Thursday, December 14, 2017

Poetry Friday: I Fell Off the Internet Again When My Daughter Was Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness

It was almost two months ago when I finally felt ready to write about Atticus, cancer, fear, and learning to breathe again.

Then my daughter got sick.

In reality, Betsy was ill before Atticus even had surgery, but we didn't know what was wrong. We were looking for answers, took a couple of wrong turns, listened to a misdiagnosis, thought she was getting better. And then it all went to hell. She got sick. Really sick. As in, this-mother-was-sick-at-heart sick. She was hospitalized twice in November -- mid-month, and then again the day after Thanksgiving. Really, even now, I don't have the energy to write extensively about what she's been going through. She has a chronic, autoimmune disease but now, with the right medication, we are starting to get it under control. We are beginning to get our daughter back.


In the Hospital 
Karen Edmisten 

The first time I spent a night with her
in a hospital was twenty-one years ago.

In the dark, she cried. I reached for her,
held her, nourished her.

Now, darkness. A whisper:
I wake from fraught sleep.
Sweet girl, yes, I'm here.

Nourishment is elusive. 
My vibrant, beautiful girl is frail, wasting.
In the dark I cried,
and held her.


It's been a hard few months. This poem shouts despair, I know, and I've certainly felt a portion of that lately, but things are looking up, and I have genuine hope for Betsy's health. I've got the energy to write this because my daughter has the energy to eat, keep food down, absorb nourishment again. It's such a primal desire ... a mother wants to feed her child: Eat, eat! 

They say a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child, and it's true of health problems, too -- a mother can't really be happy when her children are suffering, can she?

But a mother can hope. And trust. And keep going. And that's what we've been doing around here. It's what we'll keep doing because it's the only thing to do.

Hope and trust. And learn to breathe again.


The Poetry Friday round up is at Random Noodling


Amy said...

I really feel for you, Karen. I'm glad to hear your daughter is eating. I do know!

Jamie said...

Oh, Karen, sorry to hear this news. Will pray for you!

Alicia VH said...

Lots of retroactive and continuing prayers... and love!

BJ Lee said...

Oh, so sorry to hear about this, Karen. Healing blessings to your daughter and to you!

penelope said...

Oh Karen! Gosh, I'm so sorry to hear this. Praying and hoping for healing and better days for your whole family.

I've got some medical conditions (chronic, autoimmune) that have completely upended our lives for nearly two years now. I've gotten terrifyingly thin, and food and the absorption of it is an endless struggle. Terribly challenging not just for me but for my teens and for my mother (in her late 70s) too -- food is her love language, and she used to bake for me all the time since my brain tumor left me physically disabled seven years ago. But now I can barely eat, and she is so distrssed, and seeing her distress stresses me and and ...!

It's a lot. You have my heartfelt sympathies and wholehearted prayers.

{{hugs}} penelope
(old blog name ellie, from facing west, newer blog in profile)

Michele Quigley said...

Hugs and prayers Karen. I understand how you feel. ❤️

Karen Edmisten said...

Amy, I know you know, and your son is still in my prayers!

Jamie, Alicia, and BJ -- thank you!

Penelope, I couldn't begin to compare my situation to everything you have endured/continued to go through. You amaze and inspire me!

Michele, I know how deeply you understand, too!

Love to all of you!

jama said...

Sorry to hear about Betsy. Glad she's beginning to rally. Sending love, hugs, and strong healing vibes. She has her family's love, faith, and support -- that's the strongest medicine of all.

Diane Mayr said...

You feed her with your presence. Stay strong.

tanita✿davis said...

♥♥ Oh, after Atticus, too! I am so sorry that your family is facing stormy seas, but I have confidence that you know the secret to walking on water.

What a year! I kind of "fell off the internet," too, when I was diagnosed with multiple autoimmunes in late September. (What IS it with that!?) I, kept stuff from my Mom until I felt like I had a little more control, but wished repeatedly that I could wail at her, so I know Betsy must be so grateful you're the metaphorical boat together. You're all in my thoughts, friend.

Doraine Bennett said...

Karen, I'm so sorry. Yes, we feel so deeply for our children. It's hard to watch them suffer. Praying for continued recovery as you walk this journey with your family.

Amy said...

Sweet Karen, you are all in my thoughts and prayers. Your line about a mother not being happy while her children suffer is so true and enlightened me about my own life today, I hadn't really thought about it that way but it explains a lot, so thank you for your eloquence. Praying that everyone is on an upswing that keeps going up!

Polly King said...

I just read something this morning that you reminded me of with this beautiful post. "Happy events are invitations to give thanks. Regrettable events are invitations to faith, hope, and conversion. Openness to God's call unifies life and enables us to transcend the hard knocks that come with living." Fr. Jacques Philippe in Called to Life. I'll be praying for you and your family, Karen. Peace.

Brenda Harsham said...

I am so sorry to hear how your family's been suffering, Karen. I feel as connected to my kids' trials as I am to their triumphs, and it's impossible to set worry aside when you don't have answers. One of my favorite relatives, my aunt Mary, has cancer. She's struggled against it for seven years. Rather than letting it exhaust her, she just finds a routine amid the chaos and joy amidst the pain. She is an inspiration. As are you.

Kay said...

I'm so sorry, Karen. You and your family have had more than your fair share of struggle and heartache this year. Both my daughter and I live with the same chronic autoimmune disorder (ankylosing spondylitis ), but it is much harder watching my daughter deal with it.

Buffy Silverman said...

So sorry for the struggles you've endured, lately. My son has had a couple surgeries this year--it's tough to see our kids suffer. Thanks for sharing your daughter's journey in your beautiful poem.

Mary Lee said...

Thank you for letting us hold you and your family in our thoughts. Be brave, Mama. Hope fiercely and keep feeding your baby until she fully returns to you!

sarah said...

You have my sincere sympathy. I hope so very much that good health returns to your family. Please don't forget to take care of yourself too. I imagine you are everyone's rock, and in order to be that you need to ensure you get good sleep, nutrition, etc. Sending warm hugs and best wishes <3

Karen Edmisten said...

You are all so kind. Thank you!

Jama, thank you. Hugs!
Diane, what a kind thing to say. I have to believe that's been true!
Tanita, you're in my thoughts, too. Hugs to you, too!
Doraine, thanks for those prayers, and Amy, I have to credit my friend Liz Swift with that motherly eloquence. She was the first person I heard say that, I believe.
Polly, I love Fr. Philippe! Thank you for that!
Brenda, thanks for those kind words, and your aunt sounds like an amazing woman!
Kay, I'm sorry to hear that! I totally understand that it's harder to watch your daughter go through it. I would take this on for my girl if I could.
Buffy, thank you so much, and I hope your son is doing well?
Mary Lee, thank you. "Hope fiercely." I love that.
Sarah, thank you! Doing my best on that front, too! :)

Peggy Haslar said...

Continued prayer during this hard time. Your openness spreads beauty and grace to others.

Karen Edmisten said...

Peggy, thank you so much. Blessings to you, and a merry Christmas!