Sally Jesse and the Baying Masses

I used to watch TV instead of going to school when I was in my teens. Now, now, don’t leap down my throat. You think just because you’ve read one sentence, that gives you the basic idea so now you can spew bile on the comments section. No, no. I was sick okay? Also, that’s a bad way to behave.

I learned a lot about good and bad ways to behave, stuck at home with the TV remote. Daytime TV is super educational, in a brain rotting sort of way. First infomercials (home gym equipment, Suzanne Clip), then between Oprah (book club, touchy-feely, car giveaways) and MASH (honestly it was a welcome relief), was Sally Jesse Raphael. The queen of trash talk TV.

Families would drag their teenage daughters on to the show. Tearfully, angrily, they would divulge their disgust in how they dressed and who they spent their time with, because there is no better parenting than slut-shaming your child on internationally broadcast television. Concerns would be brushed aside, brazenly, brashly, by these abrasive girls.

Sally Jesse, in her power suits and oversize red glasses would look suitably disgusted and appalled at all this carry on. Revolted by the choices these girls were making. How they chose to dress. Dragging it all out for the drama, and then offering platitudes in the guise of helping these families. We were all with her, weren’t we? It was a learning experience. A chance to clear the air, between loving family members and a declining audience share.

Looking back I do not for a second think that these girls (and they were girls) were exemplars of feminine empowerment. I think many of them were making very unhealthy choices. How easy it is to blame them. To blame their families. Perhaps even to blame the television executives who used their poverty of choices as fodder for entertainment. Millions bounced around by corporations, creating growth, profit, jobs for the hardworking, and here was the bread for the masses. Keep the crowds happy with the cut and thrust of a domestic spectacle. A drama where the only people hurt were those already on the bottom of the heap.

Years later I lived in the UK with my husband. Cambridge, a town full of elites and drowning in its own beauty. My husband was completing his PhD, while I worked a low wage job. Looking for a flat for our last year was stressful, we looked at many shitty flats in many dodgy locations before finding a reasonably good option. A one-bedroom terrace flat in a block of council flats. The type of flat with pre-pay electric meters, and neighbours who stocked up on extra large cans of lager at the corner store in the morning. The type of flat whose previous tenant had decided to disappear after the mounting debts got too much. The houses across the street had nice gardens, but the occupants never said hello, unlike the guy who thought I should be grateful for the aggressively friendly attention of him and his two large pitbulls as they wandered the neighbourhood.

We shared an entrance with a boy in his late teens (and he was a boy), who moved in not long after us. Let’s call him Mark. I don’t know why Mark ended up in a council flat on his own at such a young age, though I can make a few guesses. It’s clear Mark had been badly let down, first by the family who should have looked after him, and then by the social structures that should have been supporting him when his family failed. But, he wasn’t a bad guy. He didn’t set off the alarm bells that some of our other neighbours did, or that some of his friends did.

The flat had been noticeably quiet for some days before we were woken, early, by banging on the doors, “Mark!” The police had turned up. We opened the lower door, let them up, said we hadn’t seen him for a few days, and then minded our own business like good neighbours should. A few days later he came home, but he stopped going out at night.

Mark was under a curfew.

I don’t know what Mark had done. I only know that by the time we left Cambridge, Mark was in prison and his girlfriend was pregnant. I only know that social services worked in such a way that, though money was thrown at housing him, we never once saw someone checking if Mark, this barely literate teen, was okay. The only officials we saw in our time next door were police and debt collectors. He was dumped in a flat without the emotional skills to cope on his own, the maturity to keep him out of trouble, and without a clue how to manage basic tasks like putting out rubbish and recycling until we took the time to show him how.

All these years later, I still feel angry for Mark, for all the Marks. For the waste that was once a child with promise. I liked what I saw of his girlfriend. I’ve always thought she’s probably doing a good job of raising that child in a society full of hurdles. One where we set up single teen mums to fail and then wonder why it happens, if they do. But Mark? I’ve never thought a stint in prison would see him come out a better man. I wonder, how safe I would feel now, opening my door onto a quiet corridor and seeing him there.

And that curfew? It didn’t solve anyone’s problems. It didn’t stop Mark from having his mates over. It didn’t stop the noise, the drinking. It didn’t stop his mates from hooning off in a hurry in their cars late at night and probably drunk. It didn’t stop him from collecting a sawn-off length of pipe and running a lap of the block the night that bricks got thrown through our second floor windows. It didn’t stop Mark from trashing his apartment in a rage one night. I don’t know, but I think I’d feel like punching holes in walls if my life felt that hopeless too.

All it meant was his problem was contained. Away from the rest of Cambridge. The nice Cambridge.

Away from the successful middle class who tut-tut at these messy people with their messy lives as though somehow our societies are completely separate. As though the choices we make about how we share, and with who, are fair. As though it is these kids’ damn fault for the mess they find themselves in. As though we solve their problems by forcing them to be home, even if home is where they don’t feel safe.

Do you think Mark ended up where he was without the people who work on those front lines supporting kids thinking, ‘we are failing this kid’? Without someone wishing they had the resources to offer him something more. We listen to the mainstream media asking their tough questions. But when people tell us what they need, we peer into our bank vaults, count our change, and shake our heads sadly. Tell them to find ways to manage. Pour scorn on these wayward youths in a Sally Jesse style trial by media, and yet we refuse, refuse, to listen to the evidence for how to prevent Marks from becoming Marks in the first place.

We pretend we live in better, fairer societies than the Victorians, or the Romans before us. These days I get to sit in my nice flat, in my nice neighbourhood, and listen, as our politicians punch down. We all nod our heads, as though we too know what these kids need. Fool ourselves that we are not complicit.

Then we take our ring side seats, switch on our TV sets.

Grab your popcorn folks. Real life. It’s the best damn show in town.

Thanks for reading. Please drop by my Facebook page to let me know what you think. Or join me on Twitter or Instagram.

Change

Teenage girls have a reputation for being hysterical. Think Salem, The Beatles, Justin Bieber.

It can be hard, as a teenage girl, to get adults to take you seriously, even when the context is incredibly serious.

It was hard for me as a teenage girl to get doctors to take me seriously. I had fallen on my knee playing sports. I was brushed off at an A&E, despite serious swelling because nothing was showing on the Xray. In fact, I had ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament, tissue too soft to show up on X-ray. It was operated on, and a graft put in to replace it. I began to recover, and then my recovery stalled. I was in constant pain. Some of this was caused by nerve damage from the operation. The other pain, an explosive feeling of pressure in my joint, could not be explained. It was, in some doctors opinion, unbelievable. They had done their job. Now it was up to me to do mine, to rehabilitate myself. Two and a half years after the initial operation a surgeon finally agreed to open up my knee again. They found a soft tissue growth in my knee, caused by an incorrect graft placement. It was, by this stage, quite large.

That explosive pain was the feeling of my knee joint literally being pushed apart from the inside.

As I said, I was a teenager, trying to complete my high school years. Teenagers are meant to be discovering who they are, and where they belong in the world. I was discovering that, in the eyes of authority – doctors, teachers, ACC – my words were not to be believed. I had to account for myself again and again.

I remember an ACC assessment, an “independent” doctor, weighing my words. Trying to figure out where I fitted in their book. What I would be entitled to. Pain, in and of itself, was not enough. At this stage I did not know a recovery would be in my future. I would be 18 soon. How would I navigate my life through this world, as I navigated my growing disability? It felt very uncertain. It was clear I couldn’t expect much help.

I was extremely fortunate. My parents were emotionally and financially able to support me through this time. It was, I have no doubt, a strain on them. They were able to pay for crutches while ACC dithered about whether I really needed them. I was treated in the private medical system, through work-related health insurance. I wonder how much longer I would have waited for that last operation in the public system, and at what emotional, and physical cost?

To this day when I visit a doctor, and they frown, or question what I am trying to explain, I feel the slow burning fear of not being believed. The visible scars have all but faded, but underneath my skin it is all still there. Burnt right into me. Is my perception accurate? Am I being hysterical? Am I imagining it? Do I just want attention?

If you have never experienced it, it is hard to explain the devastation of not being believed. Of being measured, and found wanting. Of feeling that the slightest misstep as you explain yourself can be used against you. It is hard to explain the exhaustion of having to constantly account for yourself. To the adults who want your seat on the train. To the teacher who thought I should go get my own library books for research, while I was dependent on crutches to walk. To the doctors and case workers whose job it is to slide the abacus, watching them flick the beads as they say “Not that. Not that. Not that.”

When people constantly doubt your word, you begin to doubt yourself. When I read the stories of the inhumane treatment people are receiving it breaks my heart. I know how easily those actions can slide under your skin and become part of you.

Sometimes it feels like a different life. One where my experiences were less valid than they are now.

My life was every bit as valid then as it is now.

Being a teenager, being dependent, being disabled, did not make me less a person. It did not make me less deserving.

I haven’t had to deal with authorities in New Zealand for some time. I am a married mother of two. I don’t know what it is like to be on the DPB. I have, nerve damage aside, made a full recovery. I can’t tell you what it feels like to walk into a WINZ office now to fight for what I need to survive, to thrive.

I can tell you that when people say it is time to change, I believe them. I can say that when people say the emotional cost is too high, I believe them. The stress of constantly having to prove yourself is immense. I don’t know how I could do that now, and simultaneously parent successfully.

No one can thrive when they cannot support their most basic needs. No one can thrive when they are constantly questioned, doubted, refused.

Listen to what people are trying to say. They are not being hysterical. They are being honest. They are telling you something important.

It is time for change.

Living with Birth Trauma

Trigger warnings: birth, hospital procedures

My daughter’s birthday should be about joy. It should be about a homemade cake with two candles burning on top. It should be “Happy Birthday” sung with questionable tunefulness. It should be smiles, and presents, and balloons. It was. It had all those things.

For me though, it also brings a lot of unwelcome memories. The aftermath of her birth. The mental toll. The physical toll. Those memories in turn bring something good: confirmation of my healing process. I’m still here, still living each day and generally enjoying life.

This birthday was better than last years. This year came with extra hurdles.

My son had a pediatrician appointment the day after her birthday. In the same hospital she was born in. Just down the hall.

Walking into that hospital is like walking along the edge of a cliff. I’m always aware of that drop.

As I walk part of my brain feels the nightmare again. My brain tells me: this is where terrible things happen. As I walk down the brick corridors I also see the walls, the ceiling, sliding past me as we run. My mind is capable of being in two times at once. My head spins and the blood roars. All I can do is look firmly in the other direction. Hold tight to the present.

There’s a word for that – trigger.

Say it out loud and feel my cheeks flush with shame. Such a snowflake.

One day, maybe, hospitals won’t bother me, at least not anymore than your usual person. But I’m not okay with visiting a hospital -the hospital – yet. I’m not even okay in the lead up to the appointment. I’m on a knife edge, and lack the tolerance to deal with the usual getting the kids out of the house antics. These appointments are significant enough both my husband and I go, but it is also inconceivable that I could manage to take my son there on my own.

Yet, I get through.

I walk the halls. I don’t fall.
I wait with my kids. I don’t fall.
I sit and talk with doctors. I don’t fall.
I make our next appointment. I don’t fall.

Living with trauma doesn’t mean we’re weak. It means we are strong.

Trauma is by its very nature deeply personal. It is hidden and secret and it is hard to share it with the world – for me to write and publish these words. I know though, that buried trauma helps no one, it will only suffocate you in silence. We need air, and light, and space to heal. to belittle someone’s trauma is to throw a shovelful of sand in. To bury the trauma deeper. To make the cliff top higher.

I get fed up with articles bemoaning trigger warnings as some sort of mollycoddling. How nice it must be to live your life blinkered to other people’s personal cliff top balancing acts. How many people who met me that day would have guessed I spent the whole day not falling? I went to that appointment with the benefit of warning, though. How would I cope with an emergency visit? Would I fall?

This is what I want people to understand: trigger warnings do not exist to massage the feelings of the easily outraged. That is not what they are supposed to do. A trigger warning is a small accommodation in the face of adversity. A tiny signal that says ‘I will try to make this easier for you’. An outstretched hand that says ‘I don’t want you to fall’.

Humans of New York once ran a series, Invisible Wounds, that featured a doctor working with sufferers of PTSD. I can’t do better than his description of PTSD, and how and why it forms:

“Trauma causes the brain to malfunction. During a traumatic experience, memories cannot be processed correctly. So a person with PTSD is still carrying those traumatic experiences around in their body. Because those experiences were never filed away into the ‘past tense,’ the brain continues to operate as if the trauma is happening in the ‘present tense.’

Trauma is not like other strong negative memories. We all know anger, grief, or shame. I know what it feels like to be momentarily overwhelmed by grief for my mother. I know how it can well up at inappropriate and unexpected times, and I have for the most part learnt to deal with that, to cope with my grief. But these are normal feelings, and normal reactions. Trauma is something abnormal. Trauma is something that overwhelms the rational part of brain. Trauma is not in the past tense.

These days I live a normal life. I am not plagued by nightmares the way I used to be. My anxiety levels are higher than they were before, and I am still hyper aware of the fragility of our biology. How we are all only one chance moment away from disaster. Mostly it just feels as though I walk around in skin that is too thin. But then, something reminds me, and I am flayed again; naked and bleeding. Many of these things are so intangible it would be impossible to create warnings for those feelings. Sometimes I wake in my bed, on my back, my right arm flung out next to me. When I open my eyes I don’t just see that arm. I see the other arm; the one that is strapped down to an operating table, so brightly lit by the light above me I can’t see beyond it, multiple IV lines, a needle going into my shoulder as I watch. It only lasts a split second. But in that moment it is as real to me as the other arm.

I suspect hospital lights will always trigger some response in me. I went to the movies and watched Dr Strange, knowing there would be scenes in an operating theatre. There turned out to be a lot of them. In particular, at least once the film suddenly cut to a point of view shot from a patient lying on an operating table looking up into these bright, bright lights.  I had to shut my eyes. I can’t, don’t, expect TV and movies to have warnings for hospital scenes. I just have to cope with them, with those unexpected wobbles. Given that fact, when something clearly has potential to remind someone of a traumatic event, is a little warning too much to ask for?

People want to discuss these type of responses as irrational. While the reaction might be irrational, out of proportion to any present threat, on another level there is nothing irrational about it. Humans are designed to learn from experience. Hospitals are a reminder to me that what happened was real.

I’ve learnt to live with the precipice in my mind. I teeter occasionally, but I haven’t had a bad fall for a long time. I’m not going to turn my back on the cliff. I don’t want it to loom unacknowledged behind me, waiting for me to stumble. I will see it, and I will follow its edges, hoping to get further inland. The story of my daughter’s birth is part of my life now. Part. It does not define me, but it has shaped me.  It will be part of my story for the rest of my life, and I am not alone in that.

For those of you reading this who are living through this now, who are stuck in both the past and the present, have faith. Reach out for the hand that will balance you as you walk. Find that air, and light, and space you need to heal.

I walk along that cliff edge. I do it. One day you will do it too.

And you won’t fall.

Thanks for reading. Please drop by my Facebook page to let me know what you think. Or join me on Twitter or Instagram.

A Dinosaur Train Hypothesis

The kids favourite TV show at the moment is Dinosaur Train. I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot. In fact one might even say I’ve been overthinking it a lot. On the surface it seems like positive, inclusive preschooler fare, but once you’ve watched as much Dinosaur Train as I have, you begin to question what is really going on. There are some things that just don’t quite add up. But its okay guys, I have a hypothesis. Hypotheses?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show let me explain it’s premise:

The Pteranodon Family, whose members are Mr and Mrs Pteranodon, their three biological children and one adopted Tyrannosaurus Rex, Buddy, have good old fashioned family adventures, which revolve around getting to ride on the Dinosaur Train. The Dinosaur Train, guided by their good friend Mr Conductor, not only travels across the world, but also through time. Mr Conductor is a troodon, that’s the dinosaur with the largest brain relative to body mass doncha know and also, presumably, the smartest. He is able to offer the Pteranodon Family a lot of educational information about the Mesozoic Era which makes for an absolutely riveting show.

Now, having read the premise I’m sure you’ll be able to see there are some astonishing inaccuracies, and anachronisms in this show. In fact, I have rather a lot of questions for the makers. PBS, if you are reading this, can you help me out?

Lets deal with the most troubling question. It is well established scientific fact that Tyrannosaurs lived at the very end of Cretaceous, whereas Pteranodons lived in the mid-Cretaceous. There is a whopping 20 million years between them. Did you think we wouldn’t notice? C’mon. Even my four year old knows that. This is a genuine puzzle to him, and I honestly don’t know how to answer him. I don’t like to pry into private family matters, but I really think we need some answers as to the circumstances of Buddy’s adoption. Given that the Pteranodon family have exposed themselves by participating in this show, then I think it is fair to ask. Was Mrs Pteranodon really surprised when one egg hatched and revealed a T-Rex, or is this some kind of long game played on her unsuspecting children?

And who exactly brought the egg back to the mid-Cretaceous? Brought, or should I say smuggled? The only one with unfettered access to a time-travelling device is Mr Conductor himself. What exactly is his part in this? Is he an unsuspecting dupe? Or is he (an intelligent troodon after all) the great Mastermind behind this “adoption”.

I have noticed a quite lackadaisical approach to biosecurity across the program as a whole, not just in this egregious example of a fertilised egg being transmitted through time. Maybe my opinions are skewed having grown-up in New Zealand with our tight airport screenings for unwashed shoes, and bananas neglected in children’s backpacks. The biosecurity risks NZ faces, however, seem tiny compared to criss-crossing the entire Mesozoic! That’s the Triassic, the Jurassic and the Cretaceous just in case you didn’t know. Some 186 million years. Have PBS considered the pathogens being transferred around willy-nilly by these sight-seeing hordes? They don’t just stay on the train you know. The get off and wander around, they eat, and as we all know from watching your excellent ‘Dinosaur Poop’ episode, everybody poops, and OMG what kind of microbes are these dinosaurs spreading throughout time?!

I guess it’s possible that having invented an amazing time-travelling train they’ve also created some sort of containment. We never see it but perhaps they’ve edited out the decomination showers for when they get on or off the train? Still doesn’t explain the poop though. Unless.

Unless they all have to poop on the Train?

Is that how it works PBS?

Speaking of how it works – how does this whole thing work? The only person who ever seems to work in the show is Mr Conductor. He is constantly walking up and down the train checking the tickets that everybody bought. What did they buy them with? Carrion? Money? Mr and Mrs Pteranodon don’t have jobs. Are they recipients of tax welfare? Are you trying to tell me that dinosaurs had money and a welfare state? THAT’S JUST CRAZY!!!!

I know I’ve expressed some concerns about this whole Dinosaur Train organisation but, I’m going to give Mr Conductor the benefit of the doubt, he seems a nice guy. A really nice, cheerful guy.

A really nice, cheerful, intelligent guy.

Too cheerful?

Is Mr Conductor’s cheerfulness a cover for a broken heart?

I just have to wonder, in episode 322 Back In Time they travel all the way back to the Permian (the time period before the Mesozoic), but they don’t ever travel further forward than the Mesozoic. Why?

Because even though they must know their life is but a fleeting blip in the march of time, to travel into the Cenozoic would be to face a truth too cold for their reptilian hearts. It is easy to fool a pteranodon Mr Conductor, but you can’t fool me.

I have two hypotheses as to what is the cause of Mr Conductor’s heart break:

1) No matter how hard he tries he cannot travel any further forward in time. The technology won’t work. The Cenozoic with its mammalian dominant life-forms is off limits to the Dinosaur Train. This torments Mr Conductor. At night, alone, after fretfully picking at his carrion, he lies in bed, staring up at the distant stars and wondering what it is that happens in the Year 186 Million of the Mesozoic. What horror lies ahead? Can it possibly be worse than his imagination?

Or

2) He knows. He knows. Oh, he wishes he didn’t but he does. He can’t forget. He can try, he can put on his whole ‘howdy-doody’ act, he can smile and sing and dance, but every time he yells ‘time tunnel approaching’ he dies a little more inside. Knowing that everything he loves so dear won’t die the gentle death of natural selection but will come to a catastrophic, cataclysmic end. He can’t bear to travel any further forward. It might as well be the end of the world for all he cares. All he can picture is that time he stood close, but not too close, at a convenient-for-sightseeing-but-safe-distance, and watched the intense red and yellow flames streaking through the sky. The enormous BOOM of the impact. The distant blast that knocked him off his feet as he watched the plumes of dust and rock and smoke shoot up into the atmosphere, obliterating the light and suddenly it was cold. So cold.

He couldn’t stay there for long though. He had to get back on the train to poop.

Thanks for reading. Please drop by my Facebook page to let me know what you think. Or join me on Twitter or Instagram.

No Air

Breathing.

The background rhythm of life.

The first breath. The long awaited wail of lungs opening and the shock of air for the first time. Every parent, I think, holds their own breath until they hear it. Some parents have to wait longer than others. Too long.

Then we hardly notice it. Our lungs continue a pattern, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. It is the white noise of our life. If you were an astronaut in deep space, cut off from radio contact, just this noise would be left to assert you are still alive. The swish of your blood through your ears. The air moving through your nostrils as they flare.

We take it for granted. Unless of course, something goes wrong.

The first wrong thing we noticed was a cough at night.

I’m a lifelong asthmatic and I knew what it was. I was not too worried then. I knew what asthma had meant for me and I was confident we could manage it. We started MJ on steroid inhalers. They helped, but not as much as we would have expected.

We noticed more wrong things. A cough after running. A cough on cold days. Snoring. He complained of being tired, constantly. Between his coughing and a baby our nights were sleepless, leaving three of us with dark rings under our eyes.

More than a year later, the dark rings are still there.

Our son has lived the last two winters with a very real constriction in his chest. We as parents, have faced our own metaphorical one. A slow suffocation of our hopes as we try to care for a son who might be playful and cheerful and loud, but who, try as we might, is never quite well.

Sometimes we allow ourselves to think he is improving, that the most recent change to his medication has helped. Even now I think this might be the case. It is hard to hold onto the faith it will last.

Winter is fading. The grey skies are being replaced with blue. The frost coverings on the ground replaced with purple and white crocus. Hope creeps in with the advance of spring. We will get a temporary reprieve at least, without the cold air that shocks his lungs into submission. New worries arise too though, the memory of days last spring where thick white pollen blew through the air like snow. Will it trigger his asthma this year?

I think back to my childhood, with the delay in diagnosis due to me lacking a typical wheeze. For years I thought I was just an uncoordinated and unfit child, now I suspect the truth has more to do with my asthma not being as well controlled as we thought it was. My failure to keep up in PE class was due to a tightness in my chest that, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t quite beat.

I didn’t learn to swim properly until we realised chlorinated pools were one of my triggers. I remember trying to time my breathing to the rhythm of my arms. Always I would end up gasping. Not able to last from left arm, to right arm, to left arm and breathe. I would end up standing in the pool, sucking in the air, watching my peers swim ahead.

MJ is four, and his kindy has a strong emphasis on outside play, whatever the weather. He loves it, and so do we. Lately though the story has changed. He tells us he can’t run as fast, he can’t keep up with his friends, that he was too tired for games. I look at him and I see myself reflected. I see his childhood constricted. I want to set him loose but it is not within my power.

I do not torture myself asking “why’s”. Why him? Why us? Life is unfair and, in balance, I know we are very blessed. Asthma is just the hand we have been dealt. Like any parent, parents of chronically ill children just get on with it. We are all just doing our best. Living our lives. We just have an extra ball to juggle.

We all get extras ball to juggle, sooner or later.

I am not interested in speculating if there is something we could have done differently to avoid it. Asthma and allergy rates are rising, and it is right for scientists to try to understand why that is. Whether it is because we are “too clean” or whether it is exposure to antibiotics or overuse of paracetamol. But on an individual level those questions are meaningless. There is nothing we can point to other than the genes he so obviously inherited from me.

My son has asthma. There is the fact, the truth. Why? Why is meaningless.
Night time arrives. Our bedtime routine with the medicine he resents is fraught. We limp through, he lies down. We sit in the room next door and every evening we listen, on edge. At some point, inevitably, the coughing starts. Every time my heart sinks. It is as though the air leaves the room. Ventolin is a wonderful life saving medication but it is not without side effects. Nervousness. Shaking. Palpitations. Headaches. Insomnia. Would you be surprised to learn that after one, two, three or four doses of Ventolin my son struggles to settle? Too often the price for his breath has been sleep.

I love this bright, sparky, funny son so much it takes my breath away.  Sometimes when I watch him run and play he is so full of life. Other times he runs and then he stops. He just stops. When I see him standing there, when I hear him gasping, again, again, again, it is soul crushing.

We are never more vulnerable than we are in the depths of the night. Asthma visits, like the relentless Nightmare from myth. It rides us hard. My son is left winded, me with the crushing weight of failure on my chest. Failure despite the privilege of access to modern medical knowledge, a socialist health care system, and pharmaceuticals to make this stop. I throw all my balls in the air and hold his medicine to his mouth. I count each breath as we catch them. One, two, three… I feel the coughing ease. I feel his body relax. His symptoms have been kept at bay once more, the Nightmare banished. The air comes back.

We breathe deep, in the dark of his room, in the dark of the night, as he slips back into a sweeter dream. And all that I am left is the weight of a mother’s love.

 

Thanks for reading. Please drop my my Facebook page to let me know what you think. Or join me on Twitter or Instagram.