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When It Seems As If There's Nothing You Can Do

When it rains it pours. And during the calm after the storm, sometimes you realize there is nothing that could have been done to stop the rain. Right now, I feel like I'm right in the middle of one of those storms.

When I got home from work Monday evening, my mom and Husband were huddled around the kitchen island, whispering. I could see Justin's arms and legs draped against my mom's body, his head nuzzled in her shoulder. Normally when I walk in the door, Justin is so excited to see me he can't contain himself, but that night I didn't even get a bat of an eyelash.

Justin was in his pj's even though it was just after 6:30 P.M.

"What's going on?"

"Justin has a really high fever," Husband replied.

"How high?"

"103.6."

And that was taken with an ear thermometer, which meant his actual temperature was somewhere closer to 105.

As I scooped up Justin and ran to get the phone, he lay in my arms, listless. His eyes were puffy and red, partly from crying and partly from not feeling well. He was absolutely burning up, despite a recent dose of Motrin.

I left a message for the pediatrician and debated with Husband whether we should head to the emergency room — Justin's fever was continuing to climb, and he was refusing to even nurse.

As we headed out to the car, our pediatrician called and stopped us. She said we should first try cooling Justin off with cold, damp towels.

At this point, Justin began to cry. And cry. And cry. And cry some more. He didn't want to be touched. And I began to cry. And cry. And cry. And cry some more.

As a parent, there is no worse feeling than to see your child in pain and not to be able to do anything about it.

The damp towels did work to cool Justin off, though he was still inconsolable for the remainder of the night. A trip to the doctor the following morning confirmed all of our suspicions — the antibiotic Justin had been taking for an ear infection diagnosed 11 days prior had not worked. So for 11 days, the infection had continued to fester.

And because this is Justin's fourth double ear infection in as many months, and it has not responded to antibiotics, Justin must now see an ENT for a tube evaluation. While the procedure has become quite common over the past 30 years, it is nonetheless frustrating as a parent when you learn that the only thing that can be done to prevent further infections is surgery.

In the midst of our storm at home, I am also taking in the news on the tragedy at Virginia Tech. I can't even imagine what that must feel like — having to bury your child — and I know it is far worse than what I am going through. The pain and grief all those parents are experiencing must truly be unbearable.

While driving to work yesterday, I heard a young woman recount how she was on the third floor of the building where the shootings took place, and upon hearing the gunshots she and some other students locked themselves in an office. The young woman immediately called her parents, and as she described her conversation with them, I couldn't help but cry — it wasn't until the tears were streaming down my face that I even realized that I was crying.

I cried not only because the entire situation is so horrendous, but also at the thought that it could, some day, just as easily be my child.

Schools, regardless of the level, should be sanctuaries, a place where students can go to not only learn and be encouraged and challenged, but more importantly where they can go to be safe.

After all, don't we all want children to be safe and healthy, regardless whether or not we are parents? For those of us who are parents, the idea of such pain, hardship, and horror happening to our children hits even closer to home.

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