running with endurance: when struggles come.
Thursday evening was supposed to be easy going. I had a normal day with Florence. She was just hanging out in her chair, until she started coughing. Her cough was weaker than usual, perhaps because she was feeling hungry. She didn’t clear her cough, didn’t really have a great intake of fresh breath. She choked a bit on what she coughed up and then seemed to suck it right back down. She started to cry. This seemed to burden her even more so I ran the steam in the shower. A few moments later, after stripping off her clothes, she got pale and lethargic. She started to close her eyes, so I shook her gently. It looked as though she was going to fall asleep. She had just woken up from a 2 hour nap so I knew she wasn’t tired. I started praying hard and calling out to God, my voice was loud. I called Jay. We had the type of call no one wants, where one person answers the phone casually and the other is in a panic. I felt bad, like I was ruining his day. But he said he was on his way over. At this point her lips were white, she was closing her eyes, and I just knew this was too much. I dialed 911, for the first time ever. It was all surprisingly calm and easy going. Moments later, just as Jay got home, the sirens blared down the street. Florence had perked up at this point, she was just breathing a bit faster than normal. The firemen came, saw me with mascara streaming down my face. The paramedics and another team came. They gave her oxygen, and checked her stats. Then they loaded her into the ambulance, buckled me in and we drove through rush hour traffic to Children’s Hospital.
At the hospital, I started to feel the knot of anxiety wreaking havoc on my stomach. Once we got her in a room, which was remarkably fast, I began throwing up in the garbage pail. She seemed fine at this point, but a little shaken up. Then it went down hill as more people came in and out of her room. They gave her oxygen, suctioned her. By this point she was exhausted, starving and terrified. This made her very floppy and unable to cough and barely cry. By the time they attempted the fourth IV, she barely made a noise. I cradled her, sick, tired and foggy. You kind of get into this place of defeat, but also faith and peace pervades too.
By 11:00pm she had the NG tube and was getting very small amounts of breast milk. Her mouth was cotton dry, and she was gagging on the tube. She slept fitfully, crying and whimpering all night. Jay and I shared the most uncomfortable cot on the planet, but mercifully sleep came in heavy, gray waves.
The chest X-ray came back showing blurry lines around her heart. Healthy lungs usually have a crisp, clear line where the heart meets the lungs. It was aspiration or chemical pneumonia. It wasn’t a bacteria or virus, it was simply caused by her muscle weakness and all that goes with it. It feels so unfair.
My heart ached for her. I wept at her head, unable to comfort her with breast feeling or the warmth of my arms. She looked so fragile, so unlike my Florence. My mother heart beat wildly within my chest, defeated, hands tied behind my back.
We didn’t need the ICU, which was a relief. When you walk in to the emergency, they are ready for intubation, ready for the worst. And so, your heart gets squeezed with fear.
But here we are on day five, a little hiccup, but a long enough stay for us. I’m thankful they are taking such good care of us, I’m just surprised at how long it takes to recover. Things move slowly around here I suppose. But today is the day we get out.
Although I would not want to go through this again, I do have a newfound peace about it all. I faced some of my greatest fears: calling 911, emergency room, hospital admittance and pneumonia. I feel a new strength in my bones. She is a strong and healthy girl. It could have been so much worse. Even the talks about G tubes don’t have me shaking in my boots. God will give grace for that, for this, for whatever comes.
He gives grace and strength for ALL things if we trust Him. I don’t think it’s easy to learn that lesson unless you have gone through trauma, an emergency, a death of a loved one, sickness or pain. I really don’t. I think we have to learn how to navigate through life’s disappointments with The Lord. I for one, did not know how to do that. It has taken over ten years to learn this lesson. I had my own pain, trauma and surgery to deal with. I had my doubts. It is nearly impossible to try and make sense of life’s injustices. But as a parent, you suddenly realize, life will throw all its fury at you, and you have to catch it with grace. You have to keep your marriage healthy, keep your heart healthy and yet still fight for your children. You can’t get mad at God, because that does no good. Parents lay down their lives for their children and have to learn to walk in faith. Its not glamorous, its not easy. Sometimes it happens the day your baby is born, needing serious help. Sometimes it happens when they are a few months old, diagnosed with something terrible. Sometimes it takes years, and you find yourself struggling with the smallest issues, rooted in fear. It is an outrageous sacrifice, always a journey. We are pilgrims.
But in the midst of it all, my hope is in Jesus. Whatever the outcome, God is still good. I will fight for breakthrough, I will war for hope, I will rest in His peace and I will learn to run this race with endurance.
Our lives are set before us, a marathon of highs and lows, headed for a crescendo, for that one moment: well done good and faithful one, child of my heart, bruised but mighty warrior, magnificent bride, well done.