I am pretty sure there is a single day in every person's life that changes everything. It happens whether you are ready or not. And it makes you figure out just what you're made of. Sometimes it is a process and sometimes it hits you like a tornado and you have no time to prepare. Sometimes decisions need to be made quickly. So quickly you don't have time to think about the decision itself. You are kind of on auto mode.
December 4th, 2014 began just as any other day. We started to drag ourselves out of bed at 6:30am, just as the Mr. was leaving for work. I had 30 minutes to make sure everyone was up and dressed before going downstairs to unlock the front door for Hailey so she didn't have to fumble through her pocket for her house key. She attends Seminary every morning at 6am during the school year. This year they studied the Doctrine and Covenants. She loves Seminary. She promptly walks through the door at 7:05am and heads upstairs to get ready for school. By 7:30am sharp, the littles are situating themselves in the minivan so I can drive them to school and Carter is walking down the street to his bus stop. It was a cloudy morning. It was drizzling outside.
Hailey had a doctor appointment that morning. She had been complaining that her vision was blurry and I wanted to get her eyes checked to see if her prescription had changed. We are relatively new to the area and didn't have an optometrist established so I took her to the first office I could find on our insurance list. When we were sitting in the waiting room and she told me she couldn't read the titles of the magazines on the table in front of us, I knew something was wrong. But my gut didn't tell me that anything was horribly wrong. Not yet, anyway.
Five minutes later, we were sitting in the office with the doctor and she looked at the detailed pictures that the assistant just took of her eyes. In a quiet voice, she said the words papilledema and hospital. Actually, it was a full sentence....maybe two. But all I heard were those two words. She told us to go directly to the hospital and my heart dropped. I had no idea where to take her. We were new to the area and had no need for a hospital up till that time. The doctor quickly made arrangements at a nearby hospital and sent us on our way.
But all we could do is just sit in the van in the parking lot and cry. Crying out of fear is a lot different from crying because you are happy or sad. I never felt so helpless in all of my life. My daughter was hurting and scared and I felt like nothing I could say or do could comfort her in that very moment. She was desperate for answers and I had none. The bad feeling in my gut was suddenly there. I had never heard the word papilledema before. All I knew was what the eye doctor just told us: bleeding and swelling behind her eyes. Both of them. Was she going blind? I had no idea. It sucks to be a parent and not know important things or have all the answers when life throws you a curveball. We sat in the van in the parking lot were both crying so hard. I kind of forgot that I needed to keep myself together for her sake. I called the Mr. I could barely speak. The words just couldn't come out. It cried the words, pushing out choppy sentences containing only the important information - papilledema and where to meet us.
We headed to the hospital and headed straight for the emergency room. There was a girl sitting at a desk. She had brown hair and had a kind voice. I asked her if the hospital had any eye doctors on call. She said no. Putting all of my trust in her, I asked if she knew of another hospital we could take her to. She recommended Cook Children's. It was a 20 minute drive downtown. I could make it that far without crying. I called the Mr. again. A co-worker was just starting to drive him toward the first hospital. I instructed him to turn around and head to Cooks. It is just blocks from his work. A wave of relief washed over us when we turned to corner to the ER and saw him waiting on the curb in his bright orange coat. He tried to smile at me through the corner of his mouth but I didn't smile back.
I parked the van in a small, free lot across the street and rushed Hailey into the ER. The nurse at the desk asked me what Hailey was there for. I handed him a sticky note that the eye doctor gave me with the word papilledema written on it so he could write it correctly. He wrote it down on a sheet attached to a blue clipboard. And in the column next to it, he circled the word red. Red. I knew it was bad. I've watched doctor shows before. Code Red always meant something bad. We had not even sat down for a full minute when we were called back. Everyone else in the waiting room looked like they had been there for much longer. Hailey didn't look sick. Their kids did. It hardly seemed fair. To them, anyway. My daughter was losing her vision. She was scared. For the first time in her life, something was seriously wrong. And our lives were about to be forever changed.