Relying on friends and signs from the universe
January is an annoying month for many people. The hoopla and excitement of the holidays has ended. The weather is cold and dreary and for most there is little to look forward to, but for me, January is special because it’s when both of my boys were born.
As their mom, I revert to birthday planning mode as soon as the holidays end. But, this year unfolded a little differently. Just as I was beginning to plan their individual celebrations, life smacked us in the face.
On Monday, Jan. 9, Brooks was playing in a middle school basketball game. He looked like his normal athletic self on the court. That night he showed us what looked like an infected sore on his toe, like maybe a blister had burst. The following morning he felt soreness behind his knee. At first we thought maybe he’d torn a muscle during the basketball game, but that afternoon before practice, his coach called to say Brooks had a fever of 103.
From there transpired a week of stressful unknowns. I took him straight to the doctor from basketball practice and due to the unique combination of variables (high fever, pain in the back of the knee, sore on the toe, and absence of cold/flu symptoms), the doctor felt like the infection was bacterial in nature and prescribed an antibiotic.
That night, I slept in the room with him and his fever spiked to over 104. Even with fever reducer and ice cold washcloths on his body, it was challenging to get his fever down. The next morning a rash appeared on the back of his calf and behind his knee. With the high fever and rash, we went to Mercy Urgent Care. They drew blood and ordered an ultrasound.
The lab work indicated elevated white blood cells and elevated neutrophil levels, indicative of a bacterial infection. The ultrasound showed no blood clots or muscle tears but did show enlarged lymph nodes. The “rash” was now full-blown cellulitis.
Despite the fever getting better over the next several days, the cellulitis worsened, so on Friday we went back to the pediatrician and they sent us to Mission Hospital for an IV of antibiotics. The scary thing about these bacterial infections is they can turn systematic quickly. The doctors were trying to stay on top of it and we were so grateful for that.
Gabby Bernstein is a spiritual leader I follow, and one of her mantras is “All is well.” When things feel chaotic or stressful, if we can sit with our breath, trust that the universe has our back and say aloud “All is well,” our nervous system immediately calms.
A couple days before Brooks’ fever spiked, I printed the words “All is well” and posted them on the wall behind my computer. Over the next couple of days while Brooks was home from school, I routinely stared at the words.
After the news about going to the hospital, I sat in my car crying and asked the universe for a sign that things would be OK, and I am not joking when I tell you what happened. The next song to come on Spotify was called “All is Well.” To my knowledge, I’d never heard the song before. When I saw those words on the screen, time stood still for a moment and I felt a rush of reassurance.
I also realized I was struggling because my mom passed away in the very hospital where Brooks would get the IV. Granted, both my boys were born in that hospital so it’s a bittersweet place, but the last time I’d been inside the hospital was when my mom died, so I’m sure there was some triggering going on that was contributing to my heightened emotions.
My mom’s favorite bird was the hummingbird. Since she died, hummingbirds are my sign that she’s still with me. When we arrived at the pediatric unit of the hospital, you’ll never guess what was painted up and down the walls. Hummingbirds. I knew it was my mom telling us to trust and have faith that things would be OK.
Along with these signs, friends and family were pouring love into us with texts, phone calls and offers to help in any way they could. When we’re struggling, we must rely on others to hold us up.
All these ooey gooey good vibes were happening but simultaneously I was worrying like a crazy person, searching phrases on the internet like “long-term effects of bacterial skin infections” and “What does pain with cellulitis mean?” and “can cellulitis cause deep tissue damage.”
Eventually I stopped myself and began scrolling through quotes on social media. One of the first ones to appear said, “Worry is a prayer for chaos,” also from Gabby Bernstein. This quote made me think about how sometimes we accidentally manifest negative feelings. What we focus on we create more of so by focusing on the worry and stress and the doomsday Google searches, I was subconsciously bringing more worry and stress into my life.
As soon as I shifted my train of thought and started reading a novel, responding to a few mundane work emails, chatting with Brooks and the nurses and doctors, inhaling some essential oils and chilling out in the hospital recliner, I immediately felt better.
Brooks is currently on the upswing, and we are beyond thankful. We’re still not 100% sure what type of bacteria started all of this or how it entered his body, but what I have learned is that panic is no way to manage this type of experience. As soon as I made myself relax and let in some light, I felt better. We are mere mortals, after all, and it’s times like this when I realize with great clarity why we often need to look beyond ourselves for faith and hope.