I’ve always been scared of flying - the feeling of being out of control and not knowing what to expect scares me the most. I go through life as expected when I’m in the air - eating, talking, reading - but I am not at ease until the plane lands and we are back on safe ground. It’s this exact feeling I can use to describe how it felt all three times my oldest son was admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
The first time my son went to CHEO, he was 12 weeks old. He had a kidney infection due to his hydronephrosis, a minor and treatable kidney condition that most children outgrow. (He since has, thankfully). CHEO was our home for 12 days, and I never left my son’s crib. Seeing him in pain with an IV, having to undergo tests, catheters, and ultrasounds, was a nightmare, to say the least. It was an experience that changed me - not only to see my son so sick, but to see other children, many sicker, in pain. The daily worry that comes with being a mom got much worse for me after this experience.
He got another infection when he was 6 months old, and again, was admitted to CHEO. This time our stay was short - only 4 days.
This past November, my son had a bad case of pneumonia and back to CHEO we went, back to the familiar 4th floor, east wing. I never imagined that I’d see my three year old with an IV three times in three years. I also never imagined that the beeping sounds of my son's IV would become familiar to me, that I would know what button to press in the middle of the night to turn the 'beep' off, and how I wanted to scream everytime I read: 'Downstream occlusion' on the IV monitor. That meant, quite possibly, that a new IV would need to be started.
A couple days later, my son’s condition worsened - after a few more x-rays, we found out he had pleural infusion - a complication of pneumonia that requires surgery. The night before his surgery, I was filled with worry. Everything was very foggy, like I was in a constant dream-state. Very much like the feeling I get when I fly. Only much, much worse.
During the two weeks my son was in the hospital, I barely saw my baby - Dimitry was 10 months old at the time. My parents, thankfully, took him and he slept at their place while my husband and I were at my son’s bedside. Seeing my baby for only a few hours a day just added to the pain - I was used to being with him 24 hours a day.
I don't know how I survived the day of my son's surgery. That hour and a half felt like a dream - again, like I was on a plane full of turbulance. When his surgeon told us he was fine, my heart stopped. I was so thankful that he was going to be okay. I started to feel a lot better. But still, I was in shock.
He had a chest tube in him draining fluid for 4 more days. I don't have the words to describe how horrific this was for me to see. He was so strong, barely complaining about anything. Finally, after 14 days, we were sent home. He had to take a few more days worth of medicine and have follow-up x-rays, but we were going home. Best feeling ever. It was a nightmare of an experience, one that I want to forget, but one that I think about daily. The smell of Purell takes me back there, seeing my son's scar reminds me of what he went through, and even the common cold make me worry - because it was only a cold he had, initially.
If this experience has taught me anything, it has taught me to be thankful for everything I have and to be thankful for how blessed I am. When I’m at the end of my rope after a tiring day with the kids, I count my blessings. I know how lucky we are. I know what we went through was a nightmare most parents won’t go through - but I know we had it good, too. I will always worry about my children. I will also always worry about other people's children. And I'll always keep everyone's children in my prayers.
I remind myself often of my blessings - my two healthy, happy, beautiful boys who are my life, my everything, and I try not to worry. And, at least for now, the turbulance has subsided.