It was supposed to be an ordinary clinic visit to confirm that MaryAnne had an infection and needed to be on antibiotics. Oral antibiotics. Not admitted to the hospital and put on IV antibiotics. Not headed to the operating room. But that is where we were. Looking at another stay at the hospital, another surgery.
Let me back up a few days. MaryAnne had an operation to remove her distractor and was discharged in less than 24 hours. A week later everything seemed to be healing well. Then one day soon after MaryAnne pulled her head away when I tried washing her hair. And Monday morning, only 11 days after the removal surgery I woke up to find a white, swollen abscess under the incision. The first reaction of the clinic, upon receiving an emailed picture of the abscess was that it was surgical fluid that had collected there. But soon after the office called me back, as a consultation with another plastic surgeon led them to make an appointment for us the next morning.
Now me, MaryAnne and Abigail (7 years old) are sitting in the clinic waiting room waiting. Waiting for a hospital room to become available so that MaryAnne could be immediately put on IV antibiotics. Dr. Jamie did not want to let us go home since it was over a 30 minute drive and getting MaryAnne on antibiotics was critical. After two hours of waiting, the doctor relented and let us go, allowing me to pack for the several-day hospital stay, and to return Abigail home. We were not even home yet when Jamie called to let me know that a room was ready for us. I quickly packed and returned with MaryAnne to the hospital.
After the first operation to clean out the abscess it seemed everything was to go through the difficult route, rather than the easier one. Instead of an IV in MaryAnne’s hand, it was in her foot. The anesthesiologist tried several times to get one started in her hand, but did not succeed. This meant that she was not allowed to walk. Instead of being able to keep MaryAnne entertained by carrying her around the hospital floors, we were confined to our room because of the unknown bacteria that caused the infection. And instead of a reduction in pain from infection removed, the pain seemed more because the area was packed with gauze (to promote healing from the outside in) and the incision left open. This caused pain for MaryAnne, especially as the head wrap started to slip and the incision area was bumped, rubbed, or even touched.
And here is where I felt God’s mercy. I had to watch MaryAnne nearly every second to make sure that IV stayed where it was supposed to. And I also tried to entertain my active 15 month old child in that small hospital room while thwarting her attempts to walk. There was no rest for me. No letting MaryAnne play by herself. Yet God continually gave me strength to get through every circumstance.
I read a devotional on God’s mercy that really encouraged me. It was based on the story of the widow who fed Elijah and her son during the three year famine. (1 Kings 17:8-16) This woman had been prepared to make herself and son their last meal when Elijah appeared asking for food. But Elijah told her she would not run out of flour and oil and she believed. I imagine that every morning she would measure out the flour needed and see how little was left. Yet she was not discouraged, nor fearful. Her flour and oil never ran out. Everyday God supplied her with what she needed.
I felt like my jar of flour was being emptied in those few days. I would look at the clock and wonder how it could only be 8am? How would I last the day? I felt that I was near the end of my endurance. Yet God did not allow me to run empty. He continually gave me what I needed to get through the next minutes and hours.
“You will see the sinner’s hope perish, for he trusts in himself; you will see the proud Pharisee’s confidence crumble, for he builds his hope upon the sand; you will even see your own plans blown apart, but you will discover that your daily needs are amply supplied…You might spend the wealth of the nations, but you can never exhaust the infinite mercies of God.” (Quote from God’s Infinite Mercies. Read the rest here.)
I watched MaryAnne go through so much in the next three days. The first IV was dislodged, the result was her foot was swollen and sore, along with half her leg as a consequence of the antibiotics going into the tissue instead of the vein. Next, I held her down while she screamed as another IV was unsuccessfully attempted several times. In God’s mercy the helicopter team of nurses were available to come and successfully get an IV started. The next day I handed MaryAnne over to an OR nurse yet again and heard her screams as she was carried away from me. I held her and soothed her when she woke up from yet another surgery. I consoled her in her frustration and anger at being confined to a small area when all she wanted to do was run around. And God’s mercies flowed over me. I know I could never have done it on my own strength. It was exhausting both physically and emotionally. And God supplied my needs. Every time. Praise be to God.