Tuesday morning, Dove stopped moving.
I mean it – she put her hand behind her head, lifted her leg, started crying, and stopped moving.
And it was a scary cry. A pain cry. Did she bump herself on the way out of bed? I picked her up immediately, and she tensed. I tried to look at her, ask her questions, find out what happened, but she maintained her stiffened pose. I finally got her to tell me that her neck hurt, and to adjust her body slightly so that her head was on my shoulder, one hand still behind her ear, the other tucked under her body, left leg raised high. No doubt she could feel my heart beating double-time, as I tried to figure out why the hell my two-year-old was in so much pain and had stopped moving.
I rubbed her back and her neck, trying to ease her muscles into relaxed submission, but if I moved her in any way, an anguished cry. After about 45 minutes with no change, I decided to call Telehealth.
They’ll just tell you to go to the hospital, Chris said, It’s probably just a muscle spasm. Muscle spasm? My kid is two. Two-year-olds are practically boneless. She wasn’t moving her head or her leg.
It’s probably MENINGITIS, I shot back, panicking just a little.
Chris looked at me. It might just be a growing pain, he suggested.
It might be a TUMOUR, I responded, and picked up the phone.
The Telehealth nurse was reassuring, saying that sometimes this happens, but suggested we go to the hospital to check it out. Okey dokey, I told her, rushing around to find some pants.
Two hours later, we were back home. It was a muscle spasm, one that actually eased up while we were sitting in our room waiting for the doctor. One minute she wouldn’t move – not even when the nurse was listening to her heart and checking her oxygen levels – and the next she was squirming in my lap, asking for her water and trying to see the TV better. (We were in a peds room; Treehouse was on).
The doctor had been great, telling me what to watch for, reassuring me that she would be ok, understanding why I had been so scared, and joking that part of the parenting contract is to be available for the odd coronary at the hands of our children. Glad he could joke about it.
It took about a day and half a dozen phone calls home that afternoon to our nanny to finally ease my adrenaline levels back down to (my) normal. People were actually laughing at me as I told them the story of my Tuesday morning. My brother accused me of being paranoid and neurotic.
And I guess I am. I guess I am paranoid and neurotic when it comes to the health of the people I love most in this world. I’m actually good at handling the minor stuff; I don’t run to the doctor for sniffles or tummy aches; I’ve only ever had to fill a prescription for antibiotics once since becoming a parent, and between both kids, this is only the second time I’ve gone to the emergency room. I still think we are lucky and healthy.
But in my head…
In my head, I am expecting catastrophe. In my head, everything I’ve experienced; everything I have read about; everything I am afraid of becomes a possibility, a probability.
And I always think it’s cancer, but that’s just the Jew in me.
The thing is, we’ve all had bad, scary, sad experiences. Those are not the ones that should influence our everyday thought process, but they are the ones that take me from muscle spasm to meningitis in 10 easy seconds.
And not to minimize anyone truly suffering from an anxiety disorder, but I don’t think I have one. I mean, I carry Rescue Remedy with me, but y’know, that’s only because my purse is too small for a bottle of gin.
But I should try to calm down; try to keep in mind that so much of my role as a mother is making sure my kids do things like eat organic vegetables and get exercise and stay away from chemicals and pesticides and negativity and Max and Ruby, although to be fair, that last one just kind of annoys the shit out of me.
I do a lot to keep my kids safe and healthy and although I know I can’t control everything, although I know that sometimes shitty things happen anyway, I will try to skew positive.
Next time, maybe, instead of jumping to conclusions, I will take a deep breath, and a leap of faith.