After spending part of a Wednesday night in the ER with our oldest son, I have some thoughts to reflect upon. He had complained of chest pain/pressure before, but it always went away and wasn’t accompanied by other symptoms. That night, his face was red and his left arm bothered him. Hmmm, I’m not messing with heart issues, so we made a trip to the ER. I knew the walk-in wouldn’t have the ability to run the tests we needed, and we already met the insurance deductible after his brother’s skiing/broken leg this past winter. I could see the worry in his eyes… “What if I have a heart attack? I’m too young.” I tried not to convey the worry in mine. He’s had a couple of brushes with death, and I’m not ready for him to go.
The ER treated both of us with compassion. They explained what they were doing. They showed him his heart beats on the screen and how his flipped down and had some pauses. They turned the ultrasound screen towards him so he could see his heart and lungs. (“Want to see your liver? Here is your kidney!”) They showed him the EKG print out. They explained what the blood work was for and what the blood looked like (and that they normally draw a couple of extra in case the doctors request additional tests.) As they explained what an ectopic atrial rhythm is, I could see his fear lessen. As they talked about cardiology consults and possible next steps, I could see him relax. He was seen and heard, and not ignored.
I did get the question about why we waited so long to come in. Well, he had no other symptoms to go with it. Also, I don’t see him 24/7, so I don’t know how often this happened. The questions made me feel like a bad mom. It made me doubt myself. I had to focus on the fact that I did bring him in.
Thursday morning, I was very tired. I went to work as normal, but wasn’t very focused. Then we went to the regular Dr on Friday to get a referral. More questions, “Why didn’t you come in sooner?” It takes the wind out of me. It makes me feel less than as a mom. Then (at work) to get questions or hear comments about being gone for the appointment makes me feel less than as an employee.
Always speak kindly. Don’t assume you know the story.
The woman who looks tired? She may have stayed up all night worrying about her kids. She may have just a heard a diagnosis she can’t wrap her head around. She may have spent time in the hospital with her father. She might be wondering how to hold it all together. She may be struggling with infertility, too scared to share her story. She may feel the weight of financial burdens. She may be struggling with anxiety and depression, wondering why she can’t just be grateful. She may have had a tough conversation with her kids.
The woman who has missed a lot of work? She may be going to counseling. She may be taking her child to counseling. She may have gone to her doctor appointment, only to hear “try again next month.” She may be having radiation treatments that leave her so exhausted, but she shows back up to work anyway because she’s scared of losing her job. She may have a sick kid and have nobody else to watch him.
At one time in my life, these were my real scenarios. Not all at once, but sometimes more than one at a time. The list could go on and on. My point is, we all need to speak with more kindness & less judgement. More “how are you doing?” and less “where were you?” Truth be told, most of the time, I feel like I’m failing…Treading water and almost out of breath. It’s like a balancing act on a teeter totter while juggling – we all have our own version. If I spend more time at work, I feel like a bad mom. If I spend more time with my family, I feel like a bad employee. If I spend more time for myself, I feel like a bad spouse. Too many “hats” … too many roles… only one me.
I’m stretched thin, but I’m getting heavier. I know I’m not alone. I know there are other moms out there with the same balancing act. It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to have a crappy day. I know one day I will sit in my empty house and wish for the busy that I have now. Until then, I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Speak kindly to others, you never know what burdens lie on their heart.