The theme song from Cheers. I never watched the show really, maybe late-night re-runs while babysitting but that catchy theme song plays through my mind at random times I least expect. Pop-culture is a powerful thing. It was running through my mind as we walked into Longmont United Hospital and the registration attendant called out cheerfully, “Hi Thomas!” Yes, we were back at the hospital again, this time for x-rays, looking for a broken bone in Thomas’ hand. Longmont United Hospital is not the place I want everybody to know my son’s name.
This trip to the hospital brought to the surface emotions I knew were lying right below my everyday-functioning mode. As we sat in the doctor’s office and she informed us Thomas needed x-rays, I nodded knowingly, assuring her we knew the ropes of the radiology department. And then suddenly, I was crying, asking who would be reading the scans. In the moment I had a weird out-of-body experience of looking down on myself and wishing I could hug myself. I knew my emotions were primal, a reaction to all we have been through and not a reflection of the moment. I felt tenderness for scared me and it helped. The doctor was understanding and said we could go to another hospital if we would feel more comfortable with another radiology department. I told myself out loud that it would be fine; there would not be a tumor this time, maybe just a broken bone.
We walked into the hospital and I kept taking deep breaths. The intensity of emotion surprised me as I sat with Thomas and I could feel the panic rising within me. When we went back to the x-ray room, the tech brought out a standing shield for Thomas. I asked if he could wear a lead gown. Oh no, was her reply, this is all that is needed. I said I wanted him to wear a lead gown. No, I was assured again, just a shield for reproductive parts is needed. Inside my myself I was screaming, “Just put the lead jacket on him. He has had more than enough radiation for a lifetime. Put the FREAKING jacket on him!!!” Outwardly, I asked again if he couldn’t just wear a gown. Maybe sensing the rising panic inside of me, the tech agreed and said, “Sure.” Phew. The tech had enough insight to realize I was on the edge. At least I didn’t start crying there too. He got the x-rays and thankfully there were no broken bones. His glorious game of football with the cousins, his first since cancer, gave him an injured growth plate. With rest and ice, he should recover soon.
This little trip back to the hospital made me realize our recovery is going to take a while. Yes, our recovery. Thomas is growing in strength and health daily but all of us are just starting our new journey of walking through memories. Each new situation that brings to mind our past year reopens the stress and trauma of all we experienced. I have felt more of those emotions over the past week. I feel like a glass ornament, the ones that always break, fragile and thin. I realize I still feel panic over the missed diagnosis and what might have been. At the same time I am more and more grateful for God’s hand and providence in finding out the truth, the nagging feeling I had that something was not right. PTSD is definitely a catch-phrase but the reality of reliving trauma is true. Walking down memory lane is not always pleasant. We need grace to meet these new situations and the willingness to walk through the pain to the other side. I knew this part of the journey was about to begin. It is often after the storm, when there is peace, that a new journey of processing begins. We are praying for the strength to meet this new path…