Sunday, June 27, 2010

Just Keep Swimming

It has taken every recovery tool I've ever learned to get through the past five days, and it looks like I can't put that toolbox away just yet.   This morning I came down with Greta's cold.

I want to say, though, that there was one bright spot in the week.   Yesterday was our town's annual celebration/craft fair.  It was a gorgeous, hot, summery day.   I was pried out of my boredom and isolation, and spent the day chatting with friends and customers, talking to people I hadn't seen in a long time.   Yesterday I felt completely connected.  

Greta, although better, is still sick.   She'll have two or three hour stretches where she feels better, and seeing her smile is like a ray of sunshine coming through the clouds.  

Her fever went away for a few hours yesterday morning, but otherwise is maintaining at a steady 100 degrees.    Doctor says there is nothing to do but wait it out.   She sits like a lump with a thousand-yard stare, numbly watching episode after episode of The Suite Life of Zach and Cody on Netflixs, coughing that scary barking cough and blowing her nose.   Every now and then I push fluid, a piece of dry toast or a Popsicle, but she's weak.   She has lost three pounds in five days.   

Yesterday her left eye swelled nearly shut.   We gave her Benadryl and iced it and it went away, eventually.   Today she woke up with an orange coating on her tongue.  No explanation was found for that either.   The emotional roller coaster of scary symptoms, long nights and brief moments of feeling better are wearing me down.   

In the past six days my car broke down, my fridge broke, my son has pushed me to the tiny edge of sanity, someone in my household has been sick and my pinky toenail fell off (I smashed my foot against a shopping cart about a month ago, and I had forgotten about it until Finn pointed to my foot and said "Why is your toenail leaving?"   For the record:   EWWWWW).   

Wednesday and Thursday a friend's dog was staying with us.    Thursday morning I woke up to my dog barfing on our bedroom floor.   Downstairs, the visiting dog had suffered bouts of diarrhea during the night.  Nasty piles awaited me on both floors of my house.   As I was cleaning these up, Greta threw up in the upstairs bathroom and Finn smashed a glass on the floor and cut his hand.   

I dutifully held Greta's hair and stroked her back while she was sick, wrapped a bandage around Finn's thankfully-not-too-bad cut, and finished cleaning up the dog mess.    Then I sat on my couch and cried, softly, so the kids couldn't hear.

After a good cathartic cry I felt better.   I mentally wiped the slate clean, started my day over - a trick I learned from friends in recovery.    Don't like how your day is going?   Start again.    I got down on my knees and prayed, again, for the strength to get through another day.   I prayed for gratitude and perspective, because although things weren't going well, they could be a whole lot worse.  

I called friends and unloaded my fear, guilt and anger.    I told on myself - I was triggered.   Triggered by the desire to escape the long stretches of boredom peppered with moments of terror when Greta's fever would spike, or she would throw up.     I was also triggered by food.  Big time.   Cooped up in the house, no ability to get to the gym or to my Jenny Craig consultant, and by day four all I wanted was to stuff my face with comfort food.

I didn't.   I prayed a lot, I talked a lot, and I went to bed early nearly every day, just to get the day over with.    These tools didn't make me feel great; they didn't magically make me less stressed, fearful or bored.  

But they did keep me away from a drink and from unhealthy food, and for this I am very grateful.    

Today I came down with a fever and spent most of the day resting.    I had to miss my sister-in-law's 40th birthday party, I was shaky and sweating and feeling really sorry for myself.   I was tired of surrendering, tired of asking for help, tired of turning it over.    I was lying on the couch in a dark, resentful mood, trying to muster the strength to get the kids to bed.    Enough already, I thought.   Can you give a girl a break, please?  Some kind of sign that this is worth it?   Because I'm tired.  I'm sick and I'm tired.  

Finn came trotting up to me in his pajamas, his blanket trailing behind him. 

He smiled at me, and said, "Momma?  I love you."

I gave him a distracted smile and said, "I love you too, Finn."

He paused for a beat, and said,  "NO!  I mean it!   I will love you every day."

I turned to look at him, and he continued, "I will love you every day, no matter what happens to you, for your whole life."

I glanced heavenward and said one, simple, silent prayer.  

Thank You.   


  1. Oh Ellie.... what a week!!!
    I hope this one is better. Will send happy thoughts your way (and if you weren't sick with the plague I'd find our way down to you and bring you healthy goodies and some company... let me know if you're going to be stranded for long and we can arrange a playdate for when you're well :) )

  2. oh god, what a beautiful boy.
    Hope you are feeling better soon.

  3. My new motto is "any and all available means". Talking to yourself and to bed early sounds downright healthy! Yah to Finn for knowing just what you needed at the moment. I hope your bout w/ flu is shorter than Greta's.

  4. After that week, you deserve a big high five for getting through it...period...much less without drinking or eating! When it rains, it pours, right? i'm so proud of all of the steps you drew from...I can learn from you and this post. Here's to you feeling better!

  5. Hope you feel better soon Ellie. Hang on in there. x

  6. Jeasus Ellie! I can not ever, ever, ever feel sorry for myself after reading this. And the ending? So beautiful. I'm weepy over here. Again! Thanks for this...

  7. The last six months in our camping hell have made me feel worse then my sunny disposition has ever allowed...FINALLY, thank the freakin, tortuous weather gods, FINALLY the heat came to our part of the world. The max temperature this w/e was mid-80's, the sun shone gloriously & our little family of 4 (me, Le Mr, Freya & Josie) worked outside in the garden, took naps in the hammock, went to the local lake for an evening swim...that's all it took to soothe the angst, anger, perilous feelings of darkness away & once again I was left to revisit my never lost before sunny disposition & appreciate w/all my heart being alive & where we are....together. Sometimes it takes the worst in life to make you appreciate the good. Bonne Courage from this side of the pond! :)

  8. Even with all the body fluids (lol), this was a truly lovely post. I hope you feel better soon.

  9. O.M.G.

    Am I the only here wondering, "where the hell is your husband?" Seriously, after a whole week of this you can't be expected to care for two kids on your own. He must have some sick/family leave days he could use.

    Anyway, go you!

    The dog pooping thing had me laughing, I'll admit. So glad we have wood floors.

  10. Tzipporah -

    Steve was away from early morning to late night because he had classes to take for a licensing exam he had on Saturday morning - he couldn't miss it or he wouldn't be able to do what he does for a living. Really crappy timing. He made up for it by taking over Sat/Sun, though. :)

    I'm feeling a whole lot better today, and G seems back to normal. WHEW.

    Thanks so much for the supportive comments, everyone. It really, truly does help!