The Best and Worst of Times

What a difference a day makes.


This last week has been intense for so many reasons. I’ve been sick for a few weeks -I’d chalked it up to having my gall bladder removed last summer and tried to go merrily on my way, but it wasn’t working out so well. I was REALLY tired, napping every day. I had some severe gasto issues to go along with, and after I felt the gastro pain radiating to my back, I decided to call the Dr.
I was scheduled to leave the state a few days later and I wanted to make sure I didn’t have something rupturing inside, or something. The Dr. couldn’t see me until the following day, so I went ahead with my day.
It was Tuesday. Weeks before, I’d signed up to chaperon my 2nd grader’s class for their pool play day to celebrate the end of the school year.
I don’t like water.
But I do like Lacy, so when she asked so sincerely and eagerly if I’d come along, I agreed. After all, how many more years will she BEG me to be with her on school trips?
I wearily came home from work, clutching my stomach and wanting only my warm, welcoming bed. I rested for a few blissful minutes while my brother, Jim, spent his lunch break teaching Trenton how to play Pokemon.
I grinned as I loaded the kids up in the truck to play in the pool. Those BOOTS.

When I got to the pool, I realized all of the other chaperons had left their smaller children with sitters. I hadn’t even thought of that! I’ve been so sick, just doing my best to get by. But we were there and we were ready to swim, so I plopped us all in the pool together.
But remember -I don’t like water.
And I was sick.
I kept an eye out for the kids, wading around the shallow end. I kept a close eye on my older two because their swimming skills are only just starting to develop, and I know Trent gets anxiety pretty bad when he doesn’t feel safe.
He kept clinging to me, trying to use me as a flotation device.
“Son,” I’d say, prying his hands off my arm, “It’s okay. You’re taller than the shallow end. And I’m RIGHT HERE.”
We’d been swimming for about 20 minutes, and I was ready to go home. I wanted to be more ALL ABOUT it, but I was so sick…
“Do you know how much longer this is going on?” I asked a mother next to me.
“Until 3:10,” she said and added, “I don’t have my glasses on. What time is it?”
“1:15,” I sighed. And I’m so glad we had that tiny conversation and that we looked at the time because one minute later, Trent was at my side again. His grip was fierce.
“Mom,” he muttered.
“Trent, you’re hurting me…” and then someone screamed. Was it my daughter? I looked at my toddler and then at my daughter who was by my side, but Trent’s grip became tighter.
“Trent!” I looked down… his eyes were wide, he was staring straight forward at nothing. He was gone, just gone… no response, nothing there. His eyes wide. He began falling forward into the pool. I was stunned. The mother next to me took Alice and I got Trenton to the side as fast as possible.
He wasn’t responding to me and as the pool manager took him from me, I watched him stare at nothing. I pulled myself out of the pool and watched Trenton turn white, his lips turn blue. Two women began CPR, chest compressions, rescue breathing… I scrambled to find my phone and get my husband to the pool.
Trenton was clenched tightly -so stiff.
I tried to form words to tell my husband he needed come to the pool. He couldn’t understand me, couldn’t grasp the words but entirely felt the meaning of the panic in my voice.
I finally pulled a, “GET. TO. THE. POOL. NOW.” out and then dropped my phone onto the lifeguard stand.
Watching him on the pool floor was surreal… his entire body was tense, he wasn’t breathing. I felt completely helpless, terror racing through my veins.
Could that really be my son? The one I grew inside of me?
I prayed the prayer a thousand mothers have prayed a thousand times before -nothing but the words, “Dear God, dear God, dear God…” no further thought could form. Tears raced down my cheeks, and I felt an underlying awareness of the mob of scared children around me. I knew I needed to calm down, but there’s no function in my brain to plug that information into action when I’m in fight and flight and freeze mode all at once.
After what felt like years but later turned out to be about 15 entire seconds, Trenton took one of the most beautiful, blessed breaths Mother Earth EVER offered up.
Within minutes, the pool side was flooded with first responders: EMT, fire, police.
Trenton’s eyes were rolling back into his head. He wanted to sleep. I couldn’t handle him sleeping even for a second.
I called out to him to wake him up. He was confused, tired, dazed… too lethargic to be scared.
I stood next to my husband’s co-worker and asked obvious questions, simply needing someone official-looking to reassure me.
“He looks better, right? His color?”
“Yes, he does.”
“They’ll tell us at the hospital what happened, right? If it was a seizure?”
“Yes, they will…”

Where was my Alice? My Lacy? I glanced around the pool and saw a mother carrying my baby. My daughter was brought to my side, she was inconsolable.
“Let’s get you dressed,” I said, so grateful to have SOMETHING to do because I wasn’t able to help Trenton at all.
I held a towel up for her to change and my old business teacher came to my side. She helped hold a towel up for Lacy while I dove into Danny’s kevlar vest and let out a lifetime’s worth of scared tears.
My sweet teacher took Lacy to my mother’s house, and a good friend followed with Alice a few minutes later.

I went to Trent’s side where he was more aware. His bottom lip began quivering. Because he had complained of neck pain, they stabilized his neck and strapped him down. I climbed into the ambulance with him, dripping wet.

As the EMT prepared to insert an IV, I talked to Trent about Iron Man -he needed to stick a bunch of metal in his chest so he could be healthy… now it’s Trent’s turn.
His bottom lip shook, he cried and I cried because hearing HIM cry was remarkably beautiful.
Once his IV was in, I coaxed him to tell me about his Pokemon. I looked out the window and saw my husband following behind us in his unit.
I continued my prayer, “Dear God, dear God…”
I took a picture of Trent to show him, “You look like a mummy, do you want to see?” The picture brought the first smile I’d seen since we left our house that morning.

The hospital ran tests, gave us both warm blankets. The nurses fussed over Trent.
What do you remember?
How do you feel?
Are you cold?
Do you need anything?
Just push this button and we will be RIGHT HERE.

“So,” Trent looked tiredly around him, “I’m like the master of this whole entire room?”
“Pretty much,” I told him.

They put him in dry clothes, I changed into some dry clothes I’d haphazardly thrown into a bag on my way to the pool. I crawled into the bed with Trent and smelled him, hugged him, and hated not holding him.
They came in to draw blood and had trouble finding a vein. Usually I can handle one of my kids crying over something like a shot, a blood draw… because I know it’s GOOD for them, but that day I hunkered down in the corner and just bawled.
My nerves were shot and I couldn’t handle him hurting anymore.

All of his tests came back good -no brain tumors, no water in his lungs. His blood sugar was 104.
He continued to tell the nurses he couldn’t stay.
“I need to graduate tomorrow,” he explained.

As shift change came, his nurse asked if she could kiss his forehead -she’d assured him beforehand that she was a grandmother.
“No,” he shook his head and compromised with a high five.
She walked out and I asked why he hadn’t allowed her to kiss him.
“Because that’s disgusting,” he explained.
“But she’s a GRANDMA,” I reasoned.
“She’s not MY grandma.”
Game, set, match.
Once he was settled in a proper hospital bed, he scarfed down two corn dogs and a slushie. I ate a salad, my nausea hadn’t subsided all day and I later found out the salad was a poor choice.
A REALLY poor choice.

I curled up in bed with Trent and we fell asleep together while Danny went to bring Trent’s sisters to him.

Alice insisted that Lacy needed a check up too.

A crew came in to draw more blood, and I had hit my limit with how much pain I could listen to. The girls and I sat outside the room while he screamed and cried, and then we went in and said goodnight.
I had to go home because I had my own appointment the next morning.
I slept in our old recliner in the living room, Alice under my arm. Lacy stayed close by on the couch. My sleep was fitful and filled with weird, vivid dreams. After only a few hours of sleep I was up for good. Alice was too. I opened my fridge to find that while we were gone yesterday, someone had put a gluten-free kid-friendly dinner in my fridge! I cried MORE tears and sent up a different prayer, “Thank God, thank God, thank God…”

I made it to the Dr and was given a diagnosis: ulcers.
Who, stressed? Me?
Yeah, that sounds about right…

Danny texted me a picture of my son after he’d had his LAST blood draw during which he flinched but didn’t cry. #oldpro

And a short hour later, I had my son back with me. We took him to Wal-Mart to shop for his GRADUATION PARTY that night, and the whole thing felt surreal.
Did that actually happen?
We weren’t even given an official diagnosis -the doctors felt Trenton might have fainted or perhaps hit his head without us seeing it.
We bought doughnuts and chocolate milk and I sent out a text inviting people to his graduation and his party -something I should have done weeks before but the ulcers stole my brain powers.
He had even made his own announcement:

Danny took Trenton for a hair cut and I prepared his little shin dig. Calls came in from Trent’s teacher, his principal, neighbors, family and friends. He’s a much loved little man.
Lacy said, “When I was watching him turn all those colors at the pool, something told me that maybe I should have been being nicer to him. What do you think that was, Mom? My own conscious or the Spirit?” I told her I couldn’t know for sure, but I DID know she’d figure it out.
Lacy was really affected deeply by the entire incident. Before sending Alice to my mother’s, I asked her, “Are you okay? Are you scared?”
“I want swim,” she replied.
Ah, toddlers. Bless them all.

We watched Trent enjoy his night with a wary eye.
Was he eating too much? Not enough?
Did he look pale? Faint? Tired? Weak? Pregnant? Brazilian?

On stage he said his part, “Every morning before school starts, we place our right hand over our hearts. We (something, something) as the pledge we say, this is a great way to start our day!”
Danny and I were vigilant in our anxiety.
“He keeps rubbing his eye. Did you see that? He did it again. Is he okay? What does that mean?”
“I already have an exit strategy mapped out,” Danny reassured me.

But the evening went off without a hitch:

Trent was the happiest kid there, and I was the happiest Mom to have
1) HIM and
2) meds
Danny and I stayed up until after 1 am packing because the next morning we had an appointment with Trent’s pediatrician (who confirmed that he did indeed have a seizure and helped us schedule proper appointments with proper specialists) on our way to UTAH for my sister’s wedding.

Which I will blog about later.
Because right now? I have a boy to inhale.


  1. Once again you manage to perfectly describe emotions and experiences I’ve had before in a way that brings me to tears.

  2. Oh good hell. What a few crazy days you’ve been through. Rest assured I’d be force-feeding you food and making you watch Gilmore Girls with me.

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