“I really think I’m getting better. I think I’m fine. Maybe it was all just a virus or something”
As told to Rochel Samet
I finally discovered a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free breakfast that tastes halfway decent — a fruit smoothie with almond milk. Yummy, nutritious, not too filling, but a welcome change from squishy date bars trying to masquerade as tasty. Ma bought a smoothie maker, and we keep experimenting with different fruit. Turns out that this part of the crazy diet is actually kind of fun.
Today when I come down to whip up breakfast, Henny’s doing her hair in the hall. “How’re you doing, Libby?”
Ever since I came back from that appointment a few weeks ago, she’s been treating me differently. Maybe Ma told her something, or maybe she just heard me in hysterics and feels bad. Better late than never, right?
“I’m great,” I tell her sunnily, skipping the last two steps. I can skip steps! I can walk! It’s been a whole week now that I’ve been to school every day. Things are changing, I just know it.
Ma and Ta are both sitting at the kitchen table, reading something on Ma’s computer. They have matching frowns on their faces, and I just know it has to do with me. Well. I won’t allow my mood to be ruined.
“Hi,” I say significantly.
Ma looks up. “Libby! We were just— here, have a look at this.” She slides her computer over and I take a look at the email that they’ve been reading. It’s from Dr. Isabel Parker, and for a minute I squint at the unfamiliar name, then I remember. The rheumatologist, middle-aged, rimless glasses, kind face. She was the one who’d referred us to the endocrinologist. And he was the one who’d thrown it all back in my face, saying there was nothing wrong, everything’s in my head. Recommended a psychiatrist too, I think.
“We sent her a follow-up email after your endocrinologist appointment,” Ma explains. “She only just replied.”
I read the small print, slowly so I shouldn’t get dizzy again.
“I apologize for the late response,” it begins.
“I am glad that your daughter had the chance to see an endocrinologist, and it seems her thyroid is functioning well. So at this point we can conclude the following: There is indeed a hint of autoimmunity suggested by the positive ANA, but the second round of tests (for rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s, scleroderma, and so on) all came back negative. So it is still not clear why her energy level is so low. We could try the following: either a short period of immunosuppressive medication to see if there is a benefit or else an anti-depressant medication for chronic fatigue. Either way, I would like to schedule another visit. Please remind me what type of insurance you have, so that…”
I look up. “Anti-depressants?” The word trembles a little. “So she also thinks…”
“I’m more concerned about the other suggestion,” Ta interjects. His coffee looks like it’s already cold, but he hasn’t touched it. “It doesn’t sound like a good option to me. That’s the medication they use for people who’ve had organ transplants, I don’t know why she’s suggesting it for you, it could be dangerous.”
I’ve had enough of this conversation, it’s getting late, my head is starting to spin from the small print. And I want my smoothie.
“Forget it,” I say. “I’ve been much better recently, right? I mean, I’ve been to school every day this week, and I was okay walking home and stuff, that used to get me really tired… I take notes most of the time, too.”
Ma looks uncertain, but Ta nods heartily. “That’s fantastic, Libby. I’m so happy to hear that. I’m sure your grades will be picking up again, too.”
I swallow, reach for a mango from the fruit bin, a knife, the chopping board. “Yeah, I hope so.” My voice gets a little stronger. “I really think I’m getting better. I think I’m fine. Maybe it was all just a virus or something.”
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 814)
Oops! We could not locate your form.