Saturday, 4 June 2011

My brave girl

I'm absolutely exhausted.  I'm physically and emotionally and any other way so tired. I'm quite sure that this is why I feel so down and pessimistic today. It doesn't make much sense really as things went as well as could have been hoped for yesterday and today has been a bright sunny day of the kind that usually lift my spirits up.

My brave girl
Yesterday Kate had her operation and I have so much to thank you for. She didn't shed a tear all day, which is more than I can say for me. I got to stay with her and cuddle her as they gave her the anaesthetic and it was only in the moment before she went to sleep that she looked confused and afraid and she turned those big big eyes to me and said, 'Mummy?' 

Up till then she'd been telling the nurses about Scruffy Barney and what he'd been up to and then it was all over, her eyes rolled back in her head and she reached up to push the doctor away and then she was asleep and I had to leave. I can't think of many things in my life so far that have been harder than walking away from my tiny and vulnerable little girl yesterday and trusting other people who don't love her as I do to take good care of her. 

I suppose I wasn't so much trusting the anaesthetist or the surgeon as much as trusting you. Why is it so hard to trust you, Lord? I give my worries to you, then I take them back. Then I give them to you again, then I take them back. I don't even know I'm doing it, half the time. 

So Katy was fine. I sat with her all day as she recovered, then was sick, then slept, then was sick a few more times, then recovered and eventually came home with her just before ten o'clock when we were both absolutely exhausted. By that time of night she seemed perkier than me. I am so, so proud of her, Father God, you created a little masterpiece. I have such respect for the way she handled the whole day which must have been frightening, unnerving, unpredictable, painful, unpleasant and boring. It was most of those things for me too, though I didn't throw up. Lord, you have made my daughter a very special person. She is only four but she was polite and co-operative (when conscious, anyway) and friendly and brave and beautiful and sweet and so, so small. 

On the way to theatre
Even thinking about it my eyes fill up. I walked away from my sleeping daughter and it felt as if someone had cut a limb off. I thought my heart would break. It just wasn't right; it was against nature to leave her on her own. Her surgery had been pushed back a few times and by the time she went up to theatre we were all starving (even more so Katy, I imagine) and yet after I'd left her in the anaesthetic room I felt sick. I think you don't have any idea before you have children how much you could love another person. How protective you feel. How that selfishness that is so part of you can sometimes be pushed aside effortlessly by someone else; I'd never have thought it possible. 

The doctors still don't know what the lump was on her neck. They've taken swabs, they're doing a biopsy, they took tissue away and her lump is no more. They've put in some stitches and an area that's packed with something and a district nurse came this morning to change her dressing.

And that's where we came unstuck. Katy has a phobia about anything stuck to her. She won't even have a plaster on a poorly knee. Or at least, when she does have a plaster, she won't let anyone remove it. So there she was this morning in her pyjamas with a mepore dressing on her neck and a remarkable, breathtakingly brisk and unsympathetic district nurse removed it without any wasting any time in  reassuring a fearful four year old. After the wonderful inspiring courage of yesterday, Katy was beside herself. She screamed and writhed and kicked and it took two of us just to hold her still for the nurse unceremoniously to put on a new dressing. She then announced that she wouldn't be coming back to do it again because 'there's no point' and left us in complete disarray. 'She's got a problem, she has,' she announced. At one point she said that Katy would have to manage without a dressing if she wouldn't let her put one on, and when I asked anxiously what I should do in that case if Katy scratched it or caught it, the nurse laughed and said 'Well, she'd know about it; she'd only do it once'. Then she said, 'Come on, Mummy, take control'. 

It didn't go down well.

It's the only time Katy has ever refused to say goodbye to someone when they left, whether medical personnel or not. I felt like that myself. 

So now we have a problem; the dressing is going to be undisturbed till Thursday despite the doctors requesting daily changes. On Thursday we're off to see the consultant again in clinic and at some point they need to take out the stitches (which are clearly nylon, not dissolvable) and they need to remove the packing in the wound and irrigate it etc. I have no earthly idea how that is going to be possible without another anaesthetic as Katy is now twice as scared of anyone going near it as she was, and that's saying something.

Arnie the Aardvark post op
Why are some people so unhelpful? Why did this woman come into my house and make no effort to soothe my little girl, who after all, has a perfectly rational fear of being hurt? It really didn't help. It made things worse. What am I supposed to do? Pray for those who hurt you. Lord God, bless that district nurse. (She says through gritted teeth). 

Ah, Lord, it looks as if I'm just looking for something to be worried about, doesn't it? Maybe I am. Today I feel exhausted and irritable and impatient. The worst is behind, I think (I hope); she had her surgery yesterday and her nauseous response to morphine, and today within the hour after the nurse's visit she was happy and playing again. So here I am overlooking all the positives and concentrating on the negatives again.

My beautiful daughter is alright. She had her anaesthetic and she woke up again. She has antibiotics and painkillers to take and they seem to be doing the trick; she doesn't complain much about her neck. 

Lord, I've spoken about it with you before and I need to sort it out I think. This anxiety thing of mine. This strange uncomfortable need to have a focus for my worry all the time. The Fear that people I care about are going to be taken from me. The way that my imagination takes over and takes me to places that I'm afraid of. 

Isaiah 66:13
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.

I found this today, Lord. The day after I spent ten hours with my youngest daughter hugging, holding, clinging, cuddling, squeezing, kissing, inhaling, weeping, hand holding, stroking and loving while she felt everything from excited, worried, afraid, bewildered and disorientated to nauseous, bored, tired, happy and sad. I held onto her as she was sick, wiped her forehead when she was sweaty and carried her to the toilet when she didn't want to try to walk. I am her mummy and I'll do it all for her because I love her more than I can say. 

Are you going to do that for me? Is that what you do? Do you really love me as much as that? More? The strength of my own love for my girls amazes me. The idea that you love us more than that is beyond my imagination. Katy leaned into me and held onto me and got comfort from me; she believes in  me and my ability to be the wonderful, problem solving, safe thing that a Mummy is - yet I am powerless in so many ways. You are our divine Daddy and you are not limited by operating theatre rules or selfishness or weakness of any kind.

Why should I be so anxious when I believe in you as my Daddy?

The blackbird has been around today. We had a nice barbie in the sun at lunchtime and the children have played in the garden all afternoon while I did some much needed gardening. We're about to open a bottle of wine and have a nice tea; life is good. You are still where you always are. It was never out of your control, I know. And so it follows that it isn't right now. I know that you won't abandon Katy and I as we go back to the hospital to (I hope) find out what was wrong with her neck and sort out the dressings and so on. Yesterday she had surgery and you brought us through that, so you can be trusted with the rest of it. 

Forgive me for doubting you. It's just that I love my daughter. I know you understand. 

I'm leaning into you, Lord. I'm hanging onto you and I won't let you go. I trust you to make this alright. Hold me, please. Make the bad feelings go away, will you? Make it alright. 

Lord, just make it stop, please? This merry-go-round of events that I'm on this year? I could do with a break. I could do with a whole series of consecutive nights of good sleep, I could do with a period of good health myself and the same for all my family. While I'm putting together a list I could do with a summer of sunny days and rainy nights, two new tyres on the car and for the back door to put itself right, the kitchen cupboard to reattach itself, the front window to be miraculously mended and to have the energy to get back to the gym and the swimming so I can lose some more weight. And there's a troublesome spot on my chin that needs divine intervention too. Did you get all that?

I'm pouring some wine now. Here's to my brave Katy, to skilful doctors and (ahem) compassionate district nurses. Here's to my God, who held my daughter in his arms when I couldn't. I can never thank you enough for that alone. Cuddle me too. 

Bring on the next thing. I am weary but still standing. Only because you're holding me up.


Alternatively, don't bring it on. I'm sure you appreciate the brave sentiment there but I fancy an uneventful few months a bit more right now. Alright?

By the way, Kate still has one of the three sticky electrodes on her chest that were put on to monitor her heart in theatre. That can stay there till the cows come home as far as I'm concerned. Not Worth The Aggro, as they say. 

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