Guilt Stones

Every time my son crosses his arms over his abdomen after eating at a restaurant and tells me that his stomach hurts, panic races through my veins. Instead of assuming indigestion, my mind skips ahead to something worse. In that second, I feel the weight of a thousand guilty stones press down on my shoulders and I’m convinced I’ve cursed him with my horrible disease.

“What does it feel like?” I ask. “Is your stomach cramping or are you nauseous?” I know that Crohn’s disease can occur in families–my father has it and so do I.

My son rolls his big blue eyes into the back of his head dramatically. “Ugh, it hurts so bad,” he moans. He places his apparently too-heavy 11 year-old head on the edge of the table and groans until my hand twitches over the 911 digits on my cell phone.

“What does it feel like?” I ask. When he groans something unintelligible¬†in response,¬†I know I’m not getting anywhere with him so I try something else. “Does the pain come in waves? Do you feel better in between those waves?” I imagine a bowel obstruction and my bloated stomach twinges in sympathy. The thought of my son being tortured by a NG tube is almost too much to bear.

He shakes his head “no” and his head falls back on his neck like he’s about to pass out. I can’t see his eyes anymore because they’re covered by the mass of his shaggy blond hair.

“Do you need to go to the bathroom? Do you have to poop?” This question gets his attention and his eyes clear. “Mmmooooooooommm!” he scream-whispers while looking furtively around the restaurant in case a friend is nearby.

“Do you feel like you have to throw up?” He sits up straight and shakes his head. He realizes he’s overplayed his hand and that I might make him go to the bathroom to wait around in case he’s going to be sick.

His sudden return to health makes me narrow my eyes and I take a look at the remains of the food before him. “What did you eat?” I ask. He tells me that he had onion rings, an entire basket of bread, two Cokes that the waitress apparently delivered when I wasn’t looking, and a pile of french fries with his main course. It’s then that I realize that if my kid had Crohn’s disease he would either be locked in a bathroom stall or rolling around on the floor sweating and screaming.

I hand him a Tums and catch him trying to finish his onion rings. I try to relax but my shoulders are still hunched. Some days, it’s impossible to ignore the weight of those stones.

"I carry your heart with me. (I carry it ...

(Photo credit: EraPhernalia Vintage)

9 thoughts on “Guilt Stones

  1. I have the similar feeling of despair with my sons. A couple of times my eldest (4 years old) has cried and told me his bottom hurts while having a poop and I panic and check the bowl for blood and ask him if he is sore anywhere else! xx

  2. Pingback: What I’ve Made | Questing Humanity
  3. I have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (I’m 37). Every my son says “my foot hurts” or mommy I can’t move my leg” I start sweating and wondering if my Rheumatologist knows of a good pediatric rheumatologist. Thank you for sharing this and letting us know we aren’t alone!

    • Hi Daina! Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s an awful feeling, isn’t it? I always think that it’s hard enough to be a mom to begin with, but when you’re sick on top of it and worry about passing it to your kids, it makes it impossibly hard.

  4. 2 year old had 5 runny diapers today. He gets this every 2weeks the thought runs very quickly through my head but I remind myself that out of 8 siblings I was the only one cursed and just get on with changing him, it helps I live with a doctor who believes suck it up and you’ll be fine are acceptable things to say when I’m obstructing, passing out or feeling like death. I know if I were to bring up the possibility that any of our kids may be ill I will be told not to be neurotic. I tend to feel guilty that I lack sympathy when they are ill. “For goodness sake why are you crying over a paper cut did you not see the doctor stabbing me 10 times yesterday and I didn’t lose my smile once”. Or to my husband “if I can nurse a newborn and get up 7 times a night with hi while in hospital on an IV recovering from an obstruction you can put up with a cold”.

    • I think we all have our breaking points. I’m still very sympathetic to my kids when they’re sick and mommy them without comparing my disease to their problems. Kids just want hugs. Can you take your 2 year-old to the doctor to make sure nothing’s wrong? It could be a food allergy–and easily remedied. I find the whole “suck it up” thing awful, to tell you the truth, and my heart hurts for you. Like kids, wives need hugs, too. If you every need support, feel free to post on my Facebook page any time. We are a very supportive community:

  5. I get the same thoughts with all my other 3 kids (one has Crohn’s) when they have any GI symptoms, mouth sores, joint pain, etc! I also am a medical provider and I think I take the complaint of diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, failure to gain weight much more seriously than I did before my daughter was diagnosed.

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