Home again, home again, jiggity jig

Babies always sense when something big is happening (of course, it may have something to do with the bags packed and children dressed in warm coats at 6 a.m.). Caleb climbed up for a last sweet snuggle with Amelia before we bustled her off to surgery on Wednesday morning.

The moments spent alone with her in the hospital were bitter, but sweet as well. It's a rare occasion to have 24 hours alone with any of my children. Soaking up their smells, their nuances, their little habits, the sweet curves of their lips, the grip of their tiny fingers on mine. Amy was a pale, quiet companion. I got some homework done, I laid in bed with her for hours. She had three rather frightening episodes when her oxygen saturation dropped: once to the low 80% range, once to the low 70% range, and once to 58%. What was scariest was the fact that I have seen her like that innumerable times at home - I just didn't know how low her "sats" were dropping. She was dusky around the lips and nose, and the rest of her face was pallid. She woke up, coughed, and came back to normal levels fairly quickly. Her color improved after an albuterol nebulizer treatment, which astonished the nurses and doctor, because her lungs sounded "so clear". Amy has a form of asthma called "silent asthma" (also known as cough variant asthma), which causes little or no wheezing and has little or no warning before the severe attacks of bronchospasm. Her lungs almost always sound clear - there is just less and less air movement as the attack progresses. While she was healthy enough to discharge from the hospital this morning, she has continued to have these "silent" attacks, and needed three nebulizer treatments today. As her mother, I don't feel she is out of the woods yet. She has continued to drink very little, and remains extremely sleepy from the anesthetic she got yesterday. This sensitivity to anesthetic is also known to run in the family. I am hopeful she will wake up tomorrow with more energy and less asthma trouble. That was, after all, the end goal of the surgery (tonsil and adenoidectomy) to begin with.

We had the consequent joy of time spent with all the Holmen cousins under one roof: Auntie Megan and cousin Emma drove Amelia and I home from the hospital after discharge this morning. We spent a morning playing and admiring this joyful, beautiful, healthy group of cousins suddenly sprouting in our family. What bliss God mixes with our sorrows!

After wallowing in the pleasures set before us as we watched the cousins play, I plunged immediately back into the stark realism of life in a world of pain. One of my closest friends was diagnosed with stage II/III invasive breast cancer. Her husband writes beautifully at Beneath the Crust. I'm sure many of his musings from here on will reflect the pain and rejoicing that accompanies such a monumental trial.

Her cancer brings me back to my own cancer. It's slow pace. The waiting and wondering. The questions without answers. The wracking sorrow and the tingling joy of living life with the knowledge of death looming. Stupid cancer. Great God. Tight friendships. Sensory pleasures. Sensory sorrows. God is in it all, cancer accompanies it all. Today I tasted of that bitter root again, and remembered it's sorrows, and the visions that flew in on it's coattails. I pray my dear friends experience the same enlightenment and freedom along with their laments.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (I Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)