Monday, January 13, 2014

What sickness does...

There has been a lot of sickness lately.  I'm obviously more conscious of it in my own family, but it's everywhere.  It is that time of year and unfortunately though I personally love winter, it takes its toll on my loved ones (and this week on me too).

We're no strangers to sickness in our house and in our families; like so many other families we've had to come to grips with serious illness, cancer, and disease.  And here's what I've come to realize: it really can define who your family and friends are.  In our case, I'd say we're incredibly lucky, and I'm not just talking about Tera.  We've had our share of problems in our families and each time the rest of our families and friends show have shown their incredible love and support.

But here's what else sickness can do: it can put fears and worries into your mind that you never thought possible.  At times, completely irrational and nonsensical fears and worries.  At other times, very warranted fears and worries.  I would say that since Tera has been born, I've experienced more fear than any other time in my life.  In her case it ranges from whether we are doing everything we can to help her develop, to what the future might have in store for her and us, to what each illness means for her little body.

Tera has been fighting what we think is a cold for over a month now.  It never seemed to get worse, but it never seemed to get better.  Early on we took her in for fear of pneumonia, but another chest x-ray later it showed that as of that time, her lungs were clear.  Fast forward to this week and the cough that has been our primary concern, got worse.  We started increasing her nebulizer treatments even more and waited it out.  Friday night she coughed the entire night (though somehow managed to sleep through it all).  Saturday morning we decided we needed to have her checked out again.  The doctor said her lungs sounded clear but that after a month, we should probably try something to help clear whatever it was up.  Based on her history of sinus infections and the current symptoms we decided to start her on an antibiotic in hopes that it would treat whatever it might be.  This will not, to be clear, prevent pneumonia.  It will only treat what she thinks might be a sinus infection.  So last night after a visit to my sister's, Tera coughed the entire 30 minute drive home. She continued to cough for the next 30 minutes at home asleep in her bed.

Her temperature was 99, but when I tested her oxygen it was only at 91.  Tom and I, the professionals that we are, prepared ourselves for the night.  The thermometer and pulse-ox meter were easy to find, the Motrin was in the bathroom in case her fever went up, and we went to bed early in case we were up all night with her.  And of course almost every night we are that prepared, nothing happens.  And except for waking up a few times after 2:30 am, she had very little coughing.  But that didn't stop all the fears from invading my sleep.  I must have imagined at least ten different horrific situations that could have happened.  And despite telling myself that we've been through pneumonia before (five times to be exact) and that she doesn't actually have pneumonia yet, I replayed every horrible story I'd ever read and heard about in relation to pneumonia and respiratory distress.  Why did I do this? I have no idea.  All it does is torture myself, but I can't help it and my guess is that many other parents out there have done and will continue to do the same thing.

It's what sickness does.  It makes you realize your own mortality, how fragile life can really be, and it can bring your worst fears to the surface.  I think all you can do at point is hope that it gives you perspective and a better outlook on what you want your life and time to be.

As of today, the cough is still pretty bad.  As she naps I can hear that awful, fear inspiring sound come from her room every 20 minutes or so.  But she's acting normally (ie a bit of a pain in the ass at times), she's eating fine,  and there's no major temperature.  So once again, we'll see...

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