Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Eye-Opening Experience

So, early this morning, around three-thirty, I was awakened by a localized, dull pain in my right calf. It was a dime-sized ache, and I thought: Could this be a blood clot? Because I take a medication, on a nightly basis, that can cause the blood to thicken. I lay in bed for an agonized ten minutes, and then I woke Lars and asked him to pass me a couple of baby aspirin from his bedside table. He sleepily obliged.

After about half an hour the dime-sized ache disappeared -- or else it traveled, because all of a sudden I felt a dull ache, not insignificant, on the right side of my upper back. Could the clot have migrated to my lung?

Now I was really scared. But I did not want Lars to think me babyish, or hypochondriacal, so I said nothing, just lay there frozen with fear, watching the clock. When it told me another twenty minutes had passed, the pain in my back had radiated to my chest. I got up, walked around, took a drink of water. And my chest began to burn. I woke Lars and told him I thought I was having a heart attack. My heart fluttered painfully, wildly, in my chest. Lars stumbled out of bed and gazed at me uncomprehendingly.

Call 911, I said. He looked around for his jeans. I called instead. While we waited for the ambulance I sat on our butterscotch-colored couch and thought about my children. I thought I was possibly going to die, and they would never have the chance to say goodbye to me. Benjy, at least. Because the last thing I was going to do was wake him to see me like this, see the fire engine and ambulance and police car that were about to pull up to our house. Lars did wake Saskia, to tell her we were going to the hospital, so they wouldn't wake a few hours later to an empty house and think we'd up and left.

In the ambulance they sprayed that anti-heart attack stuff under my tongue and did an EKG. And all I could think about was my children, and what they would do without me.

Now, you've already guessed that this story has a happy ending, because here I am, writing this post. After ten hours in the emergency room and a battery of tests, I was diagnosed with reflux. Yeah, reflux. And I was kind of embarrassed, but also relieved. So once again, the question of What Will Benjy Do When We Are Gone was deferred. Until when? I really don't know. It's a question that pains us, so we don't try to answer it as much as we should.

About five years ago we visited a lawyer, for help in figuring this out. And she set up a special needs trust for Ben. But the problem is, we've never had any money with which to populate it. So it sits there, somewhere, unfulfilled, and we do not know what to do with it. In the meantime, Lars and I emerge into the flush of middle age, grow closer, by at least a little, to death, and there is no solution to this dilemma. Maybe he'll manage just fine without us. Maybe Saskia will step in. I bet she will. But that's only if they're grown up. If we die tomorrow, then what? There's Grandma and Grandpa, there's my brother Rick and his wife Jackie. They would all step in, I know.

But the question remains: What would Benjy do without us? My ninety minutes at death's door early this morning has made that question all too real. Now we have to get back to finding an answer.


  1. I am a mother of 3 boys, my oldest has ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder, so I can relate to many of your posts. I am glad it was only reflux!!

  2. I heard the abbreviated story from Lars when I called last night. Please know you guys have called if you needed any help with Benjy or whatever. I am thankful you are okay; please know our thoughts, prayers, all good wishes are with you. Happy Thanksgiving, my dear friend!

  3. Anon, thank you so much for your kind thoughts, and for stopping by! Sorry to hear you are dealing with a lot of similar stuff...but always glad to "meet" a fellow traveler! Good luck with your son(s), and Happy holiday!

    Laurel, thank you so much, as always, for your kind generosity. I do appreciate having you in our lives! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, and we still have to make that coffee happen!