I’m familiar with the dictum that one ought not make major decisions in times of emotional crisis. I’m new to the experience of how to decide action in the face of other changes. So far in my life I have been extremely healthy, except for a major upheaval around the birth of my children.
Some of the echoes of that time, combined with some, err, favorable family history, have now presented themselves in the form of high blood pressure – that most common of American conditions. Fortunately, I will be fine. I have excellent medical care, and the very family history which led to this eventuality also indicates that (all other things being equal) I will live a long and largely completely healthy life.
At the same time, this first big indication that I am not in fact as young as I once was, has brought me to a greater state of emotional disequilibrium than I like to admit. I went through a life-threatening version of this eight and a half years ago. Now I find that I want to place some sort of responsibility on something less ineffable than family history. I keep casting about emotionally for something I can discard from my life in an effort to make this go away. As recently as a few years ago, I could simply turn my attention to any of my favorite subjects and my blood pressure would become normal, even if it had been elevated mere moments before. That doesn’t happen anymore.
And so I keep looking for almost anything I can find to jettison emotionally in order to bring calm, order, normal blood pressure. It’s completely irrational at this point. I’m responding as expected to the medication (and it’s a version of a medication performers often take just for performance anxiety, which is kind of funny since I have absolutely no stage fright whatsoever).
The thing is, I’ve found myself stopping on the edge of making major decisions about my life that I know I would later regret. Outwardly I don’t think it shows. But it kind of shocks me to catch myself on the cusp of doing or saying something I know I’d be really upset about within a short time.
It’s just that I keep thinking I did this to myself, so if I can just turn my life upside down or inside out, I’ll undo it. Well, the main two things I did to bring this on were to be born into the biology I inherited, and then to have a twin pregnancy. And I don’t really want to change any of those two things (let’s assume for just a second that I could…). So where does that leave me?
I think I am emotionally revisiting some of the shock of what I went through around the girls’ birth. It was really scary. I remember a nurse telling me I couldn’t get up or I would have a stroke (the doctor later said that was an exaggeration, but at the time, with the nurse physically positioning me back into bed, it made a pretty big impression!). I remember being on more medications than I could name; major surgery; babies born very healthy but a little bit early; and having a husband who spent all his time going between my room and the nursery. I remember crying and begging to see my babies, and finally being given permission to see them after 48 hours.
I remember being so swollen that it took four months to have feet that looked normal again. I remember my babies being sleepy, not nursing as effectively as they would have if they’d started right away, the nursing/pumping whirl that went around the clock. I remember being so exhausted that I wouldn’t even wake when my babies cried, until my husband shook me awake. I remember being awake, in a sort of half twilight that happens when you only sleep three hours out of every 24, and those three non-consecutively. I remember learning to care for two babies while trying to recover from almost dying.
So now, I have the echoes of that time in my body, returning to remind me that I’m human, that I’m not going to be able to forget that time.
But I’m glad my dad is my dad. And I’m glad my children are here. My dad is healthy. My children are healthy. And – with some extra help – I, too, am getting healthy.
Maybe my life is fine on its current track. Even with its messiness and loose ends and all of the unknowns, and even with – maybe especially with – the stuff that really really bugs me. And maybe even with a decision or two made out of emotion. Maybe.