Amundsen House of Chaos

Let's face it, when you have a kid who survived a stroke, life is always going to be a little chaotic.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

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Deep thoughts

I will never forget the moment we were told Colby had a stroke. It is etched firmly in my mind as one of the darkest moments of my life. It is like a movie image some days. Like I can what was going on because I'm standing in the corner watching it happen to someone else. We came back from getting some breakfast because they took Colby down for a MRI. All we were told was that they thought he might be having a seizure. We came back and he was on a ventilator and back in the intensive care unit. The doctors grabbed us before we had even two minutes to start asking questions and herded us into the PICU conference room. The kidney doctor said "Well it's obvious that Colby is one very sick little boy. He has had a stroke."

I think the room might have actually spun for a few seconds before I could say "What?" "When?" "How bad?" I think it all came out very quickly and kind of jumbled. WE had just been told a stroke was a possible side effect the day before when they moved him out of the ICU but since they thought he was doing better it wasn't a concern. I don't know how long we were in the conference room. I think it was roughly a half an hour. The other thing that is firmly etched in my mind is "We don't know when it started. There's nothing we can do it just has to run it's course over the next 72 hours and we will know if he's going to make it then."

Make it? Seriously is that a medical term? Cause it's one I wanted to scream at them. This was just supposed to be appendicitis and now your telling me my son might not live? I can honestly say I don't think I stopped shaking for at least 72 hours. Until the next MRI came back and said the stroke hadn't progressed any farther and that he should be safe and could now begin the recovery process.

So why do I bring all of this up? Good question. The column underneath reminded me of that scene in the conference room. Thankfully ours wasn't stuffy and small. You do remember the exact moment you are told your worst nightmare. Does any of this change the way I feel about my life now? No. Do I wish it hadn't happened. Only for Colby's sake. I wish he didn't have to go through the hardships he has to go through But isn't that every mothers wish? To protect her children from the pains of the world. And so nothing changes. I am over the shock, I don't know that a small part of the anger will ever leave. I think it's a healthy part of the grieving process.

The other part of the grieving process is to realize why you do the things you do. Over this last week I've realized that I avoid one of my very good friends because she has a son one month older than Colby. He can still run and talk and eat and play. It's hard to watch. I do all right with girls his age but I have a hard time with boys. I hope that changes some day but for now at least I know why I do it and maybe some day I can stop feeling guilty over it. Anyway I am thankful that I got something more. I don't think I'm a wonder but on day like today I appreciate this womans words.

This is one of my favorite pics of Colby and I.

Some Mothers Get Babies With Something More
Written by: Lori Borgman Columnist and Speaker

My friend is expecting her first child. People keep asking what she
wants. She smiles demurely, shakes her head and gives the answer
mothers have given throughout the ages of time. She says it doesn't
matter whether it's a boy or a girl. She just wants it to have ten
fingers and ten toes. Of course, that's what she says. That's what
mothers have always said. Mothers lie.

Truth be told, every mother wants a whole lot more. Every mother
wants a perfectly healthy baby with a round head, rosebud lips,
button nose, beautiful eyes and satin skin.
Every mother wants a baby so gorgeous that people will pity the
Gerber baby for being flat-out ugly. Every mother wants a baby that
will roll over, sit up and take those first steps right on schedule
(according to the baby development chart on page 57, column two).
Every mother wants a baby that can see, hear, run, jump and fire
neurons by the
billions. She wants a kid that can smack the ball out of the park and
do toe points that are the envy of the entire ballet class. Call it
greed if you want, but we mothers want what we want.

Some mothers get babies with something more. Some mothers get babies
with conditions they can't pronounce, a spine that didn't fuse, a
missing chromosome or a palette that didn't close. Most of those
mothers can remember the time, the place, the shoes they were wearing
and the color of the walls in the small, suffocating room where the
doctor uttered the words that took their breath away. It felt like
recess in the fourth grade when you didn't see the kick ball coming
and it knocked the wind clean out of you. Some mothers leave the
hospital with a healthy bundle, then, months, even years later, take
him in for a routine visit, or schedule her for a well check, and
crash head first into a brick wall as they bear the
brunt of devastating news. It can't be possible! That doesn't run in
our family. Can this really be happening in our lifetime? I am a
woman who watches the Olympics for the sheer thrill of seeing finely
sculpted bodies. It's not a lust thing; it's a wondrous thing. The
athletes appear as specimens without flaw - rippling muscles with nary
an ounce of flab or fat, virtual powerhouses of strength with lungs
and limbs working in perfect harmony. Then the athlete walks over to
a tote bag, rustles through the contents and pulls out an inhaler.

As I've told my own kids, be it on the way to physical therapy after
a third knee surgery, or on a trip home from an echo cardiogram,
there's no such thing as a perfect body. Everybody will bear
something at some time or another. Maybe the affliction will be
apparent to curious
eyes, or maybe it will be unseen, quietly treated with trips to the
doctor, medication or surgery. The health problems our children have
experienced have been minimal and manageable, so I watch with keen
interest and great admiration the mothers of children with serious
disabilities, and wonder how they do it. Frankly, sometimes you
mothers scare me. How you lift that child in and out of a wheelchair
20 times a day. How you monitor tests, track medications, regulate
diet and serve as the gatekeeper to a hundred specialists yammering
in your ear. I wonder how you endure the clichés and the platitudes,
well-intentioned souls explaining how God is at work when you've
occasionally questioned if God is on strike. I even wonder how you
endure schmaltzy pieces like this one — saluting you, painting you as
hero and saint, when you know you're ordinary. You snap, you bark,
you bite. You didn't volunteer for this. You didn't jump up and down
in the motherhood line yelling, "Choose me, God! Choose me! I've got
it takes."

You're a woman who doesn't have time to step back and put things in
perspective, so, please, let me do it for you. From where I sit,
you're way ahead of the pack. You've developed the strength of a
draft horse while holding onto the delicacy of a daffodil. You have a
heart that melts like chocolate in a glove box in July, carefully
counter-balanced against the stubbornness of an Ozark mule. You can
be warm and tender one minute, and when circumstances require intense
and aggressive the next. You are the mother, advocate and protector
of a child with a disability. You're a neighbor, a friend, a stranger
I pass at the mall. You're the woman I sit next to at church, my
cousin and my sister-in-law. You're a woman who wanted ten fingers
and ten
toes, and got something more.

You're a wonder.


At May 16, 2009 at 10:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are a wonder, and when you walk into the room or your son hears your voice he lights up - he does have light in this world. it is you.

At May 16, 2009 at 11:36 AM , Blogger Sara (Ferreira) Haslam said...

Amen Anonymous!!

At December 17, 2009 at 12:09 AM , Anonymous Melissa said...

Well said, Anonymous... and Erin, you have always been a beautiful person inside and out - your strength and love can only be admired on my part. Hope to catch up soon!
melissa ferris


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