unlearning process

He’s asleep right now, in the hospital bed beside me.  Almost an hour ago, they did a spinal tap.  His MRI looked fine, but radiology saw an enhanced area that the neurologist seemed to believe was nothing.  It might mean infection, they say.  Let’s just rule out meningitis.  That’s all I need to hear.  My emotional RPM zooms full throttle.  I feel I might need a paper bag but know I’m overreacting.  That there’s nothing to react to yet.  But my nerves can’t help it.  And my stomach.  My whole body is a tense rope of knot.  And I know I can’t act afraid because that’s more of a burden for Phil.  To play the consoling mode.  And he’s been through enough.  He doesn’t complain.  He takes things on by himself.  I, however am not him, but he’s going through this too.  I kiss him goodbye as he goes to replace me on the Abigail shift.  I keep watching the clock, waiting for the news.  A nurse comes in to tell me the fluid drained from his lumbar puncture was yellow.  "But the doctor isn’t worried about that," she says quickly, knowing by the sight of my face that my imagination is about to sprint away.  "That’s normal because he’s just had a shunt put in not too long ago."  And I think, not too long ago?  It’s been like three weeks.  It shouldn’t still be yellow now should it?  "Yellow just indicates there was some bleeding, but that bleeding is normal when the shunt was…" I zone out.  I don’t believe her.  I want to believe her, but instead I’ll choose to keep belief out of it.  I’ll wait.  And watch a clock.  And listen to my stomach growl.  And wonder when I’ll get the initial results.  "Well non-chemical meningitis is possible, which just means a presense of white blood cells without the bacteria."  Stop saying the goddamn m-word.  If there are "cells" they keep saying, as if "cells" are the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.If there are cells, we’ll run a culture and watch it for days.  The cells can tell us all sorts of things.  But ideally, there would be no cells.  I hate this.  This immediate torture of waiting, and then the torture of possibly learning something I’d rather not learn.



  1. My son Erick who is #5 and is now 4 went through something similiar with the vomiting and diarrehea. For 3 weeks this went on, he saw his pediatrition in the beginning then he got dehydrated and went to the hospital 2 times to get hydrated. They tested him for all sorts of viruses. THen finally his pediatrician looked in his mouth (week 3 now and vomiting every hour with no sleep for either of us)…and it was strep throat. To this day (a yr and a half later, I still have him checked!!) I am not suggesting that he has this just make sure you tell the Dr's what you want done because they dont always know. He also had the lumbar puncture and made us wait 3 days for the results. As mothers we sometimes have to let go and let God its all we can do. You and your family are in our prayers.

  2. Oh Stephanie, I have been following this, but havent been able to comment. It's so much easier to come up with the right words when it's a post about a meal and I'm hungry. Or a funny date when you want to strangle the man in your life.

    But this is so real and so painful that I dont think there is anything anyone but the doctors can say to make you feel better. *Praying that they will say something relieving. Very, very soon.

  3. I just emerged from the hospital with a far less terrifying situation, and could not think of blogging while there, much less breathing. I commend you for sharing your voice in times of such struggle and wish Lucas a fast and complete recovery.

  4. I can't imagine the pain you are going through having to watch your child be sick. You, Phil, Abigail, and especially dear little Lucas are in my prayers. God Bless you all.

  5. Commenting on how I'm hoping you won't have to learn something you'd rather not, seems inane. But I find readers who don't comment, a bit stalker-ish. So, just know strangers are sending warm thoughts and wishing all four of you well.

  6. Thinking good thoughts for you. I'm not a doctor, although I did work in a children's hospital, and "R/O meningitis" (or R/O sepsis) was a common admitting diagnosis. I hope Lucas is like most babies where this turns out to be nothing too serious.

  7. I really don't know what to say…except I'll be thinking about you and lucas today. Saying loads of prayers and hoping it all gets better soon.

  8. Poor Stephanie. I'm so sorry. I remember when I was little and I thought that life was rosy and fairy-tale like…then you grow up and realize that sometimes things suck and they're not fair, and that's a bitch of a lesson to learn. I am feeling depressed and sorry for myself right now, but I'm more depressed and sorry for you. I will say a prayer for you and your family. I hope for the best.

  9. My thoughts are with you, Stephanie. No mommy can handle such stress!! Be strong and positive. In today's world, they must always tell you the worst to cover their arses….just remember that. It's not all doom and gloom, as it may seem now.

  10. My thoughts are with you, Stephanie. No mommy can handle such stress!! Be strong and positive. In today's world, they must always tell you the worst to cover their arses….just remember that. It's not all doom and gloom, as it may seem now.

  11. again…my thoughts and prayers and blessings are all being directed your way…

    no advice, no prescription, no "hey, hope this helps", no "be strong"…just loving thoughts being sent to you, Phil, Lucas and Abigail. I wish, even though I don't really know you, that I could be there for you to have a person to hug, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on and a messenger to bring you Ding Dongs from the vending machine.

    Hugs and Blessings…

  12. Oh, sweet Lucas. I hope all the uncertainties are cleared up soon with nothing but good news for your beautiful family.

  13. Sending prayers again. I feel completely under educated in terms of offering a positive point of view on this, so, leaving it to the doctors, and just sending more prayers for Lucas and the rest of your family. Thanks again for keeping us posted

  14. Stephanie-
    As you sit next to Lucas keep imagining the two of you playing together, blissfully, when he is older. Keep that image in the forefront of your mind even if you hear news that makes you feel sick.
    I have been where you are. My 4 day old daughter had heart surgery and was given a 10% chance in surviving. I did exactly what I suggest to you above- I choose to believe it is what got both of us through that terrible time.

    I really, really believe everything will be OK.


  15. So so sorry you are going through this. From one mother to another – I feel your pain and anguish. THere is nothing more torturous. I really hope he's ok

  16. Sending hope your way. I don't know you and I can't offer any (unneeded) words of wisdom, so instead, I'll just say, all of us out here, hidden in the internet, are sending you hope and prayers.

  17. I so wish I could be there to help you. I've been where you are more times than I choose to remember. My prayers will continue…

  18. I know I said I wasn't going to comment again, because it's a hard enough time without some strangers giving you unwanted advice. But if you are interested I can give you the name of the Neurologist my son saw and also tell you that they treat the child with a team effort of doctors, they look at the whole problem. At the time that my son became ill, We had just lost our house & business in Katrina , I had been diagnosed with Cancer and and a few months after we relocated to Dallas, out of the blue my healthy ( though born preemie son) had the first of many health problems. The reason why I am telling you this story is that I feel ill for you having to through this. The things you say and the emotions you write about, I have been there and said the same things. I had a doctor tell me that Medicine is about narrowing down the possibilites. AND that fucking sucks, I mean really sucks. In my misery with both my own and my son's medical care, the one lesson I learned was to demand answers from anyone who will give them, nurses, techs, doc's and to be both sweet and a Holy fucking terror. They test to rule things out and the dismiss so easily. But THERE ARE DOCTORS OUT THERE who will work with you, who wil take the time to explain to you what each step means, who WILL NOT say "maybe" every two seconds and who will give you a paper bag and a arm squeeze. I hope you will keep venting on your blog, because I know with absolute certainty that there are hundreds of readers who will be pulling for you every step of the way and who are silent (or not so silent) ears to hear you fear and anxiety. A place for it t go. Before I offer my 17 cents again, I will tie my hands with twizzlers (cherry)or beam myself with the empty wine bottle. Thinking only the best for you and your 3 babes.

  19. I'm so very sorry you all are going through this horror story. I check several times a day to see what the latest news is on little Lucas, and I am so grateful that you take the time to let us all know how he and you are doing. We are out here all over the country praying for you.

  20. I don't know what I could say that could bring you comfort. I just want you to know that I am thinking about you, your husband and gorgeous children and that my thoughts- and prayers- are with you all. Hugs, xo

  21. When confronted with the possibility of bad news I too always jump to the worst "what if" scenario. It's not that I even think it will happen. It's just how I process. I am not a negative person. But if I begin to deal with the worst then I am ready for anything. You must be exhausted with worry. I'm so sorry you have to go through this.

  22. You and your family are in my prayers. Earlier this year I had to do a lot of waiting in the hospital for a family member. You're right, it's torture. Hang in there Stephanie. You and Phil are wonderful parents.

  23. Hi –

    I know you are absolutely freaking out right now, but I'm a doctor and I just read your post. I know this is really scary, but first of all, it's not clear if he has meningitis. Secondly, if he does have it, it most likely can be treated. They will give him antibiotics, if it's bacterial. In most of the cases, meningitis is treatable and reversible. It's an infection. I know it sounds really scary, but try not to think of it as the "m-word." Also, what the nurse said about the spinal fluid being yellow due to small amounts of bleeding is true. All of this sounds very logical to me, for someone who just had a shunt placed a few weeks ago. I don't know if this helps, but please try not to freak out. It sounds like he's in very good hands. Try to take a deep breath. It's going to be okay.

  24. You've got a kid in the hospital and yet you feel obligated to blog about it (while it's happening)?

    Are you so obsessed with what people think of you that you feel you must update your "fans" (so you can then read their replies).

    Best to your son and all, but seriously sister, adjust some priorities.

  25. My thoughts an dprayers are with you and your family. Little Lucas will pull through, you'll see. As cheesy as it may sound "keep the faith" – nothing is impossible if you have faith.

  26. I've never written you before but really enjoy your blog. I've recently gone through a health crisis with my daughter. I just want you to know that I am thinking of you and that my gut (which is pretty good) says that everything will be ok with your son. I don't know why — I just feel it. I know that means nothing, but if someone, even a stranger, felt that about my situation, I would want to hear it.

  27. Hang in there. We're all pulling for good results andpositive news. I couldnt respond to the last blog. I dont know why. I just got too emotional and selfish, thinking of myself in your shoes.

    I cant imagine the torture you are going through. I cant imagine the guilt you feel not being with Abigail. I cant imagine the loss of freedom your mind is suffering b/c it's completely filled with thoughts of this.
    What I can imagine and am allowing myself to imagine is you singing to your baby, asleep or awake, touching him and letting him know you are there. Just take it one day at a time, try to stop watching the clock, and eat something.

    Positive vibes being sent to you and that beautiful baby boy.

  28. Timothy, she's sitting in the hospital for hours on end. She has a laptop. As stressful and frightening as it is to have a sick family member, the majority of time is spent waiting and waiting and waiting. She's a writer. So she writes.

  29. So, I go from never having posted to posting twice in one night. Anonymous who thinks your 'priorities' are off. Seriously, why are you bothering to read the blog? Stephanie, I check your blog several times a day to check and see how Lucas is doing. It's not voyeurism. It's concern. I envy your ability to be so HONEST. And just because I haven't met you, doesn't mean my concern and hopeful thoughts don't count. Seriously, if you have nothing positive or nice or real to say, just keep it to yourself.

  30. It's difficult reading this without getting teary eyed and needing a hug myself. Goodness. Wishing you "good cells"….or should I say no cells.

  31. When i became a mom someone said to me, "small kids, small problems…big kids, big problems…" not sure this holds true for you. age doesn't matter. when they're our kids, their problems are our's just the same–big or little. so hang in there, stephanie, and think about the stories you'll tell your little guy when he's fit and healthy. think about how each experience draws you closer and closer and makes you love him that much more.
    keep writing–it's your means for sanity, and we're here support.

  32. Barbara E, I've always liked your comments. This one's perfect!
    Stephanie, I know it's awful to have a sick child. I am so sorry to read what you're all going through. I hope you hear good news VERY soon. Take care of yourself.

  33. I am just a fan of your writing who has become invested in the Lucas situation. I will continue to send hopeful thoughts to you every day.

    Every day. A random person on the internet who really gives a shit about you and your family. Who wishes she could do something.

  34. Stephanie –
    Readers like me have been looking for updates all weekend. So don't listen to people like Timothy. I care about what is going on, as do lots of other people.
    I hope Lucas gets well soon.

  35. It shouldn't take long for results. I have my fingers crossed for your family.

    My brother had meningitis as a baby. He was very sick from it, but escaped unscathed with the exception of vision problems which they said would be permanent. They were wrong. At the age of 43, he's the only one in the family to have 20/20 vision, uncorrected.

  36. Timothy, you might want to adjust your priorities. I've never been one to defend Stephanie because she doesn't need me to stand up for her. But I'll stand up now because you don't kick someone when they're down. What kind of priorities do you have that permit you to do that?

    Writers write. Whether it's a journal or a blog, we write. That's how we express ourselves best. Words comfort us. We envelop ourselves in them. G-d knows Stephanie could use a little comfort now.

    Stephanie, I'm sending out all my best wishes and prayers that all will be well…

    (A friend of mine wored Depends whenever her son was in the hospital, and it was often. She needed to be strong for her husband. He took his cues from her and if she seemed OK, then all was OK. Yep, a burden, but she did what she had to, even if it meant literally shitting in her pants. Do whatever you have to do and know with each breath that you are getting through this.)

  37. Karen, I totally agree. I don't know Stephanie, never met her, but I check this blog all the time looking for updates and for Stephanie's venting. I am, as Kari put it perfectly, "A random person on the internet who really gives a shit about your family, who wishes she could do something." As many of us are, I think.

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