venturing out

I grab my boy, nearly sixty pounds of slackish weight, duck into the car and hoist him onto a booster in the middle of the back seat (where it is more difficult for him to stare at the sun out a side window). Lifting him should be harder than it is, but the past twelve years of doing so has strengthened my muscles and bones, though not my countenance.

In the wake of Tuesday’s grand mal, he’s teetered on the verge of seizing again, perhaps even experiencing imperceptible and transient events, like when his lips turn pale and he spaces out a bit, or when he unravels into a manic attack. It’s impossible to know, really, if these are seizures or if they are some vestige of active benzodiazepine withdrawal; either way, they concern me enough to hesitate venturing out with him.

But we can’t spend this entire three-week stint between the end of school and the beginning of the abbreviated summer session indoors. We have no nurse and Michael is hard as ever at work (yes, he is immersed in all things related to his photography, especially when he doesn't have to teach).

So, every day I’ve been taking Calvin grocery shopping, first, to the big store, which he is used to, then to the little store, which he is not. Every time we approach the little store, with its narrow aisles, different smell and unfamiliarity, Calvin has a melt down. It can happen in the parking lot, in the foyer or in the aisle. He gets so upset his face turns bright red, he cries and scratches at me to leave or to pick him up.

When the tantrums hit—and I’ve no idea if they are some sort of visceral reaction, fierce anxiety or simple stubbornness—I must resign myself to waiting until they pass. I lean down and embrace him tightly as onlookers gawk or sneer, clearly wondering what the hell is wrong with me and my kid.

Yesterday, an elderly woman with a tiny cart looked at us forlornly and said, “It’s so hard.” She asked if there was something she could do or if she was in our way. I shook my head as Calvin's tantrum waned and I was able to lead him to the kombucha shelf. As we walked past, I thanked her.

“Your kind reaction is very rare,” I said, looking intently into her eyes, then added, with a thickening throat and a slightly trembling voice, “I appreciate it very much.”

“He’s such a sweet child,” she said.

It seems our outings might be improving slowly, which is the point of returning to the same places; Calvin does better with familiarity.

Today, he is very slightly better, albeit still showing signs of an impending seizure though it is only day four since the last. Even so, I'm going to load him in the car and see if we can survive another grocery trip.

Calvin having one of his manic fits, photo by Michael Kolster

1 comment:

  1. You were so gracious to thank your stranger/friend. It IS rare.