M is for mask, R is for resilience
Last month we had JB’s first in-person medical appointment since quarantine began in March. JB needed to be re-fitted for leg braces, as he’s (thankfully) grown a lot in the past year.
“We thought we were just going to postpone this meeting for a few weeks until this whole pandemic blew over,” I said to the technician as he measured JB’s shins.
“Didn’t we all!” he replied, chuckling.
I think it’s safe to assume no one accurately predicted we’d be spending these past few months the way we have been.
I often wonder what JB will remember about this time in his life. One day in May in his virtual preschool class, each child was asked to bring something starting with the letter “M” for show-and-tell. One boy brought a mask. As the students continued their “presentations” with as much focus as three-to-five year olds can muster, I had to turn away and take a deep breath. They are already unfazed by this, I thought. Kids are so freaking resilient! Why can’t we stay that way as adults?
A few days later, I visited the local coffee shop for a much-needed Nutella iced latte. (Fun fact: If you get it with skim milk, it’s basically a health food.) This was my first time going out since my state required masks to be worn in public. As I put on my mask for the first time, I got a weird squirmy feeling in my gut. “This is the new normal,” I thought. I took a selfie before getting in my car, so I’d remember the moment.
Fast forward to July, when – long story short – I found myself in the emergency room with JB as doctors did every test imaginable to figure out why he was inconsolable and had a fever. (Basically, since JB can’t tell us what hurts, the doctors have to run a bunch of tests to rule out anything super serious. This was the second time this year we’ve been in this situation.) Due to coronavirus restrictions, my husband, Chris, wasn’t allowed to be in the hospital with us, as there was a one-parent-per-patient rule. (We traded places the next morning.)
I won’t say much about the ER visit or subsequent overnight hospital stay, out of respect for JB’s privacy. What I will say, though, is that fortunately JB was discharged the next afternoon with a clean bill of health and a new Star Wars “Rey” teddy bear. (Did he orchestrate this whole visit solely for that bear? We may never know!)
During those 24-or-so hours I was at the hospital, though, surrounded by all sorts of unknowns, I tried to stay focused on the present. That beeping is just because JB wiggled his blood oxygen monitor off again, I’d tell myself. The nurse isn’t coming right back because it’s close to shift change, not because she found something bad in JB’s test results.
Was I completely successful in staying calm? HELL NO! I got through it, though, with the help of friends and family texting me encouraging messages throughout the day.
I often think back to the time we went to the same hospital for a maternity-ward tour as part of our child-birthing classes. I could not stop shaking with fear as we pulled into the parking lot. “I can’t go in,” I told Chris. “I’m too afraid. I hate hospitals!” With Chris’s support, I did muster the courage to go in, and seeing that the hospital did not, in fact, look like the constant-dome-of-terror known as Grey Sloan Memorial, I felt relieved.
Now JB has to visit the hospital several times a year for procedures, tests, and the occasional overnight stay. He’s already used to seeing his “helpers” wearing masks. It’s a normal part of his life, of so many other kids’ lives, and of so many other parents’ lives.
Now that I think about it, maybe JB isn’t the only one who’s grown.
Maybe us adults can be pretty resilient, after all.