Numbers are my thing. I am comfortable with calculus and positively perky about Pythagoras. But sometimes numbers work against me. There are a bunch of “non-fun” figures I can reel off from recent experience. It has been 3 months now since my girl has been well. This included 4 visits to the emergency department and 2 hospital admissions. As well as 4 courses of antibiotics and twice daily finger prick blood tests. My missy endured 7 X-rays, 3 ultrasounds, a PEGogram and a full body bone scan coordinated by 3 medical teams. Her last admission involved 31 nursing shifts. Nearly 1.5 litres of fluid was drained from around her lung by a surgically inserted tube. Yes just 1 lung was affected…the other was doing all of the work keeping her breathing. She’s only 12 years old but has lost at least 4 kilos in that time…and I think I found them! Her last stay in hospital was 11 days. That’s a long time. The kid has not had a full day of school since the 17th of August and had missed many other days of school in the weeks prior to that. But, even for me, not everything is measureable.
No number can come close to capturing the worry…the fear…the stress…the exhaustion. Nor the admiration. For adversity tests our strength and despite, or more likely in spite of, everything that was thrown her way….the kid came out on top. She is still tired and battling medication side effects but she is at school today! I applaud her courage and marvel at her forgiveness. The pain she endured and tests she cooperated with would floor most adults. Being a tween, contributing to her own health care is more important than ever. This can be an enormous challenge for a non-verbal child. But she did so very well. In the early days of her second admission to hospital her plaintive “help” nearly broke my heart. Even then she consistently asked and answered questions not letting fatigue beat her. The cheeky sense of humour (that I think comes with her red hair!) snuck out from time to time too. When asked by a doctor if she needed anything her reply was “Yes, MY room”. Apparently she thought the nurses and I were asking too many questions about pain relief before removing her chest tube. Her repeated reply when asked for her thoughts…”Hurry up. Do it.”. Just Nike that thing hey kid…the bravest of the brave.
And now, after 8 straight weeks of home or hospital, I hope we have come out the other side. Have we come out unscathed? No. Hospital has left it’s scars on her…and us, her family. Added to her numbers could be the very small hours of sleep for me, or the huge number of kilometres driven to and from the city every day by A, or the number of days I felt like I was no longer mother to her brother, or the amount of tears shed while begging her to stay strong. It was just too close…she was too sick….she became a ghost of herself. The numbers that now have to build back up are her hours at school and some healthy weight gain. And the one figure that has always been and will remain the same is how much I love her and her brother…infinity.