And we all lived… um… after

Oh, hey. Sorry to leave you hanging for a week. I didn’t mean to, it just sort of… happened. It turns out that when my kid is in the hospital my level of functioning reverts to “barely alive” and I am a total delight to be around. Like, Otto will come home from work and say, “How was your day?” and I’ll blink at him and say, “I’m not sure.” Then he’ll say, “What’s for dinner?” and I’ll say, “Dinner?”

Actual conversation we had this week:
Me: Why did you marry me? Our life is a mess. I’m a mess.
Otto: Well you weren’t ALWAYS a mess. I assume eventually you’ll not be a mess again.
Me: *blinking*
Otto: Oh. Um. That’s not helping, is it?
Me: Not really.
Otto: Sorry. I mean, I LOVE YOU, that’s why!
Me: Uh huh.
Otto: Also, you’re pretty. So pretty!
Me: Shut up.

Otto is a lucky man.

Anyway, Chickadee is home from the hospital once again, and this time we’re not screwing around, man. I rifled through the sheaf of prescriptions the nurse handed me during the three-hour discharge process (Hell, thy name is hospital discharge) and pointed out that this was her second hospitalization in a month, and were they REALLY, REALLY sure she was okay to go home? REALLY?

Chickadee looked at me as if she would’ve cheerfully bashed my head in with the nearest IV pole, but the nurse was kind and clearly an old hand and she got what I was saying: The back and forth, you know, it’s hard. I’m not sure she was ready to leave, the first time, and then we had a hard few weeks and it looked like she was okay and then BAM, back to the hospital she went. So we talked about what to be on the lookout for and follow-up appointments and the general healingness (totally a word) of sleeping in your own bed and being with your family and all of that.

My darling daughter had just begun to unclench when I remarked, “Yeah, well, I get all of that. I do. But if she has to come back again, I think three strikes and she’s out. If we get to hospitalization number three I’m just going to have to leave her here.” I winked at the nurse. “That cool?”

“Of course!” she said, as Chickie sighed loudly and dropped her face into her hands. “She doesn’t eat much, so it’s no trouble having her around.” We chuckled as Chickie muttered something about hating us both.

Later, Chickadee told me that sometimes she doesn’t like it when I make everything into a joke. I apologized. I tried to explain, in my awkward and fumbling way, that sometimes (most of the time) I joke to offset the panic and sadness I feel, and I’m not trying to upset her, I’m just trying to stay calm.

She wanted to listen to the pop station in the car, and I said yes, and she wanted a veggie sandwich from Subway (“Hospital food is the WORST, Mom”), so I drove to the nearest one and got it for her. She sat next to me, swaying to the music, munching on her sub, totally happy (at least for that moment), and the tears leaked out of my eyes as I drove and tried to pretend I wasn’t crying. She didn’t notice, so that was good.

We stopped at the pharmacy and picked up her meds, then—finally—we were home. I’d be hard pressed to tell you who was more excited, Licorice or Monkey. Chickie immediately hopped on the computer to let her friends know she was back, and all was normal.

I mean, as normal as it’s gonna be for a while, I guess.

She wanted to stay home from school today. Heck, she doesn’t want to go back to school, ever. We talked a little, last night, about how she used to love school and no longer does. How every time she’s out it means more looks and whispers when she goes back, and she’s just tired of it, wants everyone to get out of her business, stop asking, stop staring. She wants to homeschool. But she also wants everything the way it was. So we talked about what it means, at this point, to make a change. How if she elects to finish out the year at home, starting high school in August will be even harder. How it’s going to be hard no matter what, because she feels different, because it’s harder now just to get through the day, because something like this has a way of making you look at people differently, especially when they’re looking at YOU differently.

I told her, briefly, that I think it’s important to push through the discomfort before making a choice. That her true friends have and will continue to rise to the challenge. That I think she’ll regret retreating before she’s really found her balance again. I said all that even though a part of me is screaming out that YES YES YES please decide to stay home with me where I can keep you safe and watch you every minute of every day. Except that of course I can’t, and that’s no way to live, anyway.

She was up and ready for school early, today. She looked nervous but said she was okay. I made her breakfast, packed her lunch, tried not to hug her too tightly.

And then I let her go. Again.

58 Responses to “And we all lived… um… after”

  1. 1
    Alison C March 6, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Sending healing thought your way

  2. 2
    Kristine N March 6, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    Hugs to both you and Chickee….

  3. 3
    Leandra March 6, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    Do you know the Nickel Creek song “When You Come Back Down?” If you don’t, take a second and go read the lyrics (listen to the song, too, it’s GORGEOUS). I think it was supposed to be written for a lover, but I heard it for the first time not long after Oliver was born and ever since then it’s been more about my kids for me than any other love I’ve ever felt. You’re teaching her to fly and you’re doing an awesome job.

  4. 4
    Megan March 6, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Welcome home!

    And I totally make jokes of everything. Everything. Dunno if it’s a coping mechanism or a stress reliever or a nervous tic or a desire to Make Everyone Happy or one more thing that if I really try I might be able to blame on my parents…

    Chickie made a brave choice, and a good one.

    Just keep repeating that lovely quotation from Julian of Norwich, ‘all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’

  5. 5
    Stacy March 6, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    I’m so glad she’s home. I’m sorry this is so hard for her and you. I’ve been praying a lot for you. I wish there was more I could do.

  6. 6
    liv March 6, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    again, so happy to hear she’s home — i hope the “betterness” sticks. :)

  7. 7
    Arnebya March 6, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    I wish I had something more to offer than words. Good words, good vibes, good karma, juju, knocks on wood, thoughts, prayers. All that I have of those things, though, I’m sending. It is hard as hell to let them go, so I can’t imagine what you’re going through being able to do so on top of her hospitalizations. But I will tell you this: from your words alone, the way you describe Chickie, she is a fighter and will pull through; she will be fine (as fine as one can be trying to navigate middle then high school). You will make sure of that and she is so lucky to have you in her corner.

  8. 8
    Summer March 6, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    I can’t imagine how awful the vegetarian food in the hospital must be. Hospitals don’t even make good cheesecake, so there’s just no way they could do good things with tofu. Glad she’s back with her mama.

  9. 9
    My Kids Mom March 6, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Letting go is always the tough part. Best of luck to all of you.

  10. 10
    Chuck March 6, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    Glad she is home, hope everything goes well. Having been through the discharge procedure myself when my mother was leaving the hospital, I agree it sucks. Glad the discharge nurse was cool at least.

  11. 11
    Bob March 6, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    it is utterly FANTASTIC Chickadee is home again. And yes, the convalescent powers of being home in your own bed are so very superior than a hospital bed they aren’t on the same chart. I’m happy for you all.

  12. 12
    Celeste March 6, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    I joke when I’m nervous. Or scared. The worse things are, the funnier I get.

    I don’t know what works in middle school or high school any more. I did find a long time ago, when I worked at a very gossipy place, that if you are open about your troubles, it takes all the fun out of whispering about you. And then the whisperers go on to some other subject that is juicier.

  13. 13
    Mari Needs a Sitter March 6, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    As a mom, seeing your child in a hospital bed is really heartbreaking. I’m happy that your daughter is ok now :-)

  14. 14
    RuthWells March 6, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    This shit is so hard, and you are bearing up incredibly well. Thank god she’s home.

  15. 15
    {sue} March 6, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    Probably harder than leaving her at kindergarten on the first day. Healing thoughts coming your way.

  16. 16
    Little Bird March 6, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    I’m so glad she’s home!!! That is one BRAVE kid you’ve got there, going back to school and facing the whispers. She could have fun with it though…. She could start a rumor that she was really in a Siberian prison and was let go be cause they finally realized she wasn’t the one armed assassin they thought she was.
    She could start another one about how she was gone from school because she had to help the president with a top secret mission.
    Mess with their heads, it’s fun.

  17. 17
    Julie March 6, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    You are handling everything SO WELL! If there’s anything a fellow mama across town can do to help, you’ll let me know, yes? And this may not be helpful right this minute, but high school is SO much better. No one could have told me. Middle school is hell.

  18. 18
    Billie March 6, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    So happy that she’s better!!

  19. 19
    Headless Mom March 6, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Oh Mama. You, and she, will get through this. You will, I promise. xo

  20. 20
    Angela March 6, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Glad she’s home again. Absolutely sending prayers for health and pretty and more pretty health.

  21. 21
    Christine H March 6, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    I’m glad that she is at home again and hope she keeps recovering. I was going to suggest homeschooling after her last hospital visit, and I still think it’s a good idea. Right now all those things about having to go to school and being there and doing all the activities and the people and everything else seems SO important. And it seems that way partly because that is the “normal” way and it is hard to see past the moment. But in the big scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. And it doesn’t matter if she stays a year out of high school either.

    I have seen the other end of this when they become undergraduates. I have seen the ones who have pushed through because they thought they were failures if they didn’t, thought that they wouldn’t succeed elsewhere if they didn’t show how strong they were then, and didn’t get healthy enough when they needed to. And one has just been hospitalized for the rest of the semester.

    Her health (and yours) is too important. I don’t think it’s just about just keeping her safe – being a mama bear. I don’t think it’s about giving up, although she and you might be worried about that. I think it’s about getting her to a point that when she does go back, she wants to every day, it is for a long time, and she isn’t worried that tomorrow or next week she’ll be sick again. That when she goes, she is actually enjoying herself and sees herself as okay.

    I know that you have thought about all of these things, but having just seen a student lose her grasp on healthy, I just wanted to offer my support for the other option. And I really just want to hug her (and you) and then eat some ice cream!

  22. 22
    Mary March 6, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    I’m so glad to hear she’s home. I’ve been praying for all of y’all and sending lots of healing thoughts to her for the past month.

  23. 23
    Debbi March 6, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Glad she’s home and especially glad she was ready to go to school. Pretty soon it will be summer and school will be out. Let the healing begin! And continue! And especially let the illness go far, far away.

  24. 24
    Jill W. March 6, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Glad she is back home. Sending healing vibes and prayers her way and relaxing and coping vibes and prayers to all of you. : )

  25. 25
    Ruth March 6, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    I’m glad to hear she’s back home. I think this morning took a lot of courage on both of your parts, and hope the day … and the days to come … go well.

  26. 26
    elz March 6, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Hugs. That’s all I can say…well, that and a veggie sandwich from Subway is better than hospital food? G-r-o-s-s.

  27. 27
    TC March 6, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    Living, and AFTER, is very good. I’m so glad she’s home…

    As for what you do about school, that’s really one of those decisions that is yours and yours alone. (I meant that plurally, as in your family’s, by the way.) You guys know what the details of her illness are, and how that affects her attitudes toward school; we don’t. You guys know (or at least Chickie does) what happens when she’s at school, and whether the situation is supportable or not. You guys know the pros and cons; we just know…our own pros and cons. So rather than give you advice, I’m giving you a hug and telling you that you will figure it out, and that the answer might change from day or month to day or month, and that’s fine. And we love you.

  28. 28
    el-e-e March 6, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Fingers crossed that she has an excellent day, Mir. And you, too. Deep breaths. The internet is trying our damndest to buoy you guys up with prayer and good thoughts. We just love you, that’s what.

  29. 29
    Karen R. March 6, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Healing thoughts for all of you on the way.

  30. 30
    Lylah @ WriteEditRepeat March 6, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    I’m glad she’s home!!!

  31. 31
    Aimee March 6, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Wow are you a great mom. Seriously. I’m so glad Chickadee is home again and back at school. :)

  32. 32
    amanda March 6, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    glad she is HOME sweet HOME! We will keep praying.

  33. 33
    Kathy March 6, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    Bawling my eyes out at work today … been really worried about you. Glad everyone is home, safe and sound!

    My own “little” (not very!) and I have been watching The Gilmore Girls (starting with season one!) together. It is now the filter through which I pass everything these days! I, too, am a jokester when it comes to all things stressful/sad/catastrophic.

    It might be fun for you and Chickee, too. Warning, though, once you start … all regularly scheduled TV is OUT!! :) I haven’t watched the news for days!! ;)

    xoxo,
    k

  34. 34
    Jackie March 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    Letting go is the hardest part of being a parent. What you are going through and what she is going through I can’t eve imagine. Glad she is trying to get back to the normal day to day life.

  35. 35
    Tarrant March 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    So, there was this time I laughed when Michelle was Chickadee’s age. At a play. The weekend after 9/11. Moment of silence. Completely inappropriate stressed out laughter. It was bad. Really bad. This incident is known as “The Cinderella Weekend” in this house. Absurdly, a few years ago Michelle saw that Cinderella was playing somewhere and wanted to go because she had such fun going with us that time. Clearly somehow missing that we nearly became NOT a couple and NOT a family because of that weekend. Denise and I blinked, shrugged, and pretty much choked.

  36. 36
    Tracy B March 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    I hope that each day gets easier and that you both take time to rest and heal and come back fighting even harder. Don’t let her give up and don’t you give up either!!! {{{hugs to all of you..and even Otto}}}} He really IS one lucky dude!!!!

  37. 37
    Kelly March 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Thinking good thoughts your way!

  38. 38
    sophie March 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    I so hope that things continue to go well. Hugs to both of you!

  39. 39
    jodifur March 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Hugs to you and Chickee.

  40. 40
    Fabs March 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Glad she’s home, hope it’s for good this time. You are such a wonderful mother, we all aspire to be like you.

  41. 41
    Liza March 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    *hugs* It will be ok. It really will.

  42. 42
    The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful March 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    I almost had a nervous breakdown when they pricked my first born’s heel to check for jaundice when she was born. You are kicking ass and taking names. I’m saying a prayer for your girl. xo

  43. 43
    All Adither March 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Virtual hugs from Seattle! I hope that was her last trip to the hospital until she has babies of her own.

  44. 44
    Lauren March 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Glad she is better and home. My little girls have had bouts of chronic illness and it is so intensely stressful, I really sympathize.

    I don’t know if homeschool solves any problems here. It would help her avoid things, but that’s not necessarily a solution. I begged my Mom to homeschool me in 7th grade: I’m glad she said no.

    But this is a tough issue. I sympathize.

  45. 45
    Chris March 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    I hope it was a good day and one of many more good days to come your way.

    Blessed be.

  46. 46
    Jeanie March 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Wishing you the very best, Chickie. Hang in there with your chin up high.

  47. 47
    Kate in Michigan March 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Thank you for the update. I’ve been checking back here a few times a day, holding my breath each time. Today I got to exhale! :-)

  48. 48
    Meri March 6, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    Thinking of you all.

  49. 49
    Holly March 6, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

    I’m so sorry to hear your daughter has been sick but glad she’s out of the hospital. And hope she can stay out too! I totally relate to joking around. This is my primary way of delaing with life. sarcasm!! So I understand. I homeschool my oldest daughter so it is an option if she misses so much school it becomes hard. I hope things are stress free for you for awhile!

  50. 50
    Kim March 7, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Sending hugs, prayers and healing thoughts for Chickadee and all of you.

  51. 51
    addy March 7, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    So glad she is back home and working at getting better. Hang in there.

  52. 52
    Karen March 7, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    My wish is for a terrific day had by both of you… steady improvement in the weeks to come, and answers if you haven’t gotten clear ones yet as to what this illness is.

    My rings for my daughter and I (I am….) came the other day… we love the message. Thanks for bringing them to your readers attention, I like their stuff.

  53. 53
    Brigitte March 7, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    Fingers crossed!

    And kudos to your strength to send her in, I don’t know if I could be that strong. Otto’s right, you’re so pretty! :-)

  54. 54
    Fairly Odd Mother March 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    Glad she’s home. And having had a 9yo hospitalized for anxiety, I can tell you that homeschooling doesn’t prevent the bad stuff from happening. And if Chickie just wants to curl up into a ball and retreat into herself, at least being in school will force her to confront the world around her. But, if you think there is just too much negative stuff “out there”, I’d say it isn’t a bad idea to try it out, at least for a little while—just try to find support groups so she still can be with her peers. Tough call either way though at least you have some options.

    And big hugs to you mama.

  55. 55
    Paul March 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    I am sure glad she is home again. We homeschool and like many things it has its good and bad parts.

  56. 56
    Annette March 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    I’ve been praying… And will continue

  57. 57
    Emily March 8, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    When I was a freshman in high school, I had to miss a few weeks of school due to embarrassing health problems, and was terrified to return. The school wasn’t happy about me coming back for liability reasons, either, and my friends were worried I would combust at any moment and…it was just a lousy situation, especially since my health problems didn’t clear up and I was bouncing around between specialists. I ended up going to a continuing ed program for the second half of my freshman year, and then transferred to a private school for the rest of high school. I missed my friends and I missed my previous life, but I got a chance to “start over” (albeit still with health problems).

    All that to say, I understand a little bit what your Chickadee is going through, and I know it stinks and feels like it will never get better…but that rough patch taught me about priorities, about the importance of family and faithfulness, about my relationship with the Lord, and about resilience. But I pray Chickadee can learn those lessons much more quickly than I did, and with less heartache! :)

  58. 58
    Stimey March 8, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    You are your girl are very lucky to have each other. Love to you both.

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