(This post was first published June 28, 2011)
It all started with bilirubin.
Bud and I have some sort of blood incompatibility issue which caused each of our newborn children to have elevated bilirubin levels. Even though I had had hepatitis and jaundice as a teenager when I had mono, I didn’t know much about bilirubin. I just knew that, at the time, I was a strange shade of orangey-yellow when I looked in the mirror. And then, when my babies were orange and needed extra lights and watching and such, I learned more about it. But this post isn’t really about bilirubin.
Each child had newborn jaundice. Each needed their bilirubin levels checked multiple times. Helen actually was re-admitted to be put under the lights at the hospital. And this post is about Helen, but not about her bilirubin.
When Karl was a newborn, he had newborn jaundice. I had to take him up to the hospital to have his bilirubin level checked. Karl is number 6 in birth order, which meant I had to farm out five other children to take him for his doctor’s appointment. Either that, or take my little tribe with me. Nobody likes watching a baby get stuck for a blood draw, especially not siblings, and I have wonderful friends, so I farmed them out.
When I got home from this doctor’s appointment, I called Bud to let him know that I was home and everything went well. One of his co-workers answered the phone.
“Hi, John. This is Sally. Could I speak with Bud?”
“Oh, he just went to the Emergency Room with the little girl.”
“Someone called and he had to go to the Emergency Room.”
Here the co-worker started back-pedaling. He didn’t know. He hadn’t known that I didn’t know. He didn’t know what to tell me. Basically, he wanted to get off the phone with me because who wants to deal with a frantic, hormonal, post-partum mother.
My next call was to my friend who was watching Helen. No answer.
My next call was to the Emergency Room and they put Bud on the phone.
“Everything’s fine. Don’t worry,” he said.
Let me just say that if you ever have occasion to talk with someone while in an Emergency Room, don’t first say “everything’s fine” because obviously everything is not fine. If everything was fine, you would not be in an Emergency Room.
“Helen got hit in the head and needs some stitches,” he went on. He reassured me that he had everything under control and would let me know what was going on when they had more information.
Helen and Caleb
I hung up the phone wondering what had happened. The phone rang almost immediately. It was my friend, Jean, who had been watching Helen. She explained the whole thing. Jean had four sons at that point. Caleb and Helen were outside smashing ice and somehow he smashed Helen’s head by mistake. With an ice chopper.
Poor Jean felt terrible. Once I knew, I was okay. I understood about boys. Bud’s reassurance had worked. I knew Helen was in good hands. Today she has only a small scar along her hairline from the ice chopper incident and a great story to tell.
That day replayed for me yesterday. Here I had spent to whole day worrying/wondering about Jacob’s first day at work. Finally, I decided to call Helen to see how everything had gone. I dialed her cell and this was our conversation:
“Hi, Mom. I’m in the Emergency Room. Everything’s fine. Can I call you back?”
“Is Jacob okay?”
“Yeah. Can I call you back?”
I hung up and realized I knew nothing. Jacob had been on my mind, so I assumed she was there with Jacob. I hadn’t even asked about her. I hadn’t even had the opportunity to find out what was going on.
Then the phone rang. It was Helen. She had a health question that told me she was giving her history. As soon as I answered the question, she was gone again, with an “I’ll call you back.”
So now I knew that Helen was the patient. She was well enough to answer questions. BUT WHAT WAS GOING ON?!?!?
I paced and fretted until I couldn’t stand it anymore — which was about five minutes.
I called again and found out that she had gotten stain in her eyes. She was staining a high ropes course and somehow some spilled in her face.
Over the course of the afternoon and evening, I spoke with her and her brothers that were with her several times. She’s okay. Everything’s fine.
The words “Emergency Room” and “Everything’s fine” don’t belong in the same sentence.
But then I find myself thinking, “O me of little faith.” I have such a hard time believing everything is fine before I know the facts. I think that somehow facts help my faith. And that just shows me how small my faith really is.
I’ve been reading in the Old Testament. God tells Abraham, “Everything is going to be fine. Now go sacrifice Isaac.” And Abraham did it! Well, he didn’t end up having to sacrifice Isaac because God had it under control.
God tells the Israelites, “I know the spies reported giants in the land, but everything is going to be fine. Now go take the land.” And they didn’t do it, and paid a heavy price.
In the case where they had they facts (i.e. knowledge of the giants) they actually had no faith. In Abraham’s case, it was only God’s word and he acted on it.
The next time I get an Emergency Room call (which I hope is never) I need to remember that if they start off with “everything’s fine,” it’s time for a little faith and believing on my part.
From bilirubin to ice choppers to wood stain to … faith. Everything’s fine.