I hadn’t slept well since Kimberly went to the hospital, and I was groggy and disoriented at the sound of Erin’s voice when she shook me awake.
“Mommy! Mommy! Can I go with you again today to be with Kim? I packed some toys and our craft boxes so we can play while you and all those other grownups talk.”
I squinted at my seven year old for a minute while the words took root in my exhausted brain. A smile stole slowly across my face, and I grabbed her hand. “What a great idea. “You are thoughtful and kind to think of Kim. Are you sure you don’t want to go to Kelly’s and play for the day?”
Her head shook vigorously. “No. I don’t know when Kim is coming home, and I miss her. I want to go with you and Daddy.”
“All righty then. Let’s get ready.”
“We have to wake up Daddy first!” Erin whispered.
Erin and I decided the best way to wake up Van was to use his annoying way of humming revile over and over. He started at a whisper and built volume until the person asleep was startled awake.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Van growled at first, but when Erin giggled and told him her plan, he hugged her and agreed she had a great idea.
Kimberly was thrilled when all three of us walked through the door.
“Has Dr. Curtis been here yet?” I asked.
“No. But I already had my first shot. Why weren’t you here to hold my hand?”
Filled with guilt, I had no good answer except, “I’m sorry. I’ll be here the rest of the day.”
“Look what I brought!” Erin distracted Kim and showed Kim her treasures. Before long the bed and table were covered with toys, paper, glue, and scissors, and the girls had their heads together deciding what to do.
For the last two days when Dr. Curtis came in to check on Kim, he focused on her first. Seeing she was happily occupied, he started with Van and me. “I told you yesterday because we caught the diabetes so early Kim is already doing better than most other children. We are probably going to remove the IV today. It’s time for you and Van to stop practicing on oranges and start giving insulin to Kim yourself while she’s here and there’s a nurse to help you.”
“Already?” I said in a panic.
“The sooner the better,” he replied, “You have to know how to completely determine how much insulin she needs, how to fill the syringe, and how to inject it so it works effectively. Until she’s ready to do it herself, you and Van are her life-line. An orange and your daughter are two different things.”
Weakly I asked, “When do I start?”
“She had her last shot before breakfast, around 6:00. The nurse will walk you through what to do at 8:00.”
Please God, please God, please God. Help me. I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t want to do it.
There are lots of things you think you can’t do and don’t want to do. But I will help you. Everything you need, every time you need it, look to Me. I’ll provide,
I heard in my heart.
The nurse came in with the supplies. My hands shook when she handed me the lancet to prick Kim’s finger for the drop of blood that would tell us what her blood sugar level was.
“Just like we rotate the injection sites, we rotate fingers so they don’t get as callused.” she informed me.
“Kim,” she continued, “what finger did we prick before breakfast?”
Kim held up one of her fingers. Then she glared at me, “Mommy! You’re not going to prick me with that are you? You would never hurt me.”
“I have to, Sweetie. I don’t want to hurt you, but you need this to be OK.”
Fear gripped me. I am giving my own daughter a shot. A shot she needs to stay alive. Pay attention!!
I followed directions to the tee. Kim squealed and jerked her hand away, but I managed to get a tiny drop of blood where it belonged. I deliberately blocked out Kim’s whining and concentrated on working the glucose monitor. Within a minute, numbers were flashing on the screen: 115.
“Excellent! Her blood sugar is perfect, so she won’t need a shot right now.”
“Yay!!! Kim cheered. “Do I get a snack? And can my sister have one too, please?”
“Not yet; you can have a snack at 10:00 for the middle of the morning.”
“Pudding! Pudding! Pudding!” Kim chanted.
I felt like I was back in school getting ready for a test as the nurse drilled me over and over. She gave me different blood sugar readings, and I filled a syringe from vials filled with water, checking to make sure I knew which represented quick acting and which slow acting. If I mixed them up, the results could be catastrophic.
Finally the practicing was over. Since her last check, Kim’s blood sugar had risen and she needed a shot. You can do this. I told myself. When Kim fussed, I held her close and prayed, “Dear Jesus, please help Kim not to be afraid. Help me to do a good job so she barely feels the shot. And help the medicine do what it’s supposed to do to make her OK. Thank You, Jesus, Amen.”
As gently as I could, I pinched the side of her arm just below her shoulder, slowly pushed the needle through the skin, and gently pressed down on the plunger. “All done,” I said. “Look, the nurse brought you and Erin pudding.”
I collapsed in the chair and covered my face. Van walked behind me to rub my shoulders. “I’ll do it next time,” he promised.
We rotated throughout the rest of the day, feeling a little more confident about what we could do. We prayed before each shot and that helped Kim.
Even though the shot-giving was going fairly well, a knot of guilt and worry grew throughout the day. Finally I sat down next to Kim and took her hand in mine. “Tomorrow is the first day of school,” I started.
“I know,” Kim said. “I can’t go, can I?”
“No, you’ll start next week, I think. But Erin will be at school all day. She won’t be able to be with you like she was today, and I am going to go to my school to meet all my new students and get them started.”
“How long will that take?” Kim’s voice trembled.
“I’m going to be there the whole school day. And the next one too. I’ll come to see you before school and be here after school until you go to sleep.”
“No, Mommy. I want you here all the time.”
Kim’s words pierced my heart. It took a while before I could continue.
“Daddy is going to take those two days off of work to be here with you. Then I’ll be here the rest of the week. I promise.”
“I don’t think that’s a good plan,” Kim insisted.
“I don’t think so either, really,” I admitted, “But Daddy and I decided it was the one that would work best for all of us, so that’s what we’ll do. I need you to keep being brave and remember I love you no matter where I am or where you are.”
Kim looked at me for a long time, for once in her life not arguing or complaining. “Can we ask Jesus to help us?”
Although I still felt like the world’s worst mother, I also felt a wave of peace that could only be from God come over me. I sat Kim on my lap.
“Thank you, Jesus, that Kim is doing better. That she’s learning how to be patient when she has to have a shot. Thank You that You are always here with her. Help her to have fun with Daddy while I’m at school. Amen.”
Kim prayed quietly, “Jesus, help me not to be scared. Help Mommy have a good first day at school so she can come here fast. Help Erin to like her new teacher. Amen.”
I hugged Kim hard and held her, rocking her gently on my lap, until the nurse came in again.
My heart was heavier when I left the hospital that night than it was the last two days.
Oh God, I cried. Am I doing the right thing? Please protect my little girl. Please help me pay attention to You and do what You would want me to.