The entire house smells like pee.  Cat pee from Stuart’s protest pee on the vent by the front door.  The bathroom from some errant slipstream from a child.  The bedrooms from twice nightly accidents from the little girl with a cold and double swimmer’s ear sleeping like the dead.  The kitchen where all the pee blankets, all the blankets in the house in fact, are waiting their turn in the washer.  Pee.  And my workout clothes too, because I haven’t been able to wash anything other than blankets and have been grabbing biking jerseys that not only are sweaty and damp, have been stewing with pee pajamas for two days.  Pee.  All the time.  Everywhere.
There’s a dried yogurt smear on the floor.  The paper towels are on the floor too.  So are all the grocery bags we’ve ever gotten.  And all the Playmobil ever made.  All of it.  On the floor.  Because the all the art work from the school year sits on the cabinets and the Sculpey we haven’t baked is spread all over the bay window and the candle scaping gems and junk mail are all over the telephone table and the shipping boxes are on the sofas with the towels that were once clean but are now coated in cat fur.  And the Play-Doh and pirate art and the compost bowls and dirty dishes and the library books and the broken picture frames from that time someone slammed their door and they shattered in the hallway.  And the running shoes and rain boots and dirty socks and Candy Land cards and all the stuffed animals with the doctors kit and the bow and arrows and the dying house plants and the cupcake tin filled with rocks and beads and the play dollars and coins and the broken crayons and the spilled bag of bug sprays and sunscreens and the discarded clothes and the catnip mice and the Fourth of July footrace prizes and the dinosaurs and the unopened bottles of Nature’s Miracle waiting to be used on the pee smell.
I get to have a conversation next week Wednesday about which medicine I’ll start with the intention of slowing down the progression of the MS.  I’ll start them when we come home from a westward road trip.
Did I forget to tell you?  I finally got my MRI results back. One new silent lesion. This is six weeks ago:

Sunday, June 5

Watch friends do the Lake Mills Triathlon.  Cry twice.  Once when a runner with spasticity troubles runs by.  Is it MS?  Is it ALS? Parkinson’s?  I don’t know.  But he trucks on past and I cry.  The next when a friend runs by smiling when I tell her she looks like a million bucks and says “This is so, so hard.”  Is it weird to be emoting this much on a trail, clapping and cheering for strangers?  Who can say.

Tell my dad and mom the radiologist found something on my MRI, a silent lesion near the cerebellum, one so small the neurologist can’t see it. That for me, it feels like three strikes and I’ll go on medication, probably thrice-weekly injections, come August to help slow the progression.  My dad asks if the lesions ever get smaller.  “Actually, the first lesion has shrunk.”  I say.

Dad: “Whoa!  That’s just like The Shrinking of Treehorn!”

And I laugh.  Hard.  Like I haven’t in many days.  And all is right with the world again.

I’ve wrapped my head around the injections.  But I’m starting to crack under the very idea of having to discuss them.  I refreshed my memory about the side effects of the options.  Almost all of them include the most common being depression and liver failure.

Did you know that “Depression is frightfully common in multiple sclerosis, so much so that about half of those with the disease will have at least one major episode. Worse, this depression is not the simple result of being bummed about having MS or coping with increasing disability.”  (Read more here.Do be forewarned, though. Reading stats about depression, is, well, depressing.)

This terrifies me.  I know depression.  I remember.  I live in its shadow to this day.  What arose in the darkest chapter of my life took years to squash back down and I’m reminded often of how shallow it lies beneath.  I have a security blanket in the form of a pill I take every day and don’t you dare even look funny at my blankie.  Without it, I don’t know who I am.

What worries me the most about this diagnosis and about treating it is how it will change the way I get to interact with my kids.  I have made choice after choice to be here, now, with them.  What happens now?  What happens if I’m too tired, to depressed, to preoccupied with myself?  It seems that depression lurks in the malady and the treatment. What is my future and if it includes suffering, who suffers the most?

So, I contemplate the future, and retreat as I do.  The house reverts to its natural, disgusting, state.  I run and bike in gorgeous places and exercise until I can’t any longer.  I binge-watch compelling shows (thanks for the heartbreak, Penny Dreadful.) I sleep until someone pees in my bed to wake me.  I plan vacations and write down training plans.  I go to movies alone and clap and gasp.  I sit in coffee shops and write.  I say nothing for days then keep my husband up late and spill it all.  And then I get up and I’m better.  I watch Mindy outtakes and answer my daughter with a proud “yes!” when she asks if girls can be president.  I think about seeing Yellowstone for the first time, and about camping with my kids in the Badlands and seeing the Perseids for the first time.

I think about how far I’ve come and how lucky I am.


One thought on “Countdown

  1. Burn the house down. Live the hell out of the vacation. Hug the breath right outta the kids. Treat the depression if it comes. You got this. I’ll bring matches.

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