As I finished my English Composition paper this evening, I realized I have never shared this story with you all. So, here it is. One of the scariest days of my life.
September 19, 2001. A date I will never forget. The morning started off just like any other. I had just finished putting away the remainder of the laundry, while my daughter, Camden slept soundly in my bed. I watched her quietly, careful not to wake her as she lay there so peacefully and so perfect. In the four months she had been in this world, she had made herself the center of my universe. I had continued on with the chores that needed done. Suddenly, her tiny coughs that caught my attention. I went to see that all was well. While I comforted her, I thought she would drift back to sleep. But I was mistaken! Suddenly, she was vomiting. And the only thing coming out of her was blood. Her little t-shirt, that originally was white, had been stained bright red. After consoling her, I cleaned her up and called her pediatrician.
The doctors could not come to a conclusion as to what might have been going on with my sweet Camden and she was admitted to the local hospital. As if I wasn’t scared enough with my sick baby, all of this was happening just over a week after the 9-11 attacks on the United States. The country was on high alert. The hospital had their entire security staff patrolling the hospital grounds. I remember rocking my child and watching the security guards walking the halls. Their shiny black, patent shoes made a very distinctive thud each time they walked by the room. But their presence was not enough to settle me enough to sleep. The staff was so friendly and so comforting, but we had yet to receive a diagnosis. Even after the many tests that they had run and a call was made to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. We were scheduled for an appointment the following morning.
It was about a three hour drive to get to Indianapolis. I will never forget how scared I was walking into that hospital, cradling my daughter and hoping this day would give me some answers. I took a deep breath and walked through the loud, electric doors. I am not sure what I expected, but almost immediately, I felt a sense of relief. As we made our way to the nurses station, I saw photos of smiling, happy children. The walls were adorned with bright, vibrant artwork from patients of the hospital. The ceiling was beaming with dramatic and colorful hangings. Along the walls were plastic red wagons, some with red and white striped canopies. There were shelves filled with books and toys. It was evident that the staff had put a lot of care into making certain that patents and their loved ones were as comfortable as possible.
I met with the doctor and she explained the procedure and what precautions were being taken. I kissed my baby girl and handed her off to the nurse to be prepped for a gastroscopy, an exam of the upper digestive tract using an endoscope-a long, thin, flexible camera used to view the lining of the digestive organs. That was the hardest thing I had ever done. I had never been more scared in my life. I sat in the waiting room for what seemed like days as the time passed by so slowly. I felt so alone. So vulnerable. I tried to be strong. I tried to be confident. While praying for a favorable result, I cried. The ticking of the clock was so loud, reminding me of every second that had passed. Tick, tick, tick. With each footstep I heard, I jumped, hoping for the doctor. I was never so relieved when she finally arrived! She discussed with me that everything went as planned. And everything looked great and the cause of the blood was probably dried sinuses that couldn’t drain properly. I was told I had to wait a few more minutes while the anesthesia wore off. And then the nurse brought Camden to me! Even in her groggy, confused state, she was happy to see me, smiling and cooing. As I was holding her tight, an older woman came to us with a small stuffed toy. It was pale yellow puppy with a patterned green backside. The face had been drawn in with a fabric marker. She explained to me that a group of senior citizens volunteer their time to make these for the children of the hospital. Emotions were high and I found myself crying again. Knowing that these ladies take time out of their own lives making these toys to soothe a child they may never meet was so comforting to me. To this day Camden still has “Pup”.