My family is close. Like, really close. My parents divorced when I was young and both are re-married. I have a brother and step-siblings, and they have significant others and kids. We all see each other regularly and have ongoing group texts. On my dad’s side, we get together every Sunday from August to January, or February if we’re lucky, to watch the Seahawks. We go boating in the summer and spend birthdays, holidays, and vacations together. My dad mows my lawn and shampoos my carpets. I spend girls’ days with my mom: coffee, shopping, nails, lunch. Both of my parents regularly take my son, and everyone comes to his soccer, basketball, football, and t-ball games.
I also have a wonderful mosaic of friends, near and far, from kindergarten, junior high, college, work, my son’s preschool, and the internet. People who I go for hikes, coffee, or happy hour with, celebrate birthdays with, text to share good news or vent, and some who I can go months without speaking to and pick up as if not a day has passed.
All of these people make up my village. And, my village has held me up and carried me through the months of vision loss, infusions, panic, and worry.
I didn’t share what was going on publicly, at first, but I called and texted my family and several close friends. They checked on me, reassured me, and told me it was not a brain tumor. My sister shared her own experiences with infusions and asked if I needed anything. My mom made sure I was added to every prayer group from the Pacific to Atlantic, to which she had any ties. She listened to me process everything, on days when I was calm and rational, and days when my anxiety had overcome me. Work was supportive, made sure everything was covered, and insisted I take it easy; my colleagues checked on me and offered rides. Friends sent flowers, gifts, and care packages. My mom’s mother-in-law knit a prayer shall. My family picked up and dropped off my son, entertained him, cleaned my house, folded my laundry, fixed my heater, and mowed my grass. And, for several weeks, my mom and dad took turns driving me to every infusion, every blood draw, every MRI, and the lumbar puncture.
My dad has a massage chair at his house that reclines and has a heater. I love massage, and heat. We all take turns in the chair during Seahawks games. My dad had been driving me to my infusions and texting me, so he knew I wasn’t feeling great. He wanted to help. Did I need anything, he asked. No, I was fine, I told him.. A little while later, he texted asking if I wanted the massage chair. That was a lovely gesture, but I wasn’t going to let my dad pack up his beloved massage chair and haul it out of his house, into his SUV, drive it to my house, and lug it inside. I thanked him for the offer, but said I did not need the chair. Ten minutes later he texted that he was on the way, with the chair. I’ve spent hours in that chair getting massage after massage when I couldn’t see, was nauseous, and exhausted,. It is still in my living room, getting plenty of use, almost four months later.
After the lumbar puncture, I was really sick. I felt nauseous whenever I stood or sat up, so I spent all day laying on the couch. I couldn’t drive, cook, clean, or play with my son. This is when I really needed help. When I left work puking after the lumbar puncture, I called my mom, scared that something was seriously wrong, and she came straight to my house to take care of me. She brought me coffee, then cleaned my kitchen while I laid on the couch. She cleaned vomit out of my car and work bag, and picked up my son from school. My mom and her husband insisted on taking my son for a few days so I could get some much needed rest, and offered for me to stay with them so they could cook, watch my son, and help me with anything I needed. I let her take my son, but I insisted on staying home, partly because I had no interest in getting back in a car. I slept, rested, binged Netflix, and ordered Door Dash in a blissfully quiet house.
Even my ex, my son’s dad, pitched in. He took my son more often, so I could rest. He brought coffee or food or whatever I asked for, when he came to my house. He stayed up with my son, playing video games, when I went to bed early, and then put my son to bed and locked up on his way out. My brother took my son to the park with his kids. My step-mom entertained my son, cleaned my house, and folded my laundry while my dad drove me to my second MRI and a follow-up appointment at the eye doctor, then they both came back another day to do more deep cleaning.
I know that I am fortunate to have so many supportive people in my life. While it has been hard, and scary at times, knowing that I have people who I can call for a ride, coffee, or whatever I need, and a village of people who check on me, pray for me, and are willing to listen to me, has taken some of the weight off my shoulders.
And, they were there for me when my dog was dying.