This entire day has felt sideways. It’s as if my reality has shifted a bit. Strangely, it feels eerily similar to when we first brought our newborn daughter home from the hospital a dozen years ago. I clearly remember how impossible it was to sleep that first night. I was so worried that at some point in the night that she might stop breathing. Burned into my memory from that night was the realization that my strength has some very definite limits. That night I learned the meaning of faith. “Please, dear God, let my daughter live through the night. Please keep my little angel safe from harm.”
There was no reason to fear that something bad would happen, her body was very strong and healthy. The problem was with me – I had no power to control the situation. I could make sure that she was in safe surroundings. But that night, that was all that I could control, and I was not prepared for such a realization.
The reason that this day has had a similar feeling is because yesterday I spent the day in two different – and I cannot stress how different – hospitals with a broken child. My little angel had fallen to the ground while playing a game at church and when she reached for the ground to brace for the fall, her arm twisted awkwardly causing three major fractures. I was standing nearby when the accident happened so I scooped her up as quickly as I could and within moments I was holding her in the back of a dear friend’s minivan as we raced across town to an Emergency Room. With every bump in the road her pain intensified and each scream was soul-wrenched. I was helpless to ease her pain, and with each wail, I lost a day of my life.
I did what I could – I stroked the tears from her face, I held her body as steady as possible, I called the ER to let them know that I was bringing in a badly injured girl. None of it was enough. She was in incredible pain and she desperately wanted it to stop, but Daddy couldn’t make it stop.
When we rushed into the reception area of the ER, I expected to be met by a team of trauma nurses, not an admissions clerk who was solely focused on keeping the situation calm. As Elizabeth screamed, we filled out the appropriate paperwork and then stood alone in the empty waiting room…just waiting. I studied the place trying to find the right doors to tear off of their hinges so that my daughter could receive medical attention. Eventually we were taken to an exam room where a group of polite nurses, and an attending physician let us know that their hospital could not take care of my daughter, and that we would have to move her to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Our time at ACH was a blur of compassion and healing. Many doctors met with us to determine what had happened and what would be best for her restoration to full health. We consulted with the anesthesiologist and wheeled Elizabeth into the surgery center. One of the state’s top pediatric orthopedic surgeons performed the operation, and within a span of four hours our family was on our way home.
Now after a day has passed, Elizabeth is resting well and her three broken bones are healing. My healing is taking place in a different way. I think that I’ve been broken for a while and this window into the reality of control (or lack thereof) may make things right. With that, I’ll say goodnight.
I am exhausted. I had no idea how tiring not-ripping doors off hinges and not-strangling people could be.
I’m out of words, now..