Very soon after I wrote the WWED entry, on February 18, things lined up in that magical way that sometimes happens, the way that makes me feel like the universe is letting me know I’m doing something right.
It started with panic. I had a week or so left of my Ritalin preventative, no Ativan, no Percocet. I was trying to get in to a pain clinic because my neurologist’s assistant couldn’t see me until April, and no doctor I’d called would take me. I began texting my mom for reassurance, and she said that maybe the change would be good. Then J’s and my best friend who’d moved to Florida several years before, S, began texting with me as well. His fibromyalgia had flared recently too, and as we compared meds and symptoms I admitted to Mom that perhaps I’d been a bit too reliant on my precious Percocet. J and I spoke in person at the same time about whether the rebound cycle from Percocet might often land me in the ER. But… would I have only Imitrex at home then? The thought made the panic increase. S told me he felt like there was craziness in the air. His clients at work felt it too. A writer friend from college contacted me as well, complimentary about the latest blog post. “Harrowing,” she called it. I hadn’t had so many rewarding, important conversations in a long time. I felt alive. Not at all confused about who I was. I confirmed to S, yes. There is craziness in the air, I feel it too. Oddly, he said, “Nothing we can do, maybe we should say the Serenity Prayer.”
I rolled my eyes at that, a bit. S had become nearly insufferably new-agey, doing reiki and chakras and all that sort of stuff. However from my week in a psychiatric unit 17 years ago I have a fondness for that particular prayer as well. The wisdom to know the difference. Asia began to dance around me frantically and J was out, so I got up, leaving my phone to charge (unusual for me to not have it on me at all times) and took her outside, into the deep snow.
I spent some time letting Asia play on the leash, and stood laughing at myself as I walked around in my pjs and boots and mismatched hat and gloves, poking through the crusty layers of snow and ice with a pointed pole I’d found in the garage, looking for Asia’s buried tie-out cord. I did not think about Dr. P or Percocet or the Serenity Prayer, but enjoyed the feeling of being loved by family and friends, the sense of strength, the hilarity of randomly poking a stick through the snow and playing outside with a dog while wearing pajamas. I did not think of J’s great aunt Sister Emily Fox, one of the magical Fox Family namesakes of my second daughter, the three good witches of J’s childhood, the only benevolent, kind family he had. His own grandma having passed years before, her sister Martha, the nun, following a few years later. Grandma was the nun drop out, having fallen in love with J’s shifty grandpa. This last sister, also a nun, had died just two days before, on Zo’s birthday, the namesake child herself. Magical. But I did not think of Sister Emily or the three Fox sisters’ fondness for the Serenity Prayer as I stood somehow gleeful in the dim February sunlight, in the snow, with my silly dog.
I brought Asia inside and went upstairs and sat down on the bed, reaching for my phone to continue the conversations which had so enriched my day.
It rang, and I jumped. It rang, jarring, the old fashioned ringtone which meant school, pharmacy or doctor’s office. I never answer my phone, believing if it’s important I can listen to the voicemail. The screen said “Neurology Clinic.” What could that be about? My heart pounded. Without thinking I slid the answer bar and said hello, this is elizabeth.
A very cheerful voice, a voice with good news to deliver, said “Hi Elizabeth, this is Julie from the Neurology Clinic. How would you like to come in for an appointment tomorrow at 10?”
And just like that, everything slid into place. Tears sprung to my eyes as I thought about how very nearly I’d missed this call, wondering how I had gotten so lucky when I’d never asked to be on a waiting list; in all the years I’d been a patient there, I didn’t even know they had one. I had just won the lottery. “Are you kidding?” I gasped. “YES! Yes yes yes! How?”
Julie laughed, delighted by my breathless response. “We had a cancelation.”
“It’s with C?” The headache nurse coordinator assistant.
“It’s… with T.” Not just the lottery then, but the mega-millions jackpot. My life had just been saved. Very nearly literally. The neurologist herself, who hadn’t had an opening until July. I told Julie I would be there with bells on and burst into grateful, disbelieving tears. I texted S and my college friend, and my mom, then called J, who was stunned into silence and then barked out a joyous laugh, the best noise I’d ever heard, and my grateful heart filled to overflowing.
The rest of the day remained amazing, miraculous. A friend who’d been testy with me about canceling plans apologized. I apologized in turn to another good friend, and others I hadn’t heard from in a while contacted me to say hi or to see how I was. I felt like a good things magnet. The oddest message was from my lactation consultant and friend, who said she was feeling “nudged” to tell me that Jesus died for my sins and loved me always. Still, I did not think of Sister Emily.
The appointment itself was everything it needed to be: scary and grounding and full of reminders of how far I’d come. I had detoxed off NSAIDS myself; had been off Percocet for weeks and had come to the conclusion on my own it wasn’t the best thing for me. Dr T agreed, and didn’t want me on Ritalin anymore either. Her goal was to get me to two treated headaches per week, with imitrex only. She prescribed Periactin, an antihistamine often used as a preventative for children with migraine. In fact it was the first preventative I’d ever been on, which felt perfect in that full-circle kind of way. She referred me to a pain therapist / biofeedback practitioner and to a headache workshop and said C would see me in 8 weeks. I left feeling very nervous, but at least I was no longer in such limbo.
On the way home, we passed the large cemetery by the river and J became visibly choked up. He gestured to the rows of graves swishing by behind the black iron fence as we drove. His grandma is buried there. “Sister Emily,” he said, his voice thick with tears. And then I remembered. Her funeral was taking place that very day, maybe at that very moment. Sister Emily had always loved and accepted me when no one else in J’s family would. She had learned reflexology in the convent, and once during a visit had massaged my feet, specific to migraine, describing the methodology as her tough, calloused hands worked their wonders.
Thank you, Sister Emily Fox, the last of my husband’s magic ladies, his protective trio of grannies. Thank you for his life and your love and for being the other pole of my good things magnet.
The day after my appointment with Dr. T, I had to go to the ER, but since I had just seen her I was treated well. Just one visit, one dose, and then for seven days I needed to treat only 3 headaches. This week has not been as good, but that is the way of migraine and I am not discouraged. And I know who I am.
On Thursday, February 28 I learned that my Disability was approved. APPROVED, after less than three months, on my first attempt. I am ready to send in the necessary financial documents in order for my monthly payments to be figured.
J’s second interview for a good job in his field is tomorrow.
God[dess] grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The strength to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.