Sunday, April 18, 2010

this is as bad as it should ever get

I don't know if this is purely a yiddish expression, but when things are awful, I mutter under my breath, "this is as bad as it should get," as if to ward off further horrible situations in the future. I'm sure I got that from my mom, my grandmother, in the same way I say kenahura, an old custom so as not to jinx anything good that I'm in the middle of. 

Yesterday, as Iz's tooth was pulled, a baby molar that had cracked when the tooth underneath it was more than ready to come through, she was panicky, nervous, anxious. Having the numbing gell spread inside her mouth was terrifying. Hey, the hours leading up to the spur of the moment dental visit were no picnic in the park. It was her first health emergency. Her tooth ached. I could see bruising in her gums. She clenched my hand, hard, as the dentist forcefully wiggled the halves out. And then, as she drooled and bled, I could see the nervousness still etched on her face. She couldn't feel her tongue, the side of her cheek. It was hard for her to swallow. Not being in complete control of her body was something strange and new.

She said she hoped this was the worst thing that would ever happen to her. 

My heart ached.

Her life is just beginning. She has no idea what out-of-control situations are in her future. She hasn't discovered relationships yet and the pain of liking someone who doesn't like you back, being broken up with, being in different emotional places as someone else. Or of friends you've known forever growing away and not coming back. Of people you love moving far away. Getting sick. Dying.

She's only at the tip of the physical iceberg. Of adolescence. Of a body changing in unexpected and sometimes surprising or disappointing or frustrating ways. Of surging hormones. Of pimples that may not seem like a big deal to the outside world, but feel like a bulls eye in the middle of a cheek. Or forehead. Or chin.

She's had colds and fevers and earaches and I'm sure there are plenty more of those in her future. She's been in the ER once, when she was a baby, for a cut finger than healed over before we got to see the doctor. No matter how much I want to protect her, no matter how hard I try to keep her safe, she's human. I don't even want to think about what ifs (that's a horrible road for anyone to go down), but the reality is we all have stuff we go through.

At the moment I have a pain in my jaw (this is when Jack would say I always make things about me). I think it's TMJ. Much is swirling in my life right now and I can feel the tension building up on the left side. But, it could be sinus issues. I know, from my many ENT visits, that my sinuses hang very low and when they're filled up, they press down to cause pain in that area. It could be a tooth ache. I recently had  a cracked molar and spent months with pain, fittings, work and now a crown. Could be bone cancer or a tumor. I try to keep those dramatic thoughts to a minimum. In yoga this morning I had trouble staying in the class as the pain stabbed and sharpened. I spent time contemplating acupuncture, massage, steam rooms, and what might work best. 

I'm looking for a solution.

I'm hoping this will be the worst that things get. 

You never know. Perhaps a painful jaw will be it for me. Maybe the universe laughingly sent me something that makes talking hard when communicating is what I do.

Hey, I like that rationalization. I'm sticking with that and packing the scarier stuff back into my anxiety closet. 


Amy Oscar said...

Sweetie, maybe the jaw pain is empathic pain. Maybe, like all moms do, you've taken on a little of Izy's pain to make it a little gentler for her.

Just sayin...

Unclench the jaw, go hug that girl. And stop worrying. All the "bad" stuff you imagined for her? She can handle it.

And so can you.

JeReviens said...

Just wanted to tell you I've been there; awful to watch your kid suffer in any way. Keep in mind that once she's on 'the other side' she'll know that she was equal to the task of dealing with a physical crisis. And she'll remember that you made it easier by supporting her through it. That is all good stuff.

Hope your TMJ-like symptoms fade away! You sound like a great Mom.

lisa adams said...

All of those things are tough, but there are so many kids with big physical problems. If they had a friend with leukemia, knew someone with ongoing health problems their age, or someone who was blind (my 11 and 8 yr old children all know children with these problems, as well as their 4 yr old little brother who's had repeated surgeries and therapies already) they might be able to see themselves in relation to that and realize that they are lucky.

Your children and mine are fortunate: they have healthy, working bodies, two parents, wonderful schools, and opportunities that other children don't. They're old enough to understand that their problems are big to them, and are real, but pale in comparison to what most children of the world face every day.

In my humble opinion, teaching these concepts is how we, as parents, shape compassionate children who are citizens that look beyond themselves and out to the world as they mature.

Elissa Stein said...

I completely agree that in the scheme of things, my kids are lucky. But I alway think it's hard, at 11 (or any age really) when in a new situation that's scary and unknown, to see/feel the bigger picture.

And Iz has had her share of sharing illness. She's spent hours in the ER with Jack, after saving his life during a seizure. She spent days visiting him in the hospital. Cleaning goo off his head after EEG's. And is now dealing with the reality of an uncle who's about to start dialysis–we're planning to be with him to keep him company during his frequent treatment. For a girl prone to anxiety (sadly, she got that from me), she's had a lot to contend with. But, in the end, she handles it all.