This is the second installment in a series of posts on seeking grace in the midst of suffering. To read the first post, please click here.
Throughout the series, I invite you to share your own perspective, stories, questions, support, and encouragement in the comments section of each post. Together, I believe we can help one another find God’s grace, healing, blessings, and joy in the midst of suffering.
The next morning, Kristen wakes up and will not eat or drink.
Sores have spread all over her hands, feet, legs, bum, arms, mouth, tongue, lips, nose, fingers and toes.
I take her to her pediatrician again and he recommends we see the dermatologist. Fortunately, the dermatologist is in the same building (things are awesome like that in MA). The dermatologist takes a look, confers with her pediatrician, and both decide she needs to be taken to the hospital.
So little Kristen and I head to the car, while her doctors call the hospital to let them know we are coming. She is in so much pain that she can’t wear clothes, so I hug her in a warm blanket as the cold winter air blows around us.
I zoom out of the parking deck and we head north on 93. Once in town we make our way through the city, until we arrive at Boston Children’s, which blissfully has valet parking. After handing the keys to an attendant, I run inside with Kristen in my arms. A triage nurse meets us in the emergency room and our hospital stay begins.
We spend the first five hours in the emergency room, while doctors and nurses hook Kristen up to an IV and examine her. The dermatology team comes by, examines her thoroughly, and diagnoses her with a new strain of coxsakievirus.
“It’s a new epidemic” the doctor tells me.
New. Epidemic. These words weigh heavy as the team takes photos (with my consent) to document the way the virus has presented in my daughter so that they may educate other doctors on this new strain.
Kristen offers a smile as we prep to go to her hospital room, and eventually falls asleep in my arms.
She braves the virus as her doctors work to manage her pain and ensure she remains hydrated, but by Day 2 of her hospital stay she is exhausted. The virus is winning. More sores pop up on her arms, legs, mouth, and tongue. Her fingers and toes swell and turn an ugly purplish-red. She no longer can use her hands to hold anything because her fingers are so swollen and blistered. She still refuses to eat and my heart begins to break.
I look at my beautiful daughter, and pray, Why, Lord? Why must she suffer? What good could possibly come from my sweet baby being in this much pain?
Feeling exhausted and defeated, I lay on the pullout chair in her hospital room, and try to get some sleep.
Around 1:00am, the Lord’s voice rings loud and clear in my heart, Trust me. Lean on me. My eyes well with tears and I pray, Heal her, Lord. Please heal her.
The next morning, Kristen wakes up exhausted after a rocky night of sleep, and the only place she will rest is in my arms.
Somewhere deep in my heart, I am struck with an overwhelming feeling that she is homesick.
Later that morning, I tell her nurse, “I think she’s homesick. She’s not sleeping, and if she’s not sleeping she’s not healing.”
She nods, “I will pass that along to her doctors.”
Kristen’s medical team comes by shortly thereafter and the lead doctor says, “We trust you, Mom. If you feel like she needs to go home to fully recover, that’s what we want to do.”
My eyes brim with tears, “Thank you,” I tell her.
“I want the dermatology team to see her one more time for their assessment,” she says. “In the meantime, we are going to remove the IV and see if she can tolerate oral pain meds and hydrate on her own. If she can do those two things and the derm team signs off on it, she’s going home today.”
With new found hope, I reach out to our friends, family, and readers on Facebook for prayers.
Within minutes, notes of encouragement and prayers for healing come flooding in and she begins to turn the corner. An hour later, Kristen drinks some juice, eats crackers and pudding, giggles and smiles. And I know in my heart, she is coming home.
The dermatology team does one last exam and are amazed by her brightened spirits. “She’s ready to go home, Mom,” they tell me.
A few hours later, with discharge papers in hand, Jeff and Jack come to pick us up. We load up in the car, our family all together again, and I think, this is home.
Kristen sleeps 15 hours that night and wakes up the next morning having improved by leaps and bounds.
I cannot believe my eyes. The rash has subsided significantly, her eyes are bright and full of life. My husband and I look at each other amazed.
Senior Editor and co-founder of The Integrated Catholic Life, Randy Hain wrote recently:
“It is often difficult to see the blessings and good in any kind of suffering, yet we know from Church teaching there is redemptive power in suffering if we learn to give it up to God.” (Learning to Accept God’s Will)
Though I would never wish suffering upon my children or any child in this world, I believe that through suffering we are brought to our knees before the Savior who gives us grace in the midst of our fear and our doubt. Who unites hearts together as one in prayer and bears healing from that union. Who makes us whole again in His loving arms.
When was a time you experienced God’s grace? Or are you seeking to find it? I feel like more often than not I am on the seeking end of things. How about you?
*To read the next installment in this series, please click here.