Dealing with illness with grace

I’ve blogged about Maggie being sick. A lot. It’s the worst. Having a sick kid is always hard, but having a sick kid who can’t tell you what’s bothering them and can’t control their body to blow their nose, spit out mucus, keep from rubbing pink eyed eyes, or do any of the things that you and I take for granted when we’re sick – it’s terrible. It’s exhausting and draining and unfortunately our reality.

Maggie has been sick on and off since January. It started as allergy driven pink eye, then became conjunctivitis, then after two visits to the doctor where “there’s nothing we can do, it’s viral, she’ll get better soon”, the doctor gave us antibiotics and after about two weeks of bracing her arms so she couldn’t touch her eyes, washing her hands constantly and heavy doses of antibiotics she eventually got better. For a week.  I get furious at doctors in these situations.  Their job, to me, has always been to heal, but for pediatrics, it seems, their job is more, to make sure it’s not life threatening.  Both valuable jobs, but I’d prefer the former.

Then she picked up a virus – that started as a cough, turned into a cold, developed into a bronchial infection, ultimately caused her hyperventilation I wrote about here ,  then she went to the doctor where “there’s nothing we can do, it’s viral, she’ll get better soon”,  and this time the doctor was right and eventually she got better. For two weeks.

Then she picked up another one.  This one, so far, has been the grossest of all.  It started as a cough, moved into a cold, turned into vomiting mucus, then mucus started coming out of her eyes.  What is that?  Why is that a thing that happens to people? Though this is the first time she’s actually stayed in bed while she’s sick.  It’s typical behavior, so that’s good, but it also gives us an indication of how ill she really is.  I don’t sleep much when she’s sick since I’m sleeping in her room to make sure she’s ok and during this particular illness, instead of getting up at 6, she’s been sleeping until 8, 9 even 11.  So the sleep is good for her and me, but I can’t get an actual good night’s sleep when I’m getting kicked in the face all night, so sleeping longer just means I’m getting kicked more and that makes me cranky and angry. Not to mention the added stress of not getting our new infant sick. So Jenny is a single parent to a newborn, while I single parent Maggie. We switch off, but not without a lot of hand washing and clothes changes, so the baby doesn’t get sick.

Other than the 3 weeks she’s been healthy this year her appetite has been next to nothing, she’s lost a few pounds and she’s actually gone down a size in pull-ups.  When feeding tubes and malnutrition start to creep into the conversations about what we’re going to do to get her healthy and keep her healthy, it starts to feel a little overwhelming.  But then she’ll get better, eat like a horse for a week put some weight back on and hopefully not get sick again for awhile.  Her balance gets thrown off too when she’s ill and she can barely hold herself up.  Is that weakness or does congestion just screw with her equilibrium that much?  Hard to know, but when she is better, much of her balance returns and after a few weeks we forget how scary that was. But this round of illnesses, has been a little overwhelming for us. She has been constantly hyperventilating, has not been able to eat, so dropping weight, then also losing her balance, and there are days she doesn’t want to walk without assistance. Needless to say, we have had to discuss medical equipment, hospitals, and any treatment that may help her, if there even is one. Again, exhausting.

During these illnesses she can’t go to therapies or school.  She’s unwilling and unable to be successful at any of it and whether she’s contagious or not, it’s a risk not worth taking for her therapists or teachers, understandably.  So we have to find other things to do.  There’s only so many times she can watch Frozen.  OK – fine, there are only so many times I can watch Frozen.  So one day, I took her to the park instead.  There, in spite of her feeling less than 100%, she still found a way to amaze me.  She still played and ran and giggled.  She fought through it and exhibits far more grace when she’s this sick than I do when she’s sick.

It’s a testament to her strength that regardless of how she’s feeling she can handle it with grace.  It’s a reminder to me of how I should be behaving.  But every now and then I’m gonna be mad for her.  Even if she isn’t.

One thought on “Dealing with illness with grace

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *