Since Gavin's death - which was completely, utterly, entirely shocking in every way possible - I have suffered from a case of medical anxiety. I am pretty sure I have completely, utterly and entirely made up that expression, "medical anxiety" - but it fits.
Lately, this anxiety has been pushed to the brink. And I'm here to tell you I survived.
We have all been sick in one way or another for going on four weeks. Stomach bugs, colds, coughs, and more. Brian was the most concerning for a while when I noticed he wasn't bouncing back from the stomach flu as quickly as the rest of us. He had extremely low energy, a stiff neck and no appetite. It was easy to assume for a while that it was recovery from the bug, but then it lingered... and I began to panic. When a visit to the doctor revealed swollen lymph nodes and a worsening stiff neck - it prompted a consult with infectious disease. Panic moment number one. When he continued to worsen and the lymph nodes got bigger, he was sent for labs and X-Ray. When the labs came back concerning - panic moment number seven hundred and thirty two by this point. Repeat labs and X-Ray several days later were equally concerning, especially because he still had a stiff neck. We were scared out of our minds. It culminated with further testing at the hospital and it was decided that it could be just a strange kind of virus. He was also tested for Mono and Lyme and we're still waiting for those test results. Throughout most of this time, I was recovering from a minor(ish) surgery... so it's been... challenging. (And I am 100% fine)
The good news is - Brian is doing MUCH better. He's back to his bubbly self.
His neck isn't stiff anymore. His appetite is back. Things are looking up, thank God.
But I can't deny - I went there. I had myself (inwardly - not shown to Brian outwardly) so scared that we were going to hear terrible news. I found myself googling his symptoms (never a good idea). I laid awake at night thinking and praying and begging and thinking some more. It was a pretty awful time for me.
Things got better. A lot better! The other day, Hope decided she was a Princess and I treated her as such.
Yesterday afternoon, when Brian got home from school, we had our snack outside.
Then we spent the rest of the day playing and even cleaning some of the outdoor toys and furniture. Brian, Hope and I all had scrub brushes and went to town. We played with sidewalk chalk and bubbles and explored the yard and hunted for "wishies." Hope was in a happy, silly mood.
I went to bed feeling much more relaxed - like I could breathe. The worst was over.
And then - I heard a familiar sound over the monitor. By the time I got to her room, Hope was lying in vomit and burning up with a terrible, hacky cough. She had a fever of 102. Ed cleaned her up in the bath while I cleaned up the bed. It was hard for me to sleep with one ear trained on the monitor after that. Hope slept through the night, but when I went to get her in the morning she was burning up again. I called the doctor...
They know just what to say - both of them. They were there for me when Gavin died. One of our doctors saw Gavin in the emergency room - he raced over from his office as soon as he got the call. I think they know where the anxiety comes from and I never feel judged. I can't control it. Even though I trust these two men on a regular basis with my children - for medical care, advice and treatment... I still worry.
This morning the doctor talked me down and said that Hope (who was acting happy and playful) would likely be fine. He suggested clear liquids for the day and to treat the fever.
That's another sticky point for me. I have fever phobia now. Gavin died when a febrile seizure stopped his heart and deprived his brain from oxygen long enough to lead to brain death. I think I have a right to fear fevers. Part of me thought I should cancel plans I had today - big plans - to stay home "just in case" Hope got worse. I seriously had to talk myself into going.
I'm so glad I did.
My Mom gifted my sister, Bean, and me tickets to see "Beautiful - the Carole King Musical" in Philadelphia for our birthdays. I had been looking forward to this for a few months!! A day out with my sister... a great show... incredible seats... how could I give that up for a fever, right?
As it turns out, it was just what I needed. The show was wonderful. I had fun laughing with my sister. Hope was in capable hands with her Daddy - and he was nice enough to text me updates a couple times. I got a break for a few hours. A break that was desperately needed. It's been a long, long time since I had a break like that.
I came home to a little girl who was still feverish, coughing and not quite herself... but we both survived.
I'm not sure if my anxiety level makes me feel "tested" - or if being "tested" by sick children and a small medical mystery is part of my healing journey... either or both could be true. But what I do know is that I can survive these tests. I've learned that I can pretty much survive anything.
Gavin taught me that.