Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving

"My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes." That's a sentence I read in a book once, and I say it over to comfort myself whenever I'm disappointed in anything.

I remember how intense the relief was the first time I picked up a pen, grabbed some paper, and started writing out my feelings after the dramatic revelation of my ex-husband’s infidelity. For two days, I had cycled through phases of numbness and unbearable pain, waking up each morning with tears streaming down my face, before finally the analytical part of my brain clicked on: as the ballpoint pen scratched over the paper, I could feel that doubling of myself as I stepped away from my pain, created the distance that would allow me to solve the puzzle of when and how my marriage had gone astray. I became a detective, combing through old emails, reinterpreting three years of ambiguous remarks and mysterious fits of anger in light of this new information. So much that had been confusing now made sense; so much was falling into place.

Words have always been my refuge. I have never been one to spill my emotions onto the page in free verse; instead I process things analytically – I develop theories and solve conundrums, and there is something comforting, in dark moments, in such cool analysis.

And yet I have had no words – no words at all – to help me this week with a little boy who spends hours of each day clutching his ear in agony and moaning, "Oh, it hurts! Oh, it hurts!" This isn’t the worst thing ever to happen to me – it’s not even the worst thing ever to happen to Bub – but it is unusual in its brain-paralyzing effect. I’ve been stumbling around, feeling disoriented, subject to occasional symptoms of anxiety: a racing heart, a heaviness in my chest, trembling hands.

It has been a relief, each day, to spend an hour with a group of seventeen-year-olds, hashing out the intricacies of the Shakespearean sonnet.

It has been a sudden lurch each afternoon, to hear Bub’s quiet groans even before I see him curled up miserably on the couch at his home-care.

There have been moments of stillness and comfort, as the boy and I lie down on the floor, side by side, tucked in with doggy and blankie and sharing the occasional smile at the antics of that dastardly penguin on Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers. In such moments, there is no room for self-doubt – I know that I am his mother, that I am all he needs.

There have been many more moments when he has called for me and I’ve had to tell him I could not go to him. Moments when holding him has meant refusing my daughter’s pleas for a hug and a cuddle.

Bub’s ear is thick with pus and earwax, a fluid that oozes into his pillow and crusts his cheek. This, my mother tells me and Google confirms, is an indication that he has ruptured an eardrum. No wonder his cry has escalated from "Oh, it hurts!" to "It’s an Ear Hurt!"

He never whines.

I put off the antibiotics for two full days, like all the recent studies say you’re supposed to, and in that time, the infection jumped from one ear to the other and burst his eardrum. He has been running a fever almost nonstop for four days, even while dosed with Tempra and Advil. The macaroni and cheese he ate for lunch today was the first solid food he has touched since Monday morning.

I am tempted to delete these embarrassingly mundane details. Everyone gets ear infections; the only reason I’m even writing about this at all is that I’ve been absurdly spoiled with healthy, robust children. I know there are children who are in pain every day. That knowledge weighs heavily on me today; it is astonishing, strange.

I have no conclusion, here, no insight. I have a little boy who is on the mend, who is in less pain today than he was yesterday. And since I’m Canadian I’m having pot roast tonight instead of turkey and cranberries. But I’m giving thanks anyway, and I’m a little more aware than usual of how much I have to be thankful for.

26 comments:

Jenifer said...

This is my first time commenting but boy have I been reading. Kudos to you. I love your blog and have to say I enjoy the ride. Your not only have something to say it is wonderful to read.

I have just dipped my toe in the blog pool and really only discovered this new world after following Catherine Newman from Baby Centre to Wondertime and then to her blog.

While my intentions are good I have not embraced my blog wholeheartily yet...but I have plans! I have so many ideas and just no time to get them out as of yet. I love reading some of the other Toronto area blog moms but have to say I wish I had more time to really get immersed...I am teetering on the edge still.

All that said I can relate to ear infections that matt hair and make life miserable. My eldest (nearly 6 now) had so many she eventually needed tubes..not a fun road to go down. She was basically on antibiotics for a year and after all that and some homeopathic attempts we put in the tubes. It was an immediate improvement and I am grateful she got better.

Being in the hospital however, was such an overwhelming experience. You are so worried and concerned for your child and you are just praying it all works out alright - but you know down the hall there are really sick children and your heart just breaks. You are relieved it is not your child and heartbroken for the mother whose child it is.

I have had a few hospital visits with my girls that have all ultimately been minor illnesses but, each time you are a little more thankful.

We have family in NY and tonight we wil call and send our best wishes. I am with you that any chance to offer thanks is a good one. I hope Bub feels better soon. Something that worked for us is a warm wet facecloth held up to the ear. I don't know if it is just the idea of it but it really seemed to bring my daughter some relief.

Jenifer

Aliki2006 said...

Happy Thanksgiving! I am glad Bub is on the mend...

Beck said...

Poor Bub! Ear infections are AWFUL. And as a mother, I'm aware more often that I care to think that my kids are one of the few non-mundane things I care about in this world.
Get better soon, little boy.

mamatulip said...

I had my first ear infection ever earlier this year and it was just horrendus. It was nowhere *near* as bad as The Bub's sounds, but I was miserable for a good week. Poor little guy...I'm so sorry he's having such a tough time. I hope he's on the mend soon.

Karianna said...

Oh, ear infections are so difficult. I hope Bub will continue to mend quickly and that he will be out of pain shortly.

You are so eloquent, even if about difficult things. I take pleasure in reading your words, but of course hope that the things of which you write will hurt less each day that passes.

Lady M said...

Poor Bub! I'm glad that he's on the mend.

You have a beautiful way with words.

We love W&G too. A favorite moment, when the penguin takes off his chicken disguise, and Wallace exclaims with great surprise, "It's you!"

ewe are here said...

I hope his poor little ear feels better soon!

We love Wallace & Grommit! In fact, I just found a great twin duvet of Grommit in his little plane, Wallace and Sean at the bottom, all surrounded by sheep! hee hee

bubandpie said...

Lady M - My favourite W&G quote: "It's the wrong trousers - and they've gone wrong!" It kills me every time.

Ewe - I covet your duvet.

metro mama said...

Poor little guy. And poor mom. Hope he's better soon.

Mother Bumper said...

I remember having ear aches and my heart goes out to Bub. I hope he heals quickly (which it sounds like he is doing). I wish your family a wonderful pot roast :)

Em said...

Burst eardrums are the WORST - sheer agony. I've had three (as an adult) and my kids have each had two. They come out of the blue at 3am in the morning - dreadful things. The only thing I've found that helps (besides painkillers) as a warm hotwater bottle over the ear. I now start antibiotics immediately if the kids get ear infections... but even that doesn't always help. I hope Bub feels better soon.

Jenifer said...

Thanks so much for stopping by! You made my day. Actually, someone else followed me from my comment as well. What a treat.

The pressure is on to get my blog up and running and I can't wait.

Again, hope Bub is feeling better soon. Once the medicine gets going it is usually a quick recovery.

I may take you up on your offer...

Thanks again.

Not-so-Sage Wisdom said...

Oh, poor Bub. As a former competitive swimmer, I know intimately the pain of ear infections -- but a burst eardrum! Ouch!

Isn't it funny how writing can help you to step back from a situation. Years ago, when Joe and I were going through a rough spot, he gave me a beautiful, leather-bound book to work out my thoughts in; I think his doing that made me realise that we were perfect for each other.

Here's to a quick recovery for Bub.

crazymumma said...

Poor Bub, I understand completely your disorientation when knowing your child is ill and in pain.
I hope he gets all better soon.

mimi said...

Boo for ear infections! My sister's HUSBAND just got one, and has been off work and moaning for 2 days -- got steroids AND antibiotics AND naproxen from his doctor. So it's enough to knock a full-grown man flat on his keester. I can only imagine poor Bub. Knocked flat on his much smaller keester and with a far lesser appreciation of sick days home from the office. All my best wishes ...

PeanutButtersMum said...

Aw, poor Bub. :( We've had many an ear infection in our house, but never anything as extreme as a burst eardrum. Poor little man.

nomotherearth said...

As with PBMum, we've only had ear infections. They've been truly horrible, so I can't begin to imagine what a burst ear drum is like! Hope the ear hurt goes away soon.

As to the quote at the beginning...I love many an Anne quote, but that is one of my favourites. The other is "Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it." Sometimes, that's the only thing that helps.

Mad Hatter said...

Oh god, B&P, I am so sorry this is happening to poor dear Bub. The poor urchin. Get well soon.

scarbie doll said...

You know what? I really like you. You are possibly one of the smartest people I have ever met, but you're not intimidating. You have a way of describing the everyday that makes me get a twinge of jealousy. You are apologizing for not having a perfect essay when you write the most amazing prose-like blog posts out there!

Just wanted to throw that out there. I know I don't comment often, but I'm lurking in the shadows, watching your writing talents blossom and bloom. What a difference since you first started blogging!

Red Rollerskate said...

Your poor baby! That sounds horrible. I hope he continues to feel better. And note: you don't have to have "something to write about" (as I very loosely quote)... you write well even when it's the little stuff (not that this was all that little). Thanks for the good read.

cinnamon gurl said...

Poor Bub! And poor you! That sounds awful... I'm glad he's getting better.

Naomi said...

Ohh...the poor thing...I'm glad he's on the mend, and that you are all weathering it so eloquently.

Kyla said...

You're such a wonderful writer. I'm glad you picked up that pen. I hope Bub is on the mend soon. There are few things as sad as seeing your child in pain. My own BubTar had chronic ear infections...otherwise he's been the easiest kid (as compared to KayTar)...but those ear infections were awful. I remember ALL those sleepless nights. I'm glad he outgrew it. Very glad indeed.

lildb said...

hope little man is better by now.

hugs.

Pieces said...

I can't believe I've been missing your posts because Bloglines has been mistreating you. I changed the feed so hopefully (for me) I won't miss anymore.

No agony is worse than a mother's when her child is hurting and she can't help. It doesn't matter that we know they will get over it or that there are children who are worse off--this is OUR child whom we are to protect. You described the mother-suffering so well. I hope that by now Bub is much, much better!

DaniGirl said...

I'm late, just catching up, but when you were writing about using pen and paper to sort out your thoughts, you could have been talking to me... about me.

I keep cringing at the idea of poor Bub's eardrum bursting. How horrible, poor wee fellow. I hope he's back on the mend by now.