Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Dry Heat

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dry Heat

Random Thought of the Day: Yeah, I think Oregon is on fire.

It's a surprisingly cool morning, although we are headed for almost triple-digit temperatures. Although the grass on our property is still bone dry, I can smell a hint of the scent of rain in the air. The sky is covered with a thin, gray cataract of smoke and fog.

I have done quite poorly in this heat. I have been trudging around with an intermittent, sometimes debilitating headache for four entire days. Yesterday I took a pain pill and found a spot on the couch with Erik in front of Sesame Street. I felt like a complete crack house mother, but I had no choice. I asked Erik to bring me the blanket on the other couch. He looked at it, laughed, and walked away. Eventually I was able to convince him to fetch it for me. I fell into a drug-induced slumber to the shrill, ear-piercing voice of Elmo for a good five to 10 minutes and felt slightly better when I woke up. I don't have the luxury of calling in sick to my job. The only time I ever left my partner hanging was when Erik brought home a lively batch of Rotavirus and I was on the bathroom floor calling Ralph on the big, white telephone for two or three days. In any event, I am able to go through the motions of my routine and am waiting for this to pass so I can be me again.

Erik attended his first session of summer school Monday. He seemed to be happy to be back at school. I made myself comfortable in my rocking chair and looked longingly at the empty coffee maker but soon realized I was the only one at parent group. I leafed through an old copy of Reader's Digest, ignoring the serious texts and manuals looming over me on the bookshelf that used to haunt me, and read about Jamie Lee Curtis instead. Finally, the parent group leader came to join me and even made me some campfire-style black coffee, and we talked about our summers. One of my favorite mothers, the one whose fundraiser I recently attended, found us and joined us for a while. We talked about a new law that has just been passed here that grants medical cards for children with less serious medical expenses than the medically fragile. Although I miss the other mothers, it was nice just having the room to ourselves for once without the hard luck stories that sometimes stick in my heart for a couple of days.

Bev, Erik's therapist, poked her head in the door, eyes wide, and announced to me, "Erik DOES NOT forget a face." She explained that as soon as she walked into the classroom, Erik said casually, "Hi, Bev," even though it has been weeks since they have seen each other. As my son is generally unable/unwilling to follow many simple instructions and is very quiet in class, when he easily greets people by name, it really blows many adults away. Even Bev. I smiled as she pulled her head back out of the doorway and went back up to the classroom, shaking her head in amazement.

After class as I was walking to the parking lot, another mother from last session called out my name, and I turned to talk to her. She voiced her disappointment because her son had been talking nonstop about Erik and we were not in the same class this session. It is definitely nice to be missed.

Erik continues to grow and give us a glimpse into his future with Williams. His anxiety, although it has always been apparent in his shaking little body, is taking a new turn. For the past two nights, I have heard him screaming as if he is in complete agony. I have hurdled the coffee table and sprinted through his door to find him sobbing, muttering, "Siren!" over and over. I wrapped my arms tightly around him and listened. Sure enough, there was the faint wail of a siren in the evening air, almost inaudible and likely miles away from here, the sound of which had drifted through his bedroom window. Why this is suddenly upsetting to him is a complete mystery to me. I can't really criticize the boy, as I was deathly afraid of inanimate objects as a child, including the American flag and broken windows. All of my shushing and soothing words have little effect on him when he is this worked up. I found a CD of classical music in his ever-growing music collection and put it on his stereo, which began to calm him down. I then snuggled in bed with him and practiced my sad ventriloquism skills on the slobbery stuffed animal I call "Stinky Dog." That actually elicited a hearty laugh from him.

Life goes on here, and it is good.

Hard sometimes, but good.

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Blogger Every minute counts.... said...

I love the way you write. I can picture myself right there like a fly on your wall!
I hope that you can find some way for Erik to deal witht he anxiety. I know it is something we struggle with helping Abi figure out too. She has really stepped up her nail picking habits as of late. I hope you find a cool place to stay and get rid of the headaches!

7:13 AM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

Triple digits...I dare you to visit the desert now! Have you?

Your headaches...what are they from? Is it a lack of caffeine or sugar? Migraines? I remember once you mentioned your headaches and exercise. Any correlation?

Rotavirus it's awful! I never had it but my good friend's baby did. Simply awful!

I'm so sorry to hear of the siren incident and all that entails. There are many ups and downs as I follow your journey with WS. It isn't easy by a long shot, but I pray that through encouragement, support, and faith it will help you move forward. Be of good courage and carry on for Erik!

10:08 AM  
Blogger Aspen said...

Wow, I have read 5 posts consistently now and haven't had a tear drop fall. That is until this post. Something about picturing Erik crying over a siren is so familiar to me that it breaks my heart. Picturing your arms around him trying to comfort him, ugh...Kleenex!


12:25 PM  
Blogger Lisa R said...

I have had fun playing email with you the last few days :)

1:32 PM  
Blogger Teresa & Shawn said...

Makes me so sad to think of Erik in his bed terrified. We have not hit that stage yet with Clare. She does get scared of certain noises (like if someone sings a lullabye song - go figure), but I would not call it terrified. Give your boy a big hug from us - it's amazing how you can love a little kid you have never met who lives across the country.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Rosemarie -- I hear about people like from AZ to escape the heat!

My headaches are likely hormonal but are also triggered by heat or exercise. I have been to a neurologist, but I think they will be with me until I hit menopause. I had really bad headaches when I was a little girl.

Thanks for the encouragement. It means a lot.

5:30 AM  

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