Nov 13, 2016: A Bleak Week

 

I’m afraid there’s just no two ways around it: This week has been pretty bleak.

The results of the presidential election hit me in a very strong, personal way that I wasn’t expecting. I already talked about that in another post and don’t really want to rehash it, but you can click here if you want to read that post.

On a related note, Theo was off school on Friday, and although I was sick (more on that later), I wanted to do something nice with him, so we went to Starbucks to get some coffee for me and breakfast for him. When we walked out of the building, an aggressive man pulled up in the parking lot in front of us (and several other people) and started aggressively gunning his engine and yelling a bunch of pro-Trump, anti-everyone-else garbage that was bad enough to frighten Theo. Frightened my child who is never afraid of anything. For me, it was nothing more than a disgusting display of immaturity, but for Theo it was actually frightening, and that makes me angry. Two days later, he’s still upset about it and insisting that I take him to City Hall so he can talk to someone about it. (I tried to take him Friday, at his request, but they were closed.)

I never post about politics on Facebook, but I did in this case. Because this is just bullshit, frankly. I recognize it’s happening on both sides—I’m well aware that pro-Hillary people are rioting, too. My problem is with the bigger culture of anger that this stupid election has created. In our case, it happened to be a pro-Trump person, but I’m well aware it could’ve just as easily been a pro-Hillary person. Regardless, it needs to stop. This is not the kind of culture I want to be raising my children in. I’m very sorry Theo had to see it. Anyway, here’s what I said on FB, just in case you want the full recap (which I’m too lazy to type out again because I’m still sick, so you get my cut-and-paste):

I share this not to start a political debate or to point fingers, but just as a statement of what happened to me and Theo this morning and perhaps as a way of explaining that this isn’t “sour grapes” over a lost election. We were coming out of Starbucks in our quiet little suburb where nothing bad really ever happens, and a man pulled up in a truck and started yelling angry hate-type speech at all of us outside and proclaiming himself proudly as a Trump voter. He was revving his engine aggressively and shouting at all of us, and it was vile enough that it frightened my eight-year-old, who is NEVER afraid of anything. “Why is he yelling at us, Mom? What did we do? Why is he yelling bad things about Hillary Clinton? Why is he mad at us? Is he going to hurt us?”

This past few days, I’ve kept shaking my head when I’ve heard people say that those who are upset about the election are just expressing “sour grapes,” because in my heart I know that many of my friends are legitimately frightened because hate speech and acts targeting certain groups have somehow become okay. Please understand that I am NOT saying that everyone who voted for Trump has hate in their heart. I have friends and family who voted for Trump, and I know they do NOT have hate in their hearts. The Trump coalition is not all sinners or all saints, and the same can be said of the Clinton coalition. I firmly believe there is good and bad in all corners.

But what frightens me is that some have taken this shift in power as an endorsement of bullying and aggression. And if I, a white woman with a white son, living in a very safe, quiet community, can witness aggression and bullying and have it frighten my son, I can only imagine what my friends in marginalized populations are feeling. My LGBT friends. My immigrant friends. My American-born friends of color. My friends who have been victims of sexual abuse and fear that it’s now open season to “grab women’s pussies.” And let’s not forget another one that hits closest to home: my friends with disabilities.

My experience and Theo’s this morning was just a minor one in the grand scheme. The image I’ve seen of a black doll strung up in a noose haunts me; the images of white-supremacist garbage spray-painted on buildings frightens me. Our experience was minor, relatively–it was frightening for Theo, disgusting for me, and a teachable moment for sure. “When they go low, you go high.” That’s what we’re doing. And as soon as I finish recovering from the triggering shock of our nation electing a man who feels it’s okay to touch women without consent, I plan to dust myself off and get ready for the next four years, in which I will model kindness and compassion for my children, in which I will fight ceaselessly to preserve the disability rights we have worked so hard to set in place, and in which I will provide support for all of my friends who feel scared or marginalized or threatened in any way.

In return, I ask that if you did support this administration, you don’t accuse me of simply having sour grapes for not being pleased at the results of the election. I wasn’t thrilled when George W. Bush won, but I wasn’t frightened for the future of people I care about in the way I am now. This is different.

And that will probably be the end of any politics I talk. It’s over and done—we have a president that I would’ve never elected, but the whole point of our democratic system is for each person to have a chance to vote for who they want, and I certainly voted against the person I didn’t want, so I’ve done all I can. I would say America has spoken, except that whole bit about Trump not winning the popular vote. So I guess I’d say America has more or less spoken, and if we had a different election system, the result would’ve probably been different. But we don’t, and I accept it and shan’t have sour grapes. I shall simply feel a little less secure knowing that apparently it’s open season on grabbing women. (And if you think I’m being a drama queen, I’ll tell you that my friend’s daughter, in New York City of all places, had a man tell her he was going to “grab her pussy.” Gee, I wonder where that came from…)

Anyway, moving on from things I can’t change… I wasn’t feeling well on Friday—sore throat that turned into a low fever. Ick. I had planned to do some fun things with Theo, but as it turned out all we really did was go on that ill-fated trip to Starbucks. Chris and I had a date scheduled for Friday night (Sam’s school was holding another Parents’ Night Out), and I was determined to go—we don’t get many chances for dates, so I don’t squander them when they’re available!

So I took Motrin and pulled it together for our date, which was very nice and probably the highlight of my week. We just went to a little mom-and-pop Italian restaurant in our tiny town, and it was delicious! We will definitely go back.

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I felt a little dizzy on Friday night, but I thought it was because I had a glass of wine with dinner (even though one glass of wine normally wouldn’t make me dizzy!). Saturday morning, I woke up with the same low fever and my throat even more sore, but Chris had an all-day Scout training seminar thing to go to about an hour away from our house. He rarely does anything on his own (even if this was sort of “work,” it was still kid-free, which is always a nice treat), plus it’s good for him to go as Cub Master, so I told him to just go ahead and go. “I’ll just lie on the couch and make sure the children don’t destroy anything,” I said.

Well. If I’d known how bad it was going to get, I would’ve asked him to postpone the training. Within a couple of hours I was feeling even worse. Fever was creeping up and not coming down with Motrin, and it was beginning to feel more and more like I was swallowing nails. My tonsils had some streaky stuff on them, too, so I started to wonder if it might be strep. I haven’t had strep since I was eight years old, so I had no idea whether to think it was or wasn’t. I knew I needed a strep swab to know for sure, but getting a strep swab meant dragging both children down to the hospital (the only place open on the weekend—why is it always the weekend when one of us gets sick?!) and dealing with a throat culture while handling them and feeling like crap. I’ve never been able to do throat cultures—super strong gag reflex. But I felt awful. So I asked some friends on FB whether it sounded like strep or whether I could assume it was viral and stay home in misery.

This is one reason why I love FB—there are many reasons why I hate it, but for quick answers, it’s pretty fabulous! Immediately, I had half a dozen people telling me, “That sounds like strep. You’d better go get a swab done.” The advice line at our medical group said the same thing, though they told me it was “probably just viral,” based on my age. (I guess adults in my age group don’t often get strep.)

So, somewhat reluctantly, I loaded the kids into the van and drove 30 minutes down to the hospital, dragged them upstairs, and managed a culture. (On the third try. I nearly puked all over the nurse, which she told me was fine. Poor woman.) They refused to give me antibiotics right then, just in case it wasn’t strep, and they don’t do the rapid-strep test because there are too many false positive and negatives. So they said I had to wait 24 hours for results.

Oh boy. I was feeling worse by the minute. Dragged the boys back home, put Sam down for a nap and prayed he’d actually sleep (he did! Hallelujah!), and told Theo I would love him more than anyone else in the house if he would just give me two hours to rest with no interruptions. “Only come get me if the house is on fire,” I instructed.

Well, that didn’t happen. He came in three times: Twice to offer me a smoothie for my throat (which was very sweet, even though I would’ve preferred to be left alone) and once to inform me that the downstairs toilet was plugged up. “Leave it for Daddy,” I muttered. “He’ll be home in a few hours.” Really, I felt that bad—willing to leave the gross toilet because I just couldn’t get out of bed.

By the time Chris got home, my fever was up to about 103, my pulse was racing, and my throat hurt so badly I couldn’t sleep at all because it was like fire every time I swallowed. Plus, I kept having episodes of apnea (which I do have), where I’d fall asleep briefly and then wake up because I wasn’t breathing. My apnea normally never wakes me up to a fully conscious state where I realize I’m gasping for breath, but I’m guessing I wasn’t sleeping that deeply and that’s why it kept waking me up.

At 10pm, I called the advice line for the fourth time because my pulse was racing and I wasn’t sure that was okay. “They should’ve given you antibiotics when you were in this morning!” the doctor said. “Your symptoms point to strep or maybe tonsillitis, which you would also need antibiotics for.”

Sigh… Chris hauled himself the 30 minutes back to the hospital at 10pm to pick up the prescription, and by 11pm I could take my first dose. And you know what? It was a long night, but by this morning I was feeling markedly better. Fever is back down to a very manageable 99-ish degrees, headache and nausea are gone, pulse is back to normal. Only thing still nasty is the throat pain. (My throat has broken out in a red rash now, too—another sign of strep!)

Anyway, guess what? Lab results finally came back late this morning, and what do you know? Strep. Good thing I started those antibiotics last night.

I was feeling rather miffed at our medical group for giving me the runaround until late last night (I’m not one to ask for drugs if I don’t need them!), but then this morning I got an email from them on an unrelated topic and realized I won a major battle that I’ve been waging with them. So YAY! I shall forgive them for the strep debacle, especially now that I’m on the road to recovery.

And let me just say this: The next time my kids get strep, they have my full sympathy. This stuff is brutal. Last time I was this sick was when I got the flu. Other than that, I’ve not felt this bad in twenty years!

But anyway, all of this pales in comparison to what I knew was coming but still didn’t want to hear. On Thursday night, there was a worldwide candlelight vigil for Remy, the little boy I shared with you a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t home at the right time for it, but I was taking Sam to OT, and there was a big empty field next to the building where I was able to stand for a few minutes, watch a beautiful sunset, and reflect on a beautiful little boy who I’ve never met but who has my heart.

We live near the bottom of that big mountain you see way in the background. I thought it was kind of fitting to watch a gorgeous sunset over my home while I thought about a little boy and his family who are so close to my heart.

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We wore our Batman for Remy again, too. He’s been in our hearts so much this past two weeks.

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I had a feeling the vigil might mean Remy might be reaching a turning point, though no one had told me as much. It was just a feeling I had. Unfortunately, that does seem to be true. Remy passed away on Saturday afternoon, in peace and surrounded by the love of his family. His mom says he was wrapped in the love of his Rockin’ buddies until the very end, too, in the blanket we sent him.

This blanket is something the Original Rockin’ Moms (of which I’m a part) put together for every one of our kids who is in serious health crisis. I think we’ve done probably half a dozen so far, which kind of stinks—that means half a dozen kids in crisis. 🙁 But it’s our way of showing that near or far, if we can’t be right with the Rockin’ kid, his or her buddies are right there, wrapping him up in their love.

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If you have been praying for Remy or keeping him in your thoughts, please continue to keep his parents and siblings in your prayers and thoughts. They are heartbroken, as you would expect, as they grieve for their little boy.

As I said, I had a feeling this was coming, but I cried so very hard when I got the news. Crying with strep throat hurts like the devil, but I couldn’t help it. My heart just broke. All I wanted to do was hold Sam tightly and cry, but I couldn’t because I’m still contagious so I’m trying to keep my distance from him. Tomorrow…tomorrow I will hold him as tightly as I wanted to Saturday, when I got the news.

One of the Original Rockin’ Moms is an artist, and she drew this beautiful tribute to Remy. I love that without words, she has managed to say so much. The blue and yellow ribbon represents the Down syndrome community, holding together our collective broken heart over Remy. The #RemyForever hashtag is one people have been using as they post their support for Remy and his family over the last few weeks.

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So anyway, I’m going to wrap this up there. Because what else is there to say? It’s been a shitty week, and all I can hope is that next week brings more light.

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