Friday, February 4, 2011

Emergency room insights, Round II

I spent another day at the ER yesterday. Snuggler has had abdominal pain off and on for a week, and Thursday morning it didn't get better with Tylenol and had moved to the lower right quadrant. I am not a worrier when it comes to medical things, but I don't mess with potential appendicitis. I'd rather have a long wait and find out it was a false alarm than sit at home hoping things improve.

It's weird to go to an ER twice in a week, once as the patient and once as the parent. When you are there for someone else, your own feelings take a back seat to handling the situation. It's triage at its best:
  1. Things to do? Check -- wait over there.
  2. Worry or fear? Check -- go to that corner. 
  3. Child needs help? Check -- come right in. Let's take care of that right away.
It's almost refreshing to be on an autopilot for putting someone else first.

On the other hand, watching someone else's suffering is no picnic, especially when there's not much you can do about it other than exude serenity and confidence. That near-helplessness, and the related desire to be able to do something, remind me that sometimes the job at hand is simply to be.

For many years I wondered about that odd interchange between Moses and God, in which Moses asks, "When they ask who sent me, what shall I say?" and God answers with the enigmatic, "I AM who I AM. Tell them 'I AM' sent you."

Yeah, what's that all about? It took being a mother for me to grasp at a visceral level that 'I am' is a form of the verb 'to be'. What God was saying was that he was the essence and source of what it means to be. Similarly, I am Julia... and my job is to be Julia. I am to be as Julia as God created me to be. I'm to discovered and uncover what the essence of Julia-ness is, and to live it fully. What it means to be Julia-who-is-now-a-mother is different from what it meant to be just Julia-who-is-married.

On the days we sit next to someone suffering in a hospital bed and can do nothing, we are asked to simply be with that person with all our being. Far from nothing, it's everything. In the Venn diagram of life, who we are is bigger than what we do.

Snuggler arrived home at 4am, after finally getting into the MRI and finally getting negative results. She's sleeping as I write, grimacing in her dreams, still in pain from who knows what. But for the second time this week we've ruled out something dangerous, and I am grateful that she is here. In fact, I can shorten that and say I'm grateful that she is.


  1. this is just awesome. i hope you bookmark this because it's a profound truth.

  2. This is mind-blowingly good. And simple.

    Don't go being anybody else, you.

  3. I hope your Snuggler is feeling better, Julia. There is nothing worse than a child being ill.