| Moonwalk |

Moonwalk: Chapter 12

She’s talking in her “reasonable” voice, the kind she uses on kids she works with. Ugh

“A patient portal?” I blink sleepily. “What’s that?”

Ma looks relaxed, it’s Shushan Purim and we have the day off.

“The doctor’s office told me about it. It’s a way to check up test results ourselves.”

I am wide awake now, although I didn’t sleep much last night. “Why bother? There’s nothing wrong, every stupid blood test comes back fine, all the doctors say so, and meanwhile I’m not functioning and this crazy diet doesn’t work –

Ma sighs. “Listen, Libby, we’re doing our best, that’s what I’m telling you. Ta’s friend – you know, Dr. Hartstein – had a look at your portal with Ta.”

It’s hard to focus when the room is spinning and my limbs are too heavy to move.

“What did they find?” I croaked.

“So like the hospital said yesterday, the tests for Lyme disease and the other diseases were negative.” She paused. “But we did find that the ANA was positive, that’s, uh, autoimmune something-or-other.”

I blink. “What does that mean? Is it an illness?”

Ma shrugs. “I don’t think so, but it might be a clue. Dr. Hartstein recommended that we set up another appointment, with a different doctor. It’s in a few weeks.”

My body goes slack against the bed. “A few weeks?! A few weeks of this crazy pain and being tired all the time and having no idea what it’s all about?”

She looks away.


The calendar shows Ma’s Pesach planning: day-by-day cleaning schedule, shopping lists, and one week before Yom Tov, a heavily outlined box with the words LIBBY – RHEUMATOLOGIST.

Something closes inside me. I’m not interested anymore. I don’t want more blood tests and pricks and pokes and doctors asking endless, pointless questions. I’m not interested in hearing – again – that there’s nothing wrong with me, I should take vitamins and get enough sleep, is something bothering me at school…

Is something bothering me? My head, my stomach, the exhaustion and waves and waves of pain and crying and sweating and dizzy and never knowing how I’m going to feel the next minute. Wasting my life away, day after day after day, can’t do anything, poor Libby, she should push herself a bit, maybe she should speak to someone.

I’ve had enough.

I march into the dining room. Ma is at her computer, reading glasses perched on her nose.

“Cancel it.” I hardly recognize my voice.

She looks up, blinks to focus. “What? Is something the matter?”

“The appointment. Cancel it, okay? I’m not interested. They can’t help me. It’s not worth it.”

Ma looks concerned. “But isn’t it worth a try?” She’s talking in her “reasonable” voice, the kind she uses on the kids she works with. Ugh.

“No, it’s not. They have no idea what’s wrong, so probably nothing’s wrong. It’s all in my head, okay? I’ll live. I’ll finish high school and then stay home cuz I’ll never get into seminary like this. So I have these random crazy pains and headaches and can’t sleep and I’m starving all the time, who cares, right?”

Ma’s eyebrows are sky-high. “But Libby, we do care. That’s why we want to work this out. We’ll get to the bottom of it. Sometimes it takes time to find the right diagnosis…”

I stare at her. “Right. Let’s run around to a million more doctors. Maybe we should take another twenty tubes of blood and do another ten scans? With no idea if they’re even gonna find anything? I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough!”

Ma squints at me. Her eyes are pained, and for a fleeting moment I feel guilty. Then she blinks, looks back at her computer.

“Libby, you know what, let’s discuss this later. I’m going to finish some work now, we’ll talk soon, okay?”

So the conversation is over. I stumble out of the room, blindly find my bedroom, and collapse onto the bed. I don’t care, I tell myself fiercely.

I don’t care. I don’t care.

But I do.

*Names and details changed to protect privacy

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 811)

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