Judging a Book by its Lipstick Color

13 Apr

Some days I feel like my head is just an empty shell for where my brain used to be. I still make a spark but thoughts disappear before a flame catches.

I remember trying to remember. I know my brain is all up there click-click-clicking to light. Nothing.

Maybe we should have had Jackson's head examined instead of his heart?

Maybe we should have had Jackson’s head examined instead of his heart?

In an effort to keep important notes front and center, I put them on the fridge. Thank goodness I glanced at the fridge this weekend because Jackson had two doctor appointments first thing this morning. I had staff pictures at 10:30 and Everett was in court this morning at 9, so it was all me to cover. Somehow Jackson and I pulled off getting to his annual checkups in Norfolk with cardiology (8 am) and oncology (9 am). With good reports, we made our way to my pictures in Virginia Beach right on time, and then I turned around and had Jackson back at school in Hampton, fed and checked into the office by 11:45.

For the first time, I felt really out of place in the clinic in my black dress and fancy necklace and four-inch heels. I don’t think I’ve ever been to CHKD for a doctor’s appointment with my hair curled. When Jackson was sick, I focused on showering each day.

Sitting there with all those other families, my heart ached for their tired faces just trying to get through another day in the pediatric cancer world. And those sweet kids, with their thinning hair from chemo and puffy cheeks from steroids. I tried to strike up a conversation with other parents but they fell flat. Shoot, I don’t blame anyone, I wouldn’t have felt I could connect with me either. Who wears RED LIPSTICK to the cancer clinic? I’m sure I looked like a total cotton-headed ninny muggins.

It doesn’t matter how far removed we are from active treatment, I will always remember how it felt. I think that’s why my brain is fried half the time. The good space was erased by trauma.

Back in that environment, I want to hug the parents checking in for labs. I want to tell them they’re not stuck in an endless cycle of chemo, blood transfusions, scans and hospital playtime forever. But that may not be true…and that part just sucks.

But I was thinking today, we’re often so quick to judge a book by its cover, aren’t we?

  • Nicely dress woman with overeager smile has no idea about what cancer’s like.
  • The parents letting their kids run around the waiting room are obviously more interested in their phones than what their kids are doing.
  • The mom yelling at her kids getting into the elevator surely doesn’t love her children as much as I love my kid who is politely holding my hand in the back of the elevator.
  • The parents that don’t stay with their kids during a hospital stay are the worst kind of people.
  • If parents have two children with health issues, it’s not lightning hitting twice, it’s genetics and they shouldn’t have more.

But there’s absolutely NO WAY these instances can prove love or neglect or superiority or where lightning hits. Because:

  • Fancy dress lady…she spent 100 days inpatient with her son when he had cancer.
  • The parent on her phone, she’s trying to locate her notes for the doctor’s appointment to make sure she remembers everything.
  • The mom yelling at her kids just witnessed them run into the street and her nerves are fried. They could’ve been killed!
  • The parent working to keep their insurance can’t be with their child all day in the hospital. They’re trying to keep their job, home and health insurance so their kid can live. They’ve arranged for nurses, child life specialists and volunteers to cover when they’re not there.
  • We’re not God, and we don’t control how our lives turn out.

You never know what battle someone is fighting. My eyes have really been opened to this fact over the last six years. Because somebody can cover it up really well, maybe even put lipstick and high heels on to disguise their past, but it’s there.

And even more important: Let’s be kind to each other. Benefit of the doubt goes a long, long way.

Also…be kind to your mom. It’s totally your fault her brain’s mush.

Jackson and Mommy.

Jackson and Mommy.

2 thoughts on “Judging a Book by its Lipstick Color

  1. Once again, your blog post is so spot on! I have replied before, and have noted that I am a nurse ~ a pediatric nurse, for the past 17 + years. I am now removed from direct patient care in my new role but still relate to what you have said. Many times I hear the healthcare team make judgments, based on looks alone or that quick round in the morning. I have always reminded my team (& sometimes myself) not be so quick to judge. Thank you for reminding us once again.

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