Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sine, cosine

Actually, they didn't put us in the hospital immediately.  The doctors had us return home for the night.  I later learned that they thought Robert's rapid regression was the manifestation of a probable condition so severe that he would die within days, weeks, or months.  Our night at home was to be some kind of reprieve, last moment of normal.

On the way to the Georgetown pediatric clinic the day of his dramatic breakdown, I checked the rearview mirror repeatedly.  Robert's car seat was positioned in the middle of the back seat, forward-facing, and he alternated between a state in which his consciousness drew inward toward something undefined and a tired, but alert child.  These vacillations reminded me of the sine and cosine curves: a wing-like descent below an axis, a gradual and equal rise above it. Ad infinitum, on and on.  

Over the next several days, the intervals of these curves would shorten, then the curve itself would disappear.

At the clinic, the first thoughts were: poison, prescription medication, pesticide, heavy metals.  We sat and sat through the long morning and afternoon while nurses and medical students relayed results: negative, normal, normal, negative.  There were other tests, too, but I don't recall them.  Physical examinations.  Medical personnel brought by to observe.  

At first, the air was heavy with the idea of answers.  The mere presence of someone else with some pretense to medicine brought with it some kind of hope.  The day fell away, and, to this moment, I cannot recall if my husband came to the clinic or not. But he must have, because I remember Robert sliding into the white O of the CT scan with his pink teddy bear by his side while my husband and I stood on the other side of the glass.

At some moments we were spectators, at others players in the drama.

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