Counting My Blessings Amidst Illness

27 08 2012

(This was written on Friday, August 24.)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. -Psalm 46:1

The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind, and I am running on fumes as I write this.  Caleb, my 9-year-old son, is going on night #2 in the hospital with pneumonia.  And yet, I have been filled with extreme thankfulness all day as I ponder my blessings.

In less than 24 hours, Caleb went from his normal health to “he needs help NOW!”  I am always amazed at how quickly our health can turn on us.  He went to bed on Wednesday night complaining of a sore throat.  He woke up Thursday morning, and his throat no longer bothered him, but he had a very runny nose.  He was sneezing a lot, and he had a lot of nasal drainage.  His breathing wasn’t terrible, or so we thought.  Nothing a breathing treatment at school and maybe a few puffs of his inhaler couldn’t fix.

When I went to pick him up after school, his skin looked gray.  If there were a Crayola crayon to describe his skin it would be named “Brain Matter Gray.”  My sweet child needed help.

My husband, Matthew, took Caleb to a minute clinic.  The closest one to us had already closed, but I found another one not too much farther away that was open late. (Blessing #1!)  I thought Caleb might have bronchitis and would need antibiotics.  At the minute clinic, Matthew was told Caleb would need a steroid shot, but they didn’t administer those at that location.  They were sent to another clinic across the street where they were told the same thing.  Only this time, they checked Caleb’s O2 level and it was in the 80s.  Normal/healthy levels are above 95.  Levels in the low 90s are common for people with respiratory illnesses, sleep apnea, and smokers.  Anything in the 80s is usually cause for concern.

Caleb in the ER

Caleb in the ER

With this news, Matthew and Caleb were headed to the nearest ER, only two miles away.  (Blessing #2!)  Caleb was immediately given an oxygen mask and a breathing treatment.  His O2 levels improved, but whenever his mask was removed, his levels dropped back into the 80s.  His chest x-ray also showed a spot.  Pneumonia.  He would be spending the night.I was at home with Jason, our 4-year-old as well as my dad and a motorcycle buddy of his.  The two were en route from Florida back home to Wisconsin, and our house was approximately the half-way point.  (Blessing #3!)  God’s providence in the timing of all this actually makes me smile.  If this had to happen, timing it so that my dad would be in town—and we weren’t planning on seeing him for another three months—all I can say is, thank you, God!

As Matthew and I were discussing what needed to be done, Matthew realized he had taken my car, but he also had our only working van key with him.  So I had a vehicle with no means to drive it to the hospital or to work the next day.  And it was after 10:00 p.m. by this point.  My dad had his motorcycle, and while I have my operator’s license, I am not at all comfortable driving his Honda Goldwing that cost more than our Nissan, Dodge Grand Caravan, and Suzuki cycle combined.  So I texted my neighbor.  (Blessing #4!)

I don’t know many people who can call/text a next-door neighbor late at night and ask to borrow their car.  I am one of the lucky few who have amazing neighbors like that.  Not only did they let me take their car, Linda offered to drive me if I needed the emotional support.  And she stayed up until I got home which was almost midnight.

Before my we moved into our current home in 2006, I had been praying for years that our next neighbors would be faithful Christians, and God answered that prayer abundantly with the Shepherds.

Back to Blessing #3, I didn’t have to worry about leaving Jason alone while I went to the hospital since my dad was in town.  Normally, taking care of Jason through all of this would have been a minor ordeal by itself.

I finally made it to the hospital, visited with Matthew and Caleb for a little, and got back home around midnight.  I was physically exhausted as well as mentally and emotionally drained, but I couldn’t sleep.  I drifted off at some point, but Jason popped in around 2:00 a.m. to visit and say hi.  (I call him my Midnight Snuggler.)  In my stupor, I told him to crawl into bed where daddy sleeps.

In those wee hours of the morning, I was reminded to be thankful for our overall good health. (Blessing #5!)  Despite this temporary setback, we really are blessed with good health.  And though both Caleb and I have asthma and allergies that act up occasionally, I know far too many people who deal with chronic pain, MS, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases on a daily basis.  There is no reprieve for them.  Physical and emotional struggle are a part of their daily lives.

My dad and his friend were going to get up around 5:00 a.m. and hit the road to avoid the morning rush hour traffic today.  However, when I got up at 5:30 they were sitting in the living room, talking quietly.  My dad said he would be glad to stay the day if it would help.  He would sit with Caleb at the hospital so Matthew and I could go to work.  (Blessing #6!)

Missing out on visiting with his Papa was the one thing that Caleb got really emotional about in the ER.  He adores his Papa.  Being able to surprise Caleb with an all-day visit with Papa was priceless.  (Blessing #7!)

Day two began, and Caleb’s O2 levels continued to slip whenever he removed his oxygen mask throughout the day.  He was feeling better and desperately wanted to go home, but the doctor wanted him to spend another night.

My day at work was actually amazing. (Blessing #8)  Despite my physical exhaustion and overwhelmed emotions, the prayers and support I received from my co-workers, students and their parents still amazes me.  (Blessings #9-245!)  I think I spent half my day saying thank you to hundreds of people who told me they were praying for Caleb.  I am also astonished that I accomplished anything at work, but I did.  I left in peace and not dreading what Monday would bring when I returned to my classroom. (Blessing #246!)

There were quite a few people; however, who questioned my decision to work today.  I had my reasons, but the most important was this:  Matthew was with Caleb, and Matthew is an amazing father.  (Blessing #247!)  He is more than capable of doing what needed to be done.  If the roles were reversed, I doubt many people would have questioned Matthew’s decision to work if I was at the hospital.  Do we really need this double-standard?  For our family, it made the most sense for Matthew to stay with Caleb and for me to work.  We traded places soon enough.

When Jason and I got to the hospital Friday afternoon, our dear neighbors (from Blessing #3) were already there.

The best part was definitely the bed.  His bed at home isn't nearly as exciting.  The hosptial bed even had TV and light controllers in the side panel.  We won't even let Caleb have a TV in his room.

The best part was definitely the bed. His bed at home isn’t nearly as exciting. The hosptial bed even had TV and light controllers in the side panel. We won’t even let Caleb have a TV in his room.

Our pastor also popped in for a visit and prayer. (Blessing #248!)

A tray of food was delivered for me along with Caleb’s dinner.  I had already eaten before arriving at the hospital so I was able to offer my meal to my dad who was hungry. (Blessing #249!)

I remembered to bring my phone and tablet chargers.  (Blessings #250-251!)  And socks.  (Blessing #252!) And Caleb’s DS. (Blessing #253!)

Caleb played his DS.  A lot.  He also read two complete books so I can't complain.

Caleb played his DS. A lot. He also read two complete books so I can’t complain.

Wireless service was available for free in Caleb’s room.  (Blessing #254!)

Jason commented that Caleb’s room was like a hotel room.  Yes, dear little innocent son.  A very, very, very expensive hotel room.  While my dad and I considered how much this little visit would cost, I was not worried about the final price tag.  We are financially disciplined and live a debt-free life.  We are able to save so that adventures like this one will not impact our finances negatively.  (Blessing #255!)  Matthew also just happened to get a significant bonus at work just a few days earlier which will hopefully cover the remainder of what we have to pay after insurance, our deductible, and HSA contribute.  (Blessing #256!)

We had never been to Stonecrest Hospital before.  Our usual health journeys bring us to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.  Everyone at Stonecrest was amazing. (Blessing #257!)

The Extended Care Director at FRA had the other fourth graders email get well notes to Caleb.  Watching him read them and some other cards made by his friends at school was such a sweet moment.  (Blessing #258!)  Seeing him realize his friends really cared about him and missed him . . . that warms a mother’s heart.

In the short time I have been with Caleb tonight, countless nurses and respiratory specialists have been in to administer breathing treatments or take his vitals.  He handled himself with such maturity and respect and no complaining, even while eating apple sauce laced with prednisone and amoxicillin. (Blessing #259!)  I can’t tell you how tasty it was, but I can confirm that it smelled like warm vomit.

Drug laced applesauce!  Can you say yuuummmm?

Drug laced apple sauce! Can you say yuuummmm?

I’m now watching my son sleep peacefully without difficulty breathing. (Blessing #260!)




9 responses

27 08 2012

My son had an atypical response to pneumonia that was finally diagnosed as Steven’s Johnson Syndrome – many good things came of it, but it was sure scary when your child is in a helpless (humanly speaking) stand point.

27 08 2012

So glad Caleb is doing better!!! Stonecrest was wonderful with Isabella when she needed stitches, they were very kind and helpful.

31 08 2012

I’m so glad he is getting better!

31 08 2012

happy to hear he is doing better. Hope this doesnt affect him to stay away from school

31 08 2012

SO glad Caleb is feeling better!

3 09 2012

So happy he’s better and at home

7 09 2012

What a relief to know Caleb is feeling better! Amazes me to see so many people to care for others well being and the amount of blessings received.

9 09 2012

Glad he’s doing ok. I had pneumonia every year for about the first 6 or 7 years of my life.. cause of allergies and whatnot during the springtime.

6 12 2012
This Is Why You’re Not Getting a Christmas Card From Us This Year (or maybe ever again) « To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings

[…] a couple of days at the end of August for pneumonia.  Despite this bump in the road, we are still tremendously blessed.  His asthma and allergies have plagued him something fierce this fall, much worse than normal.  […]

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