Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Bumpy Valentines Day

I went to bed last night as the wind was literally whistling and howling in the trees outside my bedroom. At 5am I woke to use the bathroom and passed Matt, who hadn't yet gone to bed, on his way down the stairs with some dirty dishes. I lay in bed listening to strange thumps and bangs below me, wondering why on earth Matt was banging the cupboard doors open and closed repeatedly. When the sounds carried on, in my sleep-deprived state, I began to picture Matt banging into furniture as he wrestled with an intruder downstairs.

Finally I tiptoed downstairs and saw that Matt was alone and quite fine, so I headed back to bed, realizing that the noises had something to do with the wind. But, despite every effort to block out the bumps and thumps echoing through my walls I couldn't sleep. I pictured an empty plastic garbage can being blown into the house again and again by the menacing wind, but this only consoled me so long. Finally I thumped back down the stairs and investigated. Looking out the dining room window, I had just determined that the tree branches were much too far from the house to create that kind of noise when the bottom of the storm window two inches from my face was sucked out by a gust of wind and slammed back against the house. Aha.

The window had been repaired recently and replaced, but the bottom had not been hooked in place, in fact, no eye was available to hook it to. So, at 6 am I found a large screw, secured it in the frame, and hooked the storm window in place. By 7:15am the kids were up, and that began a long Valentines Day.

I had taken all four kids to the children's hospital three hours away back on January 31st for their annual GI work-ups (that trip in itself could be the subject of a whole nother blog post). Naomi and Emma needed rechecks on their liver fibrosis. Naomi and Hannah needed rechecks on their Celiac disease. And Toby needed a recheck to definitively rule out Celiac disease. We came away from that 3 hour appointment with a long list of tests to run locally and an order to return on March 2nd for more tests. (I can explain those more later.)

Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I had put off taking the kids in for their blood draws, but when the nurse called me last week to ask why the tests hadn't been run, I vowed to take the kids in on Monday. First on my list this sleepless morning was the collection of stool samples from two kids, and I don't care how many Ziploc baggies those jars are in, there's just something wrong about putting them in my freezer.

After Toby's nap I eagerly removed the offending samples from the freezer, piled the kids in the minivan, and filed them into the hospital. We spent an HOUR in a tiny room with a very patient woman who struggled to register four children for tests she'd never heard of before. When the nurse asked who's blood we should draw first Naomi bravely volunteered to be a good example to her sisters. She normally takes it in stride, but today the sight of the needle coming toward her arm must have overwhelmed her. She melted in tears, but thankfully didn't fight. Hannah whimpered a little, but brave Emma sat stoically on my lap without flinching, tearing, or peeping while they stuck her arm. I had to wonder if she even felt anything. The nurses commented that I had some of the most brave and well behaved kids they'd ever drawn blood from. The sad truth is: they're used to it. Thankfully Toby didn't need blood drawn today or they may have rescinded that compliment.

Hannah was tempted to complain tonight that she had to have a blood draw on what was supposed to be a happy day. I sat beside her on her bed and explained to her in more detail than normal how blood draws, though painful, are actually good things because they help me to know how to keep her healthy. We remembered how her tummy aches have stopped and how she'd finally started to grow and put on weight since we've removed gluten from her diet. This lead to a deeper discussion of how some things that feel bad to us are actually for our good, how God uses evil for a greater good, and how we are in control of whether we have thankful or complaining hearts.

Hannah prayed tonight, "Dear Lord, thank you that I could have a blood draw today and that it could help me." It was a blessing to hear my four-year-old daughter sincerely thank God for the pain she felt today. It wasn't a picture-perfect Valentines Day for me either, but I guess if Hannah can be thankful for today, so can I.

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