Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A Year Without the Hospital

I'm working hard to change the way I think. 

Over the past few years, I have come to think of my daughter as a "mostly sick kid with times of health." The fact that my daughter, Jaycee, has been in the hospital 2-5 times a year for the past several years has contributed to that line of thinking. Besides the hospital admissions for pneumonia or respiratory infections, there were plenty of illnesses in which Jaycee was intensely treated at home. After years of challenges, I am happy to report that things are finally changing for the better. 

If you have been following this blog for awhile, you know the complexities of Jaycee's health. If you don't, this might be a good background read for you. The repeated respiratory infections have been devastating for Jaycee's quality of life, and it's been distressing for the rest of her family. That led to us taking Jaycee to Mayo Clinic for a third opinion on her lungs last year. 

By August 2019, Mayo Clinic had a plan in place for Jaycee's sick lungs after extensive testing. The main changes were:
-taking an antibiotic 3 times a week 
-adding in two new nebulizer medications to use daily
-increasing the settings on her vest airway clearance machine
-and obtaining a cough assist machine to be used daily.

In addition, we were given a different plan of attack whenever Jaycee did get a respiratory illness. It was more aggressive but necessary given the state of her lungs. 

Once we started her new intervention plan, I was cautiously optimistic. The team felt Jaycee would do well and promised a new, healthier future. I wasn't sure that it was even possible. I saw her has a "sick" child. I wanted the good health to be true, but it was hard to be believe things could be different. I had been promised good health before by other professionals. I had been let down in the past, so I was reluctant to simply trust that this plan would work. 

A few months into the new treatment plan, Jaycee's health seemed to be stable. Hope started to grow inside of me. Keep in mind that I had years of watching my child turn blue, be rushed to the ER, and suddenly need oxygen. These past experiences had me torn between believing for a better future and being scared that at any time things could fall apart. 

In the fall, Jaycee made it through an illness at home. It was an intense few days of treatments, but she recovered without going into the hospital. It was the reassurance that I was looking for. However, I kept saying, "Let's see if she gets through cold and flu season." That would be the real test. 

My reluctance was keeping me from believing better things for her. At church one Sunday, our pastor started encouraging us to pray for things that only God could change. He encouraged us to pray for the impossible, believe in miracles, and stretch our faith. I know this should be common knowledge as a Christian, but it's easy to let past hurts affect your prayer life. It was simply a challenge to pray in faith for areas that seemed like they were never going to get better. In that moment, I knew God was speaking to me through my pastor. It was the words I needed to hear. It was time to get beyond the traumas, fear of being let down again, and past experiences and simply cling to hope and faith that things could be better. 

In November, we rejoiced that we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving at home with our families. The previous two Thanksgivings were spent in the hospital. Being home for that holiday was surpassing a huge hurdle in my mind! 

December and January passed with no illnesses. Those were two months that were notoriously hard for Jaycee. I was grateful again that things were improving! The longer she went on her healthy streak, the more confident I became. 

In February, we all came down with a cold right as we headed out for a Disney vacation. Jaycee either got a mild version of our cold or had a small reaction to being in a different environment. Either way, the medications and machines did their job, and she was able to fight off her illness on vacation. 

Since then, Jaycee has been in near perfect health. She's had a few, small changes in her breathing this spring, which happens during allergy season, but her lungs quickly responded to the medications. If there's been any good to the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders that shut my state down for almost 2 months, it's that we went no where to get a germ or a cold virus. She has stayed remarkably healthy over the past few months. But, when there's no church, school, or social events, there's a better chance of staying well. 

Last month, I started counting down the days that would mark the 1 year anniversary of her last hospital admission. We marked the date with a prayer of thanksgiving and recognition of how much life has changed in the past year. I had zero faith that this was possible a year ago. It really feels like a miracle. 

Now that we've reached the one year mark, I feel it is time to consider my daughter as a "mostly healthy kid with times of illnesses." I'm starting to make this strange transition. It's been wonderful to view my child differently but also see how much better her quality of life can be. 

Having a year off from the hospital has meant that we have had a bit of reprieve from many things. There's less absences for illnesses, less time off of work for illnesses, fewer medical bills, less stress, and fewer disruptions in our life. I'm grateful for the way things worked out and for answered prayers. 

Still, an impossible question is in my mind. Can she make it two years without a hospital admission? We'll find out...

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