As many of you know I have been pretty busy these last several weeks. One of the many things I have been busy with is my little Luca's food allergies. Dealing with food allergies is a long process. As a mom I knew something was wrong but couldn't put my finger on it. So you try this and you try that because they don't write out orders for lab work based on hunches (insurance. not our doctor. our doctor is amazing!). But I was dealing with it based on a hunch he could not eat wheat which he hasn't eaten for months. Then at a recent dental visit we found out Luca had a mouth full of cavities. The great thing about having twins is that automatic comparison you get, because Milo did not. The dentist suspected Luca has been suffering acid reflux which finally resulted in insurance approved allergy testing to see what else he may have issues with. And thus his food allergies which led to his acid reflux led to him needing to have dental surgery. That was yesterday.
It went really well, we are happily at home eating popsicles. We went to Doernbecher children's hospital here in Portland, which I learned is a wonderful place. It also put a lot of things in perspective for me. I was feeling pretty frazzled in general from my never-ending to-do list. I was also feeling really guilty about not realizing sooner that Luca had acid reflux so bad that it caused so much damage to his teeth (how did i not realize that for so long?!). I was moping about having to learn how to make all my own pastries - not just wheat free but now oat free and soy free. I was feeling bad that Luca would suffer with allergies/celiac for his whole life and wouldn't be able to just spontaneously get an ice cream cone with his friends and would have to learn all the sneaky names for foods he's allergic to so he can properly read food labels.
But then we spent all of yesterday at Doernbechers and I heard a woman crying on the phone about having to drive several hours to get there in an unreliable car, having to take all her children with her with no one else to help, having to stay in a hotel she didn't feel safe in because that's all she could afford. Then I saw a man who was also there with his sick child turn to her and give her some money and say "I have been there too. I want you to have this even though it's not much." I saw a young boy in a wheelchair hooked up to an alarming number of IV bags come outside to play with his parents. He couldn't play like I was able to play with Milo. So his parents played catch with each other in front of him like he would if he were able to and they included him in every way possible, emotionally - lots of high-fives and laughter between them all. I saw too many parents that ran into other parents they knew because they each had spent so much time at the hospital with their children, and they all stopped to give each other a hug and words of empathy or encouragement.
We walked out with two bouquets of beautiful flowers that are donated by a non-profit organization The Bloom Project. We left with four stuffed animals which were also donated to give each child who comes for surgery (and to their siblings too). We made bracelets while we waited in the family area with volunteers who go from waiting room to waiting room bringing a cathartic distraction for families while they wait for their children in surgery. And we enjoyed a few nurse-ran puppet shows while vital signs were taken.
Today my feelings of guilt and stress have given way to feeling really fortunate. It was awe inspiring to see so many acts of kindness. Having been in social services for so long in the past, I hate to say it, but at some point you can feel a bit jaded that efforts don't reach those that need it most. It was just such a beautiful experience to see these efforts not only reaching those that need it but each person paying it forward immediately and without a second thought. And I'm totally over moping about having to make my own pastries. In fact I'd love to make a batch and take them down to one of those waiting rooms here in the near future. We all have our own set of blessings, it was a wonderful reminder to count them, and then, share them with others.