How God Helped Me Cope With My Son's Failing Health

How God Helped Me Cope With My Son's Failing Health

The first indication that something was wrong was the low moaning I heard from the other room. I wiped my hands on the dishtowel and walked briskly to the living room. My second son was curled up in a ball on the coach holding his head. At age 2, he couldn’t tell me what was going on, but he kept repeating, “my head hurts” and “tummy”. Something was clearly wrong.

Quinn is my firecracker. Passionate, focused, empathetic to a fault, he has two speeds. Full Speed. And asleep.

So when he sat writhing in pain and clenching his hair I knew he was seriously sick. And my heart dropped with an immediate suspicion.

Within 15 minutes, he began to throw up. I begged God that he would fall asleep for a nap and sleep off the pain. In my heart, I knew what was happening but I was so full of dread for him that I couldn’t speak it.

Over the next months this same pattern of pain would repeat itself on a fairly regular basis. I began to chart what was happening to him and talk to his doctors. Knowing how rare migraines are in very young children, I was thorough in my part to monitor him, watch for triggers, adjust his diet, and gather information so that we could get a diagnosis.

Thankfully, the doctors believed me and agreed with me. It seemed like Quinn was indeed suffering from debilitating migraines.

The process was grueling for us-waiting months for approvals for specialists, then insurance changes which meant starting the process all over again and convincing more doctors, and then waiting for specialists, and tests, and procedures.

I was filled with gratitude when we took him for his first appointment with a pediatric neurologist.

He officially diagnosed Quinn with migraines and then ordered a cat scan. More months of waiting for approval, and more terrible headaches for my son.

As much as taking my little boy to the children’s hospital for a cat scan made my mama heart churn, I was thrilled that we would finally get a good look inside and make sure his brain was normal. My father has an inoperable brain tumor (he’s doing fine, as the tumor is not growing right now) so a little part of me feared that something similar could be a part of my son’s problem.

The day grew long, and the amazing nurses and staff at the hospital took us to the room to prep Quinn for anesthesia. I held my little boy in my arms as he trembled in fear and carried his body into the cat scan room, careful not to trip over the cords that led to various parts of machinery attached to him. I held his hands and kissed his head as I laid him on the table and tried to be brave when the anesthesia coursed into his body, burning him for a moment before he cried out and then fell asleep. And then I somehow walked away from his limp body to wait.

The waiting room was filled with parents whose children practically lived at this hospital. Major issues of illnesses I couldn’t even imagine were the norm for these families. And although I was brokenhearted for my own son, I couldn’t help but be so grateful for the good health we did enjoy. God was giving me a good dose of perspective.

A couple weeks later, we met with his pediatric neurologist. He had bad news and good news. The good news was that his brain looked perfectly normal-no tumors!

The bad news was that he had major sinus disease and ear disease. The doctor could see 5 separate pockets of fluid filled in his sinuses alone! His neurologist explained that this could be causing Quinn’s migraines. I was thrilled and sad all at the same time! Quinn never complained that his ears hurt and although he had a runny nose most of the time, we thought it was related to a previous allergy diagnosis.

I blamed myself for not discovering this sooner. He had been checked routinely-why had none of us picked up on these infections?

The next step was to take Quinn to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. After many more weeks of waiting the appointment was approved.

And so TODAY we take Quinn to the specialist. My poor boy has had several migraines over the last couple of weeks. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this appointment today, and for the ability to see this doctor. In cases like Quinn’s, it sounds like surgery could be a real option but I’m praying that won’t happen. God knows best, and I’m trying to leave it in God’s hands.

What all of this boils down to for me, as a mother who loves her children and wants the best for them is this:

God loves Quinn more than I do. God knows the number of hairs on Quinn’s head and I don’t. God planned all of Quinn’s days before the foundation of the world. God wove Quinn together-sinuses and ear canals too, in my womb to be this exact child. God never lets Quinn out of His sight. God has a good plan for Quinn. God is not surprised by what is happening. God makes no mistakes in Quinn’s life. God will use this in the lives of His siblings to shape them to be more Christ-like too.

My growth has been in allowing God’s Word to keep me from being anxious, to remind me that my children are a gift to me that I steward for God, and that I cannot hold too tightly to my control of what happens to my family or I will get in the way of God’s best for each of them as individuals.

When I found out I was pregnant, I prayed that God would never allow my kids to suffer from migraines. As a migraine sufferer myself, I knew that it was genetic in our family. And yet God allowed that to be a part of my son’s life at a young age. I could have been very bitter towards God, but through prayer and reading God’s Word, I am able to hand over my son’s health issues to the Lord and trust that this will  in some way be used in Quinn’s life to make him more like Christ.

One thing I know, that when we are weak, we are strong.

Relying on God’s strength and grace, even at age 2 or 3, is never a bad thing. As his mother, I don’t want him to suffer. But in my heart, I know that God allows the suffering in this fallen world to honor Him. I couldn’t ask for anything more for my children.

Instead of trying to eradicate all this suffering from their lives, and certainly when it comes to health issues it’s our role as parents to help them in every way we can, I also know that this is a teaching time for all of us in our family to learn to accept our trials, put our trust in God to bring good from this hard situation, and to look beyond our present suffering to a better future with Christ.

This world will present us with pain. It will offer brokenness. It will foster suffering. But it doesn’t define us. We are not our brokenness. We are more than conquerors. And although I didn’t want my son to learn this lesson at age 3, it’s a beautiful thing to see him strong, prayerful, and trusting His Savior. God trumped my prayer for perfect health by answering my biggest prayer of all for my sons-that God would do whatever it takes to shape them to be like Christ.

YOUR TURN!! Are your children facing a difficult trial? How does this affect you as a parent or as a family? Will you pray with me for Quinn? I would be blessed to pray for your situation too!

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Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. Psalm 115:1

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Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).