“I believe there are angels among us, sent down to us, from somewhere up above. They come to you and me, in our darkest hours, to show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us with the light of love.”
These lyrics are really resonating with me lately, given what my family has experienced over the last few months.
Upon returning home from work one evening, I noticed something was terribly wrong with my daughter, Gabrielle. Her stomach was extremely distended and hard. Immediately we proceeded to the emergency room. Upon reaching the hospital, my husband and I learned Gabrielle was very dehydrated, her kidneys were shutting down and her heart rate was extremely high. Lactic acid levels revealed that her body was in distress. I was very scared. I knew the information doctors were sharing with us didn’t look good.
Although surgery was not required, the doctor proceeded to tell us Gabrielle’s breathing was labored and a ventilator would provide the support she desperately needed. We consented to these measures, despite the risks of pneumonia and an inability to wean from the machine.
Our first angel appeared when our friend came to the emergency room and sat with my husband and I until early morning. She was our extra set of ears who listened to information objectively and articulated questions to the emergency room staff when we were unable to.
Little did we know that one week would turn into two, three, five. My husband and I took turns keeping a vigilant watch over our girl while still trying to be present for our sons at home. By week two, my husband and I were exhausted. When others realized this wasn’t a short term situation, they asked how they could help.
At first, I declined help as I thought we had this and I didn’t want to burden others, but as time went on, I knew we needed help. We were in crisis. It felt uncomfortable accepting help initially but there were more “angels among us,” the family, friends, co-workers and hospital staff who carried us through a very difficult and lengthy situation.
People were checking in with texts and phone calls, even daily cards in the mail. We were given meals and gift cards. Coworkers helped out with my workload. Friends and family came and sat with Gabrielle to give my husband and I a much needed break. My sister was such a tremendous help: she spent many nights at the hospital with Gabrielle, sacrificing time with her own family to support ours.
After 5 weeks of hospitalization, Gabrielle is now home and recovering. We couldn’t have made it through this ordeal alone. Our “angels” were ready and willing to help. All I had to do was to take hold of their outreached hands.