December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself
Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.
(Author: Tracey Clark)
This Christmas has been nothing like what I thought that it would be. Normally, I’m full of the Christmas spirit, annoyingly chipper and brimming with good will. I put up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend, and don’t take it down until New Year’s Day or so. I listen to lots of Christmas music. We have all sorts of silly little traditions, from spending Christmas Eve with my parents, to taking a very long walk before the kids go to bed (a hold-over from when they were little & we were trying to wear them out.) Once the kids are in bed, Dave & I pour a glass of wine, turn on “A Christmas Story,” and wrap all of the presents.
This year, Dave’s been down with the flu for over two weeks. He’s had moments where he felt better, but then would relapse. It’s seemed to be centered in his neck & head. Dave is the type that is always doing something. He never goes to the doctor, because he’s never sick. These past couple of weeks have been very unusual.
When we got home from my mom’s last night, Dave was wiped. He was in bed, sound asleep, by 7:30. Isabel, teenager that she is, was in bed, sleeping soon after. So much for the walk, or the present wrapping. I was on my own.
I’ll admit, I had quite the pity party last night. I was mad that it took me until 2:30 to wrap everything, clean up the mess, and get all of the presents set up just so. I was mad that nobody seemed to remember that I had done the bulk of the prep, shopping, and would most certainly be up again at 6:00. I would be cooking for the in-laws, due over at noon, Christmas Day. In addition, I’ve already been a weepy, touchy wreck, with my grandmother’s death a couple of weeks ago.
When we got up, we started the morning by sniping at each other. I was exhausted, and was playing the victim…never a pretty sight.
I could tell right away that something was wrong with Dave. His temper was on a hair-trigger, and he was obviously in pain. His neck & head were throbbing, and his eyes were bloodshot.
We opened presents, and then Dave disappeared down to our bedroom. Pretty soon, he came back out, and said that he thought he should go to Urgent Care. When I really looked at him, my heart froze. It was like a line divided his face in half. The right half was fine, but the left half was drooping. He said that he couldn’t smile right, and when he’d brushed his teeth, he couldn’t hold the water in his mouth right.
At 8:30 on Christmas morning, there aren’t lots of options, so we drove to the emergency room. The kids stayed home, unaware of how serious this could be.
At the registration desk, a little Sun City volunteer asked us to fill out a form. Dave noticed a sign that said that if you exhibit stroke-like symptoms, tell them immediately. Dave said that he had. Immediately, they had him in a wheelchair and were rolling him back into the bowels of the er. Nurses swarmed, needles were poked, cables hooked up, ekg’s run and blood pressure taken. A female doctor in a Santa hat made an appearance, and performed an evaluation. In discussing the timeline of Dave’s symptoms, and some of the things that weren’t happening, she was pretty confident in diagnosing Bell’s Palsy.
Dave immediately fell apart. His step-dad has had the same thing for years, and Dave pictured the worst. I tried to reassure him that, while Dave might have the same thing, he would be far from the same condition as his step-dad. Dave is much more physically active than his step-father, and in much better shape. I told him that we’d wait to see what the doctor said, and that we’d deal with whatever the diagnosis was. I’d certainly rather deal with Bell’s Palsy, and not a stroke.
Dr. Santa decided that she’d like to rule out all other options, and ordered a CT scan. While Dave was getting that done, I stepped outside and called my mother. That’s when I started to lose it. Nothing is worse than to hear sympathy in your mother’s voice. She offered to come to the hospital, or go get the kids. I let her know that we’d wait & see. Nobody seemed to think that we’d need to admit him.
When I got back to Dave’s cubicle, they’d finished the tests, and we just waited for the test results. Soon, the doctor came back in to let us know that it was, in fact, Bell’s Palsy. She said that we’d made it within the crucial timing period to be able to some sort of medicinal treatment. If Dave had waited longer to say something, it would be 50/50 whether or not medicine would even be an option.
Because they’d given Dave some Tylenol through an IV port, he was feeling much better. With the doctor’s reassurance, he was feeling better mentally, too. We were both relieved to know that even without any sort of pharmaceutical treatment, the virus would eventually work itself out.
Dave was discharged with a stack of prescriptions.
As much as I’ve been feeling like a poor pussycat the last couple of days, all of a sudden, my world was brought into sharp focus. Dave & I have been married 18 years. The normal complacency has set in, and though we love each other, I think that we’ve both been letting other distractions keep us from showing each other how much we really do care.
I could not, nor do I want to, imagine my world without this man. I am so very grateful that he is going to be okay. I also feel like a prize shit for spending so much time acting so pushed out.
As we sat in the emergency room, surrounded by others dealing with terrible, life changing events, our little drama certainly got put into perspective.
We’re home now. Dave has got the first round of medications in him, the kids are playing Dance Central on their new Kinect system, and I’m feeling very thankful. Still weepy, but for entirely different reasons.
So, instead of picking a picture of me alone, I’ve picked this picture from last Christmas. This says everything to me. It’s the three people who I love most in the world, in a picture taken at our cousins’ house. The person that took the picture married into our family, and she’s become one of my very dearest friends, as well as my cousin. These are the people who I would die for. That I would kill for. The people without whom I am nothing.
Merry Christmas, friends & family. Cherish those that you love. I hold you all in my heart.