Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Wish My Mother Could Have Held My Hand

The little girl above is supposed to be laughing. It is her 2nd birthday party. Other pictures of that day show at least a dozen happy little people scattered all over the yard. Some of them are sitting at a long table that has been decorated with a birthday cake and fancy plates and napkins. The cake has been cut and obviously appreciated because some of the happy smiles are smeared with cake and ice cream that has missed small mouths. Those that have finished the treats at the table are playing on the grass. Some of them are chasing balloons. Some of them are playing with the opened birthday gifts, and some of them are just beautiful little girls posing while their picture is taken. For all intents and purposes it is a happy day for everyone, except the little girl that sits on the porch all by herself.

The unhappy little girl is me. The person taking the pictures was my mother.

In less then 8 hours from the time the picture was taken my mother was told, “Your daughter has poliomyelitis. She is paralyzed from the waist down. She will probably never be able to walk again.” With those words said she wouldn’t be able to hold her daughter again for almost a full year.

Scott has put some of my family pictures in his album on his computer. He sent me this particular picture several weeks ago. May was the anniversary month of my mother’s death. Scott’s gift to me has collided with my longing to be able to talk to my mother again. My mother was always there when the polio put me in the hospital again. If I had to have surgery she is the one that was holding my hand when I opened my eyes. She is the one that repeatedly said, “You can overcome this too.” She is the one that told me “CAN’T” is not allowed in your vocabulary. She is the one that believed in me when I wanted to do something when everyone else said “NO“.

This morning when I looked at this picture I tried changing places with my mother. What if that little girl had been my daughter? What if I was the mother taking the pictures. Could I have been as courageous as my mother was? Could I have raised three other children while tending to the emotional and physical needs of a disabled child? I started thinking of the doctors visits, the surgeries, the pain, the tears, the heartbreak, the years and years of dedication to a little girl that needed more then most children. Could I have done it?

I don’t know! But this I do know ... the little girl in that picture was very blessed. The mother that was taking the pictures that day was one of the most wonderful mothers that God put on this earth. I so wish I could talk to her. I miss her so much.

This past Thursday I had the test that has been hanging over my head for the past month. It wasn’t fun!

In April my doctor referred me to a cardiologist. She extolled his virtues and promised that he was the kind of doctor that would understand my hesitations and fears. I made the appointment. He did his examination. He had an electrocardiogram done during that first visit. After he read those results he scheduled me for two tests. Before I left his office I was handed a piece of paper with the dates for the tests. One of the dates was in early May the other date was in late May. The late May test was to be done in the hospital.

I went to the hospital on the scheduled day, but there was a miscommunication somehow (I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t voiced my fear of all things associated with hospitals). The young technician preparing me for the test was apologetic, but the wrong medication had been ordered. I would have to wait in the waiting room while he tried to find someone to go get the correct medication. I waited one hour, then I sweetly told the technician to take the needle out of my arm I was going home. That caused all kinds of consternation among those that were supposed to be following doctors orders. They were so upset I felt a bit guilty, but not guilty enough to stay when I felt the circumstances weren't right.

After many phone calls and “the doctor’s says” kind of things a new appointment was made. It is now the middle of June. It has been almost two full months since I have actually seen the doctor on a face to face basis. There were a lot of phone calls and orders given, such as doctor only does these tests on Thursday’s and he says for you to blah, blah, blah.

I showed up at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. as I was told to. I was not a happy camper. It was a scary test! I did the first part of the test and was told I had an hour to kill before they started the second part. “Go get something light to eat. You can eat something now if you like.” So I killed an hour sitting in the cafeteria eating a hard-boiled egg. It was the only thing I absolutely knew didn’t have fat of some kind. What I didn’t need was to have a non-gallbladder gallbladder attack right in the middle of a scary test.

To start the second part of the test they put me in a bed, attached wires and machines to my body, and situated my right arm with the needle in it so that it could be gotten to easily. “The doctor is on his way. As soon as he gets here we’ll get this started.” So we waited. It wasn’t a very long wait. But it was a wait full of anxiety and beeping machines.

When the doctor walked into the room he said hello to me, and started dictating into his recorder. Then he came over to the foot of my bed and sweetly said, “Sandra, do you have a cardiologist of your own, or did Dr xxxxxx just order this test herself.”

And I just looked at him. I couldn’t answer his question because I was so confused my mouth wouldn’t work. I squinted at him, then turned my head a bit to get a different angle and squinted some more, then I got really frightened. “Maybe I’ve got anxiety-induced dementia,” I thought. “He looks like the cardiologist I went too, but maybe I don’t really remember the cardiologist I went too. Maybe I’m so frightened of doctors that I think all doctors look alike, maybe I have the start of a memory loss disease. But he’s short like the doctor I went too, but maybe there are two short cardiologists that use this hospital. Maybe I have fricken’ lost my mind.”

“Sandra did you understand my question?”

“Yes, I understood. But I’m totally confused. My cardiologist is Dr. XXXXXXX.”

“But I’m Dr. XXXXXXX”

“Oh, thank God. I thought I had lost my mind.”

“You mean that I ordered this test for you?”

“Yes, you did.”


“About two months ago.”

“Two months ago?”

“Yes!!!!, but I‘ve only seen you one time.”

“Why did I decide that you needed this test?”

“She’s had an unexplained myocardial event,” the nurse answered.

“Oh, then I forgive myself forordering this test for you!!!”

And with that I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. “What if I have this test and “I” don’t forgive you?”

“OK, lets start this thing. Sandra, every time you laugh you lower your heart rate.”

“Do you want me to cry? My anxiety is so high I could do that for you!”

But by then the scary part of the test had started and all I wanted was for the damn thing to be over.

Three tests down, one more to go!!!!

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