In my last post, I mentioned Madeline’s persistent fever. What I didn’t bring up is how concerned I was starting to become. My little, hopping cricket was no longer hopping. She was sleeping. All. Of. The. Time. As soon as I thought her fever had broken, it would return. She’d start to cry and would tell me she was freezing even though her body was like fire to touch. This went on for 11 days. As I mentioned, my husband got her in to see a doctor (in the ER) because we were having trouble securing a pediatrician in our new town. There they ruled out a UTI and an ear infection. On Monday (two days after she’d been to the doctor), she seemed more like herself again.
But on Tuesday she became lethargic again, and her fever returned.
On Wednesday, she woke up with a 102 fever (it had gotten up to 104.8 at one point), and I thought, “Enough of this cavalier approach. I’m getting my baby in to see a pediatrician.”
And I did. Our new pediatrician was wonderful. She was thorough and great with Madeline – and with a worried mom.
“We need to do a workup,” she said. She told me what the workup would include but when she got to the scary stuff, she starting spelling, “C-A-N-C-E-R markers.”
C-A-N-C-E-R. Madeline sat on my lap completely oblivious to the gravity of it all.
The pediatrician reassured me that it was likely viral, but this was just to be safe. I blinked back tears. Madeline noticed. She doesn’t miss a beat even when she’s under the spell of a high fever. “Mommy?”
“Oh, you know how Mommy gets. You know how I’ve been silly with this move. Everything’s fine.”
But in the back of mind, I was thinking, “What if this time everything isn’t fine?”
We went to the lab. They got us in so quickly. My new pediatrician who doesn’t even know us gave me her personal cell phone number. She told me she’d call as soon as she knew anything.
Which she did only an hour or so after the lab visit. It turns out that somehow the first tests missed a severe urinary tract infection. (We’re still wondering exactly how that happened.) Madeline is now on antibiotics. She has to get a renal ultrasound to check for scarring or an indication that this is going to be a chronic problem, but she’ll be fine. Absolutely, beautifully-thanks-be-to-God fine.
After just one dose of antibiotics, the girl was back in full throttle, talking and moving a mile a minute. In the morning, her voice boomed in our cavernous home (we won’t be furnishing all this space for a long time), but I didn’t complain. When she jumped around and talked nonstop, I thought about how wonderful it was to have my chatty, active, and healthy Madeline back
So often when bad things happen, we ask ourselves, “Why me?” but the night after I knew everything was going to be okay, I woke up asking another question, “Why not me?” I’ve asked this question before, and I’ve asked similar questions, too. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do some people seem to glide through life with little to no suffering while others endure heartbreak after heartbreak?
When I was a twenty-something and a friend of mine lost his young mother to cancer, I remember wondering when my lightening was going to strike. My life just seemed too blessed, too good. I knew then and I know now that God doesn’t work like that. He’s not weighing the pros and cons to help Him pick His next target for unbearable suffering. Still, it’s difficult to not feel any guilt when your worst fears weren’t realized, especially when you’ve faced some other scary chapters in your life that always seem to have happy endings.
Yet, as I watched my little girl revert back to her hopping cricket ways and bounce around in our yard as the slightest summer breeze lifted her sun-drenched hair, I decided it was time to ditch the guilt, to stop asking questions that are far too big for mortal me to ever begin to answer, and to just be grateful.
And that’s just what these past few weeks of feeling helpless about a sick child who would get well, dealing with moving headaches, minor setbacks, and weird things like a rain cloud bursting as soon as I walked out the door and then going away as soon as I get inside (I’m not kidding) have done for me: They’ve made me very, very grateful that this is all I’ve had to deal with.
Madeline’s health scare was, above all, a good reminder to soak up life, to stop worrying about the basement that still needs to be finished, the furniture that needs to be acquired, and all the other things that seemed so important before my baby girl came down with the fever that wouldn’t go away and the tiniest worry crept into my mama bear heart that she might not be well. Maybe my small, short-lived suffering was just what I needed to pull me out of my cocoon of comfort, laziness, and self-pity over all the inconsequential inconveniences I’ve had to manage lately and to remind me to not take my children, their health, our life together, and the fun that awaits us every day for granted.
My dad texted me after he heard the results of Madeline’s workup: “God is good. Sleep well tonight and remember each day is a precious gift.” That it is. I only pray I won’t squander it and will do my best to make good use of this gift for as long as it’s handed to me.