This is a personal blog about the hardest thing I have been through so far in my life and how it has made me a much more grateful person.
My family and I had been through a pretty rough year. 2012 was...let's just say, the bumpiest ride so far. We had just moved from WA to QLD and hubby was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just as he was starting his new job here in Hervey Bay! That's okay, we adjusted quickly after the shock of that diagnosis at 39 years of age and once on the insulin he needed we had our old hubby and dad back.
I was pregnant with my second bubba and my first (Arwen) had just turned one year old. Our second, Sam, came along in March and was born with a few health issues including silent reflux, which if any parent out there knows, can be pure hell. The first 4 months of his life he screamed and screamed and we just constantly wore him.
I don't just mean put up with him, we actually 'wore' him in his Ergo until the right medication finally kicked in. That took its toll on me and my husband but with my hormones all over the joint, (I fell pregnant with Sam while I was still breastfeeding Arwen who was only six months), and being a stay at home mum with two bubs fifteen months apart, one which could never be put down, in a new place with no family nearby, I eventually crumbled and fell.
I had recognised my symptoms of extreme anxiety, no sleep (even when we got Sam to sleep) but just took lots of St Johns Wort and carried on, as you do. Eventually I got to that scary point (you know it when you're there) and sought medical help. Everything looked up, we had Sam stabilised, mum stabilised, dad stabilised, and Arwen, well she has always been there putting smiles on our faces when it got rough.
Then we learnt that Scott's new job that we had relocated from WA for might be in jeopardy and that hung over us for six months until he finally got a redundancy e-mail the day before Christmas. Again, that was okay. We had seen it coming, made some preparations and just thought we would go where the universe pointed us and start 2013 afresh.
So here I was, not long after, sitting in a day spa in Noosa during our Christmas holidays (sounds very fancy but let me just point out that it was my first day spa experience ever as well as an eagerly awaited birthday present from my darling hubby) and I had this huge feeling of gratitude wash over me.
It was like nothing I had experienced before. I didn't have to sit there and wonder what that nice feeling was, it was just an overwhelming strong and blanketing emotion of gratitude that tears sprang into my eyes.
I was startled until the epiphany reached me.
It sounds so obvious, but you can never feel the depth of gratitude I felt that day until you have gone a long way down and then been at peace again.
Now, the rest of this post (nor the beginning for that matter) is not to make you feel sorry for me or my family.
Sure, writing about it is very cathartic for me but what I really want to do now is describe all the things I was and am still so very grateful for, in what was to follow.
So 2013 rocked around (our year to start fresh, no more bad luck please universe!)
My kids both started getting sick for like the gazillionth time in the last 12 months. High temperatures and what looked like a sore throat in both of them. My daughter, Arwen would only eat watermelon for 2 days and Sammy was off his bottles and solids and they were both miserable. Normal viral type symptoms. Then in the middle of the night, I heard the unmistakable croup cough coming from Sammy's room. Yes, Sammy the barking seal. Doctor visit confirmed croup and steroids were issued for the swelling.
At the end of the second day on steroids, Sammy took a sharp turn downhill. His breathing was very laboured and scary sounding and his chest was heaving and I called 13HEALTH (QLD medical advice line).
I held the phone up to his mouth and the nurse on the other end said very calmly, "stay on the line, I'm calling you an ambulance". From there, a whirlwind of awfulness ensued and I now just want to say thank you and write what I'm grateful for.
I don't want to go into all the details of what went wrong as Sammy's procedures and follow up's are still ongoing, I just want to express a lot of thanks.
I'm grateful for all the doctors and nurses at Hervey Bay hospital and The Royal Children's hospital that kept my Sammy alive. I'm grateful for the paramedics, the helicopter pilot, the modern medicine and those bleeping machines and drugs that kept Sammy breathing. I'm grateful to live in Australia where this is all covered by a public health system.
I'm grateful for my mother who looked after our boisterous two year old for two whole weeks so Scott and I could pour all our energy into Sammy and his recovery. I'm grateful to my dad who gave his support by driving to see us and be by Sam's bed for a while to give us a break.
I'm grateful for my amazing sister who visited nearly every day for two weeks even though she has a brand new bub of her own and kept bringing us things to make me feel better (a home cooked soup, magazines, so much food and snacks), did our clothes washing and even brought me a pic with an elephant with its trunk up. Because elephants are good luck with their trunks up. (I'm hoping some of you will think of the Aussie movie 'The Castle' now.)
I'm grateful to my in-laws, brother-in-law and sister-in-law who are all down in Victoria but sent flowers, prayers and rang or texted us every day to keep us strong.
I'm grateful to all my beautiful friends who lent their support by listening to me cry on the phone and send me countless words of support via text and Facebook.
We have a friend, that brought us home-cooked dinner one day and a bag full of goodies from my favourite healthfood store another day and generally just made her presence felt even without being at the hospital.
Some other very close friends (Arwen's godmums) took us away from the hospital and out to lunch one day as well as bringing a really cool shirt for Sammy to wear when we could dress him again!
I'm grateful for all the little things that took my mind off things for a wee while. The book I was reading at night, the care packages from the hospital, the day my hubby went and got me a cupcake and finding an organic gardening magazine in the hospital newsagent.
I'm grateful for the first time we held him again.
I'm grateful for Sammy's amazing recovery.
I'm so so so grateful I called that phone number when I did and so grateful to that nurse on the other end of the line that rang the ambulance when she did.
Sammy stopped breathing before being airlifted to Brisbane and if they hadn't got that tube down in time so a machine could breathe for him, well we might not have him now. This photo above is lunch time the day it all happened. Things can happen quickly.
I'm grateful for my husband as without him, I would not have been as strong. He has always been my rock. Most of all, I am grateful to be at home again with the most important people to me, all under one roof again.
Lastly, I want to say I am very grateful to my new Facebook community and blog family. You kept those lovely words and wishes rolling in and for that I will always be grateful. Thank you.
Have you ever had something that you can remind yourself with every day, that no matter how shitty life can get - you are a lucky, lucky person?
After a bronchoscopy we found that Sammy had been born with a floppy larynx and floppy trachea also known as laryngotracheomalacia. These kids haven't formed the cartilage needed to give these structures a rigid frame so they flop in and can obscure air space. During inflammatory viruses, the air space reduces further as the respiratory system swells. The age they grow out of it is usually between 2 and 5 years old but can happen sooner or also later! Some kids still present with it in their teens but of course the common cold gets less and less scarier the bigger they get as their airspace naturally widens as they grow.
At the age of three now, our Sammy still battles to breathe with each cold he gets but hospital visits aren't as frequent and we generally have the confidence to see them through at home. He is an absolute superstar and takes it all in his stride and teaches us to do the same. 🙂
SECOND UPDATE - Sam is now 10 and hasn't been in an ambulance since he was 5 years old. We think he started growing cartilage in his trachea and larynx by this age and the fact that he has more space in his airway no, he has just suffered from the odd cold or flu the same as the rest of us!
Yours in gratitude,