So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job 2:7-10
I naively commented in last week’s blog post that we were enjoying an unhurried peaceful feeling in our little corner of the world since my son Josh’s graduation. Little did I know, within 48 hours, that peace would be shattered, and I’d be fighting despair and helplessness, sinking to a spot where I wrestled with the temptation of bartering with God. You know the prayer that dances on the tip of your tongue and in your heart as you wage an earthly battle for your child.
Not his life, but mine.
Even as I type this, I battle feelings of wanting to wrap him tightly in a cocoon to keep him from harm. Once you go through a trial, life’s not the same. The new normal it’s termed, as you pick up the pieces and move forward.
But let me back up to the beginning of last week.
Monday evening, Josh mentioned his finger hurt. As I examined it, he explained it was the finger he uses to pull the clutch lever on his dirtbike. A week before, on Sunday afternoon, we’d been at the dirtbike track where he rode off and on for five hours. He’d wrecked a couple of times, and his ankle was swollen and sore. We dealt with that most of the week but made it through graduation on Friday without trouble. Except for a couple of minor blisters on his hands, the rest of his body was fine. He wears gloves, but because we were out longer than usual, he developed a couple of tiny blisters on his left hand and middle finger.
So eight days later, as I surveyed his left middle finger, nothing much appeared out of the ordinary. A little swollen, the finger joint worked fine. His grip was fine. A small bruise graced the middle pad of the finger along with slightly sloughed skin where the blister had been. We iced it, and I gave him Advil. The next day he mentioned it again. Still no evidence of a problem except for minor swelling. We began Epson salt soaks with the assumption it was probably a lingering strain.
Wednesday morning, he woke me at 4:00 a.m. in pain. I gave him Advil and Tylenol and told him we needed to see a doctor. By mid-morning, he said it felt fine. I thought perhaps we’d turned a corner. The finger wasn’t red or hot. He went about his business, worked at the fire station, and that evening decided to spend a night with a friend. My “mom” alarm bells went off immediately. What if you wake up in pain again? He said, “Mom, I’m fine.”
At 7:00 a.m. the next morning, my cell phone buzzed a text. I’m headed home.
I met him at the door. His finger looked like a Bratwurst sausage, swollen, misshapen, and he was in obvious pain.
Shortly thereafter, the doctor looked at it and said, “That’s a pretty severe tendon sheath infection. I’ve got to open it up.”
I’ll spare you the gory details, but Josh and I were both shaken by the time it was over, though I wore my positive Mom smile and reassured him all was fine. Inside I quaked. I prayed. I feared he’d lose his finger. His hand. Or his life.
I numbly went through the motions of getting his antibiotic prescription filled and taking the swab downstairs to the lab for analysis. Still in excruciating pain, Josh collapsed on the sofa once home after a large dose of Advil.
Later that night as he slept, I stood in his bedroom doorway in the dark and prayed. I slept fitfully, alternating between prayer and waves of despair. There’s something about the dead of night, when cold dark terror grips your soul and mind, and problems loom larger than life.
But this time, the threat was real. The doctor had been clear in his read-between-the-lines conversation with me when I’d asked, “What about the finger and tendon?”
He shook his head and said, “I can’t answer that yet.”
I couldn’t put my next thought into words. Instead, I turned my attention back to Josh.
The doctor understood my question, and having worked in the medical field for 15 years, I understood his reply and what was left unsaid.
The following afternoon we returned. The nurse removed the bandage and much to my dismay, the finger looked awful. I expected to see a neat little incision, possibly draining, but healing. I don’t know how my mind conjured up that delusion, except that Josh’s pain had vanished, and he’d taken three doses of antibiotics. Instead, Josh and I stared at the disgusting infection oozing from the wound. The nurse left the room. Josh whipped out his cell phone. “I’m taking a picture of this.”
Yes, in the midst of everything, count on your child to provide comic relief. J
The doctor looked at the finger, applied pressure to the wound, which almost launched Josh off the treatment table, and then cleaned the incision. The doctor and I stared at the hand. I waited in silence, praying, as he considered the next step. Finally, he said, “It’s time for hospital medicine.” I nodded. He left the room to get the process started.
Josh was full of questions. Up to that point, the full brunt of what he faced hadn’t struck him. Now his mind processed what I’d struggled with for 24 hours.
The doctor returned. Change of plans. Because Josh is 18, he couldn’t be admitted through the pediatric process, and the doctor didn’t want to send him downtown to the “big house” in lieu of keeping him on the smaller hospital campus where the doctor’s office is also housed. He changed Josh’s oral antibiotics and drew a line around the infection with a Sharpie, with my assurances we would do Epson salt soaks every two hours and contact him immediately if the infection breached the black Sharpie line.
Again, Josh slept soundly that night. Again, I fought against the “what ifs” as I tried to sleep. With prayer, I succeeded.
Morning showed improvement, and we all breathed easier. Until the infection site completely heals, he’s not out of the woods, but we’re getting there.
When the lab results came in, I asked Josh, “Do you want the bad news or good news?”
“The bad news.” He’s his mother’s son. J
We discussed the results, the ramifications, and the bullet he’d dodged. He spent some time digesting the information.
Later, he said, “So what was the good news?”
I smiled. “You still have your finger…and your life.”
I will share the spiritual application of this experience in tomorrow’s weekly prayer post. Until then, remember—Regardless of the trial, God’s always faithful to see you through.
©Laura Hodges Poole