I feel it coming. The sweaty palms are a dead give away, as is the taste of rusty iron in my mouth. Soon I’ll start shaking. My heart will palpitate. I will start to hyperventilate. I’ll begin to think I’m going to die, that the dark is coming again, and there’s no way to stop it. Worst of all, I know I will succumb to it. I know I will pass out. Then I do.
The paper crunches under my weight. How many times have I been in a room like this? The simple laminate floor, the counter with a sink, the pale green walls that are supposed to calm you, but only seem to make you sicker, are all very familiar. A clock ticks the seconds away. From down the hall I can hear the heavy foot steps of my doctor as he approaches the door. He enters with a brief greeting then sits in a rolling chair and gets right to business. He begins by telling me that physically, for now, I’m as healthy as a horse. But my symptoms, though physical, indicate something mental. I’m suffering from a condition that could be diagnosed as panic attacks. He recommends seeing a psychologist, taking medications, and wearing a medical alert bracelet. I point to the piece of metal and the links that attach it to my wrist. I’ve been taking medications too, but they haven’t been working. I’m still panicking and passing out.
My eyes slowly open to see another pair of eyes sparkling back at me. The pale blue color with navy specks is too familiar to ever forget.
“Welcome back, Baby Doll.” The lips whisper. The voice that accompanies them is just as known to me as the eyes. “Do you feel alright enough to get up and walk?”
I nod, trying to look brave, though I know I’m not strong enough to move. A gentle hand reaches under my thin, gaunt shoulders and lifts them so I’m in a sitting position. I try to swing my legs out to plant my feet on the floor. They don’t move very much. Another tender hand pushes them around and down for me. I try to stand only to be caught by those same, sturdy hands. I lean almost all of my weight on them, feeling more like a newborn deer than a human. I look up and see a beautifully familiar face lit with a smile of encouragement. I take a wobbly step, leaning heavily on my living crutch.
As I take another unsteady step, in unison with my support, I look again at the face. It continues to smile at me. I know I can recover if I can continue to mimic its strength.
It’s not the bracelet, or the medication, or the doctors that are making me healthy again. It’s My Crutch with a Smile. To that crutch I whisper, with all the love in my heart, as we take another small step, “Thank you Mom.”