My free spirit

It wouldn’t take much to convince me that it was my youngest daughter who the person that coined the phrase “happy-go-lucky” had in mind.



DQ at her free-spirited best just after a beach wedding we attended last fall

She not only rolls with the punches, she embraces them.  Getting two busy siblings overnight after three years of being an only child?  Loved it!  Eye surgery within a month of being home?  No problem.  New glasses?  She loves them.  Eye patches three hours a day?  She wears them with style. 

Honestly.  It has seemed that no matter what DQ has faced that she has been able to overcome.  She’s just that spunky and bubbly. 

Until last week.  What typically would have been an eagerly anticipated visit from Grandma turned sour very quickly.  Not that DQ wasn’t excited to have Grandma come.  Rather that she overheard me telling a friend that my mom was coming to help out with the ‘bigs’ during a marathon Duke appointment week.

A visit to her eye specialist was no issue.  She loves Dr. F.  It was the mention of the “polka dot” doctor that sent rainclouds over my little ray of sunshine.  Because last time didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped.

The worst part?  I was carrying a lot of guilt over the results of her first laser treatment.

Back in June when we had our initial consult, Dr. B noted that we enjoyed the sun.  So much so that he said he’d want to wait until at least October to let some of her tan fade as too much melanin can cause blistering.  Now I’m careful with the sun.  Yes, we are outside as much of the summer as we can bear the heat, but my children are always slathered in SPF 50 or higher.  And I drive them crazy with the reapplying.

But as summer began to give way to fall, I was a bit neglectful about her arms.  Oh her little face was always smeared, but I’d frequently forget that her arms were not protected by long sleeves during our days of Indian summer.  And inadvertently she continued to tan on her arms.

The results?  Blistering.  Bad blistering.  My tough nugget who complains of no pain (unless her little brother was anywhere nearby and she figures she can get him in trouble with a cry) woke up from her twilight anesthesia moaning in pain.  She looked back and forth between us (her daddy and I) and her little blistered arm as if she couldn’t believe that we would let such a thing happen to her.  Then the sobs began.  It was almost more than I could bear to take.  Within 24 hours of her first procedure, her right arm looked like a sheet of bubble wrap.  Try as we might to prevent it from happening, many of those little blisters popped which led to more pain and the fear of scarring.

To say that I carried a little guilt over what happened is an understatement.  After all, I was the one responsible for how much time we spent outside.  And it led me to feel even worse about her reaction to hearing that we were soon headed back to the “polka dot” doctor. 

Immediately my little happy-go-lucky gal lost her smile and began walking around in somewhat of a daze.  There was none of her typical “zest” for life.  Only a little girl wandering in a stage of shell shock.

The birthday party of one of her sweet friends snapped her out of her funk on Saturday.  For the few hours of the party anyway.  But as soon as it was over, she began to look lost again.  She refused to eat dinner.  She feigned sickness Sunday morning (and therefore missed going to kids church which she LOVES).  All day Sunday she had a blank look on her face.  She refused to eat.  She whimpered or cried all day.  She wouldn’t make eye contact with any of us. 

It was miserable.  All day Sunday I worried.  All night Sunday night I fretted.  The entire way to Duke I was beside myself in fear that I had contributed to breaking her spirit.  And yet I felt pretty sure that continuing treatments was the right thing to do, even if it was hard.  Twenty years from now I didn’t want to look at  complications from thickened blood vessels and know that we could have done something when she was a preschooler to prevent the problems.

So in the midst of it all, I did the only things I knew to do.  I printed a picture of what happened to her arm to show the doctor in hopes that there was a ‘miscalculation’ on the laser the first time.  And the other thing I did was call in some of my girls for prayer.  Prayer that we’d get a chance to talk to the doctor before the procedure and prayer that the results would be different this time.

Because if she was burned again, I don’t think there would have been a next time.  I would not have been able to stomach her mini-depression a second time.  Sitting in the waiting chair while something physical is being worked on, while not my favorite aspect of being a mom, is bearable.  Worrying that my child’s happy-go-lucky state of mind has been robbed is not.

Imagine my sense of relief when we first saw her in recovery.  From a quick glance I saw dark purple round bruises and no white charred dots.  And then she opened her eyes, held out her arm, giggled, and said “Hey, lookie purple dots.  They not hurt, they tickle.” 

My free spirit was back!

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