Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)
- TITLE: The Hospital Gown
By Corinne Boback
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As I snapped the back of the gown with shaking fingers, fear for my daughter threatened to overtake me and snap my emotions at any given moment.
At fifteen, she was showing signs of illness. She denied that she was having a problem for several weeks. I questioned her daily, and yet she refused to admit there was a problem. I noticed a decrease in her appetite, with frequent bathroom visits. She was listless and pale, and sleeping more than usual.
I finally made a doctor’s appointment, against her firm protest. She argued again that she was just fine. I told her we would let the doctor decide that.
The doctor’s visit that day revealed lab work that showed she was severely anemic, and in need of a blood transfusion. Her extreme fatigue was due to blood loss. Her decreased appetite was because she discovered the less she ate, the fewer the bathroom trips, and thus less blood loss.
Kristen was having an apparent physical struggle. And now, I was having a severe struggle of my own. Mine, however, was emotional. How could I have missed the seriousness of her symptoms for weeks? Why hadn’t I done something about it sooner than now?
As I snapped her gown, I pulled her close. I needed the comfort of that embrace. Now that she was facing the problem, she had a matter-of-fact outlook that astounded me. I asked if she was frightened by the test or the outcome. She smiled that smile I had grown to adore through the years. She assured me she was unafraid.
As they whisked her away, I allowed my emotions to snap. I cried, and could not be consoled. Had I failed this child as her mother in her hour of need? Kristen had always been so healthy. Perhaps I had taken her good health for granted. I soon realized I was being selfish as I questioned my own abilities as a mother. I needed to set those feelings aside so that I could pray. The time for my emotional “snap” must be over for now.
The doctor came to tell me that Kristen was in the recovery room and that I could see her soon. She now had the confirmed diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. It was a treatable condition, but was not always easy to treat. She would need medication daily for the rest of her life. She would be at a higher risk for colon cancer than the general population. She may have flare-ups where hospitalization and steroid therapy would be needed. She would have to be careful of her diet. A yearly colonoscopy would be part of her life from now on. Occasional blood transfusions may be needed during flare-ups.
Armed with the doctor’s news, I braced myself for Kristen’s pain and sorrow as I entered the recovery room. I must be strong. God would have to walk me through this. I was too weak-kneed on my own.
I gave her the report. Kristen merely smiled. Then she spoke some words that changed my life forever on that day.
“Mom, Jesus told me when the time was right, you would see the truth of my illness. He knew I was afraid of that truth. I needed you to take charge. I know you doubted yourself as a mother through this, but you have taught me God’s timing is always perfect. As you snapped my gown today, I knew you were about to snap. Jesus told me not to worry. He said you would never snap for long, because you trust Him with me. He said he knew the mom I would need in the years to come to help me through this illness. And He told me that mom is you.”
My burden lifted. I had been chosen by God to be the mother of this girl! He knew I could help her through this illness. And today, that snapped gown, and my temporarily snapped emotions, were necessary that I might discover this beautiful truth.
Though not every circumstance in life is a “snap,” it will work out when we remember that our footsteps are ordered. Kristen and I would be just fine. We would walk this path together, with Jesus beside us each step of the way.
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