by Tammie Allegro
Recently, I have had the opportunity to sit bedside in a hospital with each of my two children. In one instance, my youngest daughter was tremendously sick with a stomach virus and spent the better part of the day in the ER with great concern that it was her appendix. The second and most recent time was with my oldest daughter; she had orthognathic surgery to repair her jaw.
Terrifying and humbling are probably the best two words to describe how it felt to watch each of my daughters go through such traumatic events. What made these events traumatic was that they weren't happening to me; they were happening to my children. Seeing someone you love suffer tears you up inside and is compounded when that person is your child. Seeing your "babies" go through such tremendous pain and suffering changes you. This is true whether you are dealing with an acute situation or an ongoing chronic illness.
Unlike the unexpected stomach virus, the orthognathic surgery was a planned procedure. Still, I quickly found that we were not nearly prepared for what we had just gotten ourselves into. Surgery of any kind has risks and complications, and that creates even more worry. During both of these experiences, there were so many moments when I would have loved to curl up into a ball and just sob uncontrollably. That wasn't an option. I was there to take care of my girls, and they needed my strength. The doctors and nurses in both situations were amazing and took great care of each of them, but it never felt like enough. I wanted them to make the pain stop, but they couldn't and neither could I. It broke my heart to realize that this was just the beginning. There was a long road of recovery ahead of us. I knew that I was going to have to be strong for a lot longer than just these moments in the hospital. So, I put my big girl pants on and went into supermom mode. It is amazing what people are capable of doing when their backs are against the wall and someone is depending on them for support. I see examples of this all the time in the IG community. Especially when dealing with a chronic illness, caregivers never take a break from being the strong ones.
Of course, oftentimes it isn't just about being strong. If I could go back and do things differently, I would try to be more prepared. Knowing what I was up against and what resources were available definitely would have helped. I also learned it is important to be educated and vocal. In the case of my daughter's surgery, doing research would have put me more at ease. Knowing what was expected could have provided me with the tools to speak up. In situations like this, if you see something that seems wrong, don't be afraid to ask questions. The doctors and nurses are there to help.
Of course, I hope that I never have to experience anything like this again. If the day comes when I do find myself sitting bedside, I will know that I can get through it and that I have raised two amazingly resilient daughters who can get through anything. I am grateful that I have a faith system that helps me know that things will ultimately go the way they are supposed to.
Have you had a time in your life when you survived something you never thought possible? Where did you find strength?