Saturday, June 27, 2009

Praying for a Hand to Steady Me

Last night wasn't the best night our family has ever had. Eli had been feeling under the weather the past few days, but he was most definitely off. When he woke up after an unusually long nap, he felt awfully cold to me. I took his temperature and my breath caught when I read the thermometer. 92.3. Maybe my thermometer was wrong. I grabbed another one and took it again. 93. Frowning and trying to fight of the rising panic, I brought Eli downstairs, held him close and offered him some milk while I figured out what to do next. I waited about twenty minutes and retook his temp with both thermometers. No change.

I called the nurse advice line at Children's and the nurse I spoke with was unimpressed with what I'd told her. She ran through a litany of questions and had me retake his temp while she waited on the line. It was up, but only a bit. This time, 93.7. I knew this wasn't good and was debating on how to bring Adam into the loop, listening to his happy splashes with Ethan and some family friends out at the pool. The nurse said, "Usually in a case like this, we are instructed to send an ambulance." Was she serious!? What? An ambulance? For my baby!? I'm used to calling ambulances for Adam, but not for my little ones. Panic was rising and I fought and prayed to stay calm. I breathed slowly, taking big gulps of air. The nurse continued by saying, "It sounds like he's responsive and if you feel safe, you can drive him to the ER yourself. Do you have someone to take you?". It was game time.

As I ran downstairs I had the sensation that the house was around me, but I was not in it. I felt like I was moving through gelatin, struggling, almost physically, to keep my thoughts clear, yet struggling mentally to keep myself moving. I called to Adam and asked him to please come upstairs to speak with me. He ran up the stairs from the pool, hair and swimsuit dripping, looking like a young, innocent, playful boy. I hated to break this news to him. For several reasons...the biggest reason being that if I told him, out loud, what was happening, then that meant that what was happening was, indeed, really happening. As if keeping it a secret between Eli and I, that if I was dealing with this alone, it made it seem that I could still undo it.

A long night at the hospital ensued. Bloodwork, a CT scan, a spinal tap, and then finally a heavy dose of an antibiotic intravenously. Thankfully, the tests all came back without any signs of something significant going on. We still don't have a fabulous explanation as to why his temp dropped but no explanation is better than a terrifying explanation.

The tests, I have to say, were frightening. Awful. Something I hope to never repeat with either of my children, or with anyone else I love for that matter. While they were putting in the i.v. to take Eli's blood, I thought that holding down my sweet and struggling son was one of the worst things a mother is asked to do. Until we got to the CT scan. After wrapping Eli in the body restraints, his head was still wiggly. We were told if he couldn't keep still during the scan that they would have to sedate him, which I desperately did not want to do. They wrapped his forehead in a small restraint but he was still wiggly. I looked at the tech and she told me I could hold his chin and cheeks in an effort to steady his head but even as she said it, she seemed like she thought it was going to be a futile effort on my part.

As the scan started, Eli was calmer than I expected. I held his chin firmly, yet as gently as I could. As the scan continued, he grew more and more agitated and I had to tighten my grip in order to keep his head as still as possible. It was excrutiating. Against every single mother's instinct I possess. My instincts were telling me to wrip off the restraints, scoop him up in my arms and whisper sweet words in his ear until he quieted and relaxed. Instead, I was contributing to his suffering and fighting against him to keep him still. I began to panic thinking, "I can't do this, I can't do this. I just can't." Adam, who must have heard my breathing quicken, offered encouraging words but it wasn't enough. I knew I was close to losing it and at the very moment I felt like I had done the best I could and I began to shake and cry, I asked G-d for help. "Please be near to me G-d. Right now. Be near. Be near to me G-d. Steady me. Steady me, G-d.". And then the moment changed. I felt the presence of hands behind me, holding my back and literally keeping me on my feet. I let myself lean on these hands. Hands that I could not see but most certainly could feel, My breathing returned to normal, my tears stopped and even Eli seemed to relax. The scan was over and we didn't have to sedate our baby boy.

As the night continued, Eli's temp continued to rise and his spirits and activity level also dramatically improved. We arrived home in the early morning hours, falling into bed at close to 5:00 a.m. But I was grateful to be home. And grateful to be home with my healthy son.

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