“You’re going to need to take him to the ER…. fevers don’t get that high from using too many blankets.”
My feeble attempt as a brand new cancer mom at explaining away the fever with “well, I do have him tucked in under some heavy blankets” wasn’t changing reality: Joel, a newly diagnosed leukemia patient, had a fever of 104.5.
I decided to tell, not ask, Willy that I would be the one taking Joel to the ER. It was 5:00 on Good Friday and Willy loved running the soundboard for the service at our church and could really an evening of something he loved. That, and he always took the evening shift. This was early enough that I felt I’d still be safe to drive us home afterwards.
I hugged Nathan and Eric goodbye and wiped away their tears. It’s just the evening! You won’t even notice we’re gone because you’ll be playing with kids at church! Go have fun!
As I guided an almost-asleep Joel into the waiting room of the local ER, I glanced around the room and felt my stomach flip. Only a month into this whole “infection can kill your son” thing, my eyes refused to see anything but a minefield of sickness. Chairs, don’t sit down! Counters, don’t touch that! Sick patients everywhere, lean into my shirt to breathe!
Not one to like attention, but desperate to protect my son, I dropped the “L” word. Um, he’s a leukemia patient… Is there somewhere…? Well….
“Oh my! Yes, let’s get him back and in a room to wait!” Oh thank you thank you thank you.
Once in our little room, I tucked in Joel, hot with fever and exhausted from being him. A nurse came to take his vitals and asked with wide eyes, “Has he had any Tylenol or anything?” No, I can’t until his labs are drawn. Protocol.
For the first hour, I watched Joel sleep and listened to the meth addict in the next room over. “Yes there ARE beetles crawling all over my face– can’t you SEE them?! I WANT SOMEONE TO MAKE THEM STOP!”
After a bit, I closed our door. Partly because if this guy went postal, I wanted him to pass by with us unnoticed. And partly because I didn’t know how much Joel was picking up in his subconscious rest. Deep-seated dreams of a meth rant on Good Friday are a parenting no-no.
Labs were drawn, cultures were run to make sure Joel’s brand-new port wasn’t being attacked by his body, antibiotics were ordered, and Tylenol was given. Our fever protocol began a new 24-hour start. Now to wait for the IV drugs to drip slowly for the next 2 hours.
The room had no wifi and I didn’t want to watch TV, but there was a rocking chair.
So I rocked.
I rocked for hours.
I thought about the Good Friday service and hoped Willy was able to enjoy it. I hoped Nathan and Eric had stopped crying and could play like kids should play.
And I thought about Good Friday.
When I was Joel’s age, I used to wonder why God didn’t sacrifice himself, but instead gave his son. I knew it was all out of love, but that always had puzzled me.
As I sat rocking away in the chair next to my sleeping boy’s bed, I got it.
It’s a special kind of hurt, watching your child suffer. Wishing there was something, anything, you could do to make it stop. All I could do was be there next to him, and it wasn’t enough.
Believe me when I say there is no one I know who I would say is worth letting my child suffer to save.
That’s probably a horrible thing to say, but it’s how I feel.
And that night, I was so, so thankful that God’s love is not flawed, like mine.
I was worth it to Him. Joel was worth it. Willy, Nathan, Eric… the meth addict in the next room over.
Worth it. Worth letting His son suffer. Worth turning His face away from His boy in his hour of need. That is a hurt I couldn’t bear, but God did for me.
And so I sat in my ER rocking chair, hating that I was there, hating why I was there, hating that it was late and Joel wasn’t in his bed, and feeling more loved than I ever knew possible.