I can only handle emotions in small doses. Let me rephrase that: my body can only handle emotions in small doses. Otherwise, I have an all-systems down crisis and end up out of commission for at least 48 hours.
A few weeks ago, both babies were diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia, and I was obviously the one who had the privilege of nursing them back to health. One afternoon, on the tail end of naptime, I found myself counting the youngest’s respirations per minute. I was concerned that he was struggling too hard to breathe. I watched his struggle, wrestling with the safest course of action: emergency room or no? Then the older child woke up in a flurry of painful, gut-wrenching hacking cough-spams. She was sobbing and frantic, and the youngest was weak and limp. I was alone, medically compromised, and desperately trying to assess the crisis level of the situation. We had been to the doctor earlier in the day, so I was relatively confident that no one was actually dying. But as an anxious mommy, you never know for sure.
Rocking the younger (but not smaller) of the two oxygen-deprived children, I was trying to convince the older and much more stubborn child to put her mouth on her inhaler and breathe in. (Try to reason with a freshly awakened two-year-old in the middle of a cough attack and temper tantrum). Needless to say, she refused to take any puffs from her inhaler. I don’t know that she even understood the concept. This was confirmed by the doctor the following day when she prescribed the nebulizer for breathing treatments, thank God. In the moment of my negotiation with the panicked toddler, however, I demonstrated taking a puff (or two or three) of the inhaler. This is not a brilliant idea when part of your disease manifests itself in irregular heart rates and tachycardia.
My children survived this incident, mercy, and my savior-husband soon descended upon the scene after an SOS phone call where I put him on speaker phone so that he could witness the hysterics. He was not allowed to pass go or collect 200 dollars. When he walked in the door, he was met with a wife trembling with bottomed-out blood sugar, stripping off my shirt because of dysregulated body temperature, and buzzing with a pulse of a person who had maxed out her maximum heart rate by dead-sprinting for an hour. As severe as it sounds, in retrospect, it is purely comedic. My poor children. My poor husband. Poor me!
As a result of this crisis, I was out of commission for several days. I couldn’t stand up. I could barely sit up. I felt like a brittle leaf in the middle of January. Weeks later, my children are recovered. They barely experience a shadow of a cough today, thank God. I am reminded of my frailty, however. It seems appropriate as we settle into the season of Lent.
I am steeped in deep frailty. I cannot handle huge, or even moderate, levels of emotional arousal. Praise God that He meets me where I am. I am currently sitting in the recliner at the hospital-housed infusion center, hooked up to my three-hour IV-drip. I receive two liters twice a week. The 100 ounces a day of Poweraid doesn’t seem to prevent me from dehydration-based fainting spells once or twice a week.
Sitting in the hospital recliner, I found myself trying to schedule a hang out time with a friend. I apologetically tried to explain my physical limitations and found myself profoundly frustrated at the situation. I closed my eyes and let a few hot tears ooze out the corners of my eyelids. I breathed a prayer for help, breathed in the love and out the fear, and listened for God’s response.
“I will take care of you.”
Perfect. Those were the words that I needed. I don’t know how we will manage. But He will take care of me. It feels out of control and overwhelming. But He’s regulating and managing the stress. I can trust. I can rest. I can step back and chuckle at the moments where things look out of control, because we are being held in the midst of the hurricane.