Monday, March 14, 2011

Having a Sick Child Can Make You Feel Helpless

A few years ago I wrote a column for the local newspaper.  I am going to post a few of my favorites from time to time.  This one is from when my son was very sick.  Even though he is now fully recovered the sentiments of that time have not changed.  Thank you for taking your time to read what I have written.  I hope it speaks to you....  

Having a Sick Child Can Make You Feel Helpless 

            I am exhausted!  For the past two weeks I have watched helplessly as my son battled illness.  He was diagnosed with mono and a severe sinus infection.  At first, I was not concerned as both of my daughters had battled mono and won.  However, this time the struggle would prove to be much more difficult. 
          Complications from the illnesses have already caused Phillip to spend three days in the hospital, and we are far from being out of the woods.  He is going to be sick for weeks to come and the healing process will be very slow.  His father and I will do whatever it takes to help our son heal, but it is still exhausting. 
          For me the most difficult part of this illness has not been the lack of sleep, although there were many nights we were awake all night.  It was not the cost, although doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs and special foods can be costly.  It was not my missed time from my job or even the extra work that a sick child can bring that has caused this exhaustion. 
        My exhaustion comes from feeling helpless.  You see my son is a seventeen-year-old senior in high school.  He is six foot three, out going, funny, and intelligent.  Phillip loves his work at chick fi la and marching in his high school band.  He is excited about his senior project, loves working on his truck with his dad, and hanging out with his friends. 
        He is a wonderful son!  Whenever Phillip is around there will be laughter.  He brightens up a room just by entering it.  He has energy to burn and dreams that he is working to fulfill.  Phillip, like his sisters, is a blessing to our family and we love him very much.

That is why when he was told that he would have to give up all the things he loved he was devastated and I felt so completely helpless to make it better for him.  He would never march again as a high school student because the season would be over by the time he was well.  He would not be able to work for months because the mono has sapped his energy.  He would struggle to catch up from weeks of missed class time and his senior project would be on hold until further notice.      

I realize how lucky we really are that Phillip is expected to make a full recovery.  I know that a few weeks of illness is not much compared to others who struggle for years with chronic problems.  I understand that things could be much worse.  However, regardless of the length of the illness, the degree of the suffering, or the finale outcome of the disease, I believe that we are all united in one thought. 

We their parents, especially the mothers, wish that we could remove the suffering from our children.  If we had it our way they would never shed a tear, have a fever, or miss an event due to illness. 

When that baby is first put into our arms we accept an awesome responsibility.  Somehow we are magically expected to have all the answers and make all the right decisions.  Education, discipline, heath care and love become the coroner stones for raising our children.  Somehow we must find a way to reach the learning disabled child, reign in the rebellious child, find the right health care for the sick child and love them all no matter how difficult the journey becomes. 

We love them and we want to protect them from all harms but the sad truth is many times that is an option that is simply out of our control.  Some children will not be able to learn no matter how hard we try.  Some may have to learn the lessons of life the hard way, regardless of our efforts to prevent it.  Some will become sick and some may die and our love or our wisdom will not be enough to prevent it from happening. 

It is both frustrating and exhausting when the events of life seem to be against the ones we love the most, our children.  While it is true that we cannot control their ability to learn, the decisions that they make when they are away from us, or prevent them from ever becoming ill, there is one thing that we can do.  We can love them and make very sure they feel our love.

We can hold their hands, wipe their tears, discuss their mistakes, rejoice in the their victories, and stand beside them no matter what.  It is exhausting, it is frightening, and it is also the greatest job in the world.  We are whom they reach for in the middle of the night.  We are whom they turn to for help, comfort, and wisdom. 

We, their parents, are whom they need when it seems the rest of the world is against them.  In their darkest hour we can bring the light of love to make a sick child feel better, a struggling child feel smart, and a rebellious child feel loved.   

Yes, I am exhausted.  I wish that I could give Phillip back the weeks of his senior year that this illness will take away.  I wish I could make him well, and prevent his suffering, but I can’t.  So, I will do the one thing that I CAN do for him.  I will love him.  I will make sure his needs are met and that he knows that his dad and I are here for him.  We love him, his sisters love him, his grandparents love him, and his friends love him. 

I still feel helpless to make him well, but I don’t feel helpless to make him feel loved!

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