(Emily, with her brother, Charlie, a few months after the surgery. Think she has chicken pox in this picture :)
A friend’s circumstance triggered a memory today, a truly gut-wrenching memory.
When our daughter, Emily, was 2 1/2 years old she had to have surgery on her bladder and kidney. Surprisingly she was compliant and accepting of the whole process. Before surgery the hospital staff introduced her to a sample oxygen mask, which she played with and accepted happily when it was put on for real. Her new “nightie” with the ties in the back wasn’t so much as blinked at. Without struggle she let me hold her and sing a lullaby as that oxygen mask with the anesthesia in it put her to sleep (I may never forget that moment in time…so precious, so hard).
The surgery was a success, doctors were confident she’d be home in no time. A bit cranky after surgery, she started exhibiting the spunk we thought she’d forgotten about. Overall though, she was an angel. It was as if she knew this was big stuff and that going with the flow would only help her feel better.
There was one exception to this rule. Every four hours the medical team came in and catheterized her. She wasn’t allowed to go home until her bladder was working, so we’d pump her full of fluids and wait…and wait. For days nothing happened, her bladder didn’t recover from the trauma of the surgery as soon as they’d hoped. So six times a day, in came the team…a visit we soon began to dread. Emily, our spunky toddler, absolutely hated their visits. She kicked and screamed bloody murder whenever they came. She didn’t scream like a little kid not wanting to do something, she screamed as if someone were violating her. It was the most horrible thing imaginable…I hurt for mothers around the world who hear their child’s scream when true violation is occurring. Few things can be more horrible…
After the first few catheter team visits (they always came with a big strong male nurse to hold her down) Emily’s roommate disappeared and no roommate moved in. The team always closed the door after them (during her final catheterizations they wheeled her to a sound proof room). What did I do? I helped hold her down and hovered over that sweet face. I looked deep into those beautiful blazing eyes with all the love I had in me and tried to soothe her, tried to console her. Even though we explained things to her she couldn’t understand, she was too young. She didn’t realize that they were trying to help her, she only knew the pain and the humiliation. She was angry and wasn’t going to give in. No matter the time of day a full kicking and screaming fight she delivered til they exited with a full urine bag. Every four hours….I about died in that children’s hospital…it was so incredibly hard.
As I reflect, I wonder if God doesn’t have moments like mine. I wonder if, like Emily in the hospital, we find ourselves in so much pain and humiliation, so much anger and fear that we spiritually scream bloody murder. Betrayal, violation or assault visit us and we kick and scream unable to see what God sees. Yes, I think God may be very close in those times when we hurt the most, when we cannot understand why. Maybe He is so close that He is right over us trying to console us, trying to placate our fears, trying to let us know we’re safe anyway, that we’ll be ok.
After many incredibly long days we took Emily home with a catheter in. Insurance dictated that time was up so the doctors sent us home assuring us her bladder would start working with more time. A couple of weeks later we took out the catheter. I’ve never been so excited to see a wet diaper in my life. The ordeal was over, she was healed. I’ve never heard her scream like that since and forever I am grateful…forever I am grateful…