Real Problems

Watching the nasty messages go back and forth between Team Elizabeth and Team Vivian/Amy on our internet mailing list made my stomach churn in the days that followed Elizabeth’s tirade.  Rick himself weighed in, first with a typed message scanned and sent to us to share, and then a second handwritten one (his handwriting is unmistakable to any die hard fan) for the doubters that didn’t believe the first message was actually from him.  He tried to stay above the fray, but at the end of the day, he threw his weight and support clearly behind Vivian and myself.  Within a week or so, we were hosting a new online chat with him, and the fans started to stop talking about “all of those things” that Elizabeth had accused us of.

The online nastiness consumed my thoughts every second of the day.  R tried to be understanding, taking the children out on the weekend so I could try and gather my thoughts together and relax, but he quickly grew sick of the seemingly manufactured drama.  “Close the computer and it all disappears,” he said, and of course he was right.  None of it was real; these were not people I’d ever run into in the grocery store; no one I knew In Real Life had any way of knowing all of these things about me.

I had been going through the motions for several weeks when I took my sweet baby to his six month checkup that summer, not even registering that anything might be out of the ordinary.  He ate, he slept (although he was reticent to sleep all night in his own crib, but that wasn’t uncommon for this age), he was sitting up.  But as the doctor went through her routine check up, I could see her brow wrinkle with concern as she measured his head circumference.  “Hm,” she said as she retook the measurement.  “That can’t be right.”

While my son’s height and weight seemed to be progressing at roughly the same rate (he was average in height but slightly above average in weight), Michael’s head was growing out of proportion to the rest of his body.  It had grown exponentially in size since his birth, and the doctor was concerned.

“What could that mean?” I asked as I handed my daughter Cheerios to keep her still while the doctor talked.

“It could be nothing,” she said calmly.  “Or it could be something. We’ll want to do an ultrasound of his head to be sure.”

An ultrasound?  “What would you be looking for?” I asked.

“A fast rate of growth of the head at this age could mean hydrocephalus, or water on the brain.  It would explain why the head is growing faster than the rest of his body.  But then again, he might just have a really big head.  Do you know if that runs in the family?”

I laughed.  “Actually, it does.  Both my husband and his father joke about it all of the time, how they could never find hats that fit, because they have such big heads.”

The doctor looked relieved.  “Well, then it is probably nothing,” she said, handing me back my squirmy boy.  “But let’s book that ultrasound just to be sure.”

As I walked out of the pediatrician’s office, I shook my head.  Sometimes it takes a possible real tragedy to remind you that the crap you are usually worrying about really means nothing in the grand scheme of things.


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