaced, especially since he was born in the old hospital. Fortunately, I was able to find some information online about the old hospital and when it opened, which was exactly what Alex wanted to know. In addition, he has had a recent fascination with the part-time job I had while I was in college as a waitress at the Big Wheel Restaurant. Not only did he want to know the exact dates when I started and stopped working there, but one day he also wanted me to tell him everything that was on the menu. This seems to be another nostalgic exercise for him because although the Big Wheel closed a few years ago, Alex remembers going there when he was younger. To enhance his trip down Memory Lane, he has been asking me to fix one of the special dishes from the Big Wheel, the Wheel Steak.  Perhaps eating a familiar dish from the restaurant jogs his memory so that he can remember the times he spent at the Big Wheel. Now I need to teach him about leaving a tip for the waitress.

Besides reminiscing, Alex has also been spending a lot of time thinking about theological concepts, but, of course, they reflect his unique perspective. Lately, he has a great deal of curiosity about what God can do, where heaven is, what it will be like, and what we will be like when we get there. Although I have no good answers to his good questions, he has been satisfied when I have told him that only God knows or that he’ll have to wait and see when he gets to heaven.  Since I’ve been intrigued by some of the questions he’s posed, I’ve been jotting them down whenever he asks them. Here are some of Alex’s recent inquiries:

“Has God used the graphing calculator before?”
“Does God know all the pi digits?”
“Where are heaven and hell?”
“What is the address for hell?”
“How long does it take to get to heaven?”
“Can you call heaven? What’s the phone number?”
“Is there a”
“What road goes to heaven?”
“Are there clocks in heaven? Will there be time in heaven? Do they have stopwatches in heaven? Do they have timers in heaven?”
“How much will we weigh in heaven?”
“What will our heavenly bodies look like?” (after I told him we’d have new bodies in heaven in response to his question about weight in heaven)
“Will you have birthmarks in heaven?”
“What color will your eyes be in heaven?”
“What voice will you have when you get to heaven?”
“Can you sleep when you get to heaven?”
“Will people have tempers in heaven?”

Besides all of his interesting questions about God and heaven, Alex has also asked some things that make me wonder how his mind works. One day, he suddenly asked, “Do dogs have better memories than cats?” Even more puzzling was the day he apparently wanted to try parenting and asked, “Can you [meaning “I”—he still reverses pronouns] pretend to have a baby?” As he has been more alert, he’s paying more attention to what people are saying in person or on television, which has made him ask about words he doesn’t know. For instance, while watching the television show The Big Bang Theory the other day, he heard one of the characters use the word befuddled and asked us what that meant.  I was tempted to tell him that I was befuddled when he asked about pretending to have a baby, but decided against that. Finally, another question he’s frequently been asking me lately is when I’m going to retire. I’m not sure if he thinks I’m old, or if he’s just looking forward to my being home all the time.  I guess he figures that if I retire, that will free my time to make phone calls on his behalf and answer all his questions about life. In the meantime, I’ll keep working at the balancing act of my part-time teaching job and my full-time job of being Alex’s advocate, teacher, and mom, which is my favorite job of all, especially when he entertains me by asking questions that make me think about all the good things we have ahead when we actually know what heaven will be like.

 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3


marjorie said...

wow, i love alex's questions! so deep!

K. C. Wells said...

Fantastic questions!! Alex really has such an amazing and inquisitive mind. Love it!

Pam Byrne said...

Hi Marjorie and K.C.,
We're pleased to see Alex alert and curious again after being dull-witted for a while. Thanks for your nice notes--great to hear from both of you!