Part three: Asymmetry

This is part three of a multi-part post.  Click here for parts one and two.  More to follow.

            Because it is in Brentwood, our pediatrician’s office is in a building with valet parking only.  On Friday, as I hefted my whimpering baby out of the car, I was quite happy to have someone else park the damned thing.

            “I can squeeze you in at 10:45,” the receptionist told me.

            “Sounds good.  I’ll wait right here in case someone cancels in the meantime.”  The receptionists at UCLA Brentwood are perhaps the finest in their field.  These ladies are, for some reason, always patient, pleasant, and efficient, which is no small feat for women who spend all day talking to insurance companies and irate patients.  They remember who I am every time I call or show up, although I guess they hear from me pretty frequently, what with one child or another.  They took one look at me and my baby and did what had to be done: they told a nurse of our plight.  I tell you all of this so that you know, should you ever have occasion to deal with these people, you had best mind your manners or I’ll be kicking your ass up and down the mean streets of Brentwood.

            Because the staff in the office is so fantastic, they got us into a room.  “In case the doctor gets here before any scheduled patients, so you are ready to see her,” said the nurse.  As it happens, that is precisely how things worked out.  Which is how, fifteen minutes later, Dr. Garvey was holding a stethoscope to Lilah’s chest and then telling me it sounded like pneumonia.

            That was when our day started to get interesting.

            First of all, I learned that our doctors’ office has an x-ray machine.  Second, I learned that one diagnoses pneumonia via x-ray.  Third, I learned that the best way to x-ray a baby’s chest is for her mother to hold her arms in the air while her tushie rests on a stool.  Before we get to the part when I learned Lilah had pneumonia, there is the moment when I stood in the hallway and saw my little girl’s lung x-ray hanging on the viewing screen.

            At that moment, I had a momentary memory of seeing a chest x-ray once before, almost three decades ago.  I was in my father’s house, and somehow I came upon a large envelope.  I have no recollection of how I found it or what I asked, whether it was shown to me or whether I stumbled upon it.  But, somehow, I was looking at an x-ray of a very sick set of lungs, and my father was telling me that those were the pictures taken of my mother’s chest while she was being diagnosed with the lung cancer that had already spread around her body.

            Yes, despite the fact that my father neglected to keep the home movies my mother made for her children before she died, he did manage to stow away the x-rays of her diseased lungs for our viewing pleasure.  He’s kind of a sentimental guy.  It was creepy, remembering her x-rays while looking at my daughter’s.  But, because I am a sucker for things like metaphor and allusion, I immediately started to wonder what was poetic about the moment.

            Not much, of course.  In this case, it simply was symmetry without meaning.

13 responses to “Part three: Asymmetry

  1. This series touched me and gave me the chills.

    Sending lots of love and healing thoughts for your wee girl.

  2. You are an amazing storyteller. I hope that all is well.

  3. WOW – I can just imagine the lump in your throat and in the pit of your stomach. WOW.

    Sending lots of well wishes for the baby. Poor little girl!

  4. Wishing a speedy recovery to the baby. Wishing her mom some peace, time to herself, and three healthy children.

  5. I hope your little one is on the mend. Scary when they are that sick, even it there is no parallel to the last set of xrays.

  6. When you didn’t weigh in first thing on Sunday I worried. (I tend to worry.) After reading your first part, my intuition told me you had been with Lilah in the hospital. I hope I am just worrying too much for you. Sending positive thoughts your way.

  7. Oh my gosh. Prayers for you and Lilah. That can’t have been easy.

  8. Memories don’t always show up at the most convenient times, do they?

    I hope you’ll have a restful night at home soon, with a healthy baby and all your boys around you.

  9. Oh your poor little munchkin

  10. What a horrible moment all around. So sorry to hear how poorly Lilah is, but glad that at least now she’ll get the antibiotics she needs and will (fingers firmly crossed) feel a lot better soon.

  11. Hope all is well very soon. My prayers are with you and your family.

  12. Oh no, Emily, I do hope Lilah’s OK soon. I can just imagine the shock you had making the connection back to your mom. I know this is no time for comparisons but my mom had double pneumonia as a very young kid and she’s still hale and reasonably hearty.

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