I feel like growing up, I went to the doctor…never. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely gone more often but especially when my daughter is sick. Maybe that has something to do with the fact the COVID19 Pandemic began when she was 10-11 months old. Before my daughter and the Pandemic though, if I wasn’t dying, I would still go to work. I’ve miscarried at work a couple times and stuck it through, I’ve passed 4mm kidney stones while managing a Buffalo Wild Wings Restaurant on a busy game day weekend, and yes, I can’t even tell you how many times I have waitressed, bartended, or cooked while I had a cold or the flu. I had bills to pay, bosses to please, and a job to keep. Plus, I always felt like I was taught to get the job done if I could. I always felt guilty if someone else had to pick up for my slack, no matter what the reason. I always felt like I could do it, and if I couldn’t, then those were the rare times I called in. Usually though, if it was severe like the time I had kidney stones, a urinary tract infection, and a kidney infection, it takes my best friend and comanager, threatening to call an ambulance for me if I didn’t leave the shift and go to the Emergency Room.
The start of the Pandemic was difficult for many reasons but this mindset of working while sick or being sick isn’t the end all of the work day, made it extremely difficult. Suddenly, working with even a cough or sore throat was frowned upon. I still had bills to pay though and bosses to please. The stigmas of “faking it” didn’t go away either. Even after a year inside this Pandemic, getting quarantined was almost like a death sentence at the office. My supervisor made comments like, “just ask blah blah blah how to get quarantined, they are a professional at it.” When, in reality, I was begging the other supervisor to let me work and trying to justify how I could because I had no symptoms or this time we weren’t around each other for more than 15 minutes. The passive-aggressive jokes didn’t end just because this more serious illness was prevalent and the world was on the edge of their seats over it for the last 15 months. I still found myself sick, wanting to work and feeling guilty for not working. A whole new world of guilt was occurring now though, because the seriousness of COVID sits in the back of your mind. What if it is COVID and I get someone else sick? What if their exposure to my illness kills them or someone they love? Even with NEGATIVE COVID tests, I still have to quarantine for symptoms without exposure. How do I afford to take off work for 14 days? I’m still paying for child care but my daughter has to stay home too. And god forbid if my child is the one exposed or sick and has to stay home but I am fine.
As a sole guardian of a child, with no one else near in the family to help out in these instances, these situations become even more prominent when that child is the one who is ill. It is my worst nightmare already when my child is sick. The paranoia, anxiety, and guilt that washes over me when my child becomes sick is torture. If I could take her sickness the second I knew it was coming, I would in a heartbeat. I would be sick 1,000 times over if it meant she never had to be ill or feel any pain. I want nothing more than to protect her. Her suffering is the worst sort of pain for me. Why do babies and kids get sick? It just seems so cruel and unfair. Id take all their sickness away if I could. You had these often terrifying and horrible feelings and thoughts to the equation I mentioned above for myself, and you have the ultimate stressful situation. Yet, those stigmas and comments become tenfold. Those confusing wars that go on inside your mind and the guilt surrounding any option you have in making a decision, become magnified.
And you’re really just alone in it all. I don’t mean in the sense I am literally alone. I have plenty of family, friends, and even the facebook connections of both to support me. It’s not the same as being the only person to sit with these decisions though. I can’t trade off sick days with my daughter’s dad. There isn’t one of us to stay home with sick baby and one to go to work. We don’t have two incomes coming into the home. There isn’t two people to to take shifts when she cannot sleep or she needs to be constantly held for hours or she cries herself into a coughing fit that makes her throw up. There isn’t a second set of hands to help hold her down if she doesn’t want to take the medicines she needs. There isn’t someone to run to the pharmacy or the grocery store, you have to take her with you and get all the stares and glares from other people. I don’t even want to imagine what some of them think. I’ve heard a few thoughts spoken out loud over the past 2.5 years and they aren’t pretty thoughts usually. Forget it if you’re quarantined due to COVID exposure and your child needs medicine or you’re out of milk or diapers. It’s just a whole different ball game. And I hope no one thinks I’m trying to belittle someone else’s experience if they are in a coparent situation or married, etc. I am a firm believer that one persons trauma or one persons pain does not trump anothers. We all have valid feelings. I’m simply here expressing my own experience and its difficulty. But what I really want to talk about is that stigma and the unneccessary comments.
As you can see, in my mind, it’s already pretty hard to make the choice to stay home from work due to illness or if my child is sick. I personally belief that using a “my great aunt died” excuse or anything of that nature, is attracting that energy into your life. You are calling to it and asking it to be manifested. I would never lie on a healthy person in that nature, especially if that person is my child. So for someone to think I’m faking my child’s illness is pretty down-right frustrating to me. A good way to anger me, make a comment like, “I hope your daughter is feeling better. If she’s even sick that is, hahaha.” The next time you laugh like that around me, might be the time I decide to throw my “do no harm” beliefs out the window for a few seconds. Long enough to knee you where it counts most. Not only would I never want to attract that negative energy to my child, but I would’nt use my child for ANYTHING. I’d never use her for money, for control, for a sense of power, for good fortune, for a day off, or anything you can imagine in your twisted little narcissistic mind. Maybe some parents are comfortable “using” their child as a scapegoat or as a pawn to get something they want, but I am not that Mama. If I wanted out of work, I wouldn’t drive to the office at 7:30am on a Friday, sick child in tow, to pick up my computer and then go home and work from my kitchen until I had to take her to urgent care around 1:00pm.
I don’t typically hold onto anger. I don’t believe in wasting energy on being upset over too much. As my daughter grew sicker over the weekend, I got sick too, and we took three separate trips to the doctor, I kept feeling the anger come back. Over a simple sentence. Over something so small, I shouldn’t have let it get to me at all.
Today though, as I held her on my lap so she could have a large cu-tip rammed down her throat as she screamed for me to make it stop, all while coughing and gagging, I couldn’t help but feel angry all over again at those words. As she cried and kicked at the nurse over and over while getting her nose swabbed two more times after already having it done once before, I held back tears and tried to comfort her. Her eyes begged and her she cried “no” but I had to hold her still. I had to be the one to hold her tight so she couldn’t move while she was tortured. And when she was exhausted afterwards and immediately fell asleep in my arms, I still didn’t cry. The tears swelling my eyes dried up because they were replaced with a feeling of growing irritation. The thought of those words came racing back through my head, “if she’s even sick.” As I stare down at her gunk covered lashes and wet, red face, I focused on those words harder than I should have. I wanted to lash out but I guess it’s lucky enough I had to wait a while for the doctor to see her and her test results to come back. Now I get to spend the next 10 days, twice a day, forcing her to take an antibiotic she doesn’t want all while she is still clearly miserable from her ear infections and we don’t even know what else that caused them. I get to feel guilt over having to miss work all week and her missing school. I get to feel guilt that I’m even feeling guilty for that! She’s sick! I get to feel guilty that I can’t do anything else to help ease her pain except hold her if she needs it. I get to feel the judgment from others as I carry her, coughing, through the pharmacy to get her meds. I have to decide when it’s safe to visit Grandma now because we know she can’t afford to get sick. I will undoubtedly let my anxiety drive me mad and probably over-text anyone who I think might be thinking the same things you spoke out loud and they are only made more dignified because you’ve said them so casually in my ear from day one.
Oh yea, missing one easy day of work was totally worth all that.
So, I write this little blog here today, mostly to release my own negative feelings over the incident. I write to let go. And if it also reaches the mind of someone who maybe never considered some of these thoughts before, then that’s even better. Maybe, some people don’t have perspective. Maybe, they just don’t understand because they’ve never had to experience it. Sometimes, I think people just don’t think about how harmful their words can truly be. Words really do have an inmeasurable amount of power.
A lot of people today complain the world has gone soft. I would say maybe this is true, but is a softer world such a terrible thing? Why do we all want to continue a harsh life-cycle? Why do we want to live miserably or let our children iherit a potentially miserable existence? I’m not taking away someones rights or opinions by provoking thoughts or encouraging human decency. I’m simply sharing my experience and hoping that someone opts to put themselves in the other person’s shoes in situations like this. If that makes me soft, well, then call me Squishy.
To the individual I wrote specifically about, if you by some miracle come across this, know I hold no more anger. I have released it and it is gone. Say it again though, and you might get more than words in a blog.