I’m really not sure why, but I’ve been feeling the past couple of days that God wants me to share on my blog about how the last month has gone for the Schroeder family. I really don’t want to sound whiney or have you all think I’m using my blog to complain about how horrible the last month has been. I fear that it may turn some of my readers off, after all there are many people in the world who have it much worse off than we’ve had it, but I can’t ignore this little nudge inside me that keeps pointing me towards this post.
I’m really not sure what to say or how to put all that has transpired since the beginning of 2013 into words, so I’m just going to type away and trust God to move through me. He obviously feels there is someone out there who will benefit from this story or maybe his purpose is to make me more transparent and show you that life isn’t always so exquisite.
To be honest this story starts before 2013 began; it starts New Years Eve, December 31, 2012. We woke up on this morning excited that we were going to go spend the evening with some good friends of ours. However, time with friends was not to be, for my husband would find out that afternoon that he had strep throat and only a couple of hours after he discovered this my back went out when I lifted my youngest daughter.
To be completely honest it actually began even before this day. As soon as flu and cold season reared its ugly head we’ve been down with colds, strep throat, viruses, etc. But New Years Eve was the beginning of “The Plague”. Well that’s what some friends of ours think is happening and there’s been a part of me that has wondered if our family may be cursed.
From that day on it’s been one sickness or injury after another. My husband, got his antibiotics and was feeling better by the time he had to go back to work on January 2nd. However, my back was not better yet and for two weeks I hobbled around, painfully, trying to do only the very minimum amount of tasks. Basically I got the kids off to school and then my youngest daughter and I would spend the day in my bed snuggling, playing with her new Christmas gifts, reading books, watching movies, whatever we could do with me laying on ice in bed. I felt so bad for being such a boring mom, but she was such a trooper and a great nurse! At this point I wasn’t feeling like we were cursed nor was I even upset. Annoyed, yes, but not upset. I’ve had a bad back since I was in 7th grade so unfortunately I am use to the interruptions it sometimes causes in my life.
I felt bad for my husband and kids who had to help out with a lot more things. Especially for my poor husband who was working more than eight hours a day then coming home to cook dinner, do laundry, and all the other things that needed done each day. He never complained, just loved on me and took care of both mine and the kids’ every need. Thanks, Babe, you’ve been a huge help. God has blessed me with the perfect man!
In the midst of my back being out on me I had to plan my youngest daughter’s 3rd birthday. I hobbled around like an old crippled lady and thankfully my wonderful mother and dear friend came over to help me prepare food, decorate and clean my house. If you are reading this Mom and Lynn, thank you so much, once again! You were a HUGE help!
I very painfully decorated an adorable ducky cake and endured the party, but before all my guests even left I had to apologize and make leave for my bedroom with my icepack. Luckily my family is wonderful and understands. And Elizabeth seemed to really enjoy her ducky party. (I”ll try to remember to post pictures later this week or next week.)
Right as my back was beginning to feel better my son got strep throat. This poor kid gets horrible strep throat every year. The two previous winters he’s had strep throat five times each winter! Crazy! The doctor has now made an appointment for Valentines Day to see an ENT specialist to see if it’s time to have those tonsils removed.
As a couple of days passed and he tried to fight off temperatures soaring over 104•, the realization that this had to be more than just strep throat kicked in. After all antibiotics are supposed to make you better within 24-48 hours and he’d had no improvement. In fact, he had gotten worse, the temps were still very high, I had a hard time keeping them under 103•. He hadn’t eaten anything for days and was growing lethargic. I called the clinic who said, it’s just a virus, it will pass but I was truly concerned about how high his temperature was and that no amount of medicine, cold wash cloths or cool baths were taking his temperature down for more than an hour at a time. The poor kid could hardly even walk to the bathroom and I was concerned he was dehydrated.
Eventually, after five days of sickness, he got better, just in time for me to get it. I felt horrible, I honestly don’t remember the last time that I was so sick. I couldn’t keep anything down. I was light-headed, nauseated and wishing it would pass soon, because we’d bought our family monster truck tickets for Christmas and couldn’t cancel going. Well, I didn’t get better for the Monster Jam. I had to drag myself out of bed and endure a three-hour drive to Minneapolis and walk in the -20• from the parking lot to the Metrodome, then back again afterwards for another three-hour drive back home. My poor husband not only had to keep track of our kids, but he was worried that I would pass out and he’d have to call 911. I have to say that in spite of how horrid I felt I still enjoyed my very first Monster Jam. I was just disappointed that I had to be sick and couldn’t enjoy it to the fullest.
The Monster Jam wasn’t the only event I had to go to while this virus assailed my body. My son had his very first wrestling tournament and I wasn’t going to miss it. So I clung to my husband’s side so I wouldn’t pass out as I cheered my little man on. He had so much fun and I’m glad that I didn’t let my sickness keep me home. Seeing him get his very fist medal was thrilling!
After 10 days of sickness I was beginning to feel better. My last day of feeling icky was this Saturday, January 26th, my 31st birthday. We didn’t even do anything for my birthday. My husband asked if I wanted him to make me a special meal or a birthday cake, but my stomach was still sensitive and just having a cup of soup was about all my stomach could stand. Unfortunately my middle daughter began to get sick with this virus on my birthday also. Her temperature was high like my sons, 103• or more, and she was miserable.
Now before I go any further I need to explain where I was at emotionally at this stage. At this stage, about four weeks of sickness and pain had hit our home. I was feeling a little annoyed but all in all had kept a good attitude. To be honest, ever since we’ve had three kids sickness has been plentiful in our home each flu/cold season. The first couple of years it really bothered me, in fact I thought I was on the brink of insanity. I swore that if one more sickness hit our family I may snap and have to be committed to a mental institution. I hated being sick all of the time and most of all I hated seeing my family sick all of the time. I would be cooped up in my home all winter and began to get cabin fever.
However, the last few years I’ve grown accustomed to what winter brings to our home. If we aren’t sick I am thoroughly surprised and feel extremely blessed. When we are sick I’ve learned to just laugh at it and say “Que sera, sera!”. Now I’d be lying if I didn’t say I don’t get a little annoyed that we are so frequently sick, but I’m use to it by now and have learned to roll with it. So this is where I was at emotionally the day of my birthday. Annoyed that we had a really nasty virus going through our home and that I’ve been out of my house only a handful of times in the past month, most of those trips were to the clinic for sickness, but trusting in God to get us through this and standing in hope that spring is just around the corner.
The morning of my birthday, this past Saturday, my husband and I decided that maybe since we weren’t doing anything for my birthday that we would take advantage of the lack of activities and try out a dog that we had been talking about getting from some friends of ours. It’s a purebred registered golden retriever and our friends were going to give Lilly to us completely free because they just wanted more room for her to run around than their small yard offers.
We were just going to try her out for a week at first because we weren’t sure how Lilly and our cats would get along and my son had been bitten by our old dog shortly before turning three. This was very traumatic for him because the bite was on his cheek and required an emergency room visit and stitches. He’s been terrified of dogs ever since. Lately though he’d been asking for a dog and has been starting to pet dogs again when at my parents or friends houses so when our friends brought up that they’d like a new home for Lilly we thought it was an excellent opportunity. After all golden retrievers are the number one family dog, known for how well they get along with kids. It was perfect!
My husband picked Lilly up and she seemed to really be enjoying herself. Better yet our kids loved her, even our son, who put his new wrestling medal on her for the day! At 8 p.m. that night things took a turn for the worse and I was about to reach my breaking point…
My husband was in the kitchen with our youngest daughter, Elizabeth and the dog, Lilly, and I was on the couch with Miranda, my daughter who had gotten sick that day, when I heard a growl/bark sound followed by Elizabeth’s screams/cries and my husband yelling for me to come to the kitchen. He was getting Lilly into our entryway and I scooped up my baby and immediately knew when I saw her arm that she would need stitches.
I really don’t want to go into all the details of what happened from there, it’s still too difficult, but let’s just say that the trip to the emergency room confirmed that she would need six stitches to the 5 cm laceration on her right forearm. The doctor said he’s never seen a dog bit like it and even the nurse had a hard time looking at it, she had to keep looking away.
Okay, so here I sit, now crying, as I type this because my emotions are stirring up inside of me from the memories of that night and how horrified and upset I was after this occurred.
I’m not even sure where to begin with all the questions and thoughts that ran through my head that night as I laid in bed. There were so many of them that I didn’t fall asleep until after 3 a.m. I tried to fall asleep, but my baby girls painful cries coming from her sleeping form laying in bed beside me and the memory of what her wound looked like as I had scooped her up after the initial attack, her cries, the fear in her eyes, the blood soaked wash cloth, the now stitched and swollen arm…so many awful images kept coming into my mind that wouldn’t allow sleep to rescue me from the anger and pain I was feeling.
Now it’s time for my transparency and I hope that through sharing my feelings and sharing this story, as I believe God wants me to, that it will hopefully help someone else who may be feeling like I was that night, and admittedly a few days after.
I was mad, I was mad at myself for bringing a dog into our home again, after we had already had one child get severely bit by a dog. I felt like I should have known better and shouldn’t have taken this risk again. I felt guilty and like a bad mom that I hadn’t protected my baby. I knew this could happen, I’d already watched my son suffer through this, I should have known better than to bring another dog into my home. But who thinks this would happen twice? I don’t know the statistical information but it seems like just one child in a family being severely bitten by a dog is rare let alone two. How is it possible that we had two kids attacked by dogs? What kind of horrible luck do we have that this had to happen to two of our kids? And why? What is the cosmic purpose in my kids being so badly bitten by dogs? I grew up with dogs in my home and loved them and was never bit. How did it happen that two of my kids have been bitten by usually very gentle dogs?
Admittedly I was mad at God too and I cried out in anger to him saying, “Why? Why on top of all the sickness going through my home right now did this have to happen? If anyone had to be bit couldn’t it have been me or my husband? Why did one of my baby’s have to suffer again? What have I done to deserve the constant sickness and pain that my family is attacked with every winter?” The questions were endless and I felt like God had dealt me a bad hand.
My dad and mom came to our home the next day, Sunday, to see Elizabeth and see how she was doing. When my mom asked how I was doing I couldn’t lie. I looked at her with tears in my eyes and said, “I’m done. I’ve had it and I’m mad. Why did this happen? I was doing okay with all the sickness but this is too much.”
Her answer was simple and typical, “It’s just part of life. These things happen.”
In my anger and through my tears I said, “But he’s God, why couldn’t he have stopped this from happening? He could have made it so that Lilly didn’t bite her. Why didn’t he? Why can’t he be a little more God like some times and prevent these type of things from happening?”
When my sister asked the next day how we were doing I voiced the same thing. I just wasn’t in the mood to put on a “Everything’s good here and I’m dealing with this just the way a perfect christian should” show. My sister who has gone through two miscarriages knew how I felt, she’s asked God similar questions in the past. She just told me to stay in God’s word and that things will get better.
And I know this, and told her so. In fact Saturday night, after we were home from the ER (and many other times since), as I was angry with myself and God I was reading my bible, because I know that it’s the only place to go for hope. Every time I would see Elizabeth’s nasty wound in my mind or every time I asked God why, I turned on my Bible app and read scripture after scripture. The great part is that God didn’t give me blank words that spoke nothing to me and he didn’t condemn me for my anger with him.
He gave me scriptures where Moses cried out to God asking the very questions I was (Numbers 11:11 Message Bible) ”Why are you treating me this way? What did I ever do to you to deserve this?” I think he did this to show me that it’s okay to be angry and it’s okay to ask questions and in answer to my angered, painful questions he answered with…
Romans 8:26-28 (Message Bible) “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired…God’s spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we knows ourselves…and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
I had reached the point of tiredness with all that was going on with my family, the dog bite was the final straw and I honestly didn’t even know how to pray because I was just so angry and sad. I kept feeling guilty that I was angry because after all there are so many people out there suffering far worse things. Like a dear family member who’s currently fighting off cancer or my cousin who has a very sick little boy. Since his birth it’s been one hospital visit after another not always knowing if he’ll make it through. Yet here I am complaining about minor sicknesses and a dog bite that will only leave a little scar on my daughter’s arm. But God knew that I was down and out and Jesus made sense of my sighs and groans and prayed to God for me. And even though I can’t currently see any good in my daughter being bit, he will work this into something good.
Admittedly I am still struggling a bit, after all it’s only been a few days, but I am going to God’s word and I know he’ll get us through this and that my only hope is in him. Every time I feel sad or discouraged I am trying to find something to be thankful for. I can be thankful that the bite isn’t worse than it is and that once her pain abides she will still have full use of her arm. I can be thankful that this sickness has caused me to slow down and I’ve relished in lots of extra snuggle time with my kiddos. Every time I am starting to get down I remember that “A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone tired.” (Proverbs 17:22 Message Bible) This verse is so true! For every time I give into the anger or sadness I feel exhausted and worn, but when I think on the good things, that are more than plentiful around me, my spirit is lifted and I feel like I can conquer anything.
Romans 8:31-36 (Message Bible) So, what do you think? With God on our side…how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us…by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? Do you think anyone (or thing) is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! No trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger… 37 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us!
Jesus didn’t promise us that our lives would be blissfully happy and that we would never have any hard times but in John 16:33 (Message Bible) he says, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”
Like I said, I am still struggling a bit, but God continues to show me that he is God and that through this sickness and pain he continues to be God and that he’s here with me giving me strength to be the mommy, wife and woman that I need to be for my family. Yes, it stinks that we’re sick and that my daughter was bitten, but this too shall pass and all in all, life is good. Dare I say exquisite? Yes, I dare, because I have God, and in and through him all things are made good, or EXQUISITE!
Through tears I wrote this post but I end it with a smile knowing that Christ has my back. That fact and that my littlest one, the one with the injured arm, is sitting next to me eating a banana muffin and happily singing, ironically “Jesus Loves Me”, is something to smile about. She seems to be doing just fine and what’s there to be troubled about in that? After all not all of this month was doom and gloom, we did have fun at the Monster Jam and Pierce’s wrestling match and we had a great celebration of Elizabeth’s 3rd birthday!
To our friends, the owners of Lilly, if you are reading this I want to say again, do not feel bad. There’s nothing that could have been done differently after all Lilly’s never done this before, so how would you have known. We hold no ill feelings to you at all and I hope you know we love you guys.
I also want to thank all my friends and family who have been praying us through all the pain and sickness that’s gone through our home. Your prayers and thoughts are much appreciated.
And lastly, thank you, God, for you unending provisions, your unfailing love and the peace, strength and joy that you provide new each and every day.
I feel like I’m giving an acceptance speech for an award or something, haha. I’ll end it on this…
I didn’t write this post for sympathy so please don’t feel like you have to feel bad for me or my family. Like I said, I’m not sure why, but I felt God wanted me to share this here on my blog. Perhaps there is someone out there who is struggling through sickness and pain who needs to know they aren’t alone. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear there is someone else going through the same thing. Whoever you are I pray God’s peace upon you. May he wrap you in his loving arms and give you the strength you need to get through this. May you find moments of joy to inspire hope in your heart. God bless you with health and happiness.