It’s time for me to distract myself with work and pretend like nothing happened. I finally put on clothes that aren’t wrinkled and fix my hair in something other than a messy bun. I slide on my rings and fasten my watch, which is something I only do when I head out of the house. I am dressing for the part today, the part that I am glad is here.
When I’m asked, “How was your weekend?” I respond with fine. Fine is a safe word that doesn’t usually generate any follow ups.
When a similar question is asked, “What did you do over the weekend?” my answer is nothing. Yep, I’m boring and dull people must think. No excitement here.
Some weekends are not dull. Sometimes, we pull our camper to a not-so-exotic place for some quality family times. Other times, we see the newest movie geared toward children at the theater while I struggle to balance large drinks and bags of popcorn without spilling them. A few times a year, we enjoy a nearby theme park laughing and screaming on thrilling rides. Still yet, we may choose to stay home riding the golf cart around the yard, visiting with family, or watching television.
Watching is one thing that I did do this weekend. I watched my daughter’s chest looking for signs that she was working hard to breathe. I observed the color of her fingers and lips when I thought she was breathing differently. I anxiously scrutinized numbers on a monitor hooked to my daughter’s finger letting me know if she was breathing well or not. I looked at syringes as I drew up liquid medication for my daughter to swallow. I searched for nebulizer masks and albuterol packets as I seem to never leave them in the same place between treatments. I stared at the clock and set alarms corresponding to the next dose of medications as a reminder.
I listened all weekend, too. I listened to a nebulizer machine run and fizzle out medication. I listened to the series of beeps on her airway vest clearance machine, which keeps her lungs open and helps her cough, that ran with every albuterol treatment. The first series of beeps signaled she was halfway through her 20 minute cycle. The next series of beeps meant it was finished, so I needed to go unbuckle her vest. I listened to her cough making mental notes for the doctor. This was definitely a wet, productive cough. I listened for wheezing or rattling noises in her chest.
As I watched and listened this weekend, I felt helpless.
Sure, I could do all the medications and treatments, but her recovery was out of my hands. So many times before, a simple cold wreaked havoc on my daughter who has asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, a lung cyst, a history of pneumonia, two different repaired heart problems, and Down syndrome. Over 20 times, I have seen my daughter being treated in a hospital for an illness like this. Some were relatively routine admissions while others were quite scary involving the Intensive Care Unit and a ventilator. This history is what sets me on edge. When I hear her cough, my anxiety rises. Will this recovery take place at home or require the hospital? The fear is what drives me mad as I cannot control how this will play out over a few critical days.
There are minutes of worry spaced out between the hours in the day. But the days do pass, and she recovers. Relief comes when she starts doing better, but it does not automatically cancel out all those other tense hours. I have become worn out mentally from the stress and worry of not knowing the outcome of this illness.
Now, the dark circles ring around my eyes. The wrinkles in my forehead seem a little deeper. But, my hair is combed and the smile is perfected on my face trying to hide those giveaways of exhaustion. I’m not exactly hiding my life from others. It’s just that most people don’t want to hear about this chaos that happens in my life. If I talk about it, it will be awkward. There are few people who can relate to my life, and fewer people who know how to respond to a weekend story of a mom taking care of a little girl with weak lungs.
I step out the door ready to move on, ready to leave the stress of the last few days behind me, and be fine today. Even if I’m not fine at this moment, I want to be. Like my daughter, I will recover after some time.
I shut the door to the house and head towards my van. Here I go.
Evana is a God-fearing wife and mother of two. When she isn’t taking care of her children, she works as a pediatric speech-language pathologist. You can read more of her stories at Special Purposed Life
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