Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lying and Truthing To Myself

I am going to try not to make this a self-piteous diatribe recounting the morning with dramatic flare. I am going to try because as I awoke this morning, even after a horrid nights' sleep, I gave silent and heartfelt thanks to the Universe, the Heavens, whatever power it is that has blessed me so.  Despite the feelings of trepidation about the obstacles I'd have to mount this morning, I clothed myself with the old "suck it up" sheath I don with all too much frequency.  And, this day was more about my mind running away with me than the actual "true stress" of it all. I've had to shlep through worse.  I know people who have shelped through WAY worse.  I shouldn't insult their very real hardship with my suburban milquetoast whining.  Things are only as bad as my head lets them be, I chant to myself.  They are fed by my anxieties and my obsessing and positive attitudes and gratitude will allow all my snarkiness to pulverize into ash.

This morning cracked the fog of a quasi sleep that I pursued all night but couldn't tame. After falling into bed at 11:30 pm (because I HAD to finish Mary Karr's memoir "Lit") my sleep was shattered a mere 45 minutes later by CB who was wide awake, fully tweeked and alert and sitting in the kitchen. After shuffling her up the stairs she wakes me again at 1:30 am. I'm not sure why she's all torqued up but I am missing serious beauty sleep. By the time I fall into the healing rhythm of REM, Tink is climbing in our bed at 5:45 am. Sleep and I, at odds all night, could not work out our differences and have now broken up for good.

At 10:30 am we needed to be at Tink's renal ultrasound, the first of 3 follow-up tests for her persistent urinary problems and spell of UTIs, bladder and now kidney infections.  I was braced for the day as I would be bringing all 4 children with me to the specialist's office.  By all 4 I mean: a) a difficult to manage 15 year old, non-verbal, severely autistic child in a diaper with a severely limited attention span and tendency to bolt at inopportune moments, b) a 4 year old recovering from a bad infection and 4 days of high fevers, c) an angelic 6 year old who is very good but represents one more body to watch and d) a 2 year old who epitomizes the very definition of "Terrible Two"... kicking off shoes, peeing on herself, pooping in pools, pulling things off shelves, running where she's not supposed to run, all while relentlessly torturing her 4 year old sister whose tolerance is about the size of a gnat's knee.  

Turn back the clock a bit:  Tink has that kidney infection which is getting cleaned up and she's back to her little elfin self all chatty and prancy and bubbly and middle-child-syndromey.  Today was the first day without fever, and the antibiotics will troll through her body for one month, twice a day, stomping out those bacterium that reeked renal havoc on her little life form.  She is no longer acute.  Now, it's just the figuring out, ruling out, forcing floating hypotheses down a funnel to juice out the reasons why and leave the pulp.  Kidney Reflux is one hypothesis... a reasonably likely one, though certainly not definitive. Two tests will determine: One a rather benign renal ultrasound, scheduled for today. The other,  a rather invasive procedure involving cathaderizations and dyes and sedation.  That one won't be so pretty.  Then, there is another "rule out," though probably less likelihood of this one: diabetes.  She had high glucose in her urine for the second time (she had a bladder infection only 6 weeks prior to this infection where they noticed high glucose but it slipped from everyone's mind as a passing thought sliding on hot butter). I'm less concerned about this scenario, but yet it tickles at the back of brain as a "what if" and I find my fingers typing "diabetes" in the Google Search Box and freaking myself out. 

People have been through, and will go through, worse.  I am not trying to create a bigger deal than necessary.  It's just that when you are a mom whatever your child is going through; a behavioral issue, a developmental milestone lagging, a funny looking mole, a freaking hangnail, it carries far more emotional significance to YOU than it does to the company hearing it. For they have their own children who they are fretting over - their little toddler in a biting stage, their preteen facing a school bus bully, an allergy being diagnosed, or rhapsodizing about finding the right preschool.  And I too look right back through the distorting lens that separates my life and the life of others and know that they will be okay, just as I know we'll be okay, and it's just one more worry notch on the proverbial parenting belt.  So, I guess what I'm saying is no one worries about your kid as much as you do and everyone knows that it's a blip on the screen, but while the blip is on said screen, you're the one living it all covered in blip. 

So, we get to the Radiologist office and promptly Rella has to go pee pee.  So, in the middle of checking in, I take her to the restroom, leaving the door propped open so I can hear the other 3 in the adjacent waiting area.  Right as I pull down her undies but before she is hoisted onto the toilet, she lets loose and pees all over the floor. Fortunately she is in a dress so I discard the undies, rinse the flip flops and clean up the restroom to go continue checking in.  After interrupting myself countless times while I had to wrangle CB as she bounced off the waiting room walls like a hot pinball fresh off the spring, I learn that the woman who made our appointment erroneously scheduled the ultrasound at a different location - the women's center in our neighboring county.  Taking pity, the woman at the desk says she can work us in as a courtesy (is it a courtesy if they were the ones messing up?), but it will be an undetermined wait. Totally fine with that I say as Tink heads to the bathroom to poop and I need to excuse myself mid-sentence again to first wipe her then help her wash her hands then a third time to break up a water fight between her and Rella who snuck in there just to start a commotion. 

Then the woman asks "You have someone to watch your kids while you go back there with her for the ultrasound, right?"

I'm thinking to myself sadly that if I HAD someone to watch them, they certainly wouldn't be here tearing apart this waiting room now, would they? If I HAD someone, they would be WITH that someone right now and I could devote my attention on my little neglected Tink that has had to share me her entire life.  I could spare myself the humiliation and insanity of this firestorm swirling around me in this otherwise calm, quiet room full of onlookers. 

I look her right in the eye and say without thinking in a voice thick and flat "I have no one."

The hollow thud of each syllable has a weight that threatens to tether and drag me into the blank cold of emptiness. I'm surprised that these words popped quite unexpectedly from my mouth, because I am certainly not alone. I could name many people who I could ask for help, and several people who practically force their offers of childcare upon me, yet on short notice I would feel bad asking for favors... especially favors that involve having a friend's easy going morning with their own children bombed with 3 extra little goblins.
The problem was that all the girls would neither be allowed nor fit in the radiology room which aspired to be the size of a postage stamp.  They had no staff there who could watch the girls, not that I would have felt comfortable with that anyway, especially with the wild card of CB.

I called Dr. Fabulous and calmly laid out the problem.  After a drama-filled back and forth between he, and I and the woman behind the desk we got her rescheduled for 7:50 am tomorrow morning and he would stay home to watch the girls.  Enough said.

As we completed our round trip for nothing, my eyes stung with hot tears behind my sunglasses.  Tears that collected on my lashes but failed to fall, trapped like prey on a venus fly trap's sticky hairs.

I have no one. Why would I SAY such a thing?  The reverberations of these 4 words rang in my ears for the rest of the day, and I realized that the feeling of having no one is often subjective and based on various data and interpretation of such data rather than on the presence of human bodies within a radius of your life. It's feeling like not only do you have someone, but that you have a comfortability with that someone to let your guard down and ask for assistance. For me that means dropping face and saying "mercy." As a WASP raised by parents who were wonderful while we were little but literally burn down the nest and cover their fleeing tracks after their baby birds learn to fly, I don't set my expectations on unsolicited help and show measured parsimony with asking.

I have no one. It echos again, the chalk of the words still lingering on my tongue.  And what haunts me is that in short and painful flickers, I know this smacks of both the world's biggest lie and the tiny pocket of absolute truth, all at the same time.


Michelle said...

Interesting. I'm still chewing on it. You're right. Our perception of being alone is subjective and often changes depending on our mood, the day, our expectations, etc. Perhaps, it's something you've been wanting to say for a while - something you've NEEDED to say. It was probably a culmination of so many things - so many years of hurts, of people who should have been there, but weren't. In reality, you're not alone - far from it. I know that you know that.

As a side note, I'm hoping I was at least one of the people you mentioned in the post, whom you COULD have called, but chose not to for whatever reason. I'll never understand why. I was sitting here, with NOTHING to do, being spat upon! :)

Anonymous said...

ooouuuuucccchhhh. What a painful a poignant post. As Michelle said, I'm still chewing on it. I think I will be for awhile.

What a day. I do the same thing - just about every time I have a "pity party" thought I immediately guilt myself by thinking about others who have it far, far worse. But that doesn't really help in the moment either.

No solutions, just understanding.

Cristie Ritz King said...

After I read posts of yours, I'm never sure whether to comment on how amazing you are to me as a mom or on how eloquent you are when you put your life and how you feel about it into words-feelings I often share but could never articulate quite as well.
You get better each time I visit.

Elizabeth said...

Brilliant. As you probably know, I get what you're saying. And as someone who understands it all too intimately, too much, I have to say that essentially, sometimes, we ARE alone.

Queenbuv3 said...

We don't have anyone to help us with our kids. No one. We have no family here and I have one friend who is even more high strung than me and can't even have my daughter over for a playdate with her son, he always comes here. We have always done everything with our kids on our own. It is just our reality and if I let myself think about it too much I would freak out.

I totally relate to your interaction with the receptionist. People always assume that everyone has family and friends to help with childcare. They never think that there are many of us who literally have no one to help.

Being Me said...

I am worlds away (literally and figuratively) from what you go through, but I can still relate. While my situation has been on a very mental-emotional level (the heavy weight of trying to cope with our infant daughter dying and not "having anyone" to step me through - when of course, I did.. there were some people I could rely on), the process at the end of the day rendered me feeling completely isolated.

I'm not one to call on anyone for help either. Even if I'm conscious enough to realise I need to! It's just not my first (or even last) response.... Interesting post.

Ryan said...

I love your stories and writing I find comfort and peace reading them.

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