Sunday, January 16, 2011

An Okay Trip Down Aisle Three

We here at Casa del Rooster are doing, er, um -- okay -- these days, in case you visit this blog regularly and have been wondering.
You know "okay"?
Okay, as in, the Rooster's Mama has never seen a half full glass?
Okay, as in, shhhh, never tempt a jinx.
Okay, as in a song a dear friend gave to me:

I just wanna be OK, be OK, be OK today.

Yeah, enough said about that. But on a recent okay day, I found myself rushing through the grocery store, focused on my list mantra: milk, chicken, fruit, lunch box stuff... milk, chicken, fruit, lunch box stuff... milk...

Then a lady stepped in front of me to get some cheese.
I think: I know her, I know her. From where? How do I know her? Who is she?
She moves to the next aisle but I stand rooted. It's important. I can see her in my mind, and she has something to do with the Rooster. I pass right by the chicken I need and slowly head to the aisle I think she chose. Yes, there she is again, with her list, her white hair. I close my eyes for a moment. Yes, I see her now. It has been, what, three years? Four years? Am I slow to recall her identity because my aging mind forgets more and more as I approach 40, or because my defiant heart didn't want to budge from its perch in an okay day to visit a painful memory?

She is one of the doctors from our old pediatrics office. Not our own former doctor, the young Dr. S, but his older partner. The one everyone told us balanced things out -- you get the young Dr. S who has small kids, a big heart, infinite energy, and the latest greatest knowledge, and you get his older partner, doctor J, who has a grown child and all the experience you will ever need.

Seeing this doctor pick out apples should not be enough to knock me off my okay perch. And it's not, really, overall. I will still ring up my groceries with the adorable guy who always has something nice to say, and I will still smile at all the grocery jokes they make at TJ's. I will still go home and enjoy making my kids a healthy snack from the bounty I just bought. I will still watch my son and marvel at his recent improvements, his growth, his hard work. I will still have an okay day even when my kids skirmish a bit, and I will still be okay, be okay, be okay with my kids snuggled up on either side of me for a bedtime story.

But for a moment in the grocery store, fragility seizes upon me in the produce aisle. The memory of fear, isolation, loneliness, fatigue, failure, and desperation is not okay. A missed diagnosis, unreliable medical care, insensitive remarks, arrogance, disregard for developmental knowledge in pediatrics, wasted time, needless tests, horrible referrals, bad attitudes, selfishness... who knew how barely below the okay surface these old injuries could live?

I circle back to where I started to get that chicken on my list. I do not speak to the doctor, and she has no idea who I am or why for a moment I had to close my eyes and hold on to my cart. And that is okay with me. I only hope that she and her partner both remembered what I said when I quit them, three or four long years ago now: The next time you meet a child like mine, a child with autism, I expect you to do right by that child, by that family. I expect you to listen to them, hear them. I expect you to diagnose them. I expect you to help them. I expect you to provide resources to them. Because that is your job!

My favorite cashier asks, "Did you find everything you need?"

I think so. Eventually.


Melissa said...

Oh ... ((hugs)) to you. I can only imagine what a fragile moment that was. And you're so right ... those moments are so close to the surface of the okay days, aren't they?

Alysia said...

wow - that is a powerful description of that moment. I felt like I was there in the store with you. Amazing how things like that just flood back sometimes, and I bet it took everything you had not to go over and say what you were thinking.

kim mccafferty said...

I'm so sorry you were taken by surprise like that, and taken back in time. I'm sure you helped other families by your words. Had a similar experience back in the day...

Boy Wonder's Mom said...

I know how you feel. You see someone who didn't help your child and was suppose to and it just yanks you back. I'm hoping as my son gets older that the yank won't be quite so rough.