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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Sunday, July 22, 2007

 

Middle-Aged Scare

It was last Saturday, a balmy hundred degrees along South Carolina's flat beach that I felt it come on -- an ache every time I tried to take a deep breath.

"It must be the massage I had," I said to my friends. "I think I had Helga's hands." I attempted to take in another breath against the thunderous sound of the ocean.

By Monday when I returned home, breathing became more difficult. That night I couldn't sleep on either side, my lungs aching. By morning, I was in the hospital. I thought it was pneumonia, but I wasn't coughing like the last time I had it. My x-rays came up normal.

I looked at my husband and gasped. If it wasn't pneumonia, then what was it?

"You need a CAT scan for a blood clot," said the emergency room doctor.

I began to weep when he closed the curtain. I could tell Henry was worried. He usually tries to be very calm, but he began to do that deep breathing when people try to brace themselves. I suddenly began to ream off where everything was, and what he needed to know about Adam.

Everything was about Adam -- what I wanted for him, who, I thought, he could trust. I discussed everything right up into Adam's adulthood. Faced with uncertainty, it was the first time I urgently articulated the general "plan" I had for Adam's future. Every parent thinks about the future. Even for all the plans and worries, life will still deliver the unexpected.

"I'll be watching," I said to Henry, half-laughing, tears streaming down my face and slightly insistent that if he screwed up, I would deliver some kind of punitive lightening bolt. He accepted it today. He accepted my over-protectiveness when it comes to Adam, faced with a new uncertainty. Behind the curtain of my emergency room niche, the lights turned off because I had a migraine, he may have even laughed a little behind the sighs and the stroking of my arm punctured with an intravenous needled put in such a painful spot that I could barely move my arm.

A few minutes later, I was able to gather myself. Blood clots can be controlled with medications. I could stop flying for a while. "Be brave" I thought to myself. "One's life can also be measured by how gracefully we leave."

I sucked in my last worried breath and laid back awaiting my CAT scan. Adam would be fine. He has a large family of four half brothers and sisters, and a whole pile of cousins. Henry would stay home for a while if anything happened to me. Life will go on.

Besides which, I began to say to Henry, "I plan on being around until I'm ninety-five." I laughed at the ridiculousness of planning my own life-span, at how everything is so out of our control.

Whatever I plan, it'll all be okay. I didn't have the blood clot, but the mystery illness zapped a week's worth of energy. Adam now has a fever as well and my weak body is helping him get through it now.

We can't help thinking about tomorrow, but we try very hard to live for today. And while we are not that well this week, maybe next we'll be mightier.

14 Comments:

Blogger mcewen said...

Indeed you will! [be mightier next week] I'm really sorry you had this scare.
There's nothing like lying in a hospital bed to make you realise quite how vulnerable we all are.

Glad you get to play 'nurse' rather than 'patient' this week.
Best wishes for a speedy recovery for everyone.
Cheers

9:58 AM  
Blogger Niksmom said...

Estee, we've been ill here too. (Today I feel like an elephant's sat upon my chest!) Glad you are on the mend. I'll be thinking good and healing thoughts for you and Adam...and hoping Henry stays well!

11:14 AM  
Blogger kristina said...

Take care of yourself----something I'll confess I too often forget to do, in the day to day business of taking care of Charlie.

Hope Adam gets well very soon.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Camille said...

Wow. I'm glad it turned out well. I hope you continue to feel well and don't have any more chest pains or health scares.

1:50 PM  
Blogger laurentius rex said...

Hope it turns out to be nothing serious.

I remember having really severe chest pains once, it just so happened that I was on the bus that went past the Dr's surgery so I went right in.

Muscular Skeletal was the Dr's pronouncement, it is possible for ones chest muscles (like any other) to go into spasm, for no other reason than you have made the wrong movement.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous farmwifetwo said...

Glad to hear your feeling better.

When I went to CA in June the dh wanted the "list". The one stored in my head of what's done, and what needs to be done.

I gave him the short form... maybe I should write out the long version.

S.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Vicky said...

Hi Estee...
It sounds like you are feeling better now? I went through the cancer scare a few years back so I know that awful mortality panic thing.. Too bad they couldn't find a source of your problem but I am glad its not a blood clot also...
Hugs,,
V.

3:42 PM  
Blogger mumkeepingsane said...

Wow, how scary! I'm glad you're feeling better. I've never had a major scare but I am such a worrier that I keep a running log of thoughts I have about Patrick's present life and future. The thing is, I've been too embarassed to even tell my husband it exists.

I hope you continue to feel better and that Adam feels better soon.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an awful scare. I was glad to see your post, though, because I was wondering where you'd been...lots of wishes that you are truly done with the mystery illness and Adam is also on the mend.

9:13 PM  
Blogger VAB said...

Glad you are feeling somewhat beter, Estee, but I'm sorry you went though all that.

Nicksmom:
You said, "Today I feel like an elephant's sat upon my chest!" That particular wording is often used by people describing heart trouble. If you are just being metaphorical, then I just hope you feel better soon. If you actually feel like there is strong pressure on your chest, you should talk to you doctor about it right away.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Niksmom,

You have to check up on yourself. I hope YOU are okay.

As of this week, we are both on the mend. Adam has "swimmer's ear" as he has become a little fish, and mom still had the "mystery illness," or "virus," it seems.

Thanks to all for your well wishes.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Niksmom said...

vab & estee, just got a chance to catch up on some reading and saw your comments to me. no worries...it's just an awful summer cold which nik had then gave to me. the ticker's in great shape (thank goodness). :-)

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Rhea said...

I find that being in my 'middle years' means being adaptable. Little surprises, and sometimes big ones, crop up.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous kyra said...

oh, estee! how scary! i'm glad you are okay. phew. sorry about sickness moving through. i know those times. egads. everyone limping along. but soon SOON you will all be robustly healthy again.

xx

3:29 PM  

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