The Illusion of Normal

It started on the third day of school. Nathan came home with diarrhea. I thought he had a typical stomach bug that just needed 24 to 48 hours to run its course. That was not to be. His compromised system can’t fight things off the way the rest of our family can. We decided it was time to take him to the doctor on Thursday. The doctor said the same thing we were thinking- he just needed more time to let the bug run it’s course. So he gave Nathan some medicine to ease the stomach cramping and sent me home to change more diapers. At this point we were averaging 10 to 11 poops per day.

My first clue as to the severity of his illness should have been that no one else in our family was sick. It wasn’t presenting like a normal stomach bug. His fever would come and go. The cramping would come and go. Yet through it all we couldn’t keep anything in him. I was becoming more stressed by how sick he was, but determined to care for him at home with the help of his incredible home health nurse. I was so adamant that I didn’t want to go to the hospital so we went back to the doctor on Friday for outpatient IV fluids.

In spite of our valiant efforts, Nathan was admitted to the hospital on Saturday morning for dehydration and an UTI. We put in an another IV to give him maintenance fluids and started praying for a quick turnaround. I honestly thought we would be out by Monday. But on Sunday morning we discovered Nathan had salmonella. In spite of being told that we may never know what the cause was, I’ve been racking my brain to understand how he got salmonella. When you have a kid that doesn’t eat by mouth, it is perplexing. Yet he puts everything in his mouth. He licks the edge of the counter and pulls up on the trash can. So there’s that.

Salmonella is not your typical food poisoning. It’s awful. We spent a total of four nights in the hospital–much longer than I predicted. Nathan hasn’t been admitted since April 2017 and therefore the disruption to our version of normal was jolting to me. At times I felt like a caged bird in the hospital, but this little birdy needed some time to stay put. I was forced to slow down. I couldn’t keep fluttering around doing more tasks. All I could do was hold my little boy. God taught me things in the hospital, I was too rushed to learn at home. I needed a slow, quiet pace to hear, “I will take care of you.”

When I live in an illusion of normal, I am living according to how I want to live. It’s not just an illusion of normal, but an illusion of control and predictability, which none of us truly has in our lives. Though, before Nathan was born I was even that much more in denial. My life is not mine to know or figure out. Yes, I have a responsibility in my role as mom to care for my sons and my husband. But I can’t foresee what the future will hold. I must live by faith. Faith that Jesus is enough. That He will lead me through whatever awaits me around the corner. This is a scary way to live, especially for a calculated and conscientious person like myself.

Nathan is at home and healing. It’s been a long, two and a half weeks of illness for him. As Jesus is healing his body, he is healing my soul as well. I want to fall at His feet in these unpredictable times and trust my faith to see me through. I long for him to say to me, as He did to the women He healed in the gospels, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!

Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!


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