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When the Unknown Arrives

It’s the unknown factors that make the waiting period before an event (particularly a dreaded event) so torturous.  The imagination is open wide to all scenarios.  I always hope, as I’m sure you do, that once reality arrives it will be so much better than the hypothetical.

For several years we’ve postponed elective surgery of Jellybean’s hand until, after much thought and prayer, it became clear that we needed to do the surgery.

In the weeks leading up to the event, I couldn’t really plan for post-surgery, because so many of the variables remained unknown.  Would she be in much pain? How would she be able to eat and do daily tasks with her left hand (which has undergone past reconstructive surgeries)? What, if any, summer activities would we be able to participate in? I certainly didn’t linger on how I would take care of her extra needs and the normal needs of her siblings.

Now the unknown has become known, and unfortunately the last five days have fit perfectly into my pre-surgery imagined scenario (the worse case version).

Here is a collage of moments, those I hope to remember about my brave daughter, those that make me want to cry, those that helped us laugh, and few that I’d welcome into the well of lost memories.

The best moment: When the surgeon came out to speak to us and we knew she had come through surgery. Any mom or dad who has placed their child into the hands of a surgeon would understand that moment.

The moment to make us laugh and then cry: Seeing her incredibly huge cast (starting just below her shoulder and extending down her arm and enclosing her entire hand in a bulbous peak). It was an unanticipated problem, hilarious in a “take your breathe away with surprise and horror”. And then less so when they told us that the ridiculous thing was correct.  And heartbreaking as she saw through sleepy eyes something so much more than what she feared.

The moment when causing someone pain in order to get her pain relieved seemed like a reasonable idea to consider: She cried, “I can’t bear it, mommy”. Seven hours home from the hospital and we got in the car to head to the E.R. Two hours later she still cried in pain before anyone gave her medicine. Three doses of morhpine after that before she was finally out of pain.  Anger at a new level.

One of the (many)moments I watched her with awe: At the E.R., the third time they tried for an I.V., after trying twice in the foot, still experiencing the pain from her arm because the medicine she’s yet to get is going to come through the i.v.. She didn’t cry, she breathed in and out deeply, and listened to her music. The second time we checked into the E.R.(five minutes after we were discharged from the E.R. because she was crying in pain by the time we got to the car) and another I.V. was needed. Again no crying, just a lot of breathing (she even started to appreciate that the I.V meant less needles in the long run and that it delivered good medicine).

When I most wanted to give a wake-up call to the nurses: Before surgery, when my daughter who does not like to be treated like a baby, was spoken to like an infant(she’s 8 and half) and offered bubbles as a distraction. “Look how this lights up your finger,” the nurse cooed as she took her vitals. If Jellybean hadn’t been so scared, she would have growled at them.

One of moments when we laughed: “I wish we could take this medicine home with us, Mommy”, she said calmly and peacefully after many rounds of morphine.

When I remembered to be thankful: Five hours into the E.R. visit gone bad, and I remembered my original fear that she wouldn’t even be with us after the surgery, and I thought, “I’ll take this, I’m just glad to be with her, right here.”

The sweet part: Jellybean is my most independent, my least talkative about heart matters, the one who can go days without really seeming to need her mama. With all of the kids tucked away with friends and family, I got to be her constant comforter and she wanted me to be just that. She told me I should be a nurse and she never wanted me to be away for any time. It’s already changed because the rest of the crew is back in the house and I’m sliced into smaller quarter mamas, but I’m so thankful I could comfort her when she needed it.

Another laughing moment: When she said Froggy’s shirt would be her sleeping mask (like in surgery) and she wrapped the no longer pink shirt of her very favorite animal over her nose and proceeded to “breathe in” the smelly comfort only a long time stuffed friend can give.

When Netflix instant play became the ultimate pain medicine: Despite the lack of t.v. and video love we have in our family, I am firmly convinced that the ready appearance of the Backyardigans and the Cosby show with the push of a button saved us further trips back to the E.R.(and gave mama and daddy a few hours of sleep). In the middle of the night, when it’s still an hour and half before she can have more pain medicine, it’s the only thing that can take her focus completely away from her hand. And for now, that is a beautiful thing.

The best laughing moment: when I walked in to find her introducing Froggy to Mr. Cast.

There are many tough things about today, and the next few weeks, and the unknown of how her hand will be when the results of the surgery are revealed when Mr. Cast is removed.  An endless list of moments, some of which are better remembered than lived.

Right now we’re one tired family and all we know is that we have one very brave girl.  Of course, that was the one known before we ever entered the hospital.

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