Perspective

I was at Children’s yesterday for a follow-up appointment for Peanut with Orthopedics.

Her feet have started to grow out of her braces ad started to curl in again a little bit. It’s not noticeable unless she’s barefoot, but still… I brought up my concerns to her surgeon. He told me that she’s growing beautifully in the big picture and we should concentrate on that. If I start concentrating on the little side effects too much I might miss something serious in the big picture. I was upset that he didn’t want to keep her in “tip-top shape” like I did, but I understood what he meant. Grudgingly.

I still wanted to get her feet straight though. I brought it up again in a last-ditch effort, stating, “Well, I just think offense is the best defense. I’d rather keep her feet corrected with little adjustments than have to put her in casts for weeks on end and ending up needing surgery again anyway.”

He considered this and said if I would be more comfortable with that route, he would send me down to Hanger (brace makers) to see if we could adjust her braces. He went on to say her feet, knees and hips all looked phenomenal. Everything from her surgical scars to her joints, to her range of motion are all just as good as when we were down at Children’s for treatment multiple time a week.

I guess a lot of parents get lax on the daily stretching/exercising routine with kids. Honestly, I can empathize. Day after day, month after month of stretching and exercising her legs can get incredibly tedious. It’s not that I don’t love my daughter and want the best for her. I do. But sometimes I wonder if it’s really necessary to go through all of those motions. ALL of them. EVERY day. In the end I decided we’re better safe than sorry. I’d rather “waste” my time with these tedious exercises than put her through another surgery.

The surgeon apologized if it seemed like he didn’t care when he disregarded my concerns, but he said he knew I was doing everything I was supposed to do by what he saw in Peanut. He knew I would bring her in if it became a real issue. That’s what ultimately calmed down mama bear. He acknowledged me. That’s something hard to come by in the healthcare world.

So, with Peanut in tow, we left Ortho and headed to Hanger to see if we could get in without an appointment to adjust her braces. All I can say is God bless those Hanger employees. They told me they didn’t have a problem with making that adjustment and fixed up her braces. I felt bad for being so pushy because these were all really good people I was dealing with. No one was snotty or condescending with me. Still though… I live with her every day and I can see how much her feet have regressed. I wanted to stop it before it got serious.

An hour later I was in the main walkway and nearly to the door. I had fixed up braces and Peanut was singing and giggling. Life was good.

All of a sudden I heard someone wailing and some people yelling. I looked up to see a doctor running down the hallway and pulling a hysterical Dad. A little boy, around 6 or 7, was dangling from his arms and his eyes were rolled back into his head. His lips were very discolored. He was having a seizure. The Dad looked so desperate and terrified. He was wailing at the top of his lungs and I realized I didn’t understand him. He was speaking Spanish. I could tell the doctor didn’t either because she just kept consoling him with simple words and gestures as she ran him down the hallway.

I felt for that Dad so much in that moment. He was helpless. Completely helpless. He was in a hospital where the majority of the population didn’t understand him, his son was hanging limp in his arms and there was nothing he could do to fix it but follow this complete stranger, hoping that she could keep his son from dying. His son could have DIED.

That last thought reverberated through me and took my breath away. That poor father. That poor little boy. I wondered if they had any family. I wondered if that father had health insurance. I wondered if the boy had been in that state for a long time. I wondered what the permanent repercussions of his seizures would be. I hoped, no, I prayed that that little boy and his father would come out of that okay.

After they rushed past I just stood there in shock. I had seen this kind of thing before. Little babies zipped up in a quarantined plastic bubble around their hospital bed. Children bleeding seriously. Children convulsing and vomiting. Children being carried past with broken limbs. Children being wheeled past, bald and skinny, clearly fighting cancer and other serious illnesses.

It’s not typical to see that kind of thing while visiting Children’s. I usually saw these things back in exam areas, surgery prep or honestly just by chance. I was there a LOT over this past year and it most definitely wasn’t the norm to see these things, so don’t ever assume that Children’s is a pace of mass panic and full of sickness and broken down families.

At the time I had always been thankful to have such an amazing staff and hospital at my disposal. I would say a prayer for the kids and their families and I would try to mind my own business and respect what little privacy they had in such a public place.

But this time, with this little boy, it really upset me. This poor father was holding his son in his arms and was probably ready to lay down his own life to save his son, but he was helpless. Here I was complaining about Peanut’s feet not growing correctly, ungrateful for her good health, while this father was fighting for his son’s life.

The surgeon was so right. I can’t even imagine the things he’s seen. I was probably just another one of those annoying overbearing Moms who demand the world for the smallest hindrance on their child. How ungrateful I must have looked…I felt so bad.

I immediately picked Peanut up and cuddled her close for a minute, enjoying each little breath and every one of her sloppy kisses and squeaky squeals. Standing there in the wake of that poor Father’s terror, I reminded myself I should be grateful for Peanut’s good health and happy demeanor. Her life could be taken away at any moment under many different circumstances. Things could always be so much worse than they are.

A few other people were solemnly standing there, most likely thinking the same thing that I was. Suddenly a little girl, probably the same age as the boy that was rushed through, quietly asked her Mom, “What was wrong with him? Is he gonna die?”

I almost cried. She was so stricken by what she had just seen. She was staring at the doorway that the little boy was rushed through with big puppy dog eyes, genuinely worried.

In a way, I am so thankful for Peanut’s ignorance of what goes on around her while we’re at the hospital. I don’t want to think about the day that comes when she asks me about what happens behind closed doors when a sick or hurt child is rushed past us.

Why does she have to be exposed to these things? Why can’t I protect her from these things? Why can’t she stay ignorant forever?

I cuddled her closer for a moment before putting her carefully back in her stroller, treating her like a fragile egg now. It’s so easy to forget that her little life is so precious.

That little boy’s life is so precious. I pray that he is okay today. Hanging out at home and watching cartoons while he recovers from his head bump or seizure or whatever it was. I know there is the possibility that he didn’t make it, but I don’t want to think like that. I want to stay optimistic and hopeful that these kids can make it out of these situations. I hate to think of the alternative. I hate to think of what their parents are going through.

Yesterday, I was given the unwanted opportunity to realize what, “don’t sweat the small stuff” really means. I won’t take advantage of Peanut’s good health and (in perspective) easy life again. I need to remember that it could always be much, much worse.

I am very lucky.

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2 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. I completely understand where you are coming from. I was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes when I was 8 and have been in and out of doctor offices and hospitals since then. but I appreciate now that my mom would always talk to me about how “things could be worse”. we saw those same unfortunate children and my mom always reminded me that things could always seem worse than what they really were. I feel like this “lesson” that few people face is hard to understand. my boyfriend and I were expecting a child (I was 10 weeks) and everyday I always thought of the what ifs- I knew first hand what could go wrong, especially being diabetic. he would never fully understand where I was coming from and to have grown up always being sick, in my eyes, I didn’t think I could handle my child going through the same thing. unfortunately and on sad terms, we had a miscarriage cause of my diabetes. I think that God wanted us to have a chance of having a healthy baby- at least I like to think so.. but I do know how you feel, and how hard it is to see these children and feel for their parents.. things could always be worse and every minute should be appreciated knowing that.

    • I am so sorry to hear about your struggles and your loss, but it is wonderful to hear that you have accepted your baby’s fate and your own and accepted God’s will. I personally feel that acceptance, whether it be with faith or fate, is the hardest hurdle to overcome. My father had Type 1 Diabetes so I have a good idea of what you have been going through. I truly admire your strength and optimism. You said it perfectly. “Things could always be worse and every minute should be appreciated knowing that.”

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