This past week has been surreal, in fact if I think about it this past year has. Something changed though last Wednesday when my son was diagnosed with pneumonia. I can’t yet put my finger on it but I suppose this post is a way to help me do that.
I feel a bit broken to be totally honest, just watching this little human that just happens to be the centre of my universe, cry out in agony while I know there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it or fix it, is soul destroying. And watching his eyes, that have seen only two years of this world, staring at me, questioning why they are in pain. It is the closest thing to hell on earth.
I can’t imagine what parents who have kids that are seriously ill have to go through, if this is what it feels like when your child has something that modern medicine can fix. I think it’s the helplessness that's the killer. I want to run out and study medicine, but I know that wouldn’t solve everything and would probably reveal how little we actually do know. Basically I need to be Samantha Stevens, when the pain hits I just wiggle my nose.
Witches aside for a moment, this got me thinking about resilience. Our children are going to face pain, and lots of it, and most of the time all we will be able to do is sit by and provide comfort and support. So how does one prepare to be useless in the face of your children’s biggest crises? How do you stop shutting down inside to cope with our own pain at having to watch our angels get attacked and have to fight for themselves?
Unfortunately I have no idea, lately if I don’t run around keeping busy, staying numb, I basically want to scream, “Why does he keep getting sick? Is it my fault? What can I do differently? Surely there is something that can be done?” Our doctors have answered these questions for me and they go something like “He’s in the normal spectrum of illness frequency for his age, it is not your fault, if he didn’t get these infections now he would get them at school, no his diet is good, he’s active and you are using probiotics and supplements and washing his hands, no there’s nothing more than antibiotics if it’s bacterial, immunisation against some real nasties but mostly it’s viral and he will just get over it in 7-10 days, summer is better”. This doesn’t stop my incredulous reaction when after maximum of two weeks good health another feral virus mows my boy down. It also doesn’t stop me blaming myself for pretty much the whole sorry situation.
All I know is I am tired and sad and feeling incredibly sorry for him and myself. I want to take the pain away, I want to wrap him in my arms and shield him from this torturous world. He, of course, is managing having one of the most serious respiratory conditions around like a champion, and other than needing a little more sleep and cuddles, is being his normal cheeky and charming little self.
If only I could be so brave and strong…but maybe screaming when you feel helpless is the best reaction. Aurora, Emma’s mother in Terms of Endearment is her and my hero, and she’s screaming, as is perfectly appropriate when you are watching someone you love more than life itself work through pain.
How do you handle it (or not) when your child is in pain?