Sunday, August 19, 2007

New Beginnings

Tomorrow is the first day of classes, a day that I often think of as my own personal new year. A time for resolutions, for big plans, for new beginnings--courses, committees, a writing plan.

That's all starting tomorrow, but it's not at all what I've been thinking about most since my last post.

I've been thinking instead about my mother. My mother has, for all of my adult memory, and some of my adolescent memory, suffered what was presumably a chronic, and perhaps terminal illness, maybe two, of unknown designation. The rheumatoid symptoms presented in earnest in the early 90s, and the GI symptoms in the mid 90s. Things had gotten serious enough that she had ceased work, and regularly goes through week-long "flare-ups," which sometimes leave her completely homebound, and now happen with increasing frequency. The worst of them have her in excruciating pain, not holding down any food or water for days, before she finally was checks into the hospital for IV fluids and a course of steroids. Diagnoses (none ever confirmed) have included fibromyalgia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, undifferentiated connective tissue disease, maybe scleroderma, IBS...Those are the things that haven't been postulated and then ruled out--celiac desease, crohn's, porphyria, lyme, the list goes on and on. At 55 years old, she's gone almost twenty years with debilitating symptoms and no firm diagnosis; she's down to 90 pounds, and that weight is hard to maintain, and she's been ill most of the summer.

I've gotten to the point where I'm almost blase when I hear she's been admitted to the hospital. "Keep me posted," I say to my dad, and I return to my business, vaguely apathetic, and vaguely resigned to my total powerlessness in her ongoing health saga.

Well, "Keep me posted" is exactly what I said about 10 days ago, but the hospital stay that started that day seemed not to be righting things, which prompted a visit to her specialist at the Very Famous Hospital not too far from her home (2 hours, give or take traffic). Suddenly, a new symptom was mentioned, a lightbulb went off, and her doctor admitted her immediately. Optimism flew across phone lines like the very best gossip. But alas, the initial test run on Friday proved his bright theory to be be another wrong guess. Yet, YET! it found something. Something maybe big. Something that the Rheumatologists and the GI specialists at Very Famous Hospital together think is a very likely diagnosis.

Very Famous Hospital is four hours from BRU, and so I spent much of the last two days with her, as she waits until tomorrow, when a crucial test will be run that could very well confirm a diagnosis, something she has never had, which will, in turn, confirm a course of treatment, which would wipe away years of scattershot, rube-goldberged prescription reginmens that may well be creating as many symptoms as they treat.

Today, I was taking her on a walk through the hospital, and at the elevator she said, "Last night, I went to sleep thinking something I haven't thought in ten years...That I might get better." At the moment, I was thrilled to see her so optimistic. As I thought about those words on the drive home tonight, they broke my heart, over and over again.

Tomorrow, I'll greet freshman embarking on a new beginning, the big adventure of college, and sophomores and juniors and seniors embarking on the beginning of another exciting semester, all of which I can control, facilitate, make possible. And 200 miles away, my mom's doctors will--whatever deity might will this sort of thing into existence--try to facilitate the new beginning mom's been praying for for decades. That she will get better, instead of worse. That she will get her life back.

If you're the praying type, do that. If you're the sending-good-wishes-into-the-universe type, do that too. If you're the type that thinks that such things are unscientific, and probably not actually helpful (as, admittedly, I tend to be), well, pray or send good thoughts into the universe, or whatever, anyway.

Tomorrow, I'll do my song-and-dance, complete with handouts, and I'll throw myself into teaching the way I always do. But damn if half of my thoughts won't be hoping for a great fall semester that has nothing to do with Drama or Commonwealth literature.


Nels said...

I'm certainly thinking of you right now.

Lucy said...

I'll be thinking of you and your family and sending good wishes. I hope all goes well tomorrow.

Sisyphus said...

My best wishes to your mom! (they're sure it wasn't lupus? There's a new drug out on trial for lupus.)

Not just masculinity, but embodiment in general, seems to be your writerly specialty. I second the other commenter for more writing about the body.

jo(e) said...

Prayers and warm energy going out into universe from me.

Dr. Virago said...

Keeping your mom and you in my thoughts.


Flavia said...

I'll be keeping your mom in my thoughts and prayers. Good luck to all of you.

Bardiac said...

Wishing your Mom good thoughts, and you a great semester and good news about your Mom.

Horace said...

Thank you so much, everyone. Early returns from Monday's tests were not terribly promising ("What we found doesn't explain the amount of pain you're reporting"), but full biopsy results won't be available for several days. The optimism isn't so high, but there's hope still for some clarity on a diagnosis.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Oh, I really hope they're able to do something! Best wishes to your mom and you!