Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Soft hands

I awoke with a right blown pupil. It was annoying as I was walking around the yard, taking the rented paddle board off the roof of the van and trying to read my facebook page on my phone. As my mom finished getting ready for the day, my step dad looked at my eyes and didn't seem particularly alarmed. Then my husband saw it and immediately said we needed to go get it checked out.

I'd like to think that I'm schooled in the ways of all things medical, but not for own health. Never had it occurred to me that I would experience any health issues. So a blown right pupil was something I'd need to google. Which in hindsight was a mistake, as I saw the words "stroke and aneurysm" in the same paragraph. With me now in tears, Joe insisted on bringing me to the hospital, which wasn't going to work because besides me and a couple of paid caretakers, Joe was the only other person with the know how to care for Dermot.

My mom reluctantly agreed to drive me, as she is not a fan of driving in general.
As we drove to the hospital, one thing stands out, her hand was warm. She wanted to hold my hand even though she was driving. First we drove to the Aitkin Hospital, 25 minutes away. She held my hand the whole time. I told her that I was scared; she told me I was going to be okay. I told her nothing could happen to me, I was responsible for too many people, and she said everything was going to be okay.

My mom and I talk often, mostly about our day to day activities and what her friend Shirley's daughter-in-law did to cure a case of the hiccups or how her friend Doris told everyone at her knitting club she hit a deer with her car. So, you could say we are close. But I've always had a sense of wanting for my mother. I've seemed to not quite get enough from her. This sense has haunted me since I was nine years old and she moved out and left my brother and me to live with my dad. We saw each other every Wednesday night and every other weekend, but I needed her more than that. I needed her more than she was able to give.

So growing up without a mother in the house is a task in itself. The powers that be saw to it that I experienced my first period on one of those fateful weekends I was with her. We shopped for my first training bras on a Wednesday night after dinner and before she returned me to her former home for the night. But I always wanted more from her. I hung out with my friend's and their mom's after school and longed for a sense of connection. Later I found it to be convenient that she wasn't in the house because it made it easier to forge her signature when I skipped school and need an excuse note for my homeroom teacher.

I was more comfortable hanging out with the guys. Most of my friends were dudes and I'd follow along with them at lunch, after work happy hours and driving them all home. I never knew what to talk about with the women. "Too fancy and dolled up for me," I'd say.

Now I've realized with a good amount of therapy and twenty+ years of time passing that a lot of my feelings of longing were a results of unmet and uncommunicated expectations and clearly not of my mom's doing. She was trying to forge out her own existence and identity. It's only after being a parent and a grown woman do I understand and have compassion for my mother and who she has become.

There are instances, when I get impatient with my mom. I wish she could figure out her iPhone settings herself, and I wish she knew how capable she was and didn't have to be afraid of trying new things. But, I'm grateful I have her in my life.


After an abbreviated visit to the small town hospital, my mom and I were instructed to drive immediately to Abbott Northwestern hospital. The ER would be ready to administer an MRI on my head and my neck. The small town doctor also reminded me not to eat or drink anything until after I had been seen in Minneapolis.

After two hours, full of conversation, me making frantic phone calls to my estranged family members, me seeking extra support from my friend with the power of google behind her, and several disagreements with Siri, we arrived at the hospital.

Weight, eyes, ears, hospital gown, blood pressure every fifteen minutes, neurological tests, several questions regarding my morning routine, an IV and a forty minute MRI later, we had results.

With mom and friend by my side, I wasn't going to have a stroke. I didn't have an aneurysm. I did however administer Atropine drops (for secretions) to Dermot in the middle of the night and somehow got some in my right eye causing my pupil to dilate.

So, here's what I learned from all of this.
I'm lucky. I have great family members and friends that ARE DOING THE BEST THEY CAN. They love me, and I love them.

I especially know that when my mom has told me over and over again that she'll help me whenever I need her to, I believe her now. And also, my mom has really soft hands.


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