*A continuation of Sarah’s story which began in Soaked: Part 1
The fear as I drove Campbell to school was consuming. It was also familiar. Too familiar. Scary familiar. The last 5 years of health issues for my kids plagued my thoughts. I was in disbelief that I was questioning the health of Keaton. Keaton was my “healthy” child. I remember the same scared, helpless feeling when Noah was Keaton’s age and was diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosus, a congenital heart defect. I spent most of my days on my knees begging God to heal Noah’s heart. I vulnerably hoped for the best but consumingly feared the worst. At the tender age of two, Noah underwent heart surgery. The hopeless feeling I experienced 5 years prior of “is my baby going to be alright?” was distinctly similar to my paralyzing fears in that moment. As I dropped Campbell off and watched her bouncing blonde hair enter the school doors I was flooded with memories of her health scare. Around 9 months old, she had a febrile seizure and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital with a temperature of well over 105. Soon after, we noticed her body would shake uncontrollably when she would lay her on her side to nurse. She was referred to a neurologist at Children’s Hospital and at the age of two, a sleep study indicated a small mass on the left side of her brain, which was most likely caused by a mini stroke in utero. She was given the diagnosis of an essential tremor only to be followed by an unrelated surgery to repair an umbilical hernia six months later. Her little body had experienced a lot in her short few years. As we pulled away from her school I decided to make a pit stop at Target because Keaton had gone through so many diapers that morning and we only had one left. Keaton and Crew battled each other for my attention by out screaming the other throughout the drive. While Keaton overwhelmingly won each round, Crew’s faint and exhausted whimpers reminded me of the health scare we endured with him all before he was born. At 32 weeks an ultra sound showed our baby’s (we wanted to be surprised by the gender) kidneys were enlarged. They monitored them carefully and at birth we were told he had Hydronephrosis. At 3 weeks he had a procedure which catheterized him to look for reflux of urine in his kidneys. After a careful watch, doctors finally cleared him from the diagnosis and his kidneys were no longer enlarged. Reliving that moment of relief momentarily gave me a sense of great peace where I realized three of my kids had been through intense health scares, yet all three were now amazingly happy and healthy. This calmed my fears and allowed me to take the deep breath I didn’t realize I was neglecting to inhale. That breath was short lived as I unbuckled Keaton from his carseat and felt the crystalized gel clumps from his diaper seeping out onto his wet lap. The only time I had seen this before was when I accidentally forgot to change him into a swim diaper before entering the pool. Again, that panicked look overtook his sweet face and I couldn’t contain mine. I tried, oh how I tried, but tears of confusion and fright streamed down my face. My fear intensified his, and his fear intensified mine. I grabbed the phone and dialed his pediatrician.
The phone rang…and rang…and rang, only to be blind sided by the fact that the pediatrician’s office closes for lunch. My frustration exacerbated my tone as I scolded Keaton while changing him into our very last diaper, even though I knew it wasn’t his fault. His pants were soaked in urine and I didn’t have a backup. It was 4 days before Christmas and the Target parking lot was packed with holiday shoppers. I piled my half naked two year old and sleepy one year old in the cart, trying to keep Keaton’s bare legs covered from the frigid December temperature. We bought two things from Target that day: the biggest box of diapers and bottle of water they sold. The water was gone before we reached the check-out line. I received plenty of awkward stares from shoppers as Keaton’s cries echoed throughout the chaos of the store. I paid for the empty bottle of water while opening the box of diapers as it rolled over the conveyer belt because Keaton had once again filled the diaper he was wearing. While the temperature read below freezing, my body temperature was well above normal. I was drenched in sweat and decided I couldn’t wait the full hour for the pediatrician to reopen. I needed them to see him now. I decided to go there without an appointment. I had to do something. Keaton and Crew both fell asleep before we left the parking lot. The silence in the car was welcomed, until I recognized I was left alone with my thoughts. The “what if” questions were overwhelming and intense. They were too much. I didn’t know if I had the fight in me to go through one more health issue with my kids. I prayed hard on my way to the doctor, but feared it was different than my prayers with the other health scares. This seemed like a Hail Mary prayer. Are those even answered? I had to believe they were. They had to be.
I carried two sleeping boys up two flights of stairs to be met by the receptionist opening the doors for me. She could sense my panicked urgency and had the doctor waiting for me. After I listed off his symptoms of extreme thirst and urination, Keaton was awoken by a nurse pricking his finger for a blood sample. After a 5 second countdown this simple yet complex device read the word “HI”. What did that mean? The nurse stated it was probably a mistake and pricked him again. Five seconds seemed like five thousand only to deliver the same simple word “HI”. Confusion and chaos filled the small and suffocating room as more clinicians entered to hold his wailing body down as they placed a bag underneath his diaper in hopes to collect a urine sample. I was attempting to read their faces as each new clinician walked through the door. None of them made eye contact with me and they all shared a similar somber look. It didn’t take long to get the sample. I knew what they were testing for. I wanted to believe it wasn’t, but my gut knew. A conversation my mother-in-law and I had well before I was married replayed in my mind. I was 17 and it was the first night I met my husband’s family for dinner. I distinctly remember my husband’s younger brother, Josh, pulling out a needle, filling it with a substance, and giving himself a shot right before we ate. It led to a discussion about his Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis at age 7. I was intrigued to learn more and through my many inquisitive questions, his mom shared she took him to the doctor after Josh began wetting the bed, loosing weight and showing signs of dehydration. I was also flooded with the heartbreaking stories my grandma told of my Uncle Bill’s battles with Type 1 Diabetes. My husband and I knew we had it on both sides. I guess deep down we knew the chance was there. The Doctor’s entrance into the room interrupted those disturbing fears. My eyes locked onto his, begging him to give me good news but the similar look of somber over took his face as his eyes met mine and he shook his head. The un-welcomed confirmation of Type 1 Diabetes came. He stated his blood sugar was so high that his meter would not read it, therefore it must be over 600. A normal persons blood sugar is 70-120. I began to cry. Actually, I began to sob uncontrollably. I knew it was something but I didn’t want it to be this. I had seen first hand what Josh had to go through just to meet a basic need of eating. I vividly remember my grandma’s pain when sharing how her son ended up dying due to complications with his diabetes. I didn’t want that to be Keaton’s story. It couldn’t be Keaton’s story. The Doctor informed me Keaton’s urine was full of sugar and we needed to go straight to Children’s Hospital and be prepared to stay there for a couple days. I couldn’t do that. I had to pick up my kids from school in 30 minutes…they needed me. In a stern and authoritative voice he said, “Sarah, this is life and death for Keaton. He is very sick and NEEDS to go to the hospital NOW.” It was 4 days before Christmas…my family needed me. I promised Campbell I would volunteer for her class Christmas party. I still hadn’t made things right with her after ignoring her pleas for attention that morning…she needed me. I was going to miss taking Noah to shop for his Secret Santa. I had already put it off all week…he needed me. Crew was so clingy and confused by the morning events. I was looking forward to cuddling on the couch that evening to reassure him…he needed me. We just helped plant a new church that was opening its doors on Christmas Eve. We needed to be there to get it ready…they needed me. I looked into Keaton’s tearful and fear stricken eyes and in that moment I was reminded…Keaton NEEDED me.