Friday, February 03, 2006

Emily's Illness

Three or four years ago we went through a long and frustrating siege of ill health with Emily. She caught every "bug" that came along, and what took the rest of us two days to get over took her two weeks. Plus she had terrible headaches and a general fatigue and malaise and often a low-grade fever.

The medical world is wonderful for broken arms and awful for something chronic and vague like this. Dr. B listened to my litany for maybe 30 seconds, caught the word "migraine" and rattled on about the prescription drugs she might need to prevent migraines, ignoring everything else I had said and wanted to say.

We homeschooled Emily that year because of her health situation. In November we had a breakthrough when we had her anointed with oil at church and also found a doctor who listened for a long time to everything I wanted to say and decided to test her for food allergies.

The tests came back positive for chicken, apples, oranges, cranberries, and a bunch of other odd things. He told us she should be off these foods for a year and then we can re-introduce them. He also gave us some ideas for dealing with her headaches without relying on prescription meds.

Then to our enormous relief she began to improve to the point that we could go ahead with our plans to go to Kenya for four months. She had some health issues there when she reacted to the typhoid shot and was deathly sick for a few days and draggy for three weeks, but after that was mostly ok.

Last winter while the rest of us dropped like flies with all the viruses, Emily held her head high and sailed right through.

Then came this winter. Once again I feel like we are back to the old days and it is very discouraging. Vague low-grade fevers, constant headaches, fatigue, general malaise, plus stomachaches and diarrhea. Of the 21 days of school in January, she missed about 15.

Once again we are groping for answers. My naturopath doctor said she is probably reacting to her allergenic foods again and needs to go off those. So she’s back on that diet. Will it help? We’ll see. I also did an internet search for her symptoms and came up with such exciting things as chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, and lymphoma. God forbid.

Back when she was 12, I could always tell when Emily was recovering from a long illness because she would make Jenny scream. It always worked. She would be polite and sweet and grateful when she was sick, but as soon as she started getting better she started annoying and teasing Jenny. I would hear an irritated "AAAAHHHHH! EMIL-LEE!" and know she was on the mend.

Thankfully she is growing up, and now I can tell she’s getting over her sickness when she gets the urge to do something creative. She lies around for days and days, then suddenly she comes downstairs arrayed in a medieval-princess outfit cleverly concocted from clothes in her closet and stuff in the dress-up bin. And I think—Yes!!

Two days ago she finally started getting over the latest "bug" and got the urge to make petit fours. Pronounced "pettifores", these are little French cakes covered with a drippy icing that hardens and looks very elegant and pretty.

She worked late, and when I got up the next morning there were pink drips of icing all over my kitchen, and every doorknob, fridge handle, and drawer pull she had touched were sticky.

But I was happy: Emily was well again.

Quote of the Day:
"Why does that one tape say I’m a kid of King "Dumb"???"
--Jenny, after listening to "I’m a kid of the Kingdom."


  1. This world needs people like you, and I needed to hear what you told me. Thanks for stopping in. Now to believe the truth...

    Just a question: how much do you mix with the writing community (outside Mennonite circles)? Have you joined writing groups, attended local poetry readings, etc.? Has it "come to you," or have you crossed comfort zones? And, since I'm interrogating you anyway, do you ever regret leaving the North? Answer what you will, and don't what you won't. :-)

  2. You're welcome.
    I was invited to join a writers group in Eugene about 5 years ago and it has been very interesting. About 10 people, basically one pro writer who's mentoring the rest of us. It gets me WAY out of my comfort zone but it's good for me. And these people are the best critiquers ever.
    No, never regretted leaving the North because we knew it was time to go. Lots of good memories and lots not so good. It was often a trial by fire (like living in a 20x24 foot house with no running water and three children aged 4, 2, and 2 months.) We have lots of questions about how much good we actually did there but have come to trust God to take care of that.

  3. Hang in there with Emily. I think those of us who live with lenghty health issues can smile knowing we have an abundant amount of Grace offered to us if we faint not! God has special things he is preparing Emily for altho i am sure she often wonders WHY it is her with this odd illnes.....

  4. was glad to see ems back this morning.. hope you can figure out whats wrong, and a solution... and soon.