There is fear. Real. Choking. Fear. I tell myself that it is not "of God," but I can't hear me. There is numbness filling me and then a torrent of tears which I must hide from my children lest they become frightened, too. I look for places to set it down, if only for a moment, and they do not exist.
She broke her toe! That was all it was. It was destined to be a family joke and the subject of teasing for years to come. The toe was broken, we were so sure of it. Until it didn't heal. Until the swelling never went away. Until the xrays last week showed no break and no dislocation, just pockets of fluid. Until her knee swelled up, too.
Damn that swollen knee!
It was that knee that landed us at Children's Hospital. It was that knee whose xrays showed no injuries. It was that knee that was revealed to be filled with fluids which puffed it up until we could no longer see her kneecap. It was that knee which my husband had to hold her while it was drained. And she screamed. She screamed for them to stop and I could only sit in the corner and rock her sister and cry. It was that knee which made them say words like arthritis and autoimmune and rheumatology. And I sat there too numb to respond.
Crap. Crap. Crap.
We don't even know for sure. The not knowing triples the hurt. I need to know my enemies and stare them down.
The specialists can't see her for a month. There are so few doctors for juvenile arthritis. No official diagnosis means no treatment plan. It also seems to mean no improvement. Only my aching child.
Sometime soon I have to take away her childish dreams for this year. She won a solo in her ballet recital and got to wear a purple tutu. She can not dance on her knee. How do I steal that excitement away? I'm already dreading her tears. It just seems like one more pain to lay upon her and she's only 7. She has to stop her beloved karate at least until the swelling is gone, but who knows after that? She just earned her orange belt and lived for Tuesday and Thursday nights. Her dreams for herself as a grown up are largely untouched, but those childhood wishes have been reduced to "I want to be able to run." Running? Are you freaking kidding me? We're back at running? She mastered that at 2. How are we at this point?
It's only been 6 days since the knee swelled. I've gone from long joyful prayers of thanksgiving to the numbness of one choked out word. "Help."