I have this thing that I do. I wake up in the middle of the night, panicked. Oh, yeah, it’s a hoot. Nothing better than waking up night after night feeling like you forgot something. It’s awesome.
Anyway, the bigger the real issues in my waking life, the smaller the ones that wake me up. Was that English? Let me try again.
When really, really big issues loom, I find myself really, really worried about small ones. I’ll wake up panicked that I forgot to sign a permission slip or that I haven’t returned an e-mail to a friend. I’ll perseverate on things that need to be done – send in the insurance forms, get the tail lights fixed on the car, call that yoga teacher who we hear is a wonder with kids like Brooke.
There’s always a list.
There’s always something to gnaw on in the middle of the night.
And the bigger the big stuff is, the more I worry about the small stuff.
Even though the list never really disappears, at least the items on it are manageable.
They’re wrangleable, fixable, doable.
The big stuff?
Not so much.
Two Saturdays ago, in the car ~
Brooke has been crying and yelling for much if not most of the day.
After much discussion and collaboration with nearly everyone in her life, we have tried what was to be a two-day change in her meds. It’s not working. It’s the opposite of working.
We’re in a death spiral.
From the back seat Katie’s voice is pleading. “Mama, Brooke keeps doing this thing with her jaw. Why is she doing that? She’s moving it up and down and it’s weird. Why does she keep doing that?”
I take a deep breath. I don’t trust myself to speak.
“Katie,” I say, trying desperately to keep my voice even,”let’s talk about this at home, OK?”
Brooke looks like a 1980’s investment banker hopped up on coke. Her eyes dart around the room, her jaw works non-stop. Her eyes are dark, her skin is sallow. She has been shouting through tears, “I am SAD.”
My heart literally, physically aches.
I want this shit out of my baby’s body.
This isn’t OK.
I want to scream. I want to break something. I want someone somewhere to feel this pain.
I have no control over what’s happening to my girl.
I focus on time. The med has no half-life. It will work its way through her system by nightfall. The nightmare will be over. At least for now. So I focus on time.
When we get home, Luau takes Brooke downstairs and I get into the shower. I turn the water to scalding. It doesn’t help.
Katie comes in. “Mama, can you tell me what’s going on now? Why is Brooke acting like this? Why does she keep yelling and why is she so sad and why is she doing that weird thing with her jaw? Can you tell me now?”
I tell her what’s happening. I tell her that Brooke’s medications aren’t right. That Daddy and I have been working with Dr S and Dr Dreamy to figure out how to fix it and that we tried something today but that what we tried didn’t work.
Katie’s face melts into an awful mask of confusion, rage and sadness. Her voice is plaintive yet hard.
“Promise me,” she says. “Promise me that you won’t DO THAT TO HER again.”
It is an accusation.
I stand still and try to process her words. I can’t breathe.
I can’t promise her. I don’t know what we will have to do next. I don’t know what to say.
Before I can find the words, she begins to cry and runs out of the room.
I turn my face into the scalding water. It burns, but not enough to help.
The last line of the e-mail that I sent to Dr S reads, ‘I can’t speak for Luau, but I really need some guidance here. Where we are is clearly not working and I don’t have any idea what to do next.’
We meet with her on Thursday night.
And until then I will wake up panicked about tail lights, insurance forms, yoga teachers and unreturned e-mails.
Because I have this thing that I do.
When the big things are just too big.