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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Every Dragon Has Its Treasure

Bad things happen.

All of us fight dragons.  Our family's particular monsters are more obvious because cerebral palsy is overt. It can be easy to think we have it worse, but because it's...well, so obvious.

So now I'm going to get schmaltzy, but there a good reason for it. It's called context.

Ready? Okay, here goes.

It is easy to define ourselves by our trials. One of the many hazards of that kind of thinking is that when all we highlight are the dragons in our life, all the troubles we face, we never see the treasure that may be at our feet. There IS treasure in everything, but sometimes we have to force ourselves to see it to keep going.

All right. I'm off the schmaltzy soapbox.

My daughter Miriam gets sick every winter. It used to be chronic, not because she is sickly or has a poor immune system, but because cerebral palsy reduces the ability to do those things we take for granted: cough and spit, blow our noses, spit a gob off a bridge, that sort of thing.

Gross? Yep. Essential? You betcha.

For kids with this challenge, illnesses––especially the respiratory kind––crop up more frequently. Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death for those with CP so, add to the mix that public school is one giant petri dish, winter is always a scarier time for us.

So we take precautions when she gets sick to help prevent a visit to Urgent Care. We have an oxygen pump she wears for extra saturation at night to help with the sleep apnea, and a saturation / heartbeat monitor as needed. We have a suction machine––the single grossest device more appropriate for the Baron Harkonnen in Dune, but very, very useful when she cannot clear the gunk the rest of us discard in a tissue.

We also started using a chest physiotherapy device. Miriam wears a vest and it literally inflates and shakes her like a doll to clear her lungs. 

The jury is still out on this one.

So it was of no concern when she started showing signs of a cold or flu early last month. She coughed more and spiked a high fever. She spikes a fever at the opening of an envelope, so no surprise there. With all the interventions and monitors, we could keep an eye out for anything more serious.

By the third day she was sleeping through the night. The fever was lower, though she was still showing signs of distress. Instead of coughing, however, she was making weird retching sounds. We figured it was nausea, since with his stomach surgery it is more difficult for her to throw up.

Again, appreciate the gross stuff. It literally saves your life.

The next day, she was in a medically-induced coma on life support.


Hindsight is everything, of course. Looking back on this past month, I have tried to set aside my frustration and anger and exhaustion and look, really look, for those blessings we often miss. 

It still sounds like a discarded Hallmark quote, but it's true: 

Every dragon has its treasure.

...To Be Continued.

P.S. I include this because it matches my analogy. And because it's just rad.

P.P.S. Yes, I used the word rad. If bell-bottoms and facial hair can make a comeback, so can groovy slang words.

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