It Could Be Worse

It Could Be Worse

It could be worse.

It could be worse.

It could be worse.

I repeated those words in my own mind for months leading up to the heartbreaking news that I had just received. 

My baby, my first born, my son was in desperate need of another open heart surgery.  Except this time, his fragile, tiny heart needed a titanium valve to save his life. 

It could be worse.

As I watched him grow weak, sick and lethargic over the last few weeks, I knew something was wrong.  I knew in my heart, my gut; that something was wrong with him. 

His increasing need to be by me, with me, on me all day long seemed different.  He cried for me; to be in my lap, to rock in the chair and to sleep in my arms.  I wearily complied through exhausted eyes and rocked, cuddled and cried wondering what was wrong with my baby. I craved for normalcy.  Why did my baby have to be sick?  Why couldn't he be healthy and happy?

No, stop it.  It could be worse.

As we went to the doctor's office, I hoped and prayed that they would have answers for me.  With a glimmer of hope, we stepped into the waiting room.  I held him in my lap for the fear that if I put him down he would begin to cry inconsolably again.  As I held him, I looked around the waiting area at the pictures hanging on the wall; gleaming smiles of other little children that this doctor had saved.  Some of them obviously had other health issues, not just heart problems.  I sighed.

It could be worse.

The friendly nurse called his name and we went into the examining room.  After hours of tests, multiple doctors, and nurses rushing hurriedly around me, they told me the news.  "He is experiencing Congestive Heart Failure."

Failure.  Funny choice of words, because that was exactly what I was feeling at that moment.  My baby was suffering, hurting, dying and I was powerless to fix it.  I felt completely out of control and had no way to help the situation.  I fought back the tears as they admitted him immediately to the Children's Hospital. 

The next few days were a total surreal experience as they tested, poked, x-rayed, and prodded my eight month old baby.  I sat on the sidelines, nodding and smiling; trying to understand all the medical jargon that they were throwing at me. 

"Uh-huh. Ok. Mmmhmmm."  Whatever, doc.  Just fix my baby, ok?  Make him be normal.  Make him laugh again.  Let him grow up to be a happy, healthy boy that can live and love like he deserves. 

"Luckily, he has a pretty good chance at living a full healthy life after all this.  It could really be worse." they said.

It could be worse.

It could be worse?  What could be worse than this?  My infant is getting ready for a surgery in which you are about to open up his chest and reach in and replace a part of his heart with a piece of metal!  It could be worse?

Turns out they were right.  It could be worse.  And in the days following his surgery, I met worse.  While my baby came through surgery with flying colors, I saw many other children on the pediatric floor that didn't. 

While spending the next nine days in PICU, I met quite a few other parents that were equally as weary as me.  While our dreary eyes met across the hall, we gave a polite smile or sometimes a glazed stare. 

We knew what the other was going through; thinking.

We knew the feeling. 

We knew that dread that we faced every time we returned from the bathroom, the cafeteria, or the vending machine for lunch.  That dread that hits you in the gut when there are three doctors standing in the room. 

What's wrong?  Why are they all in there?  What happened in the five minutes I was gone? 

Oh, nothing?  Just some residents doing their rounds?  Ok, good, let me just take a moment because I think I stopped breathing for a minute there.

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