Last week was one of my toughest weeks in a long time. And the reason why may surprise you.
You may or may not have heard of "body memories" before. Body memories are physical memories that are not stored in your mind - but deep down in the recesses of your body. Almost to the cellular level. I hope you've never dealt with sexual abuse or assault in any way, shape or form in your life. I have and have lived to talk about it. You may have been too young to remember what happened - or maybe it was just too traumatic and you blacked it out - but your body always remembers. And sometimes it takes just a tiny, little trigger to bring it all to the surface. But body memories aren't only for survivors of sexual abuse. All of us have memories stored in our bodies.
Something similar to a body memory happened to me last week - yet it wasn't my body. It was Gavin's.
Let me explain...
It's been a long, hard winter for our family. Since Brian's birthday, sickness has not left our house. At one point, all of us were sick. Hope gave us the biggest scare when I had to bring her to the emergency room with a very high fever (talk about triggering a bad memory!). Turns out she had Influenza A and a wicked double ear infection. Against my own gut, I took a script from the E.R. doctor for an antibiotic and had it filled for her. This was the first time she's ever been on antibiotics. I made sure I loaded her up with a good probiotic, but she still had a lot of tummy issues and really rough diapers. I stopped the medicine before the seven days (with the doctor's blessing) and vowed "never again." Her little bum was destroyed. But I hadn't seen anything yet!
By that weekend, Hope had developed a terrible yeast reaction to the antibiotics. Not a "yeast infection" - but a yeast rash ON her skin. It quickly turned really bad and was clearly painful for her. At first I thought it was diaper rash from her "rough diapers" that week, and used diaper rash cream. I also tried corn starch. Corn starch, as it turns out, was a bad idea. It can make a yeast rash worse. Who knew. When it wasn't clearing up with the regular diaper rash cream, I knew it was yeast.
The pediatrician told me to use a Nystatin cream on the rash, which I tried initially. But the first time I used it - it made ME feel sick. I had a terrible headache after I spread it over her rash and I thought - if it makes ME feel this way, what is it doing to HER?!? I knew I had to change it up.
Because of Gavin - and all I learned about him and nutrition and strange reactions - and because of my relationship with Dr. Coralee Thomson who taught me so much - I knew that this needed to be fixed internally. Hope has a great little diet - she eats well, only drinks water or breast milk and doesn't eat sweets of any kind. But I still eliminated carbs and fruit. Hope loves fruit and we were giving it to her at every meal - which might have been the sugar the yeast was feeding on. Her new regimen was lots of plain, greek yogurt... a probiotic capsule broken open and sprinkled into the yogurt... a teaspoon of Inner-Ecco Fresh Coconut Water Probiotic... and a tea tree/calendula/olive oil mixture to use topically. Every morning I had her sit in the tub with baking soda mixed in the water to clean the area which, at the very least, was soothing for her.
I honestly thought it would get better in 24 hours on this regimen. I had done all kinds of things like this with Gavin for various reasons and had success. But Hope continued to get worse... and the yeast rash started to spread. You could see it on her torso and even on her cheeks. There were several days that I never got out of my pajamas. I'd block us in the kitchen on the hardwood floor with a bunch of her toys and I'd let her go without a diaper so air could hit the rash. It was dreadful. I tried several other remedies - including coconut oil which is usually a miracle oil for us - but nothing worked.
Brian was a great brother during this time. He was the bright spot every day when he came home from school and Hope definitely cheered up when he would play with her.
He was concerned about her, too, and would come in to her room if I was putting her to sleep so he could sing her a lullaby. (He took this pic of the two of us looking oh, so tired.)
During this time - I became very depressed. I spent a lot of time in tears and feeling very, very sorry for myself. Hope's yeast reaction was severe and stubborn and nothing was working. She was cranky and miserable and I was cranky and miserable and we both cried a lot during the day. If someone had peered into our windows on any day last week, they would have had an eyeful - that's for sure. I couldn't figure out why I was so upset about a rash! Until I did figure it out.
As hard as I tried, I couldn't seem to fix her. It got worse and worse and my feelings just spiraled and spiraled until I was as out of control as her rash. Caring for her - trying to heal this rash - became my full time job. Just like I would have handled any of the list of issues I dealt with with Gavin.
Over the course of Gavin's entire little life, it felt like I was always dealing with something. Whether it was a rash... weight gain... tube feedings... ptosis of his eyes... eczema... food allergies... you name it. But in the end, there was nothing I could do to fix him. In a split second moment in the emergency room when I looked down and realized he wasn't breathing - I froze.
I went to nursing school, I know CPR... yet I yelled for help and didn't even attempt to start CPR on my very own son. Help was there within seconds, but I froze. Would it have made a difference if I had done anything? I don't know - I never will. But I'll tell you this - it will haunt me the rest of my life.
The week dragged on and I finally discovered the magic bullet for Hope's yeast rash. A product called "CandiGone" - one drop a day - and Weleda's Zinc and Calendula cream. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel - and it's been well over a week dealing with this.
So, what does a yeast rash and Gavin's death have in common, you ask? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But in my body, I was brought back to a time when I lived, breathed and spent all my waking hours researching and trying to help Gavin. And as I kept failing to heal Hope's rash, my body released the grief that it was holding onto from the day that I couldn't help Gavin at all - no matter how hard I tried. Especially when I froze. And he died.
During this long, torturous week - I felt like I was trying to heal Gavin's body - and I kept failing over and over. Like I was stuck in a bad dream. And, almost like a movie, Gavin's life kept playing over and over in my mind - from the first moment I held him until the very last.
All triggered by a rash.
The body always remembers.