“The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley…”
I was going to catch up on a lot of blogging last week – I was going to do my second Thankful Thursday, my first Fiction Friday, and then swing back around today with Non-toxic Tuesday, plus a brief announcement about how I’d temper the annoying alliteration (oops) from now on, because I really only use that as a device to remind me of what I’m supposed to be writing about on which day of the week.
I barrelled home from my New Year’s Revolution Yoga Class (paid for the whole series in advance, non-refundable, therefore irrevocable – don’t make that wasted money, get your booty to class!) feeling energized and ready to write, and then, BAM, flattened with a vicious (and pretty viscous) cold.
No fever, but chills, and aches the magnitude of which I hadn’t felt since I came down with pneumonia about 8 years ago.
Mike panicked when that happened. (He loved to quote Burns, by the way –
“wee sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie! Oh what a panic’s in they breastie!”) I never get sick. But I’d been pushing myself too hard at work, a very stressful past job I loved and hated, burning the candle at both ends, etc. and ended up coughing myself blue (literally – Mike said I looked blue) for a week before I finally crawled out of bed and went to a doctor, who said he might as well go ahead and start treatment before he confirmed it was pneumonia, because he was pretty sure it was and it would help the symptoms. It was, and the antibiotics brought me back pretty fast.
But that’s the sickest I’ve ever been, and it scared Mike. He scared himself googling the different varieties of pneumonia and the odds of dying from it, and he realized he had no idea what to do if I died. How would he and our child live? Who would take care of them as I had done? (Mike was a stay-at-home Dad.)
“I’ll get through this,” I told him, after he had finished screaming at me for sneaking off to the doctor in the morning without waking him up.
“I left you a note, didn’t you see it?”
“No! Don’t ever do that again! What if you were too sick to drive back or what if they sent you to the hospital?”
“But they didn’t, I’m home now, and I will now commence getting better. Calm down.”
But here I was last week, every joint in my body aching on top of whatever soreness my first yoga class had caused me, remembering how I had pushed myself into pneumonia back then, and feeling a sudden and awful chill.
What if this is the flu? And if it is, what happens if it turns into pneumonia? Shit! Hadn’t thought about that – who would take care of our child if I had to be hospitalized? Mike’s not here! People are dying right and left from this damn flu! Even a few much younger and stronger than me! SHIT!
And that caused me some dark hours of worrying about how thin my support system really is. How thin the ice I’m skating on here really is, trying to be everything at once for our child, trying to hold our life together and move it forward. There’s one helper, with a family of their own, available occasionally, but that’s it. There’s my brother and sister-in-law, but they have a dog, and our child is afraid of dogs, especially boisterous ones like that new pure bred puppy. Plus they are facing their own family health issues, with themselves and other family members to care for. And my other brother lives thousands of miles away.
So that leaves church family. The usual suspects who have already done so much for our child and me that I feel reluctant to ask.
But I realized I don’t have a choice.
Every six months or so, or more often if changes in our lives require, I send a list of how to keep our child’s life running smoothly in the event I am out of the picture to my brothers. Lists of important phone numbers, what happens on which day, doctors, dentists, helpers, agencies. etc.
I’m going to have to expand that distribution list, I guess.
As far as the vicious and viscous cold, or whatever it was, our child got it too, and we lazed and slept and coughed and blew our noses, and drank lots of water, chicken soup and orange juice for a week, skipping all regularly scheduled programming, until it finally seemed to break and fade.
I didn’t have the energy to do much grocery shopping or cooking, much less blogging, obviously, until the very end of the week, when we both had events we wanted to attend and we did, equipped with loads of tissues and several small bottles of hand sanitizer. No hugs or high fives for anyone from us last week.
Back on schedule now, but it sure felt like a close call. And the coughs will linger for a few more weeks, I’m afraid.
I had thought of myself as having everything very well arranged, but last week made me realize that is actually only in the event of my actual demise – not in the case of my temporary incapacity.
So some good has come of this, to wit, a few new rules (more with the rules, already! I have rules for being a Middle Aged Woman, and Rules for Thanksgiving, and even rules for trying to meet someone online for if I ever muster the courage to try to create an online dating profile if I can ever decide which app or site to use). Also came opportunity for our child to develop, out of necessity, some new self-sufficiencies, like making sandwiches in addition to the usual fruit and cheese snacks and creating lists and plans for the upcoming week independently.
So, Thin Ice Rules:
Thin Ice Rule #1: Don’t Get Sick.
Thin Ice Rule #2: Expand Available Support Network in the Event of a Violation of Thin Ice Rule #1.
Thin Ice Rule #3: Continue to Coax Our Child to Learn to Do More Independently
Thin Ice Rule #4: Set a Target Date Goal for Our Child to Achieve Independent Living.
Thin Ice Rule #5: Live Forever, so Thin Ice Rule #4 Need Not Be Effectuated. Not Yet, Anyway. See Rule #1.
OK, I’m so not ready to think of myself aging to a point where it makes more sense for our child to live independently of me (with community supports, of course.) I’m SO not ready for that. But this week made me stare down the need to plan for it anyway.
I got through this, just as I got through the pneumonia, and I’ve lost a lot of weight and I’m much healthier now than I was back then, but this whatever it was (my Dad used to call it the “awful awfuls”) was a good smack upside the head reminder not to take something as important as my health for granted.
I won’t live forever, I know; I want to live well for as long as I can, and I want to do a good job of the one job a parent really has, which is to enable their child to survive without them.
Out of sheer necessity, in addition to preparing more food independently than ever before and writing out a weekly plan entirely independently, our child filled hot water bottles and brought refills of water and tea. Necessity is the mother of invention, but apparently also the mother of progress toward independence for a young adult on the autism spectrum. I’ve been far more insistent than Mike ever was that our child do everything independently that can be done independently, and every day, learn some new small thing to add to that growing list of self-sufficiency skills.
I think Mike approves – this morning when I got up finally feeling nearly 100%, and our child was ready to return to our regularly scheduled programming, I turned on the radio, and the trumpet tune we used for the processional at our wedding was playing (you know the one, Jeremiah Clarke, The Prince of Denmark’s March), right from the start.
Thank you, dear. Keep those little messages coming, and we’ll keep getting through this.
See you on Annoyingly Alliterative Thankful Thursday!