Last week, for the first time in months, Cameron was admitted to the hospital. Oh, we’ve come close a few times recently, only to be sent home at the last minute, with instructions to return if he worsened. This time Cam got his ticket to the respiratory floor, identical to the surgery floor, except our visitors each get yellow paper gowns and masks.

Oh, you know I missed it!

The Children’s Hospital Resort is our home away from home, a place we spent many nights the first two years of Cameron’s illness. And although many would think the hospital a miserable place to stay, the amenities are not to be denied. The endless supply of free coffee, ice water and graham crackers. Free cable and movie channel, with unlimited time to watch (though I absolutely cannot watch Frozen again or I may suffer permanent brain damage myself). The extra-firm sofa bed that everyone knows is good for the back. No need to cook, though the room service french fries tend to be cold and soggy by the time they reach us on the 9th floor. And no need to do laundry, just slip on your flip-flops and traipse down the hall to the supply closet for all the freshly washed blankets and pillow cases you could ever want.

I missed the company. The endless parade of nurses, nurse’s aides and respiratory therapists, each with their own energy and humor, most of them eager to talk and joke while taking Cam’s abnormally low temperature, happy to bring me an extra syringe or diaper since I always forget something.

I missed the residents and fellows, who always look so young to me now, fresh-faced and idealistic, with their newly-rehearsed questions and treatment plans. My questions seem to stump them now, and I try not to enjoy that flicker of fear in their eyes before they rattle off some fancy doctor words and promise to talk to their attending for me. Sometimes I feel bad that I make them nervous, but after all, I’ve been there. In my day job, I still face down angry pet parents, demanding to know why their dog or cat is still sick or why it costs so much to help them, why sometimes things end badly despite everyone’s efforts. Don’t worry, I’m always patient and kind to the residents, because I know not every parent they talk to will be.

And of course, I missed the attending doctors. The specialists. The movers and the shakers. The People Who Can Get Things Done. I know I’m lucky to see one or two of them per twenty-four-hours in the clinker, and their time is short, so I have my questions ready. Specific and focused, to find the shortest possible path to Cam’s well-being. They seem to appreciate my brevity, eager to form a plan and move on to the next patient. Most of the time in the hospital is spent waiting on these bosses, and most of the time they show up when I’m in the bathroom or not wearing a bra. Still, we get things done.

Most of all I missed the hope. Any time we’re in the hospital, we’ve had some kind of frustration or setback in Cam’s treatment, some kind of brick wall into which we have crashed head-on. So with every admittance, we find a renewed sense of optimism. New faith that we’ll get a doctor that can help us figure out what went wrong, schedule that study that breaks open the case or prescribe the medication that helps all of us- but especially Cam- breathe easier.

That hope is like a drug. It’s the hope that Cam will be okay, that he will get past this to grow into a happy, healthy, almost normal kid that gets me up in the morning. And like a drug, I need bigger and bigger doses of the hope to keep me moving. The hospital stays, with the sense of urgency as I pack my sweatpants and toothbrush, followed by hours and hours of boredom, waiting to reach whatever parameter it is that the medical team has set, always resets the bar. Maybe this time, Cam will get better for real. Maybe this time in the hospital will grease the wheels just hard enough to get the medical machine rolling again. Because sometimes, at home in the middle of the night, holding a crying, coughing disabled toddler, I wonder who’s still thinking about us.

Every night in the hospital is a new hope Cameron won’t need to come back ever again (although I would miss the coffee machine!).

Maybe this visit is the last visit.

This time we spent one night and a long day then went home, after I had to argue a little with the hapless residents, who sent in their bosses to act like that’s what they had in mind the whole time. Cam and I were exhausted. And hopeful. We slept the next night in our own beds and woke up in the morning somewhat refreshed, Cam ready to scoot around on his own floor, this time attached to an oxygen tank, and me ready to get busy. Over the next few days, I will leave messages, send emails, and negotiate with schedulers and nurses, until Cam is seen by the right people and prescribed the right medications. He will get in for the appropriate studies sooner rather than later, and he will be just fine.

Hey, I don’t want you to worry! Because Cameron is a tough kid and he has a family who loves him, a smart medical team and a mommy who is high on hope.

Seriously. We’ve got this.


26 thoughts on “Hope is a Drug”

  1. So sorry he was back in the hospital again, but so glad it helped boost your hope. 🙂 Anything I can help with, please let me know. Hugs all around and lots of healing juju and digits crossed the breakthrough will come soon! Love you guys!


  2. Hugs to you all and Cam…I’m with you, I sure wish that they could find the magic pill that could make this all better once and for all.

  3. Oh, Lauren! I can’t find words to define YOUR words but they transport me to a place where YOUR hope becomes MY hope and I am grateful for that. Obviously, you and Cam compliment each other in every way and that will have a beautiful outcome. I share your love, G-Ma Marilyn

  4. Lorna SternerMiller

    With aĺl my love hopes and prayers I sendcyoubextra hope to cover flow your hope tank. Take care and know ALL OF YOU ARE LOVED!!!!!❤💛💚💜💙☺🤗

  5. Dear sweet Lauren, thank you for this posting. I have major prayer patrol/positive vibe patrol going on for Cam right now. We got this, we got this! our family will fight with you and Cam and the great providers until he is better and walking around knocking shit over! Love you a bushel and a peck and a big hug around the neck. Lisa

  6. Dearest Lauren,
    I loved your post because your heart, your hope, and your determination shine through. Women like you are the hope for other moms that may not realize there is always hope, and new treatments, and people that love you and hold you in their hearts when you may feel like you’re the only one still out there . That hold you in their hearts to lift you up on days when you may feel like one more cup of coffee and you’ll drop kick the machine. If that happens, remember, people are thinking about you and praying for you all.
    Dump the coffee. Ice cream is more fun anyway 😊❤love you

  7. Lauren you amaze me everyday with your strength and perseverance!! Hope is something I will always have for you, something I have never lost in all my messy life. Hope is something no one can ever take from you, ever!! Cam is sooo lucky to have you as his mom and in his corner, always fighting and hoping for him! There are sooo many people that love You, Cam, Kris, Brady and Carson, but especially Troy and I!! I am always here for YOU, whatever you need, a cry, to vent, a drink, a hug (cause I give those amazing Mama McNerney hugs), or a break from your life to hear about mine (which is a hot mess), whatever you need, I’m a phone call away, anytime of the day!! We are coming to visit soon !! We love you guys to the moon and back a million, trillion times!! 😘😘

  8. Lauren, thank you for sharing what you are feeling in your heart with words. You are a very good writer. I will keep Cam, you and your family in my prayers. Hope and Faith are very powerful.

  9. Lauren, Hope lives on. I’ll be thinking about you in the middle of the night. I live on the other side of town, but maybe there is something I could do for you guys. If you think of something, let me know❣

  10. Your words are so familiar to me, Lauren. I continue to hold you close, along with Cam and your dear family. So much love and hope! xo Mary Sue

  11. Your words are so familiar to me, Lauren. I continue to hold you close, along with Cam and your dear family. So much love and hope!

  12. SO sorry you guys are back in the hospital. Your positivity is so inspiring!! Cam is such a fighter. I hope this is just a quick stay and he’ll be feeling better again very soon. Sending love and prayers!! 🙏❤🙏❤🙏❤🙏

  13. Thank you for update, Lauren. I follow Cam and pray for you guys always. You are such a strong, smart and brave mom❤️ Hope springs eternal. I grew up with Carol.
    Love, Bonnie

  14. I’m certain those medical teams truly get a pleasure in seeing the Barrow Bunch, Cam in the lead, even when knee deep in problem solving and searching. There’s something special when you guys are in the room 🙂 Your triumph is daily, and we are all cheering from the sideline! Love from Marc and I <3

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