What Matters

I took Rox in for chemo again this morning.  She still hates it, but she’s at least loosened up enough to try to jump onto the counter and beg for treats.  I’m not looking forward to the next few days of refusal to eat and pathetically good behavior that inevitably follow each dose.

I’m working this semester for the HeLP Clinic, which the GSU Law School’s part of a larger organization that is trying to improve relations between the legal field and the healthcare field in general.  The clinic takes on cases for eligible people who have children receiving care at the local children’s hospital.  Not necessarily health cases – but other issues that may or may not be directly related to the child’s problem: housing issues, employment problems, etc.  Not exactly my focus area, but a really excellent chance to gain some experience.  Plus, as it turns out, a lot of people they see have issues with asthma exacerbated by mold, which is definitely an environmental issue.

Anyway.  Myself and my partner saw our first client yesterday.  I think it went well, but it was emotionally exhausting.  I thought a lot about it as I sat in the lobby at the vet, waiting for my very expensive little mutt to come back with her neon bandage.  I looked around the room at the other people – a perfectly manicured woman sitting with her hands and her knees locked tightly together, trying to look calm; an older man clutching a cat carrier against his chest as if the slightest tilt or tap would break it to pieces, a big loud lady with lots of gold jewelry, elaborate hair, and spiky heels talking baby talk to a fat little mix that might be the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen. . .me; trying not to think about next week when I find out if the chemo is working or not.  Failing.  School, job-hunting, relationships. . .at times, all of these seem like intrusions on the reality of Rox’s dysfunctional lungs.

All of us sitting in that waiting room were there for animals.  We love them desperately, but we know that we’ll probably lose them before we die.  I know it must be even harder for these parents who go from the expectation of a happy, healthy baby to facing a lifetime of returning to the hospital, over and over again, for expensive procedures their kids don’t want or don’t understand.  There may be no end in sight for them; or, the end in sight is too painful to think about.  But they have to keep going; they have to go on living, working, explaining their child’s horrific illness with calm and clarity, sometimes over and over again.

I think this clinic is going to kick my ass.  I don’t want to get it.  It makes me want to run away and bury myself in Clean Air Act regulations and never come out.  But I know that every time Rox comes careening around the corner, sliding on tiles and pulling the vet tech behind her, every minute I get with her happy is absolutely worth the money and the grief.   I’m trying to remind myself that what we’re doing for HeLP is going to allow parents to get to see their kids during the happy times, too, and maybe even provide more of that time.  It’s going to be a hell of a semester.