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On Worry, and Pain

May 16, 2006

Ok, right off, let’s talk about worry. AKA, stuff to pray about. Or, if you’re really in touch with our creator, stuff to run about.

Milk, we need more milk.
Ella, she needs less yellow (jaundice).
She also has a slightly inflamed left ureter. Scary. One ultrasound down, one urologist to go.
And some disconcerting birthmarks, which may be suggestive of spinal problems. What?

Our dear grandfather, it turns out, has had a massive stroke, and looks to be at the end of his life. And we’re here, which is unbearable.

Will continues to do well. His paralytic drugs have worn off, and he’s blinking his eyes, moving his hands and feet, and looking around the room. His chest tube came out today too, and they are starting to feed him a little bit of milk through a new NG tube (see above about urgent need for more milk). He also had a couple of episodes of decreased heart rates (the wife calls it ‘bradying down’, so Google that, I guess). This is normal, I hear, but I don’t like it one bit.

They are also weaning him down off of his pain meds a little bit, to prepare for a weaning off of the ventilator tomorrow. This is good news, obviously, but it’s honestly a little scary to think of him doing without all of these comforts and help. When I last saw him without a ventilator, he was in the middle of a bout of apnea, and was being revived by about 5 very scared medical experts (yes, we obsessively check Ella’s breathing, so don’t make a bit deal about it, ok? Cut us some slack).

So I had a heartwrenching hour this afternoon, seeing my little boy in discomfort, and (I imagine) real pain. I know that he needs to struggle a bit, to be weaned off of his sedation enough that he will start to breathe over and against the ventilator, to demonstrate his strength and to allow him to begin to breath on his own again. Still, watching him repeatedly wake up with a start, wrestle against all of the tubes and lines, shed a tiny tear, look over at me, and try to cry against the tube in his throat, is absolutely heartbreaking.

I tried to tell him through my tears that pain isn’t necessarily a bad thing, about how we need it if we are to grow, about how everything good in this world is paid for with pain, and about how the best workouts that our friend Steve and I have run together have been the ones that hurt the most. What’s learning without confusion, running without lactate, work without fatigue, love without heartbreak? And then I stopped my fatherly lecture and realized that he already knows much more about this than I ever will.

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14 Responses to “On Worry, and Pain”

  1. Sh33p says:

    Mike, Thank you so much for your openness. You’re all “indescribably strong.” For me, it’s a big help having specific needs; thanks for listing them and please continue to do so. I’m so glad to know you (y’all) and to have a chance to pray for you.
    Ed

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s getting harder and harder for me not to chime in with Jack’s war stories, but I won’t. This is scary, hard stuff and we’re praying hard for both the babies, for Gramp, for you and Stacy and for peace, healing and plenty of milk…and soon. You just take all the slack you need (and deserve).
    Shonda

  3. Liz says:

    Cut you some slack on checking Ella’s breathing??? Cut me some slack for making such a needless and silly request. Goodness, I had a baby with zero heath issues and I spent the first couple of weeks with a mirror under her nose… OF COURSE you’re going to be a little obsessive about this and you don’t need to ask permission, beg forgiveness, or even ask for some slack. (I hope that didn’t count as a war story or advice cause I didn’t mean it that way… just that you have every right to behave in a way what some of the uninitiated might consider silly.)

    As for Will and his struggles, it just breaks my heart. I can’t stand to see any child suffer… but when it’s a child I care about… oh man, it’s unbearable. The thing I hate most about being a parent… well the only thing I honestly and completely hate about being a parent is the painful, helpless feeling I get when I when I can’t fix her problems and take away her pain. So far, I’ve only had to deal with a couple of stitches, a broken leg, and a few emotional trials. I can’t begin to imagine the helpless, despair you feel at watching Will struggle. But there is one thing in which I have found solace and that is the fact that children seem to have an uncanny and innate ability to know when they are loved. And believe me; your Will and your Ella are much loved. I couldn’t imagine two more loving and wonderful parents to be there for them. And they are also part of a larger community that is busy with the business of loving them… So I will continue to be thankful for the small successes, pray for even more victories and milk, and send my love to you all.

    PS: This is another boarder-line advice thing, but I’m really asking this in the true spirit of a question! If milk really becomes an issue for Will, I’ve heard there are Milk Banks where you can human breast milk (kinda like blood banks.) Is that something that would be useful for Will or does that just introduce too many health unknows given his situation? Just wondering…

  4. Greta Davies says:

    Sorry for all the things to worry about. We’ll be praying. My women’s biblestudy has been praying every Friday for the last 6 months and will continue to do so as well. What kind of spinal problems….? My heart hurts when I think about Will and having to watch him fight on his own. You are ALL very brave.

    As a totally unrelated aside to my running guru, I went running (jogging?) Monday for the first time ever in my life (other than some futile attempts in DC that lasted for 2-3 minutes) and I ran for 3.5 miles in 25 minutes. I was quite pleased with myself. :)

  5. dad says:

    Mike & Stacy

    SO MANY prayer needs on our hearts and minds! We are as close to you as we can be right now. Heaps of love to your little family!

    Dad

  6. dad says:

    Mike & Stacy

    SO MANY prayer needs on our hearts and minds! We are as close to you as we can be right now. Heaps of love to your little family!

    Dad

  7. sonja says:

    The blessing is that Will won’t remember any of this. That’s what you get to take from him … the memory. He’ll grow up strong and you bear the weight of memory. God somehow wipes out the memory of great pain from children. So we will pray for strength for you and fight for Will and MORE milk!! And most of all peace and grace and comfort throughout it all. That you would feel God’s great and good presence throughout each day.

  8. Kelly Maguire says:

    On que, I shed my daily tear after reading your post. Like others, my heart breaks to see a child in pain. Thank you for sharing your own pain so openly.

    As for milk, I know you were just asking for prayers, but per Liz’s question if it really does become an issue I have a freezer full!!!! I’ve been pumping for Graeme for months and have a nice supply built up. When I read your post my first thought was “milk – I’ve got milk!!!” So, please ask if you really are at the point of needing it. In the meantime I will keep pumping and praying.

  9. Kelly Maguire - edited says:

    Make that “On queue” (in my haste, I typed phonetically) , I shed my daily tear after reading your post. Like others, my heart breaks to see a child in pain. Thank you for sharing your own pain so openly.

    As for milk, I know you were just asking for prayers, but per Liz’s question if it really does become an issue I have a freezer full!!!! I’ve been pumping for Graeme for months and have a nice supply built up. When I read your post my first thought was “milk – I’ve got milk!!!” So, please ask if you really are at the point of needing it. In the meantime I will keep pumping and praying.

  10. Mike Croghan says:

    Mike, Will’s struggles break my heart. He is going to be the toughest little kid any of us have ever met. Not that he’ll be a bully or anything like that, I’m sure – not with the coolest, most gentle parents he could hope for. :-)

    I’m praying for the whole family and for all of these needs and worries. Much love.

  11. Greta Davies says:

    While offers of milk are very kind and a bank of milk is a possibility, if I know Stacy, she just wants to be able to feed her babies herself (as would any mother in this situation, I think) so please let’s just pray hard that she has the milk that they both need!

  12. Greta Davies says:

    Liz,
    Massive apologies. I really didn’t mean to offend you, I just know that if it was my baby I would desperately want to feed him myself and while I would appreciate the gesture, I wouldn’t feel good about having to choose an alternative. So I pray it won’t come to that. Forgive me for making you feel like I thought you were five. Not my intention–my comment was certainly not intended to make you feel like you should not have suggested it…I was sincere in saying it’s a possibility. And since Mike reads all these too, sorry man for causing stress on your blog. Definitely not my intention either. Yikes.

  13. Liz says:

    Greta and Mike,

    I too am sorry for bouncing off the wall. This isn’t an excuse, but I’m not sure what’s wrong with me lately. I think I might be starting menopause or something because one minute I’m weeping at diaper commercials and the next minute I’m so angry I could chop someone’s head off (literally and figuratively.) I took your note way to personally and I am truly sorry.

    Liz

  14. Mike and Stacy -

    You guys are so strong and brave it’s amazing, and your kids have clearly inherited that. It’s a tremendous blessing for them and it’s visible even in the first moments of their lives.

    We’ve been praying for you quite a bit, and we’re thrilled with each bit of positive news – even when it’s positive news that makes our hearts break.

    Our prayers are especially with you now, and with Gramp’s whole family. Please always, let us know if there’s anything we can do. ‘Our’ Liz is looking forward to playing with Ella and Will. They sound like amazing kids with great parents.

    God bless,

    Miriam and Brian

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