Wednesday, August 12, 2009
What if you had one day left to live? How would you spend it?
Might you put the bikes on the back of the car and drive to a smooth bike path with some of the people you love?
That's what we did yesterday. We whizzed along the 11 miles, under shady trees and then beside tall corn fields. We watched the butterflies zig then zag to miss our zooming bikes and we saw the birds' shadows on the path as they soared overhead. We pretended we were the Pelloton and counted how long it would take to catch the breakaway leader. And at the end of the path, we pushed hard up a hill to get to the small town of Granville where an ice cream shop awaited. A glass of water with a lemon was the first relief, followed by a Coke float with the vanilla ice cream melting into the soda.
Then we turned around and glided down that same hill. We stopped at a wooden playground and pumped our legs on the swings until I knew my shoes would touch the clouds. I pushed Grace on a tire swing, her 5-foot, 9-inch body draped over the black rubber swing. Then we got on our bikes and continued the 11 miles back to the car. We sang songs from Disney movies and it was a real treat to hear Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious in French. The girls were moving at a snail's pace. I passed them for awhile and rode ahead. Earl had long since abandoned our slow ride and sped ahead of us.
The girls put on a burst of speed and caught up with me, panting and telling me that I was 2 minutes and 40 seconds ahead of the Pelloton before they caught me. We stopped for water and then they boxed me in, refusing to let me go ahead. So we sang songs from The Sound of Music and Beauty and the Beast.
The day was hot, high 80s, but as long as we were moving on our bikes we had a nice breeze. Earl turned around to look for us when we were about three miles from the end. The girls decided this was their chance to beat him to the finish line. They tried boxing him in, but got passed when they had to move to the right for an oncoming biker. In the end, they reached the parking lot first, and, amid much groaning and rubbing of butts, we drove home.
I picked up Tucker from his band practice for a taste test at the local research center. After I pocketed the $15, and he took the $10, I drove home again. My contacts were foggy and everything seemed blurry.
I took out my contacts and realized I was having a hard time focusing. It felt like I'd just looked into a camera flash. I tried to read my email but kept feeling like something was blocking my vision. I cut up some fresh tomatoes for a tomato and vinaigrette salad. Still, things danced in front of my eyes. Finally, I went to lie down.
Earl has had a similar experience twice. The doctors figured it was either a small piece of plaque that broke off and headed for his brain but instead went to his eye, or, their second opinion, was a visual migraine. So, I lay in bed, wondering if I was going to die. But, I didn't feel any pain. You can't really go to the emergency room when you aren't in any pain.
After awhile, I got up and my vision was better. I sat down in the living room where the girls had turned on the movie 17 Again. I watched and said, "Is that Zack Effron?" But the words felt funny coming from my mouth. Slurred almost. My brain felt fuzzy too. I looked at Matthew Perry and asked, "Is that the guy from friends?" But I really couldn't place him. Next, I felt a tingling in the fingers of my left hand. I kept moving my hand and trying to analyze with my fuzzy brain why my fingers would be feeling numb like they were falling asleep.
Finally, I sat by Grace. She leaned her head on me, and I thought if this is my last day, I just need to make sure my family knows I love them. So I kissed each of them. I told them to make good choices (well, I didn't tell Earl that).
"Is something wrong, Mom?" Spencer asked. And I just gave him an extra squeeze around his rock-hard middle.
Today, I feel fine. But, I might call my doctor just to see if she can fit me in. I'm not willing to go in for a bunch of tests, but I might sit down and write letters to the kids. Just in case. They'd start something like this: The most important thing you need to know is that I love you so much that my heart nearly bursts from it. It is so full with my love for you...
UPDATE: I went to the doctor this morning and she felt confident that what I had was a migraine with aura. The aura is the spots that blocked out my peripheral, and much of my straight ahead vision. She has these herself, although the aura usually precludes the onset of the migraine itself. She told me to get back to my vitamins and watch out for triggers. Thank God, I'm not going to die yet.
I told a friend that the doctor said it was a migraine with aura. She said, "Is that like a brain tumor with a free gift?" It's a different kind of benefit.
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