January is a stressful month for many people. The festive cheer is over. The weather is cold and gloomy and for most people there isn’t much to look forward to, but for me January is special because that’s when both boys were born.
As their mom, I get back into Christmas planning mode once the holidays are over. But this year it happened a little differently. Once I started planning their solo celebrations, life bumped us in the face.
On Monday, January 9, Brooks was playing in a middle school basketball game. He looked like his normal athletic self on the court. That night, he showed us what looked like an infected sore on his toe, like a blister that might have burst. The next morning, he felt pain behind his knee. At first we thought he might have torn a muscle during a basketball game, but that afternoon before practice his coach called to say Brooks had a fever of 103.
From there a week of unknown events happened. I took him straight to the doctor from basketball practice and because of the unique combination of variables (high fever, pain in the back of the knee, sore toe, and no cold/flu symptoms), the doctor felt like the infection was bacterial in nature and prescribed an antibiotic.
That night, I slept in the room with him and his temperature rose to over 104. Even with a fever reducer and cool towels on his body, it was difficult to bring the fever down. The next morning, a rash appeared on the back of his stomach and behind his knee. With a fever and a rash, we went to Mercy Urgent Care. They drew blood and ordered an ultrasound.
Lab work indicated elevated white blood cells and elevated levels of neutrophils, indicative of a bacterial infection. Ultrasound showed no blood clots or muscle tears but did show enlarged lymph nodes. The ‘rash’ is now full-blown cellulitis.
Although the fever improved over the next several days, the cellulitis got worse, so on Friday we went back to the pediatrician and they sent us to Mission Hospital for an IV dose of antibiotics. The scary thing about these bacterial infections is that they can turn systemic quickly. The doctors were trying to stay on top of that, and we were so grateful for that.
Gabby Bernstein is a spiritual leader I follow, and one of her mantras is, “It’s all right.” When things feel chaotic or stressful, if we can sit with our breath, trust the universe with our back and say out loud “everything is fine,” our nervous system instantly calms down.
Two days before Brooks’ fever hit, I typed out the words “It’s OK” and posted it on the wall behind my computer. Over the next two days when Brooks was home from school, I routinely gawked at the words.
After the news that I was going to the hospital, I sat in my car crying and asked the universe for a sign that things were going to be okay, and I’m not kidding when I tell you what happened. The next song that appeared on Spotify was called “All is Well”. As far as I know, I’ve never heard the song before. When I saw these words on the screen, time stopped for a moment and I felt a rush of reassurance.
I also realized that I was struggling because my mother had passed away in the same hospital where Brooks would get his IV. True, both of my children were born in that hospital, so it’s a bittersweet place, but the last time I was inside the hospital was when my mom passed away, so I’m sure there was some stimulus that was contributing to my upsurge. emotions.
My mom’s favorite bird was the hummingbird. Since she died, hummingbirds are my sign that she is still with me. When we arrived at the hospital’s pediatric unit, you’d never guess what was painted up and down the walls. Hummingbirds. I knew my mom was telling us to trust and believe that things were going to be okay.
Along with these signs, friends and family have been injecting love into us through text messages, phone calls, and offers to help in any way they can. When we are struggling, we must rely on others to lift us up.
All these good feelings were going on but at the same time I was worrying like a crazy person, looking up phrases on the internet like “long term effects of bacterial skin infections” and “what does pain mean with cellulitis?” and “Cellulitis can cause deep tissue damage.”
Eventually I stopped myself and started browsing quotes on social media. One of the first to appear said, “Anxiety is a prayer for chaos,” also from Gabe Bernstein. This quote made me think about how sometimes we unintentionally show negative emotions. What we focus on We create more of it By focusing on anxiety, stress, and doomsday Google searches, I was subconsciously bringing more anxiety and stress into my life.
Once I diverted my thoughts and started reading a novel, answering some mundane work emails, chatting with Brooks and the nurses and doctors, inhaling some essential oils and getting comfortable in a hospital chair, I immediately felt better.
Brooks is currently on the up, and we’re beyond grateful. We’re still not 100% sure what kind of bacteria started all of this or how it got into his body, but what I’ve learned is that panic is no way to manage this kind of experience. Once I made myself relax and let in some light, I felt better. We are only human, after all, and it is in times like these that I understand with great clarity why we so often need to look beyond ourselves for faith and hope.