It creeps in as her nose begins to run. At the first cough, the first sign of chest retractions, the first wheeze.
It’s just a cold. She gets a lot of colds. Most are just colds.
Some are not.
There have been five times when an ambulance has had to be called from a pediatrician’s office or even an ER to move her to a place that could better take care of her. Because they were afraid. Once, 911 was called from my mother’s house in Utah because her cold symptoms had gone from bad to worse. Her hands had turned purple, she would not wake up. That same day she was taken by life flight to a children’s hospital. Because they were afraid.
Last month was her sixth ambulance ride. Just a couple of days ago I had to take Casey to get a vaccine (and autism!) and we were put in the room where we had been in December when we waited for rescue. Waiting in that room was Fear.
I live with Fear. It reminds me that this cold could be her next ambulance ride, her next hospital stay. When we are in the ambulances or at the hospital, Fear reminds me that it could get a lot worse. It reminds me of the times I’ve watched situations go from bad to unimaginable for too many families. I know too many families that live with a grief that is what Fear knows brings me to my knees at the first sign of illness.
Fear wears on me. It makes me tired in my bones. Abby’s sick again today. Her dad was sick yesterday, her brother is home today. We have kept her in as much as we can for the past couple of weeks, but we can’t stop the outside from getting in.
And now I sit with Fear, the unpleasant reminder that no matter how hard I try, I can’t keep my own daughter well. Guilt hangs around, too, but that that’s another post for another day. Sufficient to say, Guilt isn’t backing down from his claims that I didn’t do enough. That the Walmart trip to get baby wipes could have been avoided had I just been paying better attention.
I don’t live IN fear. I live with it. In every cough, in every ambulance ride, in every sleepless night. An uninvited guest who stays silent most of the time, but has a crazy ability to shout out Rationality when my daughter’s nose starts to run.