Parenting in Varying Degrees of Fear

The parenting of my 17 year old daughter has always been an exercise in fear and uncertainty.

As some of my readers already know, my 17 year old daughter was recently hospitalized with a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in her lung). After a gazillion tests, doctors traced root cause of this thing to a clotting disorder called Lupus Anticoagulation. This led to another, secondary diagnosis of Lupus.

Immediately placed on blood thinners, we were informed that she will always be at risk for future clots, and as a result, will be on both Warfarin (blood thinner) and Plaquenil (Lupus medication) forever.

My daughter, while absolutely wonderful, strong and determined, is also a bit of a drama queen. Therefore, she has the exact same reaction to both major and minor health issues. If she has a hang-nail, she freaks out in the exact same way as she did when she was hours from death, suffering a blood clot in her lung. This is probably why, when she first started experiencing symptoms from this embolism, that I treated her with Nyquil for two days before realizing something was not right.

When she was 12 years old, she complained (by “complained” I mean was hysterically crying and carrying on) about tooth pain, so I made a dentist appointment for her. I thought she had a cavity. The dentist did x-rays and told me to get her to an oral surgeon immediately. She had a mass in her jaw. A huge one that required emergency surgery to remove. After many tests and biopsies, we were relieved to find that the growth was benign.

I have also taken her to the emergency room no less than 10 times over the years, convinced she was dying of appendicitis or something equally dangerous, only to be told after hours of waiting and countless tests that she was merely constipated.

With this kid, one never knows.

On Saturday night, she busted into my bedroom at 1 AM, crying hysterically about pain on her right side, under her rib cage. This is the same place her clot was located. I would have panicked, had we not just been to the ER less than two weeks ago with a similar complaint, only to learn that, Hallelujiah (!!), her clot is gone. I called her Hematologist’s after-hours exchange and spoke with a doctor, who told me to give her some ibuprofen and call back in an hour if she hasn’t improved.

An hour later my daughter was fine, snoozing on the couch, while I anxiously watched her. I didn’t fall asleep until 4 AM, unsure if I was relieved this was yet another false alarm, or annoyed that this was yet another false alarm.

I live in a state of fear.

I almost missed her blood clot the first time around. I almost didn’t get her the help she needed to save her life in time to actually save it.

Then again, we’ve had countless ER doctors perform enemas to relieve middle-of-the-night bouts of constipation, convinced she was in serious trouble. Only she wasn’t.

I wish I had some sort of tool that I could reference; something to tell me that this time it’s serious, or that it’s nothing. When I’m not fearful of missing something crucial, I feel guilty. Guilty when thoughts creep into my head, and I find myself annoyed while my child stands in front of me hyperventilating about yet another ailment.

“Good grief. I can’t keep rushing this kid to the hospital!”

Almost immediately I realize I’m not being fair. If I’d had the year she’s had, I’d be paranoid about every little (and not so little) symptom I developed too.

She almost died.

That’s when I realize she’s just a kid.

A beautiful, strong, determined, genius, understandably hypochondriac kid.

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