I got that call again. For the second time in my life, I got a call from my pediatrician to tell me something was wrong with my daughter. The same daughter. Of course over the phone they don’t give you many details, nor are they willing to explain to you what exactly all those big medical words actually mean. So instead, I get to use my imagination and that oh so useful internet to build a crisis that may or may not exist.
The first time the pediatrician called, my daughter had the CF gene. For those of you who had to look that up (just like I did) it is cystic fibrosis. Spend five minutes on the internet being educated about that disease, the life expectancy, and all the pain, pills and madness that the disease can be and you will completely understand my panic.
There was my baby girl; beautiful, sweet, alive and aware. Two weeks old and I had to travel four hours to go to a children’s hospital so that she could get tested. She couldn’t smile yet, she couldn’t talk or walk; she couldn’t even hold her head up. Yet she and I had to travel all that way, alone, spend the night in an impersonal hotel room and get through the absolute invasion of another test. My daughter did well with the whole thing, I did not.
Then of course, at three months, she decided to get e-coli poisoning from the water in our city. A one in a million chance of this happening, and it happens to my daughter. Of course, I had to live through four days of being held hostage in a children’s hospital while we waited to find out why she was so sick…and this is what they came up with. Four days of worrying every time I left the room to take a shower, or go the bathroom. Four days of staring at a little baby who had more tubes in her than fingers on her hand, and trying to comfort a baby that never liked a stranger’s touch. My daughter, despite the anger at strangers touching her did well, I did not.
And today, I get a call from that same damn pediatrician’s office to tell me her lead levels are too high. Lead? Where the hell could she be getting lead? We have a brand new home, it isn’t in the city water (at least not enough to poison her), her daycare is off the hook, so where exactly she getting this? Toys? jewelry? I don’t even know. And my daughter isn’t a curious person; she doesn’t pick up things and put them in her mouth. She’s three; she is beyond any temptation of those things…and it certainly wouldn’t have caused this elevated of levels if it was just one thing.
What I find stressful is that these calls aren’t spread over both my children. Only one of them causes me this much fear; the other one (knock on wood) seems to be as healthy as a horse. This child, not so much. I think that if this continual fear wasn’t solely directed to one child, then I wouldn’t think of things like cumulative effects or threes a charm. I am currently hating all clichés.
I shall get through this also. I will deal with the negative effects of this type of poison in her, and I will find and eliminate any potential sources of exposure. I will be a mad woman worrying about this, although I will remain in character long enough to keep it mostly to myself. I will panic, freak, invite all sorts of negative thoughts to consume me; but my child will never know.
Because ultimately, she has to do well, and I do not.