Sunday, February 22, 2015

Medical Mama

"Gee, I wish I could stay home and just play with my kid."  
All tuckered out from staying up
 way too late playing.

Yeah, not said to me, said to another medical mama friend of mine.  And this on a day where her kid tried to die on her. Perhaps not the best timing, and frankly, untrue in sooooo many ways.  

So what does it mean to be a medical mama?  It means that you've learned the true meaning of "fly by the seat of your pants."  'Cause nothing, nothing is ever set in stone.  It means that while the rest of the world celebrates Christmas on December 25th, yours might be put of until January 1st.  It means "celebrating" your 25th anniversary with a helicopter ride  for two, but not with your husband, with your child instead.  It means that when your parents buy plane tickets for you and your siblings, yours is the only one that they buy trip insurance on.  

For a sibling, it means that there's always the chance that Mom won't be in the audience, on the side of the field, and maybe even at the airport when you come home from your mission.  (Yeah, found out later that was a very real fear of Mary's, and why she lingered so long at the top of the escalator.  She didn't know for sure that I would be there.)  Not that we don't want to be there, not that we won't do everything possible, but if there's been a crisis, an emergency happening right then, we can't be.

It means being ever vigilant, knowing what your kids' norms are.  And I'm not talking about sleep schedules (still don't know what those are).  I'm talking about heart rates, breathing rates, how much oxygen he needs.  It means that I'm on alert (yeah, again) because while he's looking good otherwise, his heart rate has been about 20 beats per minute higher than usual for the past 24 hours.

It also means that you're super prepared for just about anything.  There's Plan A, Plan B,  and Plan C, not just for him, but for the other kids, too.  And while there may not be a Plan D, you're put enough things together fast enough that you've got the groundwork for D through Z.  

It means that you're thinking of any way, and every way, something as simple as getting dressed can be used for therapy, to teach skills that come so naturally to everyone else, but your child has no concept of.

I was thinking the other day (I know, dangerous).  I can pack for a two week stay anywhere in less time than it takes for the ambulance to get here.  They're only about a mile and a half away.  It doesn't take long.  Mostly it's because it's been packed for the past almost five years, with a list of the few things that I use on a daily basis to throw in there (toothbrush anyone?).
My brother found these growing in his yard.  It made my
day that he though of us, of Aaron, and sent me a picture.
Little purple pansies, tiny but strong, bringing color and
light, just like Aaron.

It also means that you understand so much more.  It means that when a friend says she "can't" do something, you don't look for the reasons behind why she's trying to get out of it.  You know that sometimes the simple things are the most difficult, and that everyone needs to be cut some slack, and given some love. 

You know you can (and will) reach that breaking point, the cliff on the edge of the abyss, teeter, but still pull back, pick yourself up, shoulder your load, and keep going.  And even find the joy.  'Cause there is joy, a lot of it.

You grow, you learn, maybe even more about yourself that you do your child.  You learn that deep within yourself is a strength that you always hoped was there, but secretly were afraid was lacking.  You learn to listen, really listen, when someone's hurting, and to not say anything but just be there, 'cause you know that sometimes there are simply no words for the pain, or the joy.  

So next time you're thinking a medical mama has it "so great," make sure you're thinking for the right reasons.  We do have it great, but not because we get to just "play all day" with our kids, or have the awesome, front row handicap parking spot right by the door.  

We have it great because we understand the fragility of life, of the here and now.  We understand the joy that comes when a milestone is reached and recognized.  We get to be with these wonderful teachers of our souls who fight through more than anyone else, and do it with smiles on their faces.  And who teach us love.

“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to 
persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”  
~ Christopher Reeve