Wait, since when do I joke about these things? What’s happening to me?
As told to Rochel Samet
Doughnuts, latkes, gleaming menorahs, and dancing flames. I love Chanukah.
“Libby, these are amazing,” Zeesy tells me, motioning toward the half-empty platter of latkes. She and Chaim have come over for a family party. I smile. Life has changed so much these past few months; I finally feel like a person again.
“Thanks,” I say happily, reaching for one myself. Then I wince, because my wrist hurts when I move it. Ugh, I must have overdone things in the kitchen today. My ankles are hurting too, and come to think of it, I’m really tired. Shouldn’t have pushed myself so hard. Baaaaad move.
“Whoops, I forgot the fruit salad,” Ma says, surveying the laden table. She looks exhausted, too. “Libby, would you mind...”
“Sure.” I’ve had more than enough of saying no; it’s good to be the helpful one again.
The fridge is crammed. I’m shifting containers around when dizziness overtakes me.
Need to sit.
The next thing I know, I’m lying on the kitchen floor, and someone is shrieking.
“Libby? Libby?” Ma is kneeling beside me. “Are you okay?”
I struggle to sit up. “What happened?”
“Hey, you’re the one who should be telling us that,” Chaim kidded. “We just heard a thud and came running.”
I smile, weakly. At least someone’s not looking at me with huge, terrified eyes. I look at Sara and Zeesy. “I’m fine, really. Just blacked out or something.”
Someone hands me a cup of water.
“I think we need to get this checked out,” Ma says to Ta, who nods. I think I’m okay, but I don’t bother arguing.
Ma drives me to the ER. There’s a wait time of about a million hours, after which a nurse sticks in an IV with fluids, and then disappears again before we can ask any questions.
“Maybe I’ll uncap the IV, that way we’ll get some attention,” I mutter to Ma. She blinks, looking confused, then smiles uncertainly.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea…”
“Kidding,” I say. Wait, since when do I joke about these things? What’s happening to me?
I’m still wondering when a nurse appears to take blood. Finally, something’s happening. There’s another wait, then a doctor comes over. My mind is too exhausted to take anything in, but he’s talking about hemoglobin levels, terribly low, they’re going to give me iron.
“You’ll need to come back twice a week for the next two weeks to get iron infusions,” he instructs, rapid-fire. Ma’s nodding frantically, she’s probably itching to write it all down. “And we’re going to run some tests to see if the medications that you’re currently taking are still working. We may need to switch things up a little.”
My mind crashes to a halt. Switch medications? Again? Just when I’ve finally become accustomed to the infusions, now when I’ve been feeling so much better, just when I thought things were getting back to normal…
I lean my head back against the wall. I am totally, utterly, zapped of energy. I just want to cry.
A few minutes ago, I’d thought I was doing so well on the acceptance front. Ha. Apparently not.
Then I look at Ma. She’s still talking to the doctor. My heart twists. Why should she have to deal with all this, too?
“I feel like such a burden,” I blurt when the doctor leaves, and we’re waiting for the nurse to come give me iron. “Like, you’re missing the whole party, all the family time. And you were so tired…”
Ma puts a hand on my arm, the one that’s not hooked up to the IV. “Libby, stop. Please. You’re not a burden at all. I’m here for you. We’re here for you, Ta and I, we’re all in this together. We’re sorry you’re going through this, and we’re going to support you through everything. Okay?”
She squeezes my hand, and my heart warms.
Maybe things will be okay, after all.
*Names and details changed to protect privacy
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 823)
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