“Do you think he’s okay? How long can he cough like this? Oh no. I think he’s going to throw up.”
With each cough, I feel my anxiety wrapping around me like an unwanted blanket on a hot summer day. I wish I could help. He seems so miserable.
My husband and I talk about the weight of sickness. With each cough we are reminded of how much we take the silence of health for granted.
Now his sister is chiming in. And his other sister.
We have a symphony of coughers.
These sounds. This tense feeling in my chest. It’s all so familiar. It’s a weight I carried with me for many years.
I am taken back to a time not long ago.
Two of our children have asthma and one has a lung deformity, of sorts. When the kids were younger, the sound of constant coughing filled our home. Barking coughs. Asthmatic coughs. Dry coughs. Wet coughs. Cough. Cough. Cough.
As we watched our children struggle for breath, our hearts would hurt. Our senses were heightened. Always on edge. Always on alert. I carried my anxiety around with me. Day in and day out. It was an unwanted guest I couldn’t seem to get rid of.
Trips to the emergency room were a regular occurrence.
Before playdates in the fall and winter, I would check in with parents to inquire about the health of their children. “Oh, she’s fine,” a friend would say. “No fever. No vomiting. Just a runny nose.”
“Is there a cough?” I would ask.
“Yes. But nothing too bad.”
“I’m sorry, but we are going to have to reschedule.”
I know this seemed extreme to some. Usually you stick with the plans unless a fever or vomiting are involved, but a cough wasn’t just a cough in our home. A cough meant sleepless nights, multiple prescriptions and as I mentioned earlier, very possibly a trip (or more) to the emergency room.
Whenever my husband was scheduled to go out of town in the fall and winter months, I would call at least two – sometimes more – neighbors to be sure they would be home in the evening. I would ask them to keep their phones on standby and let them know they may be hearing from me in the night. If one of my children needed to get to the emergency room, I had to know someone could come and stay with the others. I had to be prepared.
This was the norm in our home. I didn’t know anything else. Except that other people didn’t seem as afraid of coughs as I was.
And today, as I ride in the car listening to the familiar sound – Cough. Cough. Cough. Gag.
“Oh no. He just threw up again.”
I feel the weight of it and am quickly transported to a place and time when this was life. And I am giving myself grace. I now remember why I felt the way I did. Why I was constantly on edge.
And I realize we have come a long way. Thank you, Jesus.
The asthma is well controlled. Our daughter seems to be growing out of her lung deformity. Immune systems are being built and strengthened. It seems all those years of sickness do have a benefit after all.
I remember hearing that constantly when they were younger, “They are building immune systems.”
Yes. True. Necessary. Good.
Building immune systems or not – it still sucks when you are in it. Big time.
I remember that now. It is all rushing back to me as I listen to my son and I hear the sounds and I wonder how close the nearest emergency room is on this road in northern Michigan. Just in case…..
And I am thankful for the silence that I have now grown accustomed to. I am thankful that these sounds are no longer nightly visitors in our home. I am thankful for pulmonologists and medicine and asthma action plans. I am grateful for health care and cell phones to use in the middle of the night, on the road, if need be. I am thankful for neighbors willing to sleep with their phones on. I am thankful for friends filled with grace who did not give up on me when playdate. After playdate. After playdate was canceled. I am thankful for hot meals that showed up on our doorstep. And for friends to hug. And shoulders to cry on when the weight and anxiety of it all seemed like too much. I am grateful for a husband who is a partner. Who carries the weight with me. Each of us holding an equal share of the burden and pain. These are our children. And we are a team.
Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us so far. Thank you for the reminder to not take health for granted. And to pray for those who may be suffering. To reach out to mothers of young children who feel like they haven’t left the house for days, maybe weeks. To let them know there is an end in sight.
Thank you for this reminder of how far our children have come. Thank you for getting us through those tiresome, worrisome, long and often lonely nights.
Thank you, Jesus, for taking care of my babies.
Thank you for removing the weight of sickness.
Related Post: When Fear Takes Hold