We came home from the hospital this week on Sunday. Being in the hospital is hard for so many reasons. First and foremost, Jaycee is sick and worries about her health and future try to surface again. I spend most of my time in the hospital staring at a screen that displays her oxygen saturation level and pulse. I try not to look at the screen but I do and wrongly make predictions about when she will be discharged based upon her numbers hour by hour.
Most of the time, Jaycee handles being in the hospital well. But there are moments when you can see the sadness and frustration in her face. The nurse and I took her for a walk one day while she was still on oxygen. We were hoping the walk would help clear her pneumonia and get her coughing. But, mainly the walk made her mad. She thought she was leaving the hospital. She saw the entrance to the hospital and said "bye" over and over. When we told her no, she cried and refused to move. It felt great Sunday to put her shoes on and tell her that we were really going "bye" this time. She understood it too!
Being in the hospital reminds me of how different our lives are from most people. Jaycee's had a few surgeries and illnesses that have resulted in the front desk clerk, several nurses, and a few people in the ER to remember us by name. (That's never a good sign.) I am well aware that back home, Jaycee is probably the "sickest" person in her class and most likely her school. Most people can't relate to our hospital encounters. But when I'm at the hospital, there are countless other moms and dads wondering around with that same worn out expression on their faces. I feel like I'm not the only parent in health battles with their child. I'm reminded we aren't some rare case. There are many other parents here whose child is being poked, tested, discussed in rounds, and will most likely return to the hospital in the coming months. In fact, there are other children in the hospital who are much worse off than us and who will be in the hospital for a much longer time. When I have brief encounters with these people, I feel guilty for the complaining I've done. Things are bad, yes; but for other people, things are terrible. Sometimes, when I walk with Jaycee in the hospital thinking about how much worse another child appears to be, I wonder if those "worse off" parents have the same thought. But...maybe I just have too much time to think in the hospital.
We are fortunate to have a core group of people who support us in many ways whenever Jaycee is ill. Every message, email, text, visit, and gift is like a much needed boost to our souls. You can't go through things like this on your own. One message told me I was a strong person. I read this a few hours after I had a complete breakdown and yelled at my husband for commenting on my parking job. (We know we have stress induced arguments.) I don't think I'm that strong. I have to be a certain way because the situation demands it. At the hospital, I rarely see another parent crying. When I do, it's usually a few tears and not a full blown crying fit. I see many other parents "handling" the situation like I do. And let's face it, there's not too many good places to cry in the hospital. Once a few years ago, I found what I thought was a good place to go cry on the phone when Jaycee was in the hospital for RSV. I think 5 people walked by me in 10 minutes. I decided it wasn't a "safe" place to let my feelings out. I have yet to find such a place like that in the hospital, so the emotions stay in until they erupt out unstoppable at a hotel or at home.
The truth is that I have to be brave for Jaycee, especially now that she's old enough to read my reactions. There are times I break down. I like order and routine. The hospital admission makes my life anything but routine. I get scared for my daughter. I feel bad for my son who is 2 hours away. When he visits and we're alone, he tells me that "Sissy's really bad. Sissy's really sick." I scramble to reassure a preschooler that his sissy is fine. I tell him to pray for sissy.
But I try to keep encouraging myself in the word. Sometimes, I have to read the Bible or put on worship music to keep myself focused. Otherwise, it's easy for me to go in a downward spiral that does my family no good at all. The Bible does contain my hope, peace, and promises that I can rely on. The Bible does contain the ultimate truth and those are things I try to stay focused on. Like this:
Acts 17:25 Nor is He worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. (NKJV)
Psalm 34:3-4 Join me in spreading the news; together let's get the word out. God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears. (Message)
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (NKJV)
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?