Patience

Four days after Liam was born, Karin was discharged from the hospital after a three-week stay (that included Christmas). Our little 1 lb 11 oz bundle was fighting his battle in the NICU and we were still very much in shock and just trying to get through each hour, each minute, each breath.

We had no idea of Liam’s diagnosis. We had no idea what a ventilator was and we had no idea what a long-term hospital stay could do to a family. In short, we had no idea what we were in for.

We got home that Tuesday night to find a flooded bathroom due to a toilet tank leaking for God knows how long. Somewhere in those puddles lay the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I lost it.

I mean lost it. Tears, screams, throwing wet towels across the room for no apparent reason. The stress of visiting my wife in the hospital for three weeks, the overwhelming wash of information and fear of Liam’s first hours and days all came out in a flood of rage, and frustration, and confusion.

Like I said — I lost it.

Karin called my father to calm me down because while my anger was never directed at her she was the only one in the room to hear it and it frightened her. In just as much shock as I was, she had no idea what she should do. She had never before been unable to calm me down. She got my dad on the phone and handed it to me and though I repeatedly shouted at him that I couldn’t fix the damn toilet he repeatedly assured me that I was full of shit.

Take a deep breath. Calm yourself down for your wife if not for yourself and do what you have to do. He said. I’m paraphrasing but you get the gist.

And I did.

I put my head down. Realized that I was a father now and decided to act like one.

I won’t say I don’t still get angry but I’ve never had the kind of freak-out that thinking of Karin and Liam couldn’t help get me through.

The toilet incident would be just the first of the crazy pain in the butt things that creep in from the real world while Karin and I are trying to focus on Liam being in the hospital. You know — Life.

Whether it’s our main sewer line backing up and flooding the basement of our house or losing a debit card it seems that we can go for months without something kind of crazy happening only to have it occur just as Liam gets sick and needs a stay at the hospital. It’s a karmic test of our patience and endurance to be able to focus on Liam’s care during its most trying times and whatever other crap the universe sends our way. Which is why I shouldn’t have been too surprised to find out that the loud bang I heard at about 11:30 Tuesday night was a whole lot more than the cat knocking something off of a table on my porch which was my original conclusion.

But what should I find when I left for the hospital the next morning but this…

Awesome right?

That is the view of my fence from the apartment building parking lot behind my house. Someone drove their car almost through my fence and then left.

While I was of course pissed I was more concerned with getting back to the Picu to be with Liam and to let Karin come home since she had stayed overnight. I told her what had happened and she came home just to get out of Liam’s room for a while. She took charge of it all and called the police and they sent out a bunch of cops and the crime scene truck because they are treating this like they would any hit-and-run accident. By the way, we are now on high alert for a maroon car with front end damage. If you see one around let me know.

I didn’t take the time to do it myself because, like I said, I wanted to see The Boy so I asked Karin to take a bunch of pictures of the damage for me. I was thinking evidence but Karin thought first about artwork…

I love this photo.

She took the top photo too, by the way. She did a great job getting shots from every angle but this was the first one she took and I love that.

Anyway, I think that about 80% out of the year something like this would make me grumpy for days. Grumpy enough that I probably wouldn’t have noticed how cool this photo was, instead obsessing over details and fixes. But among the many, many things that Liam has taught me over his lifetime is that sometimes I need to be reminded of what is really worth getting stressed and angry about and all the other stuff just doesn’t matter. Sure we don’t have a ton of money lying around for a new piece of fence but that’s cool. We’ve all got each other and that’s really the whole thing.

****

Liam is doing well. Determined to teach every resident he meets that you can’t always go by the timeline of recovery printed in the book he is recovering and healing at his own pace. He is making the progress needs to even if it is a bit slower than most. He got to snuggle in bed with his mom today as you saw in my last post and it did them both a world of good. He is getting stronger and is even a teeny bit more awake than he has been. We’ll get there.

*****

I’m still amazed at how many of you have reached out with kind words of support. You guys just blow me away. Karin, Liam and I appreciate it and thank you all again. I wish that I had the time to visit many of the blogs of people who have introduced themselves and to write emails of thanks to those without. I hope to remedy that when Liam comes home. Karin and I don’t take the laptop to the hospital (long story involving a large cup of coffee and a keyboard) so what little time at home on the computer I get has lately been spent writing here.

Thank you all so very much.

2 comments

  1. Eric, Karin, Liam,
    I am so happy that I signed up to get these posts every time there is as new one! The one about “just different” really resonated with me so much! Many people are telling Steve and I that we’re “amazing” for taking custody of three young grandchildren, but like you guys, it’s what needs to be done and we do it as best we can; not amazing, not better…different.
    As always I think about you every day and send love and prayers for a timely and effective recovery.
    Love and hugs,
    Auntie Kelly

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