So what am I missing?

  • Coronavirus is a potentially deadly virus.
  • 7.5 million Americans have been infected.
  • 210k+ Americans have died from it.
  • Our government used it to take away our inalienable rights – in particular:
    • To work and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor.
    • To move freely within the country or to another country.
    • To worship or refrain from worshipping within a freely-chosen religion.
    • To think freely.
  • Only 6% of the reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are solely attributable to coronavirus.
  • We quarantined and closed the country to “slow the spread.”
  • We did not quarantine and close the country to eradicate the virus.
  • We quarantined for months and still got sick.
  • We opened the country, and we’re still getting sick.
  • We were told masks wouldn’t help. We got sick.
  • We are told we must wear a mask, or we won’t be allowed in the store/bank/restaurant/gym/insert name of any business here. We’re still getting sick.
  • We know more about the virus now than we did eight months ago – which means it’s no longer something we don’t know anything about.
  • We know who is more vulnerable to complications, should they get the virus.
  • We know who is more vulnerable, by age, should they get the virus.
  • The media, the critics, and the debate moderators say this is the most critical issue, and it’s on the top of everyone’s minds. The political spin is that this will make or break President Trump’s re-election.

In summary, whether we stay in our homes or go outside, we can get sick. Whether we wear a mask or not, we can get sick. We know if we have a compromised immune system or any disease/health challenge, we’re more at risk. If we’re 65+ in age or older, we’re more at risk. We know we cannot completely rid the world from this virus now that it is here.

So why are people still hung up on this? Knowledge is power, and we have tons of knowledge, right! We can decide if we want to go outside or to that neighborhood BBQ or trick-or-treating. “To think freely” is not only our inalienable right, but it’s also a POWER.

So what am I missing?

Decisions children shouldn’t make

I loved her for more than 40 years, and then one day, she did the unimaginable – she broke my heart.

I can’t describe my relationship with my mother. We barely had anything in common. But she was what I thought all mothers were, and that is, immortal. I also saw her as invincible, sometimes the enemy, always a nurturer. Never a woman – much less a woman with problems and experiences similar to mine.

And then she died.

It wasn’t until that day that I realized she was a person who experienced pain, just like me. She felt sorrow like I did. She held regrets, endured loneliness, had bad habits, addictions, held grudges, and had a laundry list of mistakes under her name. She had feelings. Turns out, she was like me, and I was like her. She was more influential in my life than I realized. With every passing year, I like to think our relationship grew and evolved into a newer, more significant, grander relationship. Until she abandoned me.

But deep-rooted issues are the least of my problems. It’s the cause of my mother’s death that has me wrecked.

It was three months before she died. I had just turned 40, filed for divorce, quit my job, and was hitting up neighborhood psychics and tarot readers daily. I didn’t have a plan for my future. I didn’t even have an idea for Tuesday. I assumed leaving a lousy marriage and starting over was the answer. Instead, it stirred up a weird animosity toward my family.

The day I moved into my new place is the day I’d take back.

My mother and I were making a quick trip to the store for cleaning supplies. Only ‘being quick’ didn’t happen. It wasn’t one of her ‘good days.’ She had a lot of medical issues brought on by her weight. Obesity comes with a slew of health issues. Our quick run was more like a gradual stroll with many rest breaks.

Still, I was happy she offered to help. My mother was nothing if not a clean freak – and my floors were sticky and the ominous dark spot on the bathroom wall needed diagnosing.

Patience isn’t one of my virtues. 

I drove a Jeep Wrangler – a nearly impossible vehicle for her to climb in and out of.

After five minutes, and that’s all I was giving her to get in the car, I noticed her struggle. No matter how strategically she placed her hands or angled her body, she couldn’t lift her leg and hoist herself into the passenger seat.

Thinking back, I am ashamed at how invisible she was to me.

It wasn’t until her legs gave out, her arm nearly pulled out of the socket, and she lay flat on the pavement that I jumped out to help her.

The sling was one thing; the black bruising was another.

Weeks later, she was still unable to bring her right arm above her head. And the skin from under her arm and across the front of her chest was turning blacker every day.

We ended up at Urgent Care – several times over the next month.

I was at work when the paramedic called.

They were in a helicopter and headed to St. Joseph’s. The paramedic spoke so slowly. He assured me the facility they were headed to was the most advanced (but also the busiest) stroke center.

My mother suffered an ischemic stroke early that morning, but it had been several hours before she was found. Siri gave me the 411: An ischemic stroke is a type of stroke that is caused by a clot, or some other blockage, within an artery leading to the brain. The patient’s prognosis after an ischemic stroke is good. More than three-quarters of people who suffer a stroke survive for a year and over half survive for more than five years. Many survivors recover their independence.

They found clots in my mother’s lung.

Three days later, the doctor handed me a form that was signed by my mother the day she was admitted. It was a scribbled signature, but it was a completely legal and fully-witnessed document naming me my mother’s trusted medical power of attorney.

And then her doctor presented me with a medical decision.

I’ll say it again, I’m not moody

I hate going to the doctor. It takes a lot to get me to go, like a severed limb or a bullet wound. And honestly, doctors have never actually cured me of anything. Not once. The way I see it, I’m better on my own and with my own version of first aid: tweezers, hydrogen peroxide, and honey sticks.

But this time, my daughter firmly insisted. And by ‘firmly’ I mean she demanded. She was irritated by my incessant coughing. So I made an appointment with my primary care physician – whom I have no faith in whatsoever.

“Alrighty, what’s going on with you?”

“I think I have a sinus infection; I have sinus pressure, my ears are blocked, and I have a stuffy nose.”

He slapped his knee. “Yep. I’m going to have Meredith come in next.”

Just like that. He didn’t even examine me, but I’m OK with that. He walked out, and I waited for Meredith.

Twenty-four minutes later, the door opens, and Meredith, a perky twenty-something-year-old walks in. She’s wearing pink scrubs with cupcakes all over. I just wanted to be on my way. I was ready for her to hand over a prescription, but instead, she sat down at the computer, looked at me, and said (and I quote): “Looks like you gained some weight. You know, a 10-pound weight gain during menopause is perfectly normal.”

“Um. What?”

“And not just weight gain. You might notice some mood swings. You know, highs and lows. And you might start to get a little forgetful. This is all normal for your age and what you’re going through.”

“That is awesome,” I said, trying to rein in my compulsion to kill her, all 110 pounds. “But what does this have to do with my sinus infection?”

She actually grunted.

“The doctor suggested I give you these pamphlets about, you know, The Change.”

“Aha.” I stared at her. Then I let it pour.

“I realize I will never be able to wear a tube top again, but I’m not anywhere near the need for the ‘fat talk.’ And no offense, but telling a woman who, “you know,” is going through “the change,” that she’s getting fat is not helpful. You really don’t have any idea. I mean, if you must know, the really upsetting thing is my nightstand drawer. I used to have candles, gels, a blindfold, yeah that’s right! And all sorts of really *fun* things, if you know what I mean, inside my nightstand. Nowadays, when I open it, I have aspirin bottles, Chapstick, a pair of reading glasses, and probably a handful of candy wrappers in it. Oh, and don’t forget the tiny hand-held fan because I wake up in the middle of the night, soaking wet. No less than eleven times! And for the record, I eat right, I exercise every day, and I’m talking squats, bench press, and even deadlifts. And although I’m a little softer these days, my only real problem is hot flashes. Do you know how much I sweat during a hot flash?! I bet I lose at least a pound of liquid a day, just from sweating. I sweat even when I stand directly in front of the air conditioning vent. Is there anything in those pamphlets that tells me how I can get rid of hot flashes?! Well?! Is there? Oh, and I’m losing my hair. I used to have thick and shiny hair. Know what’s thick and shiny now? Just my thighs. I mean, I come in for a sinus infection, and you want to say to me I’m fat and moody?

I’m not moody.”