It started one morning with a simple phrase.
"Mommy, my leg is hurting."
I asked my son Milo how badly it was hurting, "just a little bit" he replied. I looked him over and everything seemed fine.
He went on with his day like normal. We even did a family bike ride up to the park that evening.
But by the next morning he was limping, still complaining of leg pain. The evening is when the pain seemed to be the worst. I would pull him into my bed only to have him toss around all night long, struggling to find comfort.
For 3 days he continued to be in pain. For 3 days I would inspect his leg and there seemed to be nothing wrong with it.
No cuts, no swelling, no bruises. Nothing.
I decided maybe he had fallen at some point during one of his rough housing moments (which let's be honest, are all day long) and had possibly sprained it.
Then the defining night came.
My sweet boy was up all night long, crying out in pain. He didn't sleep a wink, neither did I. Sometime around 3:00am I became firm in my decision, we were going to the ER. This choice was confirmed as I changed his clothes in the morning to get ready and saw a large, red rash starting to form all up and down his left leg.
Even so, this was not an easy decision to make. Hospitals have left its mark on our family. Milo was terrified to go. I was terrified to take him.
We've had too many bad experiences in hospital halls, ER's and ICU's. To return through their doors is re-traumatizing in ways that are difficult to explain. Yet I knew we needed to go, so first thing in the morning we loaded up the car and went.
It was the same ER I took Ellis when she was 2 weeks old. The same ER a Doctor screamed out my name when my daughter nearly stopped breathing. The same ER they loaded her up on a gurney for an ambulance ride to Children's, because she needed to be on a vent immediately.
In my head, over and over again, I told myself this is Milo and not Ellis or Joel. This was just a leg, and he would be fine (Never mind the fact that in my desperation a Google search had told me a million frightening things were probably wrong with my son. I knew better than to Google. When it comes to medical, never Google.)
The entire car ride there even though I felt fear, I repeated to myself-this is not Joel, this is not Ellis, this is Milo.
Even my chosen outfit was in defiance of how I felt. I purposefully wore different clothes then the typical hospital uniform I've worn a million times in the past. Yes, I have a hospital uniform, sad but true. My uniform was well designed to keep me hospital comfy (t-shirt and yoga pants) warm (a zip up hoodie) and give me the ability to shield my eyes when they were about to overflow with tears (baseball hat).
I had it all down to a science, because I've been there too many times before. Too many. I was determined this time would be different so I wore none of the above.
My parents came along and we quickly arrived at the ER. Milo was so brave and kind to each and every Nurse and Doctor he encountered, even though I could see worry in those little eyes of his.
I purposefully didn't text my big group of friends/my hospital support group because I didn't want to revert to the mode from years past. Mostly because I desperately wanted to believe we would have an ER trip that turned out to be ok.
Hours passed as they looked Milo over, got an IV started, took XRay's, did different blood tests and so on. All the while the pit in my stomach grew, as I fought with all I had to keep my fears at bay.
They suspected shingles, which in a child his age is super rare to contract. I spared the doctor the details that in our family, super rare is sometimes the norm. I worried it could be something more.
The reason for this story? Because trauma is a very real thing.
I've been through counseling, healing intensives and read everything I can get my hands on the subject. Why? Because I needed it. I didn't want to live forever with haunting memories that took a physical toll on my well-being, as they had greatly in the past.
Our bodies have an incredible way of taking over when we need them the most (shock/adrenaline) but they were not created to be in that mode forever. The pain alone can leave its mark in debilitating ways.
It's been a journey to heal. One I've worked hard on and come so far.
That doesn't mean trauma won't still rear its ugly head at the most inopportune times.
Fear will do just that. It knows your weakness and preys upon it mercilessly.
Cancer, sickness, hospitals, my children-are all sensitive areas. These are trigger's for me, even many years later.
My life has been changed in the area of healing for my heart. I recognize when trauma and pain are coming to the surface, and why. It's natural, and I know how to deal with it in healthy ways.
Where I'm at now is recognizing trauma for what it is and fighting against its hold on me.
-Choosing to walk in peace and not give fear its power.
-Choosing not to believe the worst will always come to us.
-Choosing to believe today is a new day, mercies are new, goodness will come.
It might be a battle to make these choices, but for me it's the only option. That's how true healing continues.
At the end of the day the doctor came and said it was, in fact, shingles. They sent us home with anti-viral meds for the infection and pain meds so he could sleep. A mere 3 days later he was pretty much back to the old Milo. He was even able to travel out of town with me, on a pre-planned trip, for a widows event I was doing in Texas.
You know you've walked quite a road when you breathe a sigh of relief that your child "just has shingles" but that's where we are. Breathing deeply.
That day I got to walk out of an ER, the same day I walked in, with a child who would be just fine.
In that moment I felt so grateful for a new day. Even more so, for a heart that's on the mend.