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School days blurred by. A few times I left my job early to take Beth home with a high fever. Loraine had introduced us to Dr. Julie Miller, a wonderful physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor. At our first appointment at her Toledo office, she handed Beth a gift: a prescription for physical therapy in the warm water rehab pool. We agreed to wait to schedule the sessions until another respiratory infection was resolved with another round of antibiotics.
My new normal felt strange.
Most school days, Beth and I shared our lunch breaks in her locker room. I transferred her out of the wheelchair and she melted into the cot—the one she thought she wouldn’t need. Both of us were stretched too thin.
We shared peanut butter sandwiches and apples during the break. Then, after more classes, I met her at the car. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she fell asleep at home by 2:30 pm. The other three weekdays we headed to outpatient rehab directly from school.
Green Springs was named for one of the world’s largest natural sulphur springs that bubbled into a smelly greenish pond next to the rehab hospital. Once thought to possess healing powers, the warm water of the spring had a distinct smell, a little like spoiled eggs. Many had traveled there in times past to be cured. While Beth exercised in physical therapy, I often walked around the pond.
I thought about the other moms who had taken this path before me, hoping for miracles.
We left therapy for home after 5 pm. Essays, lab reports, and other assignments filled the time after a quick dinner. Initially, I typed while Beth dictated. After a few weeks, she insisted on typing herself, aiming for specific keys with her thumbs and the one finger she could move a little by itself, the left index. I bought forearm supports that attached to the computer table for her to use. She asked me to remove them.
I interrupted homework for the time-consuming shower routine with the annoying metal chair and rails. I asked her again if we should consider a different house with better access. She insisted that we stay in the only home she had ever known.
Beth was given extra time to complete schoolwork, but she refused to consider it. Each day had enough of a work load without adding more. Some nights I lay down after 10 pm with her working on homework in bed. She couldn’t turn off the lamp on her nightstand until I replaced the switch with a larger one. Beth fell asleep easily. I didn’t. I couldn’t stop worrying about tragedies that could happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone I loved.
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