I knew when I parked the car that everything was going to change. This was the appointment that would be the beginning of the end. I could feel it in my bones.
We signed in at reception and sat down with all the other little lab rats. When they called his name, I dutifully walked up, verified the insurance and signed on the dotted line. Tabatha Graham Wife 8/03/2007
Back in the waiting area, Jason snorted, tossed People back in the heap on the end table with all the other gossip magazines, and leaned over to whisper in my ear. “Babe, promise me, if I get to the point where I have an opinion as to whether Brittany or Federline is the more able parent, you gotta just kill me then okay?”
“Hush! That’s not funny.” I swatted at his shoulder. He knows I hate it when he talks shit like that, especially when I’m already worried. “Besides, don’t I at least get to try an intervention first? You know, like force you to listen to Hit Me Baby One More Time, for like, 24 hours straight?”
“Please, that would just put me directly in Federline’s corner…” We both started giggling, and Jason tried to maintain a whisper. “Oh my god, I would be begging you to turn it off! Make it stop! Make it stop!” Jason mocked clutching his hands to his ears and started writhing against my shoulder. “Please, Tabatha! I’ll do anything!” I was doubling over, convulsing in (nearly) silent laughter when our precious moment came to an abrupt end.
“Graham! Jason Graham!”
Jason slipped his hand into mine. “Come on babe. Time to face the music.” We stood and allowed the nurse to herd us into the maze of hallways, and labs and exam rooms. The nurse’s voice sounded thick in my head as she directed Jason towards the scales, to have his blood pressure taken, and to the lab to draw blood.
“Blood?” That got my attention. “You’ve already drawn blood. We’re supposed to discuss test results today. Why do you need more blood?”
“Standard procedure, Mrs. Graham,” the nurse answered coolly. ” I’m sure Dr. Mallin will explain, but it is normal in these cases to routinely compare blood results to measure progress.” Yeah, but is it good progress or bad progress? I wondered.
Shivering, I obediently following as she finally ushered us into Dr. Marlin’s office and sat us in his over-sized burgundy chairs. Dr Mallin entered from the opposite side of the room and seemed to tower over us as he sat behind his mahogany desk. I suddenly felt as vulnerable as a small child.
“Mr. And Mrs, Graham”, he intoned in a deep baritone, “I’m afraid it is worse than we thought.”
My stomach turned to acid and my throat closed. This is it. We can’t go back.
“…definite loss of motor function and mental acuity…”
This is wrong, is not happening to my Jason, my family, my — oh god, Hailey can’t grow up like this, no! We’re getting another opinion, dammit!
“…conservatively, six months to a year before more malicious symptoms present…”
Who am I kidding, this is the second opinion… He’s telling us the exact same thing the other doctor said… How are we going to tell people? How do we explain to Hailey?
“…I would encourage you to also seek alternative therapies and I will collaborate…”
We have maybe a year to try and give her a lifetime of memories… And Carla, how am I to tell her her son will soon be unrecognizable?
“… No matter what, have these things in place in the next six to eight months. There are groups for both of you…“
How am I going to take care of him? How can I raise Hailey alone? How will I pay for everything? I can’t do this without Jason! Oh, please God, I can’t watch him die, how can I get through this?
I can’t tell you anything else that was said at that appointment. All I remember is staring out the window of the car headed home, vaguely aware of the houses passing by and the distant glimpses of the ocean, as I felt my helplessness cut me to the very bone.