Medical Emergencies, Family Lore, and An Overdue Apology

J’s finally getting over a stomach bug that just seemed to linger on and on. It started early on Saturday morning at her friend’s house. Or, perhaps I should say, at my friend’s house, on my friend’s newish family room carpet. Excellent. Sorry about that! Cute W rushed over to retrieve her while I sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes, saying “What? Can I do something. . . ?”

She was pretty pathetic all day on Saturday, and she didn’t eat at all. Over the course of the next few days she consumed, altogether, two small applesauce cups and about 15 plain elbow macaroni noodles. Finally, last night (Tuesday), she ate a normal dinner. She’d missed two days of school and wanted to get back, plus I’d set up a doctor’s appointment in case she didn’t feel better. So suddenly she had something to prove and she rallied and managed a ginormous amount of baked chicken and steamed broccoli. I felt so relieved. Really, my kids don’t get sick very often, and by day four of almost no food I was freaking out a little bit. And it wasn’t just me.  At one point Cute W started speculating about an eating disorder and I was, like, honey, people don’t get, like, sudden onset eating disorder. It takes a little time to build up to it. But he’s really the kind of guy who gets a headache and goes directly to brain tumor. The most infuriating thing about this is that he’s actually had a couple of bizarre and rare medical things happen, so you can’t dismiss anything as ridiculous, because next thing you know, it’s been confirmed by a medical professional.

An example would be the Great Lemon Inhalation Incident. Long ago, when we lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, before we had kids and we realized how leisurely and simple life in Brooklyn was, Cute W almost died. Or, that’s how he tells it. He was sucking on a lemon, and he accidentally inhaled the lemon juice into his lungs instead of shuttling it down his esophagus where it belonged. He froze, entirely unable to breathe. I watched him and his crazy faces and laughed. Now, never mind that I tend to laugh in response to feeling awkward and uncomfortable. The point was that he was apparently suffering deeply and profoundly, but to me, he just seemed to be making some goofy faces, and I laughed. Afterwards he chastised me for Mocking His Pain. I apologized. He insisted that he’d ALMOST DIED. This just made me laugh again, because I considered it to be. . .  um, let’s call it hyperbole. I was like, “Yeah, sorry, but I don’t think you were actually near death.” He begged to differ.

In the past 12 or 13 years, the Great Lemon Inhalation Incident has come up several times per year, always with Cute W talking about my mean lack of sensitivity while I roll my eyes. And these days, if the girls hear about it, they laugh and roll their eyes, too. So for some reason or other, The Incident came up at my physical with our shared doctor, and she reacted to the news of his lemon juice inhalation with genuine concern, pointing out that lemon juice is an acid, after all. Whatever, doc. But I came home and immediately passed along the concern and compassion voiced by our local medical professional, thinking that this would somehow mollify Cute W so that he could stop giving me a hard time. That was a foolish tactic. Instead, he suggested a formal apology via Facebook or the blog. So–ahem!

Oh my dearest husband W, I am so sorry for the pain that you had to endure when you sucked that lemon. And more than that, I am sincerely sorry for the mental pain and anguish that you suffered seeing me, your wife, apparently unconcerned and even making light of all of the physical and emotional pain. When you are married, you’re supposed to support each other. I am sorry that I did not call 911 that day. Sure, we probably would have had to shoo the medics away in the time it took them to respond and climb all the way up to our 4th floor walk-up, but then at least you would have had the proof that you need that I care for you. I am very pleased that you survived this dangerous incident, not least because you helped me produce two fabulous humans, but also because I love talking and laughing with you, when it is not about my history of offenses.

In fact, for the record, that time that I said that it would be really awesome to be a wealthy widow living in New York City it was entirely because I was so deeply miserable in graduate school. I was supremely jealous of the women I’d see auditing the history lectures, because they’d chat about heading out for lunch or to the Met next, and then ordering take-in for dinner, while we were too poor and overworked to do any of those things. This remark was in no way calculated as an actual wish for your death, and I am sorry that I didn’t think about the massive amount of psychological damage that this throwaway remark would do to you for a decade and counting.

Also, had I any idea how much teasing I would get for the next twenty years over those two drunken make-out sessions I had with a boy named Snake in college, I would absolutely have skipped the whole experience. There were certainly plenty of other boys with less ridiculous nicknames.

And, okay: you liked me first. I’ll concede the point. But I’ll love you longer!



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