The past two weeks have brought with it all kinds of stresses and unknowns. Here is just a small glimpse of the ugly beast that has been staring at me face to face since this month began.
My Month old Son Being Hospitalized
The most obvious stress that it going on in my life right now has been the hospitalization of my younger son Noah. Sat March 30, after we had a birthday party for Logan who turned 2, we took Noah to the local ER and next thing we know we are at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. At first we dealt with the stresses of the unknown, the lack of sleep, the innate sense to want to see your child well and trade places with them just to save them from the pain and troubles. And who knew that we would be there 10+ days???
The routine has been up at 5:30 am, off to work, come back to get the Renae and Logan. Drop off Logan at my parents on the way to CHOP. Arrive at CHOP and meet with doctors and nurses. Continue to work from my laptop at the hospital. Spend time with Noah. Head to my parents to pick up Logan. Try to be home by 8:00 pm to put Logan down. Run whatever errands, we have or prep everything for the next day. Read for Grad School. Take quizzes or write papers. In bed between 11:00 and 12:00. Then do it all again the next day.
My Brother Being Deployed
As if having my son in the hospital is not enough I am having to mentally and emotionally deal with the fact that my brother is bring deployed this week. I've known for some time, but with all things it does not become real until you actually see it beginning to happen. This Friday he will be leaving for Texas, then after a short stay there he will be “wheels up” (as he says) to Afghanistan. I know how hard this has been hitting me, but just have not really been able to show it or get it out.
I cannot imagine the range of feelings and emotions that his wife is going through. I have been thinking and praying about them and their family with every spare moment I get in the day.
My Sister Undergoing Medical Tests
My little sister holds a special spot in my heart. As an older brother of a sister, you feel like you need to watch out for her and to help her when needed. She has had her fair share of ups and downs to say the least over the better part of her life. Most recently she has been having some physical health issues that have been really dragging her down, and no one seems to know what is going on. She finally has had some success with some top notch doctors in Philadelphia, but at times it seems that they do not even know the direction to take with her. She has been tested, poked and prodded to the point that she is getting tanked out.
To see her hurt and frustrated eats away at me. If I could just snap my fingers and let her know what normal health is like I would do it in an instant. When doctors call and leave a message that sends her into a dark abyss of battling her own thoughts until she can reach the doctor to discuss results makes me uneasy. I wish I had words to offer to her, but I simply find myself speechless…and can only offer a hugs, my unconditional support and prayers.
Work vs. Family
Work has not really helped one bit. I have people that I work with that have been very compassionate and understanding, and even people that have really spurred me on and energized me. However, the actual company has given me such a complicated time (twice now) about getting things situated for Noah. I got a complete run around the first time I needed to schedule for leave during his birth, which resulted in me taking personal time off to run around and gather paperwork for them. Now it has taken them a week to figure out what papers I need to have completed for Noah’s hospitalization and they will not give me back all the personal time off that I have had to use in the mean time.
Then there is just the internal struggle that with everything going on, that I cannot be the best possible me as a teacher right now. I am busting my butt to stay afloat, but I am so used to be doing way more than just getting by.
On top of that, I was told that I had to report to work. Then later was told, no it's OK work from the hospital. Then late last night I was told that I had to report to work as normal. Then this morning I was told, oh no you should not be here you were approved to work from home. How is this happening? And why are they creating this stress when they know that my son is not well, and they are making me chose work over my family?
The Pressures from Grad Schooling
Back in January when I signed back up for grad schooling I knew that there would be two weeks that overlap with my accelerated courses. I was well aware that those two weeks would be very tough, but luckily one of them was over spring break.
What I did not realize was the amount of work that would be due during finals week, in addition to the amount of course work due for my other class in its second week. On top of all that, it was not even a thought in my mind that my 3 week old would be needing to be placed in a hospital an hour away from the home during that time.
The Busy Season
To put the icing on the cake, these last two weeks (although I knew I’d have some grad schooling) were supposed to be reserved for me spending as much time with my family (together) as possible before I start working weekends for the busy season. I did not imagine having to juggle all of this leading right into me working 7 days a week for 2 months straight. I was to recharge before hitting that wall head on. Instead, it feels like I am being completely stripped before going into this craziness.
Being the Strong Husband and Father
Given all of the things mentioned previously, number one I am a husband and number two I am a father. These duties supersede everything else. I feel that I need to be strong for Renae, Logan and Noah. When Renae is crying and being told news that neither of us want to hear, I need to be her rock. When Logan is excited to see us when we get home, I need to return the excitement and play with him. When doctors are telling us about everything that could be wrong, I need to process and analyze the information. When a parent chews me out, I need to leave it at the table and not bring it to my family.
Through all of this, I am amazed and how much I have been able to handle. I chalk it up to three things (because it is not all me). First, it is a testament to human nature, and how resilient people can be during times of stress. Second, more importantly it has been doable because of the amazingly wonderful support system that we have of friends, family, and even people that we have no ever met (they are simply friends of friends). Third, most importantly, God has given us the strength to face this challenge. Without Him I think I would not have made it far at all into April.