My son had one of his most difficult days in weeks today. He had a doctors visit, which he physically fought to avoid, followed by the realization that he will need bloodwork tomorrow and monthly afterwards. At the doctor’s office he heard that he has something else wrong with him — Lead — that will require yet more medicines and supplements. I hope to say more about that later, but you can imagine how we felt when we found out he has the issue of multiple heavy metals to deal with on top of the Lyme.
By the time he got to dinner, the thought of doing one more thing he didn’t like (such as taking his medication) was completely overwhelming to him. On top of that he was overtired after waking early a few days in a row, and simply could not pull himself together. We had over an hour of difficulty, including a complete break to go upstairs and put on P.J.s with mommy doing everything to provide that extra love, before he was able to gather himself and down the drugs.
None of this is surprising, it is part of what we go through right now on a regular basis (though this is worse than usual). Instead, what awes and touches me is what happened after it, at bedtime. Remember that although he’s gotten through the doctor’s visit, he still has hanging over his head tomorrow’s bloodwork and the new medications to come, along with the ongoing trials of the antibiotics he dislikes. At bedtime we have a tradition of saying thank you for something and wishing for something. Tonight to help both children, we also told a story we use sometimes where they can hang anything that’s bothering them on the “worry tree” and leave those worries behind as they enter sleep. My son’s wishes were that people would find a way to use less gas. His thanks were that he figured out how to ride his bike (something he made huge progress on in the last few days) so that we could drive the car less. And his worry tree worries had nothing to do with his treatment.What a big heart he must have, and what an agile mind, to be able to put aside his personal trials for something bigger.
There’s a bit of back story here. My family was together this weekend celebrating Martin Luther King day, and my parents asked the kids what dreams they have for how to make the world a better place. I didn’t know what to expect, but with my son’s current health difficulties, I guessed he might say something about better health. I was surprised and touched when he said his dream was that we would find a way for everyone to use less gas so that the earth would not get any hotter. My daughter followed this up by saying that her dream was to find a way to help Mother Earth with her fever. This brought tears to my dad’s eyes and touched all of us.
What’s especially poignant is the fact that Lyme disease itself is in part an artifact of the impact we humans have on the world. The overabundance of deer is a human-created problem, as is the suburban sprawl which brings their habitat so close to so many places where we live. Even the changing temperature has an impact on how Lyme spreads. Similarly, lead and other heavy metals are only a problem because of what we have done to our own environment.
I just bought the book Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen. I think the title expresses exactly what I feel at moments like these. I haven’t read it yet, but I cannot just give up. I have to keep hoping that I will leave a livable world to my children’s children. I have to live up to the hope and trust expressed in my childrens’ innocent wish to make the planet healthier. With health on all our minds, it’s important not to forget that our health and our environment’s health are intimately connected.