When my dimestore sister Meg and I were…oh, I don’t know how old, but maybe 6 and 7–we began getting terrible, terrible leg pains at night. So terrible that we cried and cried, and couldn’t go to sleep.
The pain was so bad that I would bicycle my legs on the mattress to make friction against the sheets, because the heat that was generated would distract me just the slightest bit from the nightmarish pain, and any distraction, no matter how tiny, was worth it. But then my legs would begin to hurt too much to move them, and I’d have to stop, until they hurt too much not to move them, so I’d start up again.
This is what I remember:
My mom coming to the door of the room Meg and I shared, and giving each of us one tiny orange St. Joseph’s aspirin for children, with a small sip of water to wash it down after we chewed it. Then, my mom walking out the door, leaving us behind to cry.
That’s all she did. If she did more, or said a sympathetic word, I don’t remember it.
This is also what I remember:
My dad coming in sometimes to rub our legs, which made the pain lessen while he was rubbing. It came back as soon as he stopped, but oh, the bliss of having that relief while he rubbed them!
I would look on impatiently in envious agony while Meg had her turn. I imagine she would do the same while I had mine.
Once, mom asked our pediatrician what was causing the pain. He said “Growing pains. Don’t worry about it. They’ll grow out of it.”
It took some years, but we did.
My first son also suffered from “growing pains”. I, being a parent who loved him, did everything I could. My hands had such awful lupus arthritis at times when my boys were young, and sometimes it hurt me so much at the end of the day to massage his legs and knees…but of course, I did it.
Since I had suffered myself, I knew the techniques and places that I had learned as an adult worked on me–under and around the kneecaps, especially–and they worked on him, as well.
With his doctor’s okay, I also gave him an anti-inflammatory at a dose appropriate to his weight. If he’d had a particular bad night, I gave him another the next morning, and one on days before he was going to be highly active, to ward off that night’s pains.
Because I knew now that what he had merely a brush of, and what Meg and I had suffered from, was juvenile arthritis.
A few years back, I was at my mom’s house, and saw for the first time a photo of her as a little girl. She was a highly-attractive four-year-old, with an older girl’s self-presence, very artfully posed.
“Mom! You were so beautiful! You look like an actress!”
“I remember that day. I hated it. The doctor had just left, and they made me get out of bed for that picture.”
What do you mean, ‘the doctor just left’? What was he there for?”
“For my treatments.”
“He used to come to the house twice a week and give me my medicine for my legs. I had J.A.”
“MOM! You KNEW you had juvenile arthritis? You never said a thing when Meg and I were suffering when we were young!”
Dead silence from Mrs. Hyde.
Dear Mom: If you didn’t hate us both, someone outside the family might say you did a very good job of acting like you did.
(If Macy Girl had gotten leg cramps each night so bad they made her cry, would it have been the same?)
Episode 3 of a 7-part series that will be posted daily. Following that, the focus will shift away from my mommy issues.
Hateful Mommy Hyde–Part 4