Friday, June 22, 2012

Blind Love and Blessings: Meeting the Enemy Head-on

The parents checked the baby’s breathing as she lay in her crib. That would not be unusual except that this was not their first child and she was not a newborn. While they watched they thought of the last couple of years: how they’d been told they’d probably never be able to have more children, then the surprise when they discovered within a month that they were expecting their third child. They also remembered the difficult pregnancy which was followed by an even more difficult childbirth. Those troubles seemed minuscule compared to the concern that now gripped them.

The baby had endured much recent illness. Aside from eczema that always seemed to mar her skin she had also been marked by chicken pox. In the last week her daddy and oldest sister were the only people in the household who did not catch it, one having had the childhood illness many years earlier, and the other just the month before. Now she, her older sister, and her mother were almost past the days of quarantine.

As the intense itching passed, all three seemed to be regaining their health. Recovery had been sufficient to return daily life to a normal routine. For the baby who was tired of lying on the couch near people who insisted on keeping her from scratching whatever itched this meant cruising around furniture and emptying toy boxes. And it was pleasant to be well enough to traverse the hallway from one end to the other again.

This routine did not last long. Within days the little one’s fever returned and brought with it a peculiar way of crawling using only one hand. Her family commented that she looked like a wounded bird holding up a wing.

The family consulted their pediatrician. Because of the chance of contagion they entered his office through the back door. After enduring strategic shuttling between doctor's office and hospital designed to minimize the risk of exposure to others, as well as several hours of x-rays and examinations, nothing noteworthy was found. The puzzled doctor applied an elastic bandage to the baby's arm because he concluded the baby had hurt her wrist.

This was a mistake! When the baby awoke from her afternoon nap the mother noticed that her young hand was swollen to such extreme proportions that it was almost as large as her own! She quickly removed the wrap.

The next morning it was clear that the baby’s health was suffering. She no longer had the energy to play and was fretful. For the second day in a row they sought medical care. The on-call doctor found a puncture wound within the fold of skin between the child’s thumb and index finger that was masked by eczema and chicken pox scabs. It was a spider bite.

Since the skin surrounding the bite did not appear to be dying the doctor believed that it was not caused by a brown recluse but announced that the situation was serious nonetheless. The child’s size, the amount of time that had elapsed between bite and diagnosis, and the recent battle with chicken pox had all hampered her body's ability to fight the toxins.

With prescriptions in hand and instructions drumming inside their stunned brains, the parents took their child home. They understood that they were to take the child to the nearest hospital if her health further declined however slight that change might be. Thus they began their bedside vigil.

The next morning the sun shone brightly through the bedroom window on parents napping beside the bed of their beloved child. The baby awoke with a lower body temperature, a praiseworthy event that again ushered in normal, routine days.

Or rather, that is how it appeared. A few weeks later when all the chicken pox scabs had fallen from their bodies the mother discovered that along with scabs her hair had fallen out leaving several nickel-sized patches of bare skin on her head. So began what would become the new kind of “normal, routine days” for this family.

This flashback is about the illnesses that The Princess and I battled at the age of 10 months and 29 year respectively. Although it would be a few months before I received the medical diagnosis that these events had triggered an autoimmune system disorder known as alopecia areata and 6 ½ years before I became sufficiently disfigured to seek prosthetic help, this is the story of how and when it attacked.

I wrote this true story from the third person perspective purely for a psychological reason: it was easier to write about these painful events by inserting a buffer, however small, between myself and the story by making myself an observer. Even after all these years, that night beside our baby's bed still upsets me.

At a later time my husband will also discuss this chapter in our lives at his blog, Exception Noted.


  1. There is no imagining what trauma you have all gone through! May this flashback also serve as part of the healing process God is using. Blessings to you all! Hope it's not too hot for you out there!

  2. Oh my...I can just feel the pain and the anxiety of a young mom watching her baby suffer so. Reminds me of the days my daughter was in the NICU so sick and fragile. But there really is so much healing in writing out these stories...a sort of release of the trauma and the heartache...and a reminder of the One who has been with us through it all. ((hugs)) I'm sure this had to hurt to write, but thank you for sharing this piece of your heart with us.

  3. This is a sad recount of something that happened in your life. Hopefully it will help writing about it. Otherwise we would never have known. My first responce to something like this is to cry but what good does that do. (I'm a Melancoly). Surely you have endured many thoughts about this and asked the question, "why". Only God knows and thankfully he has brought you through but a reminder with it that you can never forget. May God continue to bless you and make you stronger for Him. Cleona

    1. Now we know the reference to the birds in your backyard. Real love!


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalms 19:14 (KJV)