Tuesday, 5 July 2011

A steadfast heart

This morning there was a fox in our garden. A few weeks ago there was a badger. On a regular basis there are cats. As I sit here I can hear the birds singing and Streaky the blackbird has been around this morning as I hung out the washing; he even came for a look at the spectacle as I tried to calm Katy down in the middle of a tantrum. I was trying to remember what the tantrum was actually about but it escapes me. There are so many that they sort of merge into a blur at the moment but with Katy having all these investigations into the mystery lump any ideas of tackling problems in the behaviour arena are on hold. 

Beautiful sunny day. Today our new neighbours visited to advise us that they planned to cut down two trees and a hedge that separate their house from ours. They are perfectly at liberty to do so, and indeed, the trees in question are conifers that are a bit out of hand, but still, we're used to them being there and I'll miss them. They provide our wheelie bins with a bit of modesty and give some shade on the patio. And Lizzie tends to park her bike underneath out of the rain... sigh.

The dustbin men didn't empty our bin today. It seems that the rubbish didn't come out when they turned the bin upside down so tough luck us. That was probably because Bryan jumped up and down on the contents of the bin to try to squeeze some more stuff, but either way, we are left with a bin still half full of rubbish that has already been there a fortnight.

These things may in themselves not be particularly troublesome but today I'm not feeling like taking things in my stride. I have too much going on and too much in my head to cope with mean-spirited bin men and the loss of trees that have been there all my life. Bless the bin men, Lord. Bless those same bin men who a few weeks ago refused to take it away since I left it slightly further away than arms length up the drive. May they never experience the feeling of impotent frustration that they leave me with.

As you will be aware, Katy has been given some medicine by the consultant at the hospital. He was clear that he didn't know what was wrong with Katy but he felt that they had to start some form of treatment. The drugs are heavyweight antibiotics in a large dose that everyone has so far queried; the pharmacist at the hospital and since we got home a GP and two more pharmacists.  There's a hotline to the hospital to ask about Katy Murray's prescription. Two drugs, one to be taken once a day and the other twice. The once a day one is horrible - even in the explanatory literature it advises having a drink of fruit juice ready for the 'bitter aftertaste'. My brave Katy is getting round this by demanding chocolate. Ah well, needs must...

Apart from the regular administration of the medicines, apart from the fact that they interact with milk so she has to have her breakfast cereal dry at the moment, and no yoghurt for her tea; apart from the fact that they taste horrible and the side-effects list runs to three sides of A4, apart from the fact that they're upsetting her tummy so that her appetite is way down and her poo is bizarre in appearance and incredibly offensive, she's doing really well. No change in her bump but then a) she's only been on the drugs for five days and b) they don't know if these particular drugs will have any effect at all since they don't actually know what's wrong with her.

Could you give them a clue? A little hint?

Just to add an extra dimension of confusion to all this, one of the medicines expires after five days, the other after seven days. Every five days I need a new bottle of one, and every seven days I need a new bottle of the other. Not having the sort of mind that automatically multiplies dates by five and seven, taking into account Sunday closing for pharmacies and the length of time taken to generate a prescription, this took me a while with the calendar, a pen, a marker pen (to write on the boxes) and the phone, to try to get some help from the GP and local pharmacy. An agreement has been reached involving a sheaf of prescriptions and lengthy discussions with a variety of health professionals. The pharmacist told me that he had never had made up a prescription for one of these medicines before. Of course, it being so unusual they have to order it in specially, so the very first time I tried to put the five day repeat prescription in action it hadn't arrived. And it was a locum pharmacist and so I had to start from scratch with the whole story.

I'm so tired of all the phone calls and the explanations and the things that I have to remember. How do parents cope when they have little ones who are seriously ill?

I'm realising all the things I can't do at the moment. I'm trying to hold things in my head and get things done and be involved in things, and I can't do it. I'm forgetting birthdays, going to the supermarket and coming back without the most important things. I'm forgetting to send in money for school trips and missing appointments and the one thing I hate is unreliability. I hate it when other people are haphazard with arrangements and I don't know where I stand and all of a sudden the flaky one is me.

A couple of weeks ago I dashed back in to the house for my shopping list. I waved it at Mum as I sprinted past and said, 'Forgot this!' She replied with the wisdom of her generation, 'There's a surprise.' I stopped to ask what she meant and she told me I had too much on my plate at the moment. It's taken me a few weeks to stop bristling and accept that she's right. Could you not have given me the heads up on this a while ago, Lord, when I was Making Plans?

There's a Yiddish proverb, isn't there, that goes, 'We plan, God laughs.' Am I making you chuckle?

It's taking me all my time to get up in the morning, shoehorn the kids into their clothes, feed them (or at least place food in front of them) and get them to school or nursery in the right order. Add into that the hospital appointments, pharmacy visits and phone calls to field and I'm about done, since under all this is a backing track of worry and anxiety. My internal processor is pretty much maxed out.

So, I realised last night, that I've got to let it all go for now. If things are right, then I will have other opportunities to be involved in stuff that's going on that seems so interesting. If not then I can save my limited energy. There is a season for everything. A season for doing and a season for stopping; a season for being dynamic and a season for dropping everything but the most essential things and concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.

One day, this is going to be me:

'He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.'
Psalm 112:7-8

How far away from this I feel at the moment. I do fear bad news. I fear bad news about Katy, about Bryan's job, about my Mum, about me. I fear that your Plan won't be like my plan, and my life is going to be difficult and painful. I do trust in you but how quickly and how often my trust fails and I start to doubt. I start to wonder if you really do have my best interests at mind. My heart is weak instead of steadfast and secure; I'm easily frightened, easily worried, easily exhausted. I do fear; I fear everything, and occasionally in the middle of the night I feel consumed by it. Will I one day manage all this, and look in triumph on my foes?

And are my foes the bin men?

Lord I'm sorry for all the times I fear when I should trust, and all the times I turn to friends for consolation and advice instead of you. Give me a steadfast heart, secure in you and help me not crumble under pressure. Mighty Healer, make Katy better. I don't need to know what it is that she has; just one day let's wake up and it's gone. Resolved, in a miraculous sort of way. Why not? I would tell the world. I would give you all the glory! Honest.

I'm just laying it all before you, Lord, because I'm fed up with chasing my tail trying to keep up with all the possible diagnoses as the doctors think aloud and speculate on what Katy might have. Some think that her organs are involved as well as her neck; some think that she might have some systemic disease. Some think that her eyes might be involved, some think that it might originate in her lungs. Every time I hear a new theory I find out about it, frighten myself and achieve nothing. They need more blood and it was so absolutely awful last time that I'm dreading it. There was blood all over, she struggled so much. Blood on the floor, on the nurse and doctors, on Kate. She was beyond terrified during it and shattered afterwards. She's been referred to an ophthalmologist to see if anything is amiss there. God, just take all this and help me cope with it. Don't let her get any worse.

I know you have a special place in your heart for children. Please bring healing and peace to this household again Father. I can't do this on my own.

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