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  • Writer's pictureJulie Fitz-Gerald


About a month ago, I looked at my marked-up calendar and admired my planning skills. I had everything "under control," figured out and written out, like a well-oiled machine. Activities, appointments, school projects, and big events were lined up back to back. Chiropractor appointments, soccer games, and a friend's birthday at the latest Toronto hot-spot filled one week. The next week boasted my best friend's baby shower, a Blue Rodeo concert, and a writing conference that I had been looking forward to for months, not to mention my work schedule filled with deadlines. I was running on adrenaline and loving every minute of it. Sure, I was tired, but isn't every mom with two young kids? In answer to my exhaustion, I'd fire up my beloved Tassimo and enjoy a hot, frothy cup of coffee. The 10 minutes that I sat to drink it was pure "relaxation" and then I was onto the next task at hand, feeling in full control of how each day was unfolding. My life had become a whirlwind and I liked it. Then, a random illness knocked me down and reminded me that control is really just an illusion. We can schedule our lives with one exciting event after the next, but none of us are truly "in control."

It started with a pesky sore throat Then I couldn't get out of bed. After a few days I went to the walk-in clinic and found that I had a common case of strep throat. Unbeknownst to me or the doctor it was about to get a lot worse. I started amoxicillin and thought that would be the end of it. Another two days went by and I could barely open my mouth or swallow food. As I made the kids' school lunches and packed their bags I knew I needed to go back to the walk-in. Fortunately my family doctor was working the clinic that morning. She pried my mouth open just enough to get a look inside. An aggressive case of strep had now caused an abscess on my tonsil and swelling in my jaw. She quickly arranged for an ear, nose and throat specialist to meet me in the emergency department to drain the abscess. Not a pleasant procedure to say the least, but necessary. After the procedure, I picked up another round of stronger antibiotics and thought, "Good, now let's get on with life! My calendar is full of things I need to do."

Unfortunately, my plans were railroaded again and my health continued deteriorating. After two more days I went back to my family doctor who pried my mouth open again and discovered the abscess was still there and growing. A cat scan was ordered and I spent the rest of the day in the ER waiting for results. I paced my room and sporadically looked out at the nurses, trying to convey that I had many important things waiting for me. Could they hurry it up a bit? The ER doctor finally returned with my results. Her opening line had my attention. "Julie, sometimes when we do these tests, we find things we're not looking for." Was this for real? She continued, "The CT scan showed you have upper lobe pneumonia and an infection in both sinuses, as well as the abscess. I've spoken to an infectious disease specialist and we're going to start you on IV antibiotics. Then you need to see the ENT specialist again at Markham-Stouffville emerge. He's waiting for you there."

I was stunned. "But I don't feel THAT sick," I protested. In reality, I had been ignoring my body's screams to slow down. Like most moms, we just forge ahead and hope we'll feel better tomorrow. We downplay how we're really feeling. Finally, I was forced to take stock of my situation. It wasn't simply an annoying case of strep after all. Three separate infections were running rampant in my body, un-phased by the antibiotics I was already taking. The same bug that causes blood poisoning and septic was having a heyday in my body; though thankfully I was unaware of the connection.

her to pick up my boys from school. Then I called my husband and asked him to meet me at the hospital. What followed was a painful "drainage" procedure that I hope I never have to endure again, IV antibiotics for 10 days, and oral antibiotics for another 10 days. The infectious disease specialist and a home nurse joined my team of caretakers. I felt helpless and wondered why God wasn't hearing my prayers. I had been praying for days to start feeling better, but the opposite was happening. I prayed to be better in time for Blue Rodeo. But we had to sell our tickets. I prayed to be able to make it to my best friend's baby shower. We've been friends since grade two and I was helping plan the party! Instead I had to send my contribution with my mom. I asked for healing in time for the writing conference. But I was a no-show at the event. I had been stopped in my tracks; forced to slow down and accept that all I could do was rest and try to recover. I felt sorry for myself and helpless.

Then something wonderful happened. With nothing but time to think, I began to see blessings popping up all around me, rallying my spirit. I realized that God wasn't ignoring my prayers at all. He knew that what I needed wasn't what I was praying for. One by one, some very special friends began showing up at my front door, bringing what I so desperately needed to lift my spirits and help me recover. Needless to say, it wasn't a trip to a concert or a conference. Instead, it was coffee, cookies and a visit. It was home-made meals, flowers and hugs. It was picking up my kids from school



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