November 01, 2006
Embracing the Ordinary
The moment my son was born, I was plunged into a black hole of fear – a terrifying otherworldly existence that, until I held him for the very first time, I had never known existed.
For years, I had gone blithely on my merry way, working, shopping, eating, sleeping, without ever having known the kind of love so powerful and all-encompassing that it defies explanation.
Once Billy was born, though – a here-and-now reality – I was afraid of everything. I baby-proofed beyond belief and spent hours poring over infant care books, reading up on every disease, every ailment, sure that doing so was my only insurance against disaster. Somehow, by reading so much, I could ward off the evil demons of disease, dysfunction, despair.
And for eight short weeks, I was safe. Then I noticed a problem. Frantically scanning the pages of my beloved "What to Expect the First Year," I self-diagnosed my son: He had an inguinal hernia.
Then came the rush to the pediatrician and next, the hospital. My poor baby, only eight weeks old, wrapped in a soft yellow blanket against the sharply cold winter morning.
It was only when I had him home after his operation, safe and sound in his crib, that I could breathe again.
Lulled into a false sense of complacency, the years flowed by, long, lazy days colored with crayons and Christmas presents, Barney and a baby book filled with memories.
Things were calm until my son's sixth grade year, when an all-nighter at Sports Plus had my son exhibiting symptoms that seemed all-too similar to those in a magazine article I had written about diabetes.
My mother's instincts kicked into high gear and I bundled my boy off to the doctor, only to be told that I was, as ever, worrying too much and most likely, overreacting. Please, just do the test, I begged, feeling kind of embarrassed and a bit over the top about the whole thing. Finally, the doctor relented. Moments later, he came back into the room. My son had Type 1 juvenile diabetes, with blood sugars so high he had to be rushed to the emergency room.
In that hospital, I came as close to the fires of hell as I ever want to be in this lifetime. Only rooms away, children were battling inoperable cancer and all manner of other life-threatening ailments.
Please, God, I prayed fervently, get us out of here. Get my boy back home, alive and well.
Once back into our normal routine, it was all too easy to begin the round of everyday minutiae that drives soccer moms to distraction. The older kids get the more rides they require. One day last week, I drove to Billy's high school no less than eight times during my daily cycle of dropping off and picking up from school and chamber choir and play rehearsal and jazz practice.
And yes, I was a little cranky about the whole thing. Must be nice having a personal chauffeur, I muttered.
Then, on Saturday, I was ready to drive him, yet again, to an all-day play rehearsal, despite the fact that he was getting over strep throat.
Suddenly, from the bathroom, I heard a commotion. Turns out Billy had been bitten by a spider, and not only were his hands and feet swelling and itchy, but his body was covered with angry red welts and his throat was closing.
Anaphylactic shock, said my medical mom's mind. And sure enough, said the ER physician at Peconic Bay Medical Center, my son had the mildest form of what could have been a deadly reaction to an insect bite.
And, in those moments when I drove wildly to Riverhead, I found myself praying, yet again. Please, God, let me get there in time. Let him keep breathing. Please, God.
Mercifully, he was sent home with a prescription for anti-inflammatory medication and an Epi-pen.
Today, he's back in school and yes, we're caught up in the daily go-round of activities. But I don't think I'll ever complain about another carpool again. Thank God for the ordinary days. They truly are something to be thankful for.