*UPDATE SPOILERS INCLUDED: Turns out that after I delivered, the good Dr's at Henry County Hospital had enough sense to draw another blood sample from both Ari and I and send it to the super duper Toxo clinic in Palo Alto and survey said....... both were negative! Hooray! Now why didn't anyone ever tell me this? It must have just slipped past me and gone unnoticed with all the million vials of blood that have been taken from me. But nonetheless, my peace was well warranted. My gut just knew it. Now we just have to find out what the heck this thing is.
You know how on Grey's Anatomy sometimes there's this freak patient with a weird unexplained ailment or some huge goiter and all the doctors are clamoring over each other to get a look or be the ones who will get the case? Well, reluctantly and quite unfortunately, Ariane and I have become those patients. Every hospital or Doctor's office we visit, we are a scientific mystery. No one has seen quite the case that we have, and they all want to help. So, this is what it feels like to be sick. Except I don't feel sick.
Last Sunday I lost more of the vision in my eye and we, once again, spent a day at the hospital. I was examined by an opthamologist and then by several retinal docs a couple days later. The good news was that my eye wasn't actually getting worse, as in there didn't appear to be a new infection. What seemed to be happening was that all the debris that's just floating around in my eye shifted from the periphery to right in front of my field of vision making it seem to me as though I lost more sight. Because in fact I had. Where once I had a small window in which I was able to make out shapes and letters, there was now only a thick fog.
So new and different drugs and my old comrade prednisone once again. More blood tests for toxoplasmosis because apparently this is a shy little guy who doesn't willingly like to show up in tests when he may actually be lurking in one's blood. You see, I've never actually tested positive for it. Not my blood, not the amniotic fluid and not Ari's blood. But apparently there is a good chance of getting a false negative with this infection. So because I am displaying all the symptoms for it, I was poked and drawn once again. And so was my three week old daughter.
Dear Readers, I wish for you that you never have to experience the pain that is having a sick (even theoretically) child and watch them cry as you stand by helplessly praying for God to intervene. Bypassing your old standby of asking for angels of comfort, and instead asking that The Big Man himself come straight down and take the sting of needles and the sting of hot newborn tears from your infants face. More than anything I may have suffered through this whole experience watching them try to get blood drawn several times from Ari was the hardest thing I've had to endure. I now understand parents saying, if I could take it from you and onto myself I would. But we made it through and that hurdle is over.
When you carry a child for nine months you know the connection of tissue and water and blood that you share, but it isn't over after birth. My blood, her blood, they are inextricably tied to one another. My health is potentially her health and as I type this two vials of our blood sit in a lab in Bethesda waiting to be sent to another lab. You see, today in a meeting of pediatricians specializing in infectious disease from NIH, the CDC, the FDC, and Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital, our case was discussed. And what was proposed was to send our blood to the nation's leading expert on toxoplasmosis and have his lab test it.
The image of our two vials of blood flying across the country implies some of the gravity of the situation, and yet. I'm not worried. I have faith that the results are negative. I believe that this thing is limited to me and I'll gladly have it that way. I know I have made brief mention of my faith in the past. It has carried me through many difficult times, and this one is no exception. I am often found singing one of two songs that bring me peace in times of difficulty. I would like to share them with you now for one reason only. Not to preach, not to condemn, but perhaps to bring peace to someone else who may be suffering, or struggling. Here they are:
And this, my favorite Hymn of all. Not only for the beautiful words, but for the tragic and inspiring story behind it.
People ask me, How can you handle this so well? And I say, it is not me handling it, and I truly believe that. If I didn't, I could not sit here laughing.