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Monday, 6 June 2005

A bit of a scare

It’s been another couple of rollercoaster days…

Saturday began with a phone call on my way to the hospital. To my horror, I could hear Isabel screaming in the background. “Will you be coming in to the hospital anytime this morning?” asked a shaky nurse. “I’m only 10 minutes away.” (After that conversation, I was in her hospital room within 5) “Good, we haven’t been able to settle her for quite some time now and she seems quite distressed.” (That was an understatement)

At her bedside, she was nearly inconsolable and in obvious pain. They had lowered her epidural dosage because they wanted to see her more alert… well they got their wish. Isabel has a very high threshold for pain, so when she’s screaming with discomfort the way she was, you know it’s because she’s in great amounts of pain. Needless to say, they resumed a higher dosage of the epidural and all was better. Once Shrek 2 was started, she actually flashed me a few of her big grins. She expressed through her little singing voice that she was feeling much better. Other than puffy eyes, she was looking in good spirits. James eventually showed up several hours later when it was time to change shifts and he spent the remainder of the evening with her. A routine call prior to leaving her confirmed that she was still in good spirits and doing well.

I phoned first thing yesterday morning to ask about her night. Not much of a reply. Hmmm, why the hesitancy?

When I arrived at the hospital yesterday, my heart nearly leaped out of my chest. Isabel’s head was wrapped in a cold wet cloth, her eyes seemed to be rolling, her breathing was very laboured and she was on oxygen. My face must have said it all. The nurse approached me and said “She’s had a very rough night. Her oxygen sats dropped at 2:00 am and she’s on small amounts of oxygen. Since this morning, she has developed an alarmingly high fever of 40 degrees. They were concerned about a collapsed lung but X-rays show that they are hyper-extended, an indication that her asthma is causing some stress. They have taken blood cultures to check for infection and the preliminary results won’t be back until tomorrow and final results won’t be in for another 3 days. We’re still waiting for blood work results on her white blood cell counts. If they are abnormally high, it will confirm the presence of infection and we will begin a broad spectrum antibiotic. Other than that, there isn’t much else we can do.”

I looked down to her little face. Her nose was bloody from the nose prongs and she slept as though in a coma. For the first time, I truly saw her fragile little body and not her immeasurable spirit. I held her little hand in mine and prayed fervently. I couldn’t stop the tears and I couldn’t stop the thoughts… those horrible thoughts. I spoke to her in her sleep of strong soldiers working in her body as they have since the day she was born and that she needed lots of rest so the soldiers could continue to fight and protect her. I told her she was the bravest little girl I knew and that I was so proud to be her mother. I told her about all of you and how you have been touched by her presence and how you pray for her now. “My heart aches, my darling little one, to see you struggle as you are in this moment. It has never occurred to me until now to give you permission to stop fighting as you have all these years should you simply find it too much anymore. You have taught so many and I am forever changed.”

Thoughts of infections claiming people’s lives after surgeries… thoughts of funeral arrangements… thoughts of the emptiness in my heart… thoughts of the moments I’d wished this would all end… so many thoughts, good and bad, flooding me with a thousand feelings… they all poured into me and I thought I would burst from their weight.

Prayer… I needed to silence them all with prayer…

“Blessed Father, you have graced my life in so many ways and I am humbled by the children who teach me. Be with our Isabel now and fill her little body with your love and healing. May you continue to nourish her spirit with your Truth and your Will and may her path be journeyed as it was meant to be.”

I envisioned that path. I saw flowers and trees, birds and sunlight. I saw a forest but did not fear its darkness. I heard the wind and felt joy… immeasurable joy. It was a path journeyed with great faith and resolution. Our little Isabel may not be able to walk, but this path she has journeyed in her own little way has surpassed any path I have ever known. There was a feeling of great hope as though her sacrifices alone meant to teach us this very thing… to believe.

Somewhere amidst this whirlwind, her fever broke and her little hand tightened around my fingers, whether by fluke or in confirmation, I’m not sure… but I know which I believe. Blood results came back and her white blood cell counts were normal. She still looked frail, but she looked as though she’d resolved to journey yet a little further.

Thank God.

My Dad came by, and we went for lunch together. James sat by Isabel’s side when we returned and she looked so much better than when I’d first seen her just hours before. Even Dad smiled that smile when he quietly acknowledges what seems like a little Divine intervention.

By the time evening came along, Isabel was alert and content. I quacked her toy duck and showered her with kisses. She looked amused and somewhat annoyed but still looked at me and gave me her little verbal sigh as though to say, “Yes yes, mother, I know already.”

I have just phoned this morning, and she is off the oxygen, she has had a very good night, they will likely be removing the epidural today, they will begin introducing foods into her tummy, and admitting her to a regular ward. Hallelujah chorus, anyone?

Thank you to Mireille who forced me (quite literally) to come by her place last night with my guitar and to simply loose myself to laughter, songs and tears. You are wonderful for reminding me to smile and to find comfort in things that bring me joy. And thank you to Mom and David for the delicious rib dinner and mind release of playing Kenasta. And thank you, Linda and Jorge, for watching over Mélina when I am at the hospital. So much collaboration, so much support… what a blessing.

God bless you all!

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