Friday, May 1, 2015

Deja vu. Sorta.

This has been one of those weeks, the kind filled with reminders that aren't exactly comforting ones. I wish that either my relationship with my parents had been one that left me with only positive memories or that I had the ability to just forget the bad stuff or that I was in a place to only remember the good.

But then I remember that would be bullshit revisionist stuff and that it pisses me off when history books do it, so I can't go on and do something like that in my personal life.

It's the first of May which means that Mother's Day is rapidly approaching and that day always kind of makes me want to throw things then cry then ask a lot of questions. Then I'll cry because of something awesome that my kids do and try and get over all my abundant issues long enough to live in the moment for a hot second.


This week. Goddamn.

Little Boy fell off of the couch weird and hurt his foot about two weeks ago, which is ridiculous when you realize that he is the child I have found ten feet up the tree, on top of the fridge and climbing the banister. He's my daredevil and the fact that he hurt his foot falling off of a couch that is less than 18 inches from the ground is preposterous. But it is what it is.

Having the extensive background in orthopedic injuries and the hours in the emergency room to go along with it, I've learned that with injuries like this one, if we go to the ER, they will take an xray which will be inconclusive. They'll splint whatever the injury is and tell us to call ortho. So, these days unless blood flow is impeded or a bone is sticking out, I just save myself the trip to ER, the $1,000 bill (and accompanying annoying as shit phone calls from hospital collections) and call ortho.

I took him in and the xrays were indeed inconclusive, so they put him in a cast. We went back yesterday for a re-check.

As I was sitting in the waiting room, Little Boy had to go to the bathroom because my kids are bathroom tourists and they must see all the bathrooms. I could see the door from where I was, so I sent him on his sightseeing tour. As he hobbled off, a man in a wheelchair rolled up beside me, rotated the chair and backed in. He was a below the knee amputee, and judging by how healed his stump was I knew that he was probably at least six months out. (because when someone you love goes through this stuff, you learn)

He was friendly and kind, struck up a conversation. He was filling out paperwork again, and while he could have been annoyed about that (or lots of things about his situation), he wasn't.

The digging in the pit of my stomach started. The wondering. Why couldn't she have been like him? Why couldn't she have understood that there were other people out there who knew what she was going through? We tried to set her up with a network of other amputees, people who were further along in the process than she was, but (as with everything), she refused to interact with them in any way.

As the conversation switched from the weather to him asking my son, who'd since returned from his sightseeing trip, about his injury, the tech came out and called Little Boy's name. I wished him a good day. Silently in my heart, I wished him a lot more than that.

The tech cut off his cast.  The original injury wasn't any better, plus he had a ton of bruising from the cast itself, which isn't a good thing. More xrays, none of which were showing a break still. Doc came in, assessed him, decided it probably was just a severe sprain and ordered a walking boot for him.

Then he told us we'd have to go downstairs to get it. They didn't carry his size in the office.

His sister had to get one too this week, for a different reason.
She strained her Achilles. And they had her size. 
More stabbing in the pit of my stomach, because I knew where he was sending us.

He was sending us to the office downstairs for the company that specializes in orthotics and prosthetics. The office that I spent so very much time at with my Mom getting her fitted and adjusted, helping her through the initial adjustment to life with a false limb. The first time she stood on her "new leg", though there wouldn't be many times after that.

We had to go in there.


I sucked it up and took the referral paperwork, knowing that this doctor had no idea that sending me here was an emotional kick in the gut. I smiled. Said thank you. Sighed. Scooped up my son and headed downstairs.

Took a deep breath and opened that damn door.

The office still smelled the same. I can't explain it really, it just always had a certain smell hanging in the air. I grabbed the clipboards I'd come to know so well, answered the questions for another patient this time. This time we were just here for a boot and that was all, I told myself on repeat.

It's not like last time.

It's not like last time.

It's not like last time.

The staff recognized me vaguely, looked at me with a cautious familiarity. I confirmed their suspicions. I'd been here before, for something else entirely.

As I was filling out the paperwork, there was a whole section on whether the patient being seen is diabetic, because the reality is that most of their patients are older Type 2 amputees, not 6 year olds.

This particular 6 year old just happens to actually have an endocrinologist because this particular 6 year old is pre type 1, and even though his blood sugar had absolutely nothing to do with this injury, I had to fill out the paperwork anyway. And find the numbers of all the people involved in that.

So, I did what I do and checked my phone for the contact info. It's all in there. I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled through my contacts.

Never could find his endocrinologist for some reason (though I know it is in there, I just wasn't seeing it at the time). But I found all the numbers for the other offices, the other doctors, the other people.

They're all still in there, the doctors and hospitals and social workers and nursing homes and therapists and oncologists and hospice nurses. All of them. All the people who earned a space in my phone and in my life because they were helping my parents.

On that list of contacts, the very orthotics and prosthetics office I was sitting in, filling out paperwork for.

Even though I hadn't been in there in almost three years.

Even though my mother had left the state over two and a half years prior.

Even though she's been dead over a year and a half.

They were still in there.

I did that thing where you pretend that you aren't tearing up so you stare at the ceiling willing the tears back into your head, then after one sneaks out you catch it real quick, sniffle and pretend that it's just allergies.

I hadn't noticed they were still in there until yesterday. I hadn't had a reason to.

I'm thinking maybe it's time to go through that list and delete some of these contacts. I don't need them anymore. I haven't in years. Seeing them just brings it all back.

I had the best intentions yesterday to do just that. To clean out my contacts.

I still haven't done it.

I know it sounds crazy and it doesn't make sense, but these are the reminders I carry around every day, the reminders not just of my parents but of the fact that I did all that I could to try and help them, the confirmation that I tried when the guilt and the doubt and the shame sneak in and I start to question myself.

Grief is such an asshole sometimes.

And it never really goes away, I don't think. It just hides in places you've forgotten about until you find yourself there again, suddenly, for an entirely different reason.


  1. I am so glad that you wrote this. The best thing for PTSD is indeed to share your stories. I hope as you told it, you. Could also see that you did a great job under difficult circumstances. Your mother lived her life her own unique way, and you did your best to support her. Her reactions were her choices. I will think of you and your mom.

  2. " Grief never really goes away, I don't think. It just hides in places you've forgotten about until you find yourself there again, suddenly, for an entirely different reason." Very true.


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