Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Putting Things in Perspective

I’ve been going back and forth about whether I should publish this post. Part of me thinks I'm just being silly, but the other part thinks it’s totally valid and worth sharing. Guess which part won?

So here goes. For the past 12 days, I have had a headache. Not just any ordinary headache, but the worst headache of my life. It came on as a dull, normal headache Friday evening. I didn’t think much of it, until I woke up Saturday feeling like somebody was drilling into my skull with a really long drill bit. It got worse throughout the day and nothing seemed to help. Not Tylenol, not ibuprofen, not a heating pad, not massage. The only relief came when I could curl up in bed in complete quiet and darkness. This went on for the rest of the weekend. Thankfully Chris was around to help with things like feeding our children. Being around them, particularly Gabriel, was excruciating because bending my head in the slightest way caused piercing pain and he’s hardly quiet or understanding. He would come into my room (more like a cave) as I was resting and climb and jump on me. Not helpful, but I still appreciated that he wanted to be with me.

On Monday I went to the doctor. I was seriously getting concerned because my Dad had two strokes—one when he was 42 that left him paralyzed and the other when he was 56 that was fatal. With this genetic legacy, I didn’t want to take any chances. The doctor said it was probably just a bad migraine and gave me some migraine medicine. He said if it didn’t help, I should get an MRI the next day. He also said that there was a small chance that, given my family history, there could be a “leak” in a blood vessel, which would be very serious.

Well, the migraine medicine did absolutely nothing. And so, as the day and evening progressed, my mind started to wander in some dangerous directions. Like, well, if the migraine medicine isn’t helping, maybe it’s not a migraine. If it’s not a migraine, what is it? Maybe it’s a leaking blood vessel in my brain that’s about to explode. Maybe I’m on the verge of having a stroke. Maybe I’ll go to sleep and never wake up. Yes, I’m sorry to say that all of these thoughts crossed my mind quite a few times. They crossed Chris’s mind, too. For awhile, we just sat together in the dark. He was saying things like, “please don’t die.” I couldn’t control my tears thinking about my children having to go on without me. Gabriel is only 3 and probably wouldn’t even remember me. Sure, he’d see me in pictures, but that’s not the same as real memories. Roslyn is growing into a young woman. She needs me for talking about all that girl stuff. They both need me. Period.

I cried and cried thinking of everything I would miss. But I cried more for them. After all, I’d be gone and wouldn’t know the difference. It’s THEM who would be left with having to go on without me. I know what that’s like—having to go on. I did it when I was 18 and my Dad died suddenly from that second stroke. I did it in 2007, when my beautiful baby girl just didn’t wake up one day—I’m still doing it, in fact. I did it three years ago, when I watched my Mom take her last breath after an intense, losing battle with cancer. I know what it’s like to be left behind and it really sucks.

I thought about my blog’s subtitle—“My Life With and Without My Children” and it got me thinking about life and death and all the things in between—how precious and fragile it all is. And how when you think that you might be kissing your son goodnight for the last time or hearing your beautiful daughter sing a song for the last time, it kinda puts things in perspective again.

Despite everything that’s happened in my life and the precious loved ones I’ve lost, it’s still easy to get caught up in silly, day-to-day things. I let myself get annoyed a lot, in fact. Last night, Chris reminded me that this isn’t good. He told me I need to stop stressing so much and that I need to take better care of myself. Maybe this headache is my body’s way of telling me this, too. So, I have decided it’s time yet again to let go of all that is not important, everything that is beyond my control. It’s time to regroup and take better care of myself. Because if I’m in good shape, I’ll be able to do a better job taking care of my beloved family.

Oh, and just so I don’t leave you hanging. I did have the MRI last Tuesday and it was normal. So, huge relief that there’s no leaking blood vessels or tumor in my brain. My doctor gave me a different medication—this one for tension headache—which has helped. I’ve been able to function again, although the headache has lingered. Today, as I write this, it is almost gone, which gives me hope that taking some time to take care of myself and to RELAX a bit more is a step in the right direction. Tomorrow I'm going to get a massage while Gabriel is at school. That seems like a good place to start!