Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Flu fight and fleeting sight

There were two incidents of laughter on Monday evening, after the flu had laid me out flat on my back most of Saturday and on Sunday, a day that turned into an emotional  rollercoaster as I realized I had experienced some vision loss in my right eye.

So comic relief was in short supply and in high demand on Monday afternoon.
I had seen the first of two specialists of the week and was now calling aside my sons as they became available to fill them in on things: The doctor Monday had prescribed medication to resolve the vision loss issue in the right eye, which was a huge relief. But he had seen something in the other eye that might require surgery. In the past, such things have been a pain, troubling certainly, but generally more disappointing than debilitating for me.

Daniel, 17, was home when I returned from Wheaton Eye Clinic, and took the news well. Brian, at 24, arrived home not too much later and I filled him in, too.

At 20, David has a unique way of communicating his love that can be equal parts challenge, test and humor.

When I heard his voice at the bottom of the steps, I called down. “David, could you come up to my room for a minute please? I have something I need to tell you.”

“You're not sprawled awkwardly, half-naked on the floor needing help are you?” he called up. “Because if you are, I really don’t want to come up there for that ...”

I really should write down more of these gems. I am sure there is a book here somewhere, because his material seems to know no end.

At this particular moment, his smartass, off-the-cuff response was the spark I needed. If my faith is my anchor, and it is, then laughter is one of the tools I use to row, bail or patch as necessary. This weekend had been devoid of humor — at least until this moment.

Another piece would come later in the evening, after most in the house had gone to bed.

In the meantime, I finished some editing work I do on the side. I was shivering now and then and becoming more and more tired, so eventually laid in bed and nodded off around 8. Mother Nature called about three hours later and I awoke feeling hot, my head aching. As I walked down the steps to the bathroom, I felt a little weak. For some reason, I could not remember having had dinner (I had) but was too preoccupied with other things to obsess on it.

The next thing I remember of the evening requires an explanation. 

One certain scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a memorable one: The vintage tank has plunged over a cliff and into a rocky canyon, apparently with Indiana (Harrison Ford) aboard, still fighting the Nazi.

His friends and father, Dr. Henry Jones (Sean Connery), stare over the edge in disbelief, lamenting his passing, the elder Jones particularly regretting that he had never adequately expressed his love to his son. Nearby, a dusty and bedraggled Indiana pulls himself from over the edge of the cliff to safety, obviously worse for the wear, but alive.

As he staggers up behind the group, his father turns and sees his son and embraces him, telling him “I was afraid I’d lost you.” The scene always resonated with me, perhaps simply because as Sean Connery hugged him, Harrison Ford pegged the expression so well of a tired, worn out 8-year-old kid smiling as he gets an unexpected hug and praise from his Dad.

That’s the expression I believe I was exuding as this memory took shape in my mind. I lay with the side of my feverish face and the skin of my neck against the cool, smooth porcelain top of the toilet tank that unexpectedly had become my pillow for a few minutes or so.

My legs somewhat straddled the stool, but I was down on my right knee and right hand, which supported me where I’d slid down as I collapsed between the wall and the toilet. Apparently, I had finished and gone to flush when my body chose to yield to this less than dignified repose.

Now, the cool porcelain was oddly refreshing, hence my eyes-closed smile. While I did not really comprehend any urgency, I knew I needed to get back to bed (there are seven people in our home and one bathroom).

It would not occur to me until perhaps 30 minutes later, after I had hauled my sorry butt back to bed, that there had been something wrong with this entire picture. After visualizing that Indiana Jones expression on my own face and having it haunt me for another 10 minutes, I actually would crawl back out of my bed and go downstairs to make sure I’d left no awkward surprises behind (thankfully, I had not).

When I awoke early Tuesday, I felt markedly better — still a tad weak perhaps, but improving. Further, just calling to mind David’s remarks and my collapse gave me something to laugh about and share with my parents, who kindly drove me to Wheaton Eye Clinic both times this week. But the collapse also struck me as particularly funny as well.

In stark contrast, imagine my growing dismay on Sunday afternoon with the dawning realization that something was wrong with my vision. An hour-long assignment on html was not complicated, yet it took me four hours just trying to read the material. I initially want to blame it on the flu, and perhaps ultimately that will prove to be a factor. But my apprehension turned to shock later, when over the space of maybe 30 minutes, each of my two daughters came up to check on me. They knew I was sick and wanted to see how I was doing.

Each time one of them entered, I looked up and nearly choked: As I tried to gaze into their eyes, all I could see clearly of their faces were their tiny noses and mouths — a shadow was masking their eyes, those little windows into their dear, dear hearts.

After each left, tears streamed, unbidden and unchecked, down my cheeks for a few moments. They were fueled by the wellsprings of the frustrations and weariness I felt grappling with a treatable vision problem for two years coupled with now 14 months of unemployment/underemployment. In no way had I foreseen this development.

But that was Sunday. Now it was Tuesday morning, I had a couple of good things to laugh about, and I was to take my first dose of the steroid medication I had been prescribed on Monday. Whatever else would befall me this day, I would be equipped to handle it. God, always faithful, once again had filled my tool belt.

First, the potential problem noted in the other eye was OK, no need for surgery or anything else.

Second, as I write this, the magnification on my Word software screen is set at “text width” — or about 157 percent, which is the setting I have preferred virtually since I first started using Word. My vision has not all the way back to where it was, but earlier this evening, I sat with Abby, at 8 the youngest of our five, as AnnaBeth, 11, slept nearby. Abby filled me in on all the things she’d been working on all day, from post cards to business cards to caring for her koala.

Her eyes sparkled as she spoke. I could see that, again.

As her eyes sparkled, my heart soared.