A Word From The Weiss
With Hanukkah on the horizon and Thanksgiving still visible in the rear-view
mirror, no doubt you are expecting to hear about all the gifts I am gathering, or the fabulous turkey feast that I prepared for my family last week – what sorts of side dishes I served, and whether
I cooked the stuffing inside the bird or out. But as much of a balaboosta (good
cook) as I may purport to be, I am afraid that stuff far more substantive than stuffing continues to take precedence in my life.
OK, I'm sure you must be growing
weary by now of hearing about my daughter’s recent calamity. But not nearly as weary,
I can assure you, as I am of living through its aftermath and seeing her continue to suffer.
As I have related here more than once now, Allegra was walking home
from work one evening in mid-October
when she slammed headfirst into a formidable tree
branch that stretched across her path. A neurologist diagnosed her with a mild to moderate concussion and predicted that her long list of symptoms –
including severe headaches, dizziness,
neck and back pain, pressure inside her
skull, blurred vision, mood swings, extreme weakness and fatigue, and loss of balance -- would dissipate in about two months.
Two months!?! At the time, we were horrified that her recovery might take that long. Now I only wish it had actually been that short. After recovering slowly but steadily for three weeks, Allegra suddenly suffered a dramatic relapse, returning in most respects to square one. Along with all the above-mentioned symptoms, she has trouble
standing or even sitting for long periods of time and eats most meals lying in bed. She has extreme sensitivity to sound and light. We need to speak softly around her and keep all the lights off. And even
then she still often needs to wear
sunglasses, even indoors on a cloudy day.
As you can imagine, we began to grow extremely concerned and to wonder why no one – either in the
emergency room to which she initially went or at the follow-up appointment – had ever deemed it necessary to perform an MRI, CT-scan, or other diagnostic test. But
her concussion specialist assured
us that the setback in her health was not at all unusual and merely indicated that she had attempted to do far too much too soon.
Indeed, given her normal indefatigable nature, she had not only returned to work three days after the incident,
but also continued, as a young jazz singer, to push through several scheduled performances as well. Clearly, all this had
been counterproductive. So she took the entire week of Thanksgiving off from
work, and I brought her home to Connecticut.
During that time, while I made homemade pumpkin
pies and cranberry sauce, roasted a 16-pound turkey and cooked the stuffing (outside the bird, if you must know), my daughter did virtually nothing – nothing, that is, but lie on the couch and do the only thing
that doesn’t seem to hurt her brain: binge-watch old episodes of The Gilmore Girls. Our hope was that after 10 days of complete R&R (and Rory & Lorelei) she would be ready to return to work after the holiday break.
But it was not to be.
Within minutes of arriving back at the private
school at which she essentially runs the music department, it became clear that she was
in no condition to function in a hectic work environment.
Fortunately, we quickly learned that she was entitled to up to 12 weeks of
paid medical leave. The plan now is that
she will take off the three until the school’s holiday break begins. Then she will have until after New Year’s to recover.
That, we are hopeful,
will do the trick – provided that from here on in she does what we now know she should have been doing all along.
Toward that goal, I’ve been living with her in her New York apartment ever since, taking care of her full-time. We can’t go home again -- not because Thomas Wolfe said so, but because she has to remain in NYC to attend physical
I must admit that it’s a little awkward for us both, to say the least, and not only because Allegra, at nearly 27, is extremely independent, and the
last thing she wants is to revert to the days when she needed her nice Jewish mom to do virtually everything but
wipe her tush.
The other awkward thing is that she shares her apartment
with three other young people. I’ve been living with them now, more or less, for nearly seven weeks. And as tolerant
and understanding as her roommates have been, no one really wants anyone else’s mom to be underfoot for more than the
occasional weekend, even if she brings dessert.
Feeling awkward, of course, is the least of it. Aside from the constant worry about my daughter’s
health is having to watch her endure pain and not be able to do much to help.
Then there's the heartbreak of having to repeatedly tell her she cannot do anything that she wants to do, and first
and foremost on that list is getting to pursue her dreams.
scheduled to perform four or five gigs in the next two weeks, as well as to record what
will be her third album on a record label. But the only way she's going to have a reasonable chance of recovering at last is by not doing any of those things.
To our relief, the
head of her record label proved to be extremely understanding about her condition,
and he readily offered to reschedule the recording for early February.
Allegra remained particularly heartsick about one of the gigs, however. It was at a classy, popular New York club at which she had never appeared before, and there was no guarantee that she would ever
get a chance to perform there again. A musician friend had booked her to sing there, and we both cried the morning she called him to bow out. It
felt to her as if she was giving
up what could prove to be the chance of a lifetime.
But then, one night last week, a small miracle occurred.
Someone apparently chose to schedule a private party at the club for the night that she had been slated to appear. The club called her friend to apologize for
canceling last-minute and promised
not only to give them another date soon, but
to pay them for the night anyway!
singing. Now I found myself restraining my daughter from getting up and dancing around the room.
Best of all, I’m happy to report that with constant rest -- coupled
with a continued steady diet of motherly devotion and, yes, Gilmore
Girls -- Allegra is finally getting a little better every day.
I still feel awkward imposing on the other inhabitants of her apartment. I also must admit that I have begun to miss my normal routine and what until now I thought
was my rather boring life.
I miss my friends. I miss my dog. And
yes, I must admit, I even miss my husband.
I also miss having something more interesting to tell you, my readers, about than this.
But this is a blog about being a nice Jewish mom. And right now, awkward or not, nice or not, my kid needs me to be there for her. I can
only hope that you've missed me as much as I miss you. But sorry. Gotta go. I don't even have time to add pictures as usual. Drop me a line if you have a chance. I will write again when I can.