Monday, April 30, 2012

Goosebumps and rashes


The morning began poorly. I hopped out of bed to the alarm only to stand dazed for longer than usual trying to figure out what day it was. The typical chaos ensued. The three-kid, new-kneed dog, mom/dad getting ready for work mornings that have us all going in circles started like a wind-up toy.

I applied hydrocortisone cream and Ivarest to the poison ivy rash, now at its peak, on the face of my youngest amidst her cries and pushes. "It will help you feel better," I explained with futility. She bawled, her tears made streams through the pink medicine and I blotted them with my hands.  She started up again at the bus stop, pleaded with me not to make her go to school, afraid that swimming later would make it hurt. I struggled to ease her anxiety as I had all weekend and failed miserably again. I emailed teachers. I crossed my fingers. She called me an hour later with the same questions, needing the same reassurance so I gave it. (and worried about her all day)

The dog with the bum knee pulled me all over the yard in pursuit of groundhogs. She feels better.

I had an uncomfortable conversation but sometimes the direct approach is the best. I try to abide by this now that I am old but haven't always, fear was and is a strong motivator. I was at this point, late.

My first patient was worried about me as I'm usually nauseatingly punctual. But it happened anyway, that level of connection so spooky and other-worldly that there is no uncertainty that it was intended. I wasn't originally supposed to be there, she was someone else's but I've been treating her for at least a month and she has said from the beginning we were meant to be together. We are from different parts of the giant coffee cake of life. Hers, the upper crust, mine, the moist middle with the occasional bite of cinnamon-swirl.

She usually vents about personal issues and we manage some therapy. I like to listen and learn. We enjoy each other's company, she calls me, "her new best friend" and has since the beginning. It warms me. She told me she sees herself in me. Today I figured out I had been in her previous home fifteen years ago and once knew her estranged son. Our jaws dropped. She said, "I know you'll think I'm crazy, but I felt a connection with you as soon as you stepped in my door."

I was later still. My next patient complained about the same things as usual and we managed some therapy. I called my next one to let her know I was on my way. She answered the phone with, "I'm waiting for you" but her tone really said, "you're late". I apologized. Twice. Her husband moaned and grunted loudly through her therapy drawing attention to himself as usual while their son with lymphoma and one arm (recently dropped from his insurance) counseled him on dying. I gave thanks for being alive.

My husband took the kids to the dentist later, not one of life's more pleasant tasks but necessary for good parenting. He did this (I think) so I could run, be with my thoughts, relax, sweat and I feel loved.

I enjoy my job most days but have to say that above all else, it's the human connection I value far above the original intent.

1 comment:

beth lehman said...

poison ivy is the worst! i hope i don't break out from your pictures!! i actually don't get it as bad as i did when i was a kid. your therapy stories sound like my sister-in-law's. she does OT in Augusta/Rockingham Co. primarily with home visits. she has always loved it - she is so good with her patients. the human connection - so important.