Whenever I fill out medical paperwork that asks about my immediate family’s history with disease I have to mark an X in the box next to HEART DISEASE and TYPE 2 DIABETES and HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE and HIGH CHOLESTEROL and DENIES CLIMATE CHANGE.
I’ve never been really worried about most of these things, though, because one, science is real, and two, I’ve always resembled my father’s physical build more than I have my mother’s side of the family. He’s only had problems in the past with his cholesterol but through diet and exercise has been able to control it. I’ve been exercising since… always? And I was once that insufferable vegan for over two years. Whenever I’ve had my blood pressure measured I’ve always either been well within the normal range or in the YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A PULSE ARE YOU DEAD? range.
So you might understand my reaction yesterday when a nurse measured my blood pressure and it was… not good. Not good at all. I failed the blood pressure test. Totally brought down my grade point average. Next time Leta starts to freak out about an A minus I’m going to remind her that my failed test COULD KILL ME. Her grade? She’ll just stew about it like I did at her age and convince herself that because of it she’ll end up homeless and alone. And then dead.
We’re all going to die. But probably not from getting the value for y in an equation wrong.
I made an appointment to see my doctor for a few reasons, none that I want to get into here—please do start a rumor that I’m pregnant with sextuplets because when that rumor makes its way back to Marlo she’ll understand that we can’t adopt a Corgi because we have to make room for all the highchairs. And my doctor and I discussed those reasons, but we didn’t ever really get back to the blood pressure measurement. And I’d been so stunned and shocked senseless by the numbers that I forgot to ask her about it. And then it hit me later in the day: what if I have a heart attack? Leta and I, you see, we go from point A to point THIS LETTER DOES NOT EVEN EXIST faster than you can blink your eyes.
I had just dropped off Leta at her dance class, and because traffic at that time of day makes it so that I do not have time to drive home before picking her up when it’s over I stopped by my mailbox. And when I finally found a parking space in this godawful holiday traffic I texted my mother to ask her if she had two minutes to talk. She was diagnosed with high blood pressure at about my age, so when I told her the measurement I think she may have uttered an involuntary word for which she is going to need to repent.
Don’t worry, I’m going to talk to my doctor and figure out why my numbers were so high. We’ll get to the bottom of it. But I don’t think the pace of everyday life likes it when some of us try to seek out any endeavor that lets us breathe. In fact, when it sees us headed for a chair after unpacking all 30 bags of groceries it usually has the school secretary call our phones to say, “Hi, this is Cindy again. Sorry, but your child’s face got eaten off by a disease she caught on the playground this morning.”
And the pace of life in last month alone has tripled? Quadrupled? I know I’m not the only one feeling like the world is not so subtly spinning off its axis. I look at my calendar for the day and calculate how many hours I will be in my car and my hair starts to fall out. The good thing is that I’m not necessarily depressed or anxious about the amount of stress I’m under—the amount we are ALL under—but because of a ridiculously strange set of variables I haven’t exercised in over four months. And the stress of cramming work into a shorter and shorter amount of time every day—can someone send a memo to all orthodontists that says CHILDREN ARE IN SCHOOL DURING THE DAY and also PARENTS HAVE JOBS THEY HAVE TO WORK DURING THE DAY—before setting out on the voyage of What Mood is Marlo in this Afternoon has killed my appetite. I’m not even bugging my kids to fix mama a hot dog anymore.
I know it would do me (us) a ton of good to slow it down even just a bit, but how do you do that? No, seriously. I had a To Do list for December and the only things that got checked off were… let me see. Oh, yeah. We saw the orthodontist 60 times. That got checked off.
And in between all those visits everything went wrong. Or got knocked over. Or accidentally got burned alive. Or lost their contact lenses. Again.
My mother said that if I sat down at my desk to write the script of the last three weeks of my life that I’d never in my wildest imagination come up with anything close to what has happened. I bet many of you are nodding at this with concern to your own lives, too. And listen, I will be the first person to point out that instead of whining about the pace of life that I should do something about it, except I am so caught up in the dizzying vortex of it that I kind of want to punch myself for even suggesting that. And the reason I’m writing about it is to try to process it and analyze it all through the articulation of it. If I write it down I can look at it from outside the vortex.
In fact, I sat down to write about some of the incredible things that happened to us this year—I CAN AT LEAST RECOGNIZE THAT! You orthodontists can’t steal ALL my joy! And then as the words started to come out of my fingers (HOLY HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE) I remembered that I used to write about life having some pretty shitty moments. A lot. And so many of you who were going through the same thing or had just been through something similar or who had lived it all years ago were generous enough to send me a virtual hug and offer a resounding AMEN. And then we all laughed about it because a lot of these shitty moments are actually kind of funny, and then we felt better, and then you reminded me that children aren’t supposed to fix their parent a hot dog, that’s called child labor, did I have no soul.