Strange Days Indeed


September 27, 2011 by Marj Hatzell

You know, nobody told me there’d be days like these.

I spent the morning with my two-year old nephew and fab sister-in-law because said nephew has super flat feet and has been over correcting and his ankles turn in and…basically he has to get little shoe inserts so he can grow and he won’t be walking on the inside of his foot when he’s an adult. Because that’s bad and stuff. Apparently.

Anyways, I tagged along for moral support (and directions) to our favorite children’s hospital, the place we spend oodles of time. It’s strange, we’ve come a long way from six or eight visits a month. That’s two a week for those of you not good at math. And now? Once a month? If that? Once every few? It’s nice that things are relatively stable. It’s nice that my children’s health issues are under control and they aren’t so darn sick and miserable all the time. It’s nice when they aren’t having seizures or constantly puking or constantly having ear infections or needing EEGs or stitches or…You know.

Every time I’ve ever gone, I see children who are very, very special. Very fragile children. Children who need round the clock care, who may or may not survive childhood. It breaks my heart each and every time I go. They are so damn sick. It just doesn’t seem fair. Well, it just isn’t fair. But they are always happy. The staff is always amazing. There are super-duper people taking care of their kids. The hospital does its best to make it fun – wagons instead of wheelchairs, computers and cartoons and games and books in every waiting area, a large electronic interactive train display. The rooms are painted cute colors and have butterflies and fish on the ceilings.  But even with the awesome, state-of-the-art care, even with the freaking awesome playground? I bet those parents wish they never had to go there.

I know I do.

But when I go there and see those kids, those desperately sick children? I feel like I’ve got it good. All I can think is, “Whoa. And I complain about smashed pretzels and pee and poo on my carpet?”  My kids are able-bodied. My kids don’t have a life-threatening disease (though it is life-altering, for sure). My kids aren’t stuck in wheelchairs, hooked up to ventilators and feeding pumps and wedged in between positioners so they don’t get sores. My kids don’t have terminal illnesses. My kids can both tell me what they want. I can tell when they are sick (though, I’ll admit, Bugaboo is MUCH HARDER).

Sure my life is difficult. I mean, it isn’t easy, yo! But this life I have? Dammit. I can’t believe I even complain about it. My Bugaboo can sit and eat (when he feels like it) and goes to school and is happy and loves riding the bus and hugs and kisses me and says, “UH UH” or nods his head and can use signs and pictures to tell me what he wants. He has AWESOME people taking care of him every day, from the bus drivers and aides to the support staff to the teachers and therapists. He has kind, patient doctors. He has babysitters and family members who work their collective tails off to keep him safe. He has a big brother who may have his own issues but is fiercely protective of him. Even when they are beating the snot out of each other.

So days like today? When he came home from school and he started shrieking the very second he hopped (and I do mean, he HOPPED) down the bus stairs? When he ran around screaming because it was a freaking deluge and he couldn’t go outside? When he dumped out a brand-new bag of basmati rice, his $5 bag of wheat free pretzels, a bottle of soap, a bag of effing expensive GF chicken fingers and smeared chocolate granola bar all over his freshly made bed? I was frustrated. And operating on three hours of sleep because SOMEONE didn’t want to eat all of his dinner last night so SOMEONE got up three times to pig out and get a drink. I mean, I was tired, yo. Still am. Ahem.

But I was thankful.

Thankful that my child can make a mess to begin with. Thankful that when I took him to the local food co-op to grab tomatoes he picks out the most expensive bottled water he can find (some Hawaiian mountain stuff). Thankful he can use his arms and put them around me, giggling maniacally because he did something naughty or will eventually do something naughty and he’s thinking about it right then.

Thankful. Even on days like these.

4 thoughts on “Strange Days Indeed

  1. Karyn says:

    Every time we go to Childrens Hospital (less now than we used to, but still) I have the same reality-stopping realization that no matter how difficult things get, for some people they are so heart wrenchingly horribly frighteningly awful and we are so f*&&^iong lucky and I just hug my child that much harder. Then I say ten kinds of prayers as we get out of there that we don’t have to go through one fraction of what those other amazing parents and kids do.

  2. Janet says:

    Thanks – I needed to read this today.

    I have had the same experiences at the 2 childrens’ hospitals my kiddos go to (we are LUCKY in St. Louis metro). At the same time I have also been blessed by the wonderful parents/grandparents/children I have met.

    I’ll never forget the grandmother I met at the blood draw area. She was raising her grandson – about 6 at the time, in a stroller, very limited abilities. She was trying to get him some baby food and he dropped his slobbery paci. I picked it up – this started our conversation because she didn’t realize that just about nothing grosses me out. Obviously others had been grossed out by her grandson.

  3. Michele says:

    This made me smile. And it’s so true … we all have our moments, our struggles, our this, our that … but when we take a moment … when we are at hard times, and crawl out and see there is beauty, there are things to be thankful for. Now I’m a mush. Thankful for YOU, my friend. Mmmmhmmmm.

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