Sunday, April 25, 2010

When Life Simply Sucks

I have been missing from action. Sorry. It’s been the two weeks from hell and I won’t go into all the details but it includes a decision by the College of Out of Touch Control Freak Idiots (Oops! My claws are showing.) at the Rudolf Steiner School to not invite my husband back as a teacher next year. It has caused much gnashing of teeth, sleepless nights, the consideration of lawsuits, the mention of hostile work environments, 7-year old children running home in tears to announce that "Mr. Stevens won't be our teacher next year," parents leaving the school for more fair-minded pastures and generally great upheaval for Lee and me. In nineteen years of teaching, this is the first time he has not been deeply respected and appreciated by his colleagues. It is demoralizing and infuriating. Lines were drawn and one Board Member said it was going to be China Syndrome revisited if people didn’t calm down. Who knew my husband could be such a lightening rod for trouble?

Where will we live? What will he do next? Those are the kinds of questions on our mind. These things are stressful to a marriage, making people do and say things they do not mean. Oy. Then, as if that is not enough to noodle on, I got a call from my daughter, Isabelle on Thursday from Madrid. The call went something like this:

“Mom, I’m okay. But, I’m in the hospital.”
“You’re what?” I say, calmly, in the moment.
“My cardiologist sent me to the hospital for a procedure by a specialist. (Okay, excuse me here, but if a cardiologist isn’t specialist enough, what could possibly be so life-threatening that you need something more fucking specialist than a cardiologist???!!!)

Bottom line – Izzy had a couple of incidents of an extremely racing heart since she went to Madrid last August, one which led to a short period of blacking out when she was traveling in Morocco over Spring Break a few weeks ago with friends. She went to check it out with a cardiologist when she returned to Madrid. During one of the tests, he discovered something that troubled him and decided she immediately (as in, “Do not Pass Go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to the Hospital”) needed to see an electro-cardiologist in a hospital setting. She spent 24 hours there, where they kept her under careful monitoring and did a creepy sounding procedure where they put wires through her groin and arm into her heart and sent electric impulses to test the ventricles. I packed my bag for Madrid and waited to hear about the results of the test.

The good news is they discovered that she did not have what they feared and has no organic deformities, but she does have something called atrial fibrillation- rapid and is currently on medication to stabilize her heartbeat. She goes back on Monday to her original cardiologist to get a report on next steps. All I know is that he does not want her traveling anymore while she is there; he wants her near a hospital. This is not the kind of thing a mother wants to hear – especially when your child is 8000 miles away. But, I can tell you that the kindness of strangers in Madrid was extraordinary and made me weep. On Thursday night, after remaining calm all day, even through my therapy session, I absolutely melted down. The China Syndrome happened within, not without. Well, within the walls of our apartment, at least.

I did not have to go to Madrid – at least now. But, I had yet another sleepless night and woke up exhausted and almost delirious. So, by now, I have painted a picture of the past two weeks (and have left out one more painful discovery which is not mine to tell, so won’t) as two of the most tormented in my life.

I will tell you next what is healing it.


  1. Alecia, I twice abandoned earlier attempts at posting a comment--because I doubted that it would be comforting or constructive to hear from an acquaintance: "Yikes, that sucks!" But I've reconsidered. You're a writer too--you understand how frustrating it is when the vocabulary available simply isn't up to the task. So I hope "Yikes" conveys my sincere dismay and sympathy. I'm *always* up for a glass of wine (or a cup of tea) and a chat.

  2. Found your blog and have been enjoying it. Was a bit sad to see the note about Steiner, my child will be a new student there next year. Should I be concerned?

  3. Hi. Thanks for your kind words. A couple of years ago, I responded to a piece in the Times that David Brooks wrote on education. This will tell you how I feel about Waldorf education. Wish you the best.

    Published: March 3, 2007

    To the Editor:

    Thank you, David Brooks, for telling the truth about the education of our children (''A Critique of Pure Reason,'' column, March 1).

    Good parenting means advocating for your child's education.

    Children will not grow into physically and mentally strong adults without a well-balanced diet of food; neither will they grow to be bright, compassionate, flexible world citizens without a well-balanced education. Most of America's education is a diet of stale bread.

    Young children need art, music, nature, stories and the development of imagination to thrive, which I gratefully found at a Waldorf school. The checks I wrote for the education of my children were the best dollars I ever spent.

    Parenting matters. So does the school.

    Alecia Stevens