We interrupt this broadcast to bring you an update from the current situation on the front.
* * *
First, you should know this: I am doing surprisingly well. Mostly, I feel incredulous. It’s like a badly written story in which improbable illnesses and accidents happen in rapid succession. To the same person.
God is good. I’m not sure how that truth applies to this situation, but I believe it.
* * *
I wasn’t planning on being tested so soon.
A few weeks ago, after that thunderstruck incident in church, I had decided that the next time I was faced with an overwhelming difficulty, I was going to focus on the grace and promises of God rather than on my feelings. That difficulty, of course, would likely be Tarica’s next hospitalization, so I had time to prepare and grow stronger.
On Sunday evening, Tarica fell off her bed. She has a platform bed, so she fell about three feet. Onto the elbow of her left arm. She said it hurt (that is so much an understatement, it’s nearly unforgivable). But she could move her fingers, and we couldn’t feel any dislocated bones or joints; so we gave her Tylenol and hoped for the best as we tucked her into bed.
It was a rough night. There were the times she was awake crying, and then there were the times she was crying in her sleep.
I hated digging her out of bed early the next morning, but it was my turn to take a vanload of children to school. I carried her out to the van in her pajamas and strapped her in. She huddled in her seat, her arm snugged next to her body, half-asleep.
Right after we dropped the children off, she gave a strangled cry. I looked back and saw she had toppled sideways and couldn’t get up, helpless as a fish on a river bank. I pulled off the road and climbed back to help her.
“Mom,” she said through her tears as I sat her up, “is it my left arm that has the seizures?”
My shoulders tensed. “Yes, it is.”
“I just had a seizure, and it hurts.” She sniffled. “How many days is it going to hurt?”
“I don’t know, sweetie,” I said as I got back behind the wheel. So that was why she couldn’t get up. Following a seizure, she often has what is known as Todd’s paralysis on her left side, a temporary loss of muscle tone and strength.
Tarica subsided and was asleep within minutes. Micah hummed to himself, thumping his heels against his seat, and I threaded our way home through the streets of Altoona and stewed.
How many times can a little girl be hurt? Was her arm broken, fractured, cracked, sprained? It was swollen and hot to the touch. What should we do next? Another decision to make.
Discouragement flumped over me, a wet blanket of despair. Don’t we have enough to deal with, God?
And with the thought of God came the memory of my resolve to trust Him. And with the memory came the verse “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Discouragement whimpered in protest. I felt its weight ease a little.
Another verse popped up: “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
My shoulders relaxed. Despair is a choice, not an inevitable conclusion.
I went home and called a doctor we know who is almost a friend—you know, the way doctors should be but usually aren’t. He has the equipment to take x-rays, and he allowed me to bring Tarica in right away. The x-rays revealed what might be a slight line through the joint, but it wasn’t definitive, what with the swelling surrounding the area. The doctor, not being an orthopedic, wasn’t comfortable with saying it looked fine.
“Take her home and put ice on it,” he said. “See how she’s doing in the morning. If she still is hurting and refusing to use it, you should get it checked out.”
By late afternoon, it was clear to me that Tarica was still in considerable pain. I rigged a sling from a dishtowel; that seemed to ease a bit of her discomfort. Then I called our pediatrician’s office and told the story. They said they would contact a local orthopedic doctor to set up an appointment. (Apparently, orthopedics accept patients mostly by referral.)
When I put Tarica in bed last night, I surrounded her with large pillows to keep her from rolling onto her arm. She slept all night, and so did we, undisturbed. This morning, her elbow is still swollen and painful. She won’t use it, but at least she is eating today and a little bit braver.
I hope to hear from the orthopedic before too much time passes. Wishful thinking, but it would be nice to resolve this today.
Today is her birthday.