Smiling through the Pain—by Jamie Levine
Last Tuesday morning, I woke up suspecting I had a sinus infection brewing, and stopped at my internist’s office to pick up a Z-Pak and some nasal spray to fight it off. I took the antibiotic and thought things would be fine…but that evening, wound up in bed as soon as Jayda was asleep, suffering from excruciating head pain, a low-grade fever, and such nausea that I was dry heaving all night long. Wednesday morning, I managed to get Jayda dressed, fed her breakfast, made her lunch, and left my father to put her on the bus while I crawled back to bed. And that afternoon at the ENT, I was prescribed a much stronger antibiotic and steroids after the doctor verified what I already knew: My sinus infection was a horrible one—and no match for Zithromax.
After seeing my ENT, I raced to the pharmacy to fill my prescriptions, scarfed down a small bag of pretzels to fill my empty (and still queasy) stomach before taking my first dose of pills, and got to Jayda’s school just in time to pick her up for her ice skating lesson. I knew how much Jayda looks forward to her weekly lesson, and despite my horrible discomfort, I didn’t want her to miss it. Usually, I get Jayda to the rink early, put on a pair of skates, myself, and we skate together for awhile before her lesson—as well as after it’s over. But when I buckled Jayda into her car seat this week, I informed her, “Mommy’s really sick today so I’m not going to skate with you.”
Jayda responded, “That’s ok, Mommy! I’ll skate by myself before my lesson—and after, too.”
I smiled and drove to the rink, and, as we headed through the park gates, swerved to the side of the road, threw my car door open, and puked in the street.
“Mommy! Did you just throw up?” Jayda asked.
“Yes, honey, I did.”
“So…we can throw up in the potty, in the sink, and in garbage pails. And now we can do it in the street, too!”
In an effort to keep Jayda from throwing up in her bed—or on me—when she has the stomach flu, I’ve tried to teach her that she should at least attempt to race to the bathroom when she feels nauseous. Clearly, she’d learned that lesson. And now I’d expanded her repertoire.
At the rink, I managed to lace up Jayda’s skates, and help her put on her helmet, gloves, and jacket. I apologized again for not being able to skate with her, but she marched off with barely a glance back at me, and hit the rink to skate on her own. I watched her glide across the ice as best as I could, but spent most of the time during her lesson with my head in my hands, leaning on the glass in agony.
Library Guy and his kids also skate at the rink that we go to, as his boys both take lessons there on Wednesdays, too, and Jayda likes to skate with them as much as she can. However, a few weeks ago, I finally told Library Guy off—and insisted that he stay away from me (he’d been worming his way back into my life and my affections…with no intentions of making any commitment to me)—and since then, I’ve completely frozen him out. I refuse to speak to him about anything other than the kids (they adore each other—and I adore his boys—so I won’t force Jayda to avoid them), but when I see him at the rink, I try not to look at him or talk to him as much as possible. It hurts not to spend time with him—but it hurts more when I think of how badly he’s treated me. However, as I stood turning green outside the rink, he saw me, and came over to see if I was ok—and to offer to take Jayda home for me. I turned him down and walked away. Later, he offered again. And still later, after hearing me beg Jayda to get off the ice because I needed to go home and be sick, he coaxed her inside, and insisted on taking off her skates for her. I suppose he was just trying to be nice—and was certainly trying to offset the guilt he had about his behavior towards me the prior few weeks—but it still upset me to see him helping and caring. I walked away feeling violated and angry.
On the car ride home, Jayda remarked, “Mommy—I really like Library Guy’s kids.”
I responded, enthusiastically, “Me, too, Jayda.”
Then she continued, “But I don’t like Library Guy so much anymore…”
“Really?” I asked. I’d never said anything bad about Library Guy to Jayda because I know how much he and she adore each other, and don’t want to taint that relationship, or Jayda’s image of him. But I wondered if she’d picked up on my hurt feelings, and was showing her loyalty to me. “How come?”
“I really don’t like his new haircut. It looks really, really bad!”
“Yeah, Jayda, it does look bad,” I laughed, as I smiled at her in the rearview mirror. And she smiled back.
“Are you feeling better, Mommy?”
“Yeah, baby, I am a little.” And I was. Because having Jayda around can make any pain seem less severe….everything from sinus ache to heartache.