I was trying so hard to breathe deeply, to release, to let the fearful thoughts in my head dissipate. Yesterday morning, I took my boy to preschool on my way to two doctor's appointments where I was hoping to find out why I've been having chronic migraines for a month and over the last few days, tingling that spreads across my scalp to my face.
I was hoping to get some answers but also afraid that I'd need an MRI or hear some kind of concern or urgency laced in my doctor's voice. I could rationalize migraines, even one after another, as being the logical child of stress and not enough sleep and eating Luna Bars for two meals a day. But the tingling took me right to the brain tumor place and the brain tumor place is only milliseconds away from the frantic-ness of "if something happens to me, who will raise Lil E?"
Of course, I know who will raise Lil E if something (touch wood) happens to me and this is neither calming nor comforting nor OK with me. So I said some om namah shivayas, went to bed earlier and slept away as much of that worry as I could. I woke up feeling better and went about the business of packing lunch and putting on Diego undies (the boy's) and Mardi Gras beads (also the boy's), smoothed on berry red lipstick (yes, mine) with some silly thought that if I looked bright-eyed and big-smiled there could be no possible way a pins-and-needles-inducing brain tumor was growing in my head.
On the way to preschool, the normalcy of my day helped ease my mind. Lil E and I talked at length about the construction vehicles in the lane next to us and sang along to songs on the radio. There's something about an almost-four-year old in Sponge Bob sunglasses and a pulled-low baseball cap singing "No air! NO AIIIIIIRRRR!" to soothe a mama's worries about life beyond that moment in time, that note hanging in the air.
That moment turned quickly and I saw a familiar expression come across Lil E's face as I peered back through the rear view mirror.
"Mommy," he groaned. "Mommy, my belly feels sick."
I went through my carsick checklist, telling him to
look up, sip some water, breathe deeply, talk to me about the cars he
saw ahead of us. It wasn't helping, so I pulled over, crawled in beside
him and held a grocery bag I stashed for these moments up to him. Then,
nothing. We breathed together some more. I rubbed the part of his back
I could get to around the seatbelt straps and he said he was better.
We were only blocks from school, but the look on his little, agonized face told me to hurry. Then, he told me to hurry and I raced as safely and quickly as I could past the crossing guard and up to the preschool entrance.
We were there. I breathed deeper myself. Then, just
as I turned off the engine, Lil E let go. And threw up. And threw up.
And threw up some more. I was quick to get back there again and pull
him out of the seat and out on to the grass, where he threw up again.
Oh, that boy. That poor, urper of a boy. He's so good
at being carsick now that he stands calmly while I clean him up with
the baby wipes that are tucked in next to the grocery bags. And he
almost always only says, "Ohhhh," in this disappointed, irritated way, "I frewed up."
The getting sick was really no worries. He had extra clothes in his classroom cubby and was feeling fine by the time I wiped down the seats. He wasn't fazed when I kissed him goodbye and never mentioned feeling sick to his teachers or me the rest of the day.
I drove home to grab air freshener and disinfectant to de-funk the car and a clean jacket for Lil E to take back to the school before recess. My pre-appointment plans and my route downtown changed, but those things happen with a carsick kid. Sometimes, they happen a lot. Often, they happen at the most inconvenient times or on days when everything seems to be wrong or off or otherwise preoccupying.
It didn't anger me to clean up the mess or take care
of the boy -- even in the ickiness, this is a privilege to meof being a
mama and even the primary parent. But sitting in traffic a second time
on that strip of rush hour mania, I felt mad that I was handling all of
this alone. I had this flash of anger that I am taking care of so much
of this by myself.
Then, just as quickly as the anger flared, it fell away with the thought that, oh yes, I've almost always done almost all of this stuff alone.
Even when I was (more) married, even when there was a husband in the car, even when I wasn't working, even when I wasn't worried about the pressure in my head.
I handled then just like I handle it now, I thought. I worked it out then and I will work it out now.
Of course, I am not alone. My parents and friends and even bloggers I've never met in person called and texted and IMed me to remind me of that. One of my friends told me softly into the phone that perhaps I was trying to hard and that was making it all harder. She reminded me to be OK being afraid and to keep moving anyway. Stop trying to breathe, and instead, just breathe.
I thought of that as I let go of my concern about Lil E's carsickness possibly lingering in his day, then waited in the doctors' offices, explained my symptoms and listened to their assessments. Sitting on the exam table in the silence and fluorescent light, I am not alone. Even scrubbing vinyl seat-backs in the stifling, smelly car, I am not alone. I guess that means in my throbbing, tingling head I cannot be alone either.
My doctor diligently did neurological exams and asked
lots of questions and told me he didn't believe I exhibited any signs
of a brain tumor. I laughed. I hadn't told him that was my worry, but
he knew. He did say I am an ergonomic mess with a tendency to get
tension headaches and migraines, that I need to reconfigure my
workspace at home and go to physical therapy to learn to release the
tension in my shoulders and neck.
Already, I felt better. Still a bit on pins and needles, but better. I don't imagine my worries about Lil E's care, especially if I am not here to guide it, will go away anytime soon. Today, though, with a physcial therapy appointment in my calendar and medical charts tucked back into file cabinets, at least all that has moved just a bit further out of my head.