(Our peanut allergy research journey. October 21st.) HALFWAY
“C’mon! You’re almost halfway there.” When he was a small child, I would urge him to finish a serving of something healthy. We pushed through to the “clean plate marathon trophy” by increments on the other side of the halfway mark. “You’ve already eaten over half of it! Just finish! You can do it!”
Today it’s a serving of something that hasn’t been healthy for him. As a matter of fact, it has been deadly to him. The marathon trophy is now a medal of freedom. Freedom from the danger of peanuts. Freedom from fear of ingesting them. Freedom from the unimaginable consequences of letting our guard down for just a second.
Today, we are halfway there.
When we’re at the clinic, the conversation always rolls around to the numbers. I’m FASCINATED with this research! It’s a virtual binge of every medical, forensic, and legal TV series rolled into one. When I think of the numbers, I’m amazed. I’m gobsmacked. But when I think of those numbers going into my son’s stomach, I’m stunned. Everything sidewinds between slow motion and high speed and I don’t know which way to run. He ingests his carefully measured dose and I carefully monitor his behavior until that two hour timer arrives at zero without alarm. We’re sent on our way with an increased daily dose of the gold dust and my nerve-wracked mind zones in on one number: 160. That’s what I have to mix into the pudding every night for two weeks. That’s what I can (or can’t) handle. One hundred and sixty. No more. And then our nurse farewell’s us with “see you in a couple of weeks! 200 mg!” And my excitement for the 160 mg that he just safely ingested is replaced with a racing heart and a pit in my stomach. Today the pit in my stomach is paired with the equivalent of half a peanut in his.
Halfway. It’s the mile marker on just about any voyage. And it’s most often either the point you give up or the point of no return…
Believe me, I’ve wanted to do both.
Ever find yourself sitting at your desk and a full blown, butt-kicking, “common” cold wraps around you like some kind of jumanji jungle vine? You look at the clock and the day isn’t even half over. Forget it – I’m going home, there’s no way I can make it to the end. But if it’s one minute, just one, after the halfway point… by God I’m not going anywhere. I may have to muster all of my strength to the tips of my fingers and crawl out the door at the last bell – but I made it over halfway, and I’m not stopping now.
Sometimes, halfway is the reason to keep going. Sometimes it’s a reason to stop. For instance, when someone says you can’t do something, and you know you can’t, but it becomes a personal steam engine bells and whistles charged challenge. Some call it a dare. I call it a challenge. Sometimes I get past the halfway point and fail. Sometimes I stop before the halfway point and embrace the success of not making a fool of myself. I’m a stubborn mule playing a game of chicken. It’s not going to end well.
A homework assignment.
A bad haircut.
A payment plan.
A mountain to climb.
A river to cross.
All with a halfway point. All requiring us to measure the odds, measure the stamina, measure the risks and the benefits.
Every other week, Coleman and I get in the car and settle in for the drive. He usually puts in earbuds and locks in on his phone. Don’t shame me; updose day is officially nag-free. I usually try to pass the time with a phone call to a friend. Somewhere between Plumerville and Menifee we reach the halfway point. And a dead zone. The phone call drops, I’m only halfway there, and for some reason I start crying.
I cry nonsense tears for the loss of my comfort zone. I’ve plugged along for two weeks at a dose that I’m just getting used to. I need to hit the brakes, take a breath, I’m not ready to do this again today.
I think about my friends and family, Team Coleman, and I cry hot tears of overwhelming gratitude for their overwhelming support. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it
I think about other food allergy moms and I cry tears of anguish for their continued anguish. I cry tears of guilt that my anguish may soon be gone and theirs may not.
By the time I’m rolling past the halfway point, I have tears of premature joy rolling down my cheeks. I think about the moment when we will reach the end. When he will safely ingest the equivalent of one whole peanut.
I glance at Coleman to be sure he doesn’t see me shed or wipe my tears, I take a look at the mile marker, and I say to myself, “You’re over halfway there. Keep going. You can do it.” And I turn the music up and roll on down the highway.
When our shadows are cast at the entrance to the hospital, my calm is intact. My spirit is solid. My son is in good hands. We’re moving forward with determination and hope and excitement and strength. We started this to end it. To end the anguish and anxiety and danger. To end the nonsense and self doubt. To end this for ourselves and others. We came to conquer. And today…
Today we came halfway.