Letting Go: Thank God For Doctors

“The life so short, the craft so long to learn. ” ― Hippocrates

 “Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” Jeremiah 17:14

These days, I feel like I half live at the doctors office or hospital. I think since December it has been round after round of doctors, referrals, specialists, lab-work… And just when you get a month of perfect health…it all goes down hill again. Sometimes I wonder why they can’t just get a normal cold…instead it’s seizures and severe respiratory infections and blood in those bodily excretions that we like to just quickly flush away…

But not me. Nope. I’m the lucky one that got to get up-close-and-personal with what Ellie now calls “poop nast”. Yep…it all started one Saturday when she spiked a low fever, leaving us wondering if she had experienced one of her elusive seizures. And then the poop started coming…uncontrollably. So of course you have to look at it, since you’re scrubbing it off the floor and off her legs. And after it happens a couple of times you notice the blood…and all I could think was, great, another ER trip. But our doctor is awesome and advised us to just see her first thing on Monday. Which of course was a whole round of labs and stool samples and referrals. Which is really awesome when you have a needle-shy three year old who has experienced more needles and tests than most kiddos her age.

Which leaves me grateful for the access that we have to industry-leading healthcare professionals…and the appointment that we got a week later. At which point you keep looking at poop, which really doesn’t stop coming, looking for any little unexpected thing and trying to memorize what each poop looks like so that you can be prepared to offer a description for the specialist when you meet with them. And it just smells so good. And then, you get home from work one day, put your one year old down for a nap with a runny nose, and he wakes up wheezing. Great. Great, great, great. So you’re on the phone with the on-call doctor, a process you are all too familiar with, trying to ease the troubled breathing and freaking out trying to decide if the ER is appropriate or not. Meanwhile the three year old is still pooping – uncontrollably. Our poor babysitter.

You avoid the ER by the skin of your teeth again, the second time in one week, and see the doctor again the first thing the next morning. At this point, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been to this place. Really, I should get my own parking spot. It’s probably croup or RSV…we get a steroid and are reminded about the benefits of steam. At which point we meet with the specialist and end up waiting so…so…so long for an x-ray. Could be this, could be that. And I’m so glad that I’m not in gastroenterology – which I just shorten to “poop doctor” – I just can’t imagine doing that for a job/ But I’m thankful that someone does! Two days later, the three year old is still pooping but also freaking out every time her one year old brother coughs because it just sounds so doggishly weird. And he just doesn’t seem better. So a last minute call to the doctor who hears him breathing while I’m talking to her on the phone and you hear those words that really make you want to panic “You need to take him to the ER NOW”.

All I can say is thank God that people are where they are when they’re meant to be there. And we were able to leave the pooping one and head on out.

And it’s never a good feeling when you walk into the ER and there are three nurses and two doctors surrounding your one year old within a minute of being admitted.

Because no matter how hard you try…you can’t be perfect. And you can’t protect your kids from everything…no matter how hard you try. So you just feel so…bad. Like  you should. You should be perfect. You should be able to prevent this. You should do better.

After a long time trying to get oxygen levels to where they need to be, the restrictions had stopped and poor little guy is finally breathing better. But still, it’s safer to just admit him for monitoring. Sleeping in that hospital, I had flashbacks of this little guys cranky, colicky start to life. And here he is now…lying in that huge metal hospital crib. Alive. And he finally spends more time during a day smiling than crying. You finally see your way through one trying season when you fall into this unexpected sea of sickness. And you feel like you’re kind of just floating along, keeping your head above water – but barely.

So you float along through follow ups, and never-ending phone calls. Until finally it gets so bad that the nurses know your voice and basically your kids whole life stories when you call the doctors office – which I suppose is nice because you don’t have to go through the whole spiel of first and last name, phone number, date of birth, bla bla bla.

And finally! The school year is over, and you didn’t use up all of your sick time, miraculously! And everyone seems to be getting better!

But seriously, things seem to come in waves.

While one is up trying to poop at three o’clock in the morning…er, night. The other one wakes up with a fever of 104, vomitting, and diarrhea.

Here we go again.

We were at the doctors three days in a row, plus one night in the ER.

Poor little guy was up several times a night. And now they were both pooping. For different reasons of course. But poop is poop and really…it’s just poopy. But when you combine it with puke and fevers it’s basically quite unbearable.Sick kids are the worst. Geeze, at this point maybe just kids are the worst. But when they’re sick you secretly just wish that they could go back to being that twinkle in your eye. At least until they are better. So here we go on more rounds of lab-work and stool samples. Until you get a call from the pediatrician at the hospital on Sunday. Sunday?

Your son has Salmonella.

What?!

Well, I guess that explains why he is STILL pooping. Like twelve times a day.

Seriosuly. I am so.sick.of.poop.

And how in the world did he get Salmonella?!

At which point you begin to question whether or not you have any basic parenting skills. You feel so far from perfect at this point that you could cry. Or just eat a ton of chocolate cake. Or maybe both. And then you feel guilty. Something you did, or forgot to do, resulted in that horrific puke/diarrhea/fever experience that you just want to forget.

And you kind of just feel like you suck. You should be able to take care of  your kid and prevent something horrible like Salmonella.

But the truth is, you can’t. And the truth is, you’re not perfect. And you never will be.

If I have learned anything from this marathon experience with doctors and hospitals it’s that you can’t protect your children from everything.

And sometimes that’s okay. Because God has a hand in it all. And he has given people a passion to care for us when we are sick. He has given some people a passion to spend years of their life in order to learn how to help people breathe. And he has given some people a passion for poop. And I’m thankful for all of them, and the years of their lives that they have spent studying and learning and caring…so that when I’m not perfect, they can step in to help.

And when you feel like you’re still floating along, and you can’t keep your head above the water any longer…it’s then that you come to the end of yourself and are willing to just grab a hold of that life-raft He throws. And it’s then, maybe at three o’clock in the morning when you’re watching Little Einsteins,cleaning up puke and poop that you realize that you’re not meant to do it all…and the peace that passes all understanding fills your heart and mind.

And you know that no matter how many mistakes you make, or how many more hospital experiences you have, it’s all going to be okay.

Thank God.

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