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Thursday, December 14, 2006
When my heart began to hurt.


When I got the call, I was expecting news about A’s test results. I thought that the pediatrician was confused when she left the message to contact her to discuss Maggie. After all, she only had the standard CBC test, not the test for thyroid and blood sugar that A was prescribed. I called with the confidence of assuming that everything was just fine and that Dr. B. just wanted to advise me that the tests were in and that I could stop stuffing my little bean with all the extra calories she could take.

It turns out she wasn’t confused. A’s test results weren’t back yet and that made her hopeful that there was nothing to be concerned about. You see, when the tests are normal, the lab doesn’t call her. They just fax a written report within two to three days. If there was something abnormal regarding the test results, she would have received a call. She did receive that call, for M’s results.

It appears that M has a low white blood cell count. Immediately Dr. B assured me that it was nothing to become alarmed about, but that she wanted to inform me that M would have to be tested again in two weeks and to provide me with information on how to deal with this situation.

Apparently, having a low white blood cell count usually means that you just have a harder time getting better when you are sick or you are more susceptible to catching an illness. There are other, more serious causes for this symptom, but at this point, there is no reason for me to discuss, or even think about something so devastating. Right now, we just have to follow some simple rules.

M should not be exposed to other sick people.

If M does become ill, we should notify the doctor immediately and monitor her behavior and symptoms.

If M develops a fever, we must report it to Dr. B immediately and, if she is unavailable, we must take M to the emergency room for treatment.

From the beginning of our conversation yesterday, I immediately began to tremble. My hands shook and my eyes welled up. My heart began to hurt. Is this what it is like? Is this how you find out that the things that you hold more precious in life than your own are completely out of your control? The feeling of helplessness consumed me immediately. That I can have no control and am at the mercy of forces outside of my own are concepts that I cannot comprehend. J says that I have a control issue. Is it an “issue” that I feel so vulnerable against things that can happen to my children, regardless of how hard I work to protect them?

Well meaning friends and family have assured me that everything is all right, that it is a fluke or that she is fine and it’s nothing to worry about. I would say the same thing to my friend or family member. But being on the receiving end, I wanted to shake them and say, “Don’t you remember what it’s like??” Not worrying is not an option.

M is the feistier of the two beans. She runs and climbs and laughs from her belly. She pokes at her calm sister and has a devilish twinkle in her eye. She already knows how to hide her misbehaving (her favorite spot is by the refrigerator). The girl’s got moxie. I have no doubt that this will probably be either a minor infection or mistaken lab results.

But that doesn’t stop the worry.

That doesn’t stop the feeling of helplessness, the anger that I can’t do anything to fix this problem. It doesn’t quiet my desperation to get to her as soon as possible to hold her so tight in my arms, as if that could make her white blood cell count miraculously increase. Last night, my eyes lingered on her a little longer, I pet her hair a little more and I held my breath at every cry or stumble. I wondered if my parents felt this way when we were little, and if they still feel as strongly today.

A couple of weeks ago, we heard the horrible news that an acquaintance of ours received a similar phone call, but with a much more shocking message. Their little girl is only eighteen months. It is a word that no parent should hear and I won’t begin to imagine what that family is going through.

So, if something like this causes me to worry a little more, pay a bit more attention or really appreciate each and every day that they are in my life, then maybe that call was a wake-up call.

I don’t think my heart will stop hurting until the day I die. It is a wound of parenthood.

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3 Comments:

Blogger The nuts mom said...

Oh MB, What can I say? On the updside let them check her out now, we'll start early to pray and pray. She's a tough cookie though just like her mom. If you need anything at all, please let me know. Seriously, anything at all.

Blogger Stacy said...

Oh, hell. I'm sorry. How is she now? (Sorry - we didn't talk about this at work and I'm only now catching up on blogs...)

Blogger Becki said...

oh sweetie, I'm so sad to hear this. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

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