Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Epic Mommy Fail. Also, Fainting Goats.

I HATE being weak.
So I guess that explains why I was sprawled out on the bathroom floor at the doctor's office, knees under me, head down, both arms extended in front of me, as if worshiping the toilet bowl.

As I knelt there, doing my square breathing, I was wishing I was a normal mommy, one who doesn't feel faint when her child gets five shots in a row in the thin skin of the underside of his forearm, a mommy who doesn't get queasy when this adult-boy in a man's body takes a little break before the last three shots. A mommy who doesn't run away to the bathroom, where she can faint in peace.

Did I lock the door?
What if none of this works? The kneeling and breathing and the cold paper towel on the back of my neck? What if the nurse finishes and I'm in here unconscious, my tongue hanging out and my skirt tangled up around my waist?

I'd told her that I was going to get water, which was true. I'd had a sip. But then the hall started looking a little tunnel-ish, and I walked my feet in front of me, hoping I could make it around the corner before I crumpled to the floor.
At least the bathroom floor was fairly clean.

I'd been doing so well. I was fine during the whole exam, as she gridded off a map on his back. The panel of allergens was no big deal, just tiny polka dots, cooking under the skin like the last time we did this, bubbling up a reaction, hopefully. Something to make it worth the trip. Something to explain why he couldn't breathe.

It was the third time I'd taken him to the doctor since school started, and his asthma was getting worse, not better. This athletic kid who runs eight miles in the heat and humidity of summer with barely a raise of an eyebrow, now, in the cooler weather of the oncoming fall, felt his chest closing in on him. Running against the tightness was wearing him out.

Unfortunately, the allergy panel showed nothing. "It's time for fun with needles," the doc said.
Surprise, surprise. It wasn't fun at all.
And how did Mom support him?
By hiding in the bathroom.

It wasn't the first time.
I'd camped out on floors in doctor's offices and hospitals all across the eastern United States. When Sarah had her pre-op for her wisdom teeth removal, when Todd had his knee surgery. Even during a mammogram once.
(Be warned, it's not a good idea to faint when your boob is trapped in a vice. Heed my wisdom.)

But I'd never hidden myself away, until now.
It wasn't going very well.

And then I thought of the muffin.

Months ago, I had met my friends for coffee, and as we laughed, a crumb took a wrong turn. I started to choke a little, then held up my hand, as if to say "Don't worry, I've got control of this." I coughed and coughed, a lot at first, and then just a little. But the bit o' muffin wouldn't quit bouncing around my windpipe. The coughing wouldn't stop.
This was embarrassing.
I had the urge to leave, to go outside and hack out the muffin, so I did. I ran out the door and hacked myself silly, a cat with a hairball. Not pretty.
Finally it stopped, at the exact moment Susie opened the door.

"I was about to come help you, whether you wanted it or not," she said. "You know that's what people do before they choke to death, don't you? They run off, just like an animal, burrowing away to die. They don't want everybody looking at them, so they go away and choke to death. It's a real thing, Becky. It's in studies."
How I love my friends.

I finally relaxed enough and stopped thinking about needle pricks and blood enough to get up and check on my boy. What did we learn from eight shots and a panel full of polka dots?
Nada. Rien. Nothing.
But we're trying a new inhaler and we'll see what happens.

And what did I learn, personally?
The age old lesson that when we try to hold onto our pride and a false sense of control, when we hide our weaknesses from others instead of letting them care for us, we just may end up cheek to cheek with the bathroom tile at the allergist's office.
And also that I could be related to Myotonic goats.

Have a wonder-full Wednesday, y'all. And tell me, is it hard for you to be open about your weaknesses?
I wish you easy breathing!
Love, Becky

PS. If you know my son, don't ask him about it. It's a touchy subject, as you can imagine.

Photo by rcameraw, creative commons


Jennifer @ said...


I'm laughing with you, I promise. Not AT you, but with.

Can you ever tell a story, girl. I love this. (And I'll think of you the next time I have a mammogram. LOL!)

On a serious note, I hope you get some answers for your son.

Emily said...

Your love for your children really comes through in your writing, and I enjoy it so much. I had that tunnel/roaring in the ears moment last week, as my youngest had his tooth extracted. He was so brave -- only requested that I hold his hand -- and I almost passed out. You did well.

Leah Skaggs said...

Boob in vice fainting... lovely image. Reminds me I need to make an appointment. Fabo. Prayers (zipped lipped) for athletic son.

Susan said...

My Mom never fainted, but she threw up whenever, well just whenever. I can relate. I've known folks that cope sometimes by laughing. Big smiles at the funeral home or in the hospital room aren't always appreciated. I love fainting goats, BTW and often pretend to faint with my husband just for a laugh. Hang in there, you still get the award for World's Best Mom in my book.

Sarah @From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell said...

I love the fainting goats.

Of course, no one can be the perfect little Stepford Wife, Super Mom...we all have our epic fails. Keeps us humble, human, and hilarious.

I pray that your son does find the relief he needs. Lots of hugs!

Anonymous said...

You never fail. You just take a little time out! But I know what you mean about wanting to be strong for them.

Susie said...

Oh my, I sounded a bit chastising! Scolding you for trying to choke in private! You are the funniest and best storyteller ever!

Serenity said...

I'm ridiculously open with my weaknesses actually. That openness is a weakness in and of itself. Sigh.

And oi, the mommy fail. I had a doozy this Monday when I forgot to tell any of the grandparents about grandparents day at my 4-year-old's school. My heart is still broken. I keep picturing him as one of the few without a grandparent there. I think I need to go back and read one of your posts about forgiveness...

Jenny said...

Thank you for being so open. Fainting I don't know why I am stumped about being open about my weaknesses. I can say that I have rarely tried to pretend to keep it together. My hubby has told me that he never has to be concerned about what I am thinking because it is usually all over my face. And by the way, I think you are such a good mom.

lotusgirl said...

I love it when you tell stories like this. Your openness and honesty shines. I have a hard time being open with my weaknesses like that and yet I don't think less of you for yours. In fact, I think more of you for being willing and able to share.

I hope you figure out what up with your son. Nothing quite so scary, huh?

Amy Sullivan said...

I love that you are an imperfect mom. It makes me like you even more!

I don't like being open. Often I chose which people to tell what to because one person knowing too much makes me uncomfortable. I guess that isn't very real.

Kelly H-Y said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly H-Y said...

It is SO very hard ... I once was in a bike crash that rendered both my hands useless ... only one other person was on the path at the time, asked if I needed help, and I said ... in as chipper voice as I could muster, "No, I think I'm fine." Ughh.
You poor thing ... and your poor, sweet boy. I hope the next inhaler works better for him.
Wonderful post and lesson for us all! And, yes ... you do have wonderful friends ... I loved her response!

Kat said...

Fainting while boob in a vice. Ouch. Though I admit I couldn't help laughing at the image. Sorry.

I think we all hide our weaknesses. No one wants to feel weak in front of people. I'm impressed you made it to the bathroom! ;)

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

Oh, Becky -- you SO made me laugh today. I've had exactly the same kind of moments.

Your poor boy. I hope the new inhaler is helping. Must be frustrating for him -- and you.

Thank heaven for those good friends, huh? Blessings!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

I love you guys.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

This was so visual, I was there with you again. In our family, it's the boys who have the fainting problems. (Did I just admit that publicly?) It happened to me once, too, during a particularly awful time in my life. I would say it was a panic attack. It's so strange to lose control, and especially since you were in mommy mode and supposed to be protecting him, I can understand your feeling so conflicted. But, I'll bet he has thought very little about your fast exit.

On another related note, we have someone in our extended family (not related my blood but by marriage) whose father died from choking on a piece of steak. I can only imagine that scene. It was in a public place. What a horrifying end, really. Breaks my heart. I'm so glad that muffin finally passed, and just as glad you have such awesome friends. That said as much to me as anything else. You are blessed!

I do hope answers come soon.



LW said...

I never understood the term “I get weak in the knees” until I became a mother.


Daricia said...

oh rebecca, you make me laugh and cry! this is such a sweet post, so honest. epic mommy fail - believe me i can relate to feeling that way! probably no one makes it through to their childrens' adulthood without thinking theyve done something seriously wrong at one time or other. love how you tell it, though. i hope you get some answers with regard to your son.

Terri said...

I can manage the trauma of a child getting a shot or two, I don't like it but I can. MY HUSBAND, though, the father of our children - forget it. He wouldn't even make it out the door.

Now the mammogram part - I hate them, but the biopsy was the one that made me want to faint - thank goodness I was already lying down.

Linda Summerfield Crispell said...

When my husband had just had his wisdom teeth pulled out as a teenager, he found his father in the waiting area being treated with an oxygen mask.

Glynn said...

I can't give blood at blood drives, because the one time I tried I fainted. I even have to look the other way when the nurse takes blood at my physicals. Other people's blood is not a problem, however. I've been spalttered with other people's blood and stayed perfectly calm.

H. Gillham said...

My own injuries not a problem -- other people's -- the light headed ness, the tunnel, then the floor.

I have no children, but I taught school. We my students had injuries, broken arms, bad scrapes from football practice, or nose bleeds, I would plead with them "Please no. Don't show me.I'll faint." They found it amusing to see if they could get me backing away and saying, "no, no, no, stop talking. Don't show me your wound."

Growing up, my neighbor accidentally got hit in the face with a baseball bat; I fainted dead away. Here he was, nose all sideways, blood gushing, and folks are coming over to see what's wrong with me.

Great story -- I loved all the details. :)

Anonymous said...

It's called vasovagal syncope, and it sucks. These things have helped me:

At the first sign of the waves of heat or nausea, get the head down. Sit and put the head between your legs, below knee level. That almost always works, but lie down on the floor if it doesn't.

Before the anxiety even comes on, or when it's first starting, slow, deep, measured breaths help. They actually have a physical effect in helping to interrupt the cycle. I was very skeptical but tried it because there's so little else that works, and I was amazed that it really does help.

I also tell medical professionals about my anxiety. If I'm getting a needle, I have to lie down, or sit in such a way that I can put my head down: no standing, or sitting upright. If I'm getting a procedure that thousands of other people can do without blinking an eye but it scares me, I tell the doctor and insist that we go at my pace. Often, just talking about the anxiety and going slowly is enough to prevent it from coming up. But if I try to be a hero and push down the anxiety, it only makes things worse. So I've learned to take the attitude: "I need more help in this area than most people do, but that's just the way it is."

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Yep, Jenn, you've diagnosed me perfectly. And it's the same for me...I usually remember to do exactly what you said, sit down, head between the legs, etc. But sometimes I forget that I'm not superwoman (believe it or not!) and can't necessarily will myself out of the cycle--and that's when it surprises me. Or maybe surprises isn't the right word. Maybe I should say that it chases after me until it dominates me until I grovel on the floor and give up.
:) Ah life, you're far too interesting sometimes.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

By the way, after telling the mammogram story, I feel I should explain a little. I don't want to scare anybody out of getting one. The pain wasn't what made me start to faint. Yes, it was a bit uncomfortable, but it wasn't that bad. This happened two days after I visited a friend who had just had an awful fight with breast cancer and had endured a double mastectomy. Plus, we had just moved back to the states and I was a tiny bit in freak out mode.
So go get your mammogram with no worries. It's really not that bad. Unless you begin to faint, that is. :)