What would you do for love? I never know until I’m faced with a request or a requirement.
We went into attack mode about Meena’s health seven days ago. She’s been sick for a long, long time and I finally got worried and tired of making excuses for all her illnesses. For more than two years she’s had a succession of pulmonary infections, stuffy, runny noses, four staph or MRSA infections, two bouts of conjuctivitis on the heels of the staph infections. All total, she’s had four rounds of oral antibiotics, two rounds of eye antibiotics, and multiple topical antibiotics.
When we landed in the pediatrician’s office last Tuesday, I was not inclined to go another round of antibiotics, but this little girl was pretty darn sick. Dr. W gave her an Albuterol (A) treatment to open up her airways.
“She needs to take antibiotics,” Dr. W. said after listening to her lungs post the “A” treatment.
“Oh, please,” I pleaded. She knew what I meant.
“All right, I’ll give one more treatment and listen again.”
But Meena didn’t much improve so we went away with prednisone (steroids to reduce inflammation in the infected lung) and the A treatment for home.
I had spent the prior thirty-six hours doing laundry and scrubbing every item in the house that Meena touches.
I have to contain the staph outbreak since her immune system is so compromised.
I lost count of the number of loads of wash I did. It was about twenty. Every stitch of clothing, all shoes, every stuffed animal, all sheets, blankets, pillows—anything that could go into a washer got put in. Nog upped the temp on the water heater to 130 degrees. I washed with scalding water.
Keeping up with meals during the emergency containment proceedings was a chore and come Wednesday—five days into “all-systems-on-Meena’s-health” mode—I was pretty exhausted. Especially since these five days came on the tail of a four-week writing marathon.
It was time to emerge from one marathon and take up another. Life seems to like this cycle.
To bolster me a tad, I took advantage of a mid-week afternoon, as the January weather changed from still and mild to windy and cool, to plant purple pansies in the hanging pots that had showed off pink petunias all summer and fall. The petunias had been frozen brown like scarecrows for more than a month, but I hadn’t been able to get outside to freshen up the garden.
Breathing air outside the house, touching the earth with my hands, and actively giving life a place, was required before I could go sit with Rati, our dying cow.
As soon as I turned the corner on the shed, I saw she was struggling with pain. Her breathing was rapid, she was grinding her teeth, foam accumulated at her mouth, and she stretched her neck in wide-angle swinging motions. She struggled, with little strength, to stand. But only got as far as moving one knee then collapsing back down.
Rati doesn’t want to die.
I spent an hour talking and chanting to her and stroking her chin, neck, chest and the top of her head. These are her favorite places to be petted. It was difficult to stay near her. She was flailing in death’s grip. A strong movement of her head in my direction could unwittingly break one of my bones. So I kept standing to give her swing space, then kneeling when she calmed and I could caress her.
Today it was different. She’s no longer fighting. Her head is stretched long on the ground. She’s only moving her ear, which follows the sound of a car whirring a mile off, a dog barking twenty acres away, a fly buzzing around her head, my soft voice singing mantras. Her breathing remains quick, though sometimes, now, she closes her eyes. She’s getting tired. It’s been a agonizing seventy-two hours.
I prefer that she would die tonight. But I wished that two days ago already. I still need to speak to her, sing to her, rub her and wish her soul on its progressive way.
We’re waiting for Meena’s labs to see if she has an immune disorder. I don’t think she does. More likely, we’re facing allergies and/or asthma. She has stabilized, her lung is clearer. The cough is still bad. I’ve contained the staph. Dr. W. says that everyone around Meena: me (grandma), Nog (grandpa), Pavana (dad), and Cassandra (mom) need to bathe with bleach every day for thirty days. One capful in one grallon of water. We all have to follow the regime at the same time, while putting an antibiotic called Bactroban in our noses, where staph and MRSA accumulate in the body.
Would you do it for love?
I don’t care how clean I must be, though. I’m still holding Rati as she dies. Every time I come into the house from sitting with her, I wash with an antibacterial soap and bleach. Twenty nine more days. But Rati doesn’t have that many.
Do I? Do you? Does it matter? In what way?