I have a three year old. He just turned 3 on St. Patrick's Day, actually. Back in February, his big sister clobbered him by accident when he darted in front of her swing. We ended up in the ER and the CT scan showed massive internal bleeding. We were in the hospital for almost a week before they sent us home telling us to do another CT scan in a few weeks when the blood was absorbed and they could see exactly how much damage was done to his kidney. His sister was devastated. She could not have felt worse.
A few weeks later, the CT scan showed that it wasn't internal bleeding, but a giant cancerous tumor that was eating his kidney. He would lose his kidney and have to go through 19 weeks of chemo. We just completed week 3. Big sis, it turns out, saved his life. Without the accident, we wouldn't have known about it for probably another year when the tumor was so big that it poked out a bit. By then it would have metastisized and he would have been a stage 4. He's stage 2.
A lot of things turned out to be very lucky for us. It was lucky that I was layed-off the day before the playground accident because I would have had to take time off anyway. But you can't imagine the stress that goes along with your baby having surgery, losing an organ, and then poisoning him once a week to make him healthy. Miraculously, my husband and I managed not to tear each other apart with all the stress. However, he ended up in the hospital with a painful ulcer and I've been enjoying headaches for the last two weeks. The physical manifestation of stress.
So I run. Run, run, run from the stress. Run from the cancer. Run from the guilt. Run from the hospital bills and phone calls. Run from the chemo. Run from the begging and pleading to try and eat something because the little guy doesn't understand that he's nauseous. Run from the fear of germs that might earn a few nights in the hospital for him. Heck, run from the fear of everything. So for 30 minutes or an hour my footsteps become louder than the stress. The cadence soothes me. The pain in my knee/shins/hips/feet or whatever the flavor of the day replaces the pain in my heart and my head.
Thank you for sharing your family's challenging and inspirational journey. I understand that fear is very personalized and can be heart-breaking, debilitating and life-altering, especially when dealing with cirucumstances beyond our immediate control or intervention.
I appreciate your willingness to write all the details about your Max and his progress. I am sure it is difficult to deal with so many unexpected and ongoing challenges.
I think many of us will also relate to your reference about running to clear the mind, relieve stress and improve skills. I agree that we are all probably running from something, but perhaps also running towards something...like a brighter day, better health, a new outlook, a faster finish or whatever individual priorities serve to keep the movement going forward.
It is true that many begin running to escape, continue running to cope and improve running to achieve. Regardless, it certainly is great therapy emotionally, physically and mentally.
There are a number of local races which directly benefit the families of children with serious and/or chronic illnesses. As a runner, you may wish to seek involvement with such races if there are some in your area. It would be the equivalent of a support group from which you could perhaps draw additional strength and motivation.
I can only imagine how much inner strength it must take to cope on a daily basis with a child's serious illness. My heart truly goes out to you and your family, especially to your young son.
@ 5K: Ontario Mills Run, Ontario, CA, 25:19
@ 10K: LA Chinatown Firecracker Run, Los Angeles, CA, 51:44