It’s been a bizarre 24 hours.
Not long after dropping off The OffSpring at school yesterday, I get a phone call from the school nurse at Gregory and AnnMarie’s school. She and I have a long history and I love receiving calls from her. Yesterday was different.
She was calling to give me a heads up. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, one of the kiddos in a neighboring classroom to Gregory had Scarlet Fever. What happened next still leaves me reeling. I had an overwhelming and visceral response to this perceived threat to Gregory’s health. A metric ton of adrenaline dumped into my blood stream. My brain zeroed in, found the checklist in my database and went to work.
- How close is the threat?
- Check in with oncology.
- What were his last counts?
- How recently was his body under stress?
- How did he look/behave this morning?
- Will this child have infected any other students?
- Look up Scarlet Fever.
- How does it present?
- What are the symptoms?
- Is his pediatrician prepared to treat Gregory aggressively enough for his unique situation?
- If he does develop Scarlet Fever, is an admit imminent?
- Who will care for the other kiddos if we are admitted?
- How in the H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS am I going to handle something like this while going to school, myself?
- Don’t panic. Get information. Breathe. Exhale.
All of this flashes across the membrane of my brain at light speed. I can feel my feet dig into the floor. My hands and pits start sweating profusely. My gut sinks and my heart races. I fight the overriding urge to go claim him from school, this very second. Without delay. The walls go up and I find myself in Warrior Mode.
After getting what questions I could answered, I start to come down. Start to. Then the shakes begin and I pop a giant headache. My pits drenched. Tears are threatening to flow.
Shit. We have had months of bliss. Yet, my body remembers. It’s automatic. I have no control over it. Really, I don’t.
Don’t tell me Scarlet Fever is simply strep. Strep can turn into Scarlet Fever in people who’s immune systems are less than normal. Hello? That is my kid. Will forever be my kid. Regular illnesses are no longer ‘regular’.
My brain realizes that he will, most likely, be OK and never even get close to contracting this. My body and my heart need to catch up. I can’t seem to shake the headache and I find myself weeping at the slightest lowering of my guard. As I went to sleep, last night, my neck and upper back ached like I had lifted weights all day.
The threats are real, we cannot hide from them. I am really trying to live with a balance between being protective and being free. These things sneak up and take my breath away. I am learning how to parent and caregive to a bone marrow transplant/cancer survivor. Learning how to establish a trusting relationship with his pediatrician. Trying to figure out how to manage Gregory’s bodily demands, demands that we have zero indication as to what they will be. It is an intricate dance.
Then we have a moment. THIS is what I am forever fearful of losing. DEATH is my biggest fear. I know we are all susceptible to having this happen to anyone of us. Yet, there is something unique to having stared death in the face, manage to skirt it’s clutches and realize that it is still waiting around the corner. No. I am not negative or morbid. I live in the brilliant light of life and gratitude. I also dwell in the dark places. We all do.
I NEVER want to forget that belly laugh.
Covering you in love,