How do you miss a ruptured appendix that probably burst 24-48 hours before you see the signs? How do astute, concerned, attentive parents miss all of that and allow a child to become just so ill?
If you've read Lost & Found, you know that's exactly what happened. There is a back-story that includes all nine of the rest of us down with some sort of hellacious stomach bug that had us vomiting in stages and running the washing machine for four days straight. When I mention this to health care professionals, they respond with a knowing "Ahhhhhhh", which makes me feel slightly better as a mom.
Caroline is now 15 years old, and she hears me tell her story often enough. She remembers feeling so sick she lacked the will, even at eight years old, to muster play time or television viewing. She recalls long nights in the hospital, intubation, her dad trying to get her to breathe through the measuring tools, and painful walks around the ICU that shot bolts of misery into her abdomen, even as nursing staff and doctors insisted it couldn't be "that bad".
It was that bad.
Ruptured appendices don't play well with the rest of the body. The infection can spread quickly and disturb every other organ, and they also tend to leave permanent effects. In Caroline's case, that means she'll likely have fertility problems. We are thankful to live in a time when medical care is of the highest quality in history and advancement is occurring at breakneck speed, and we look forward to seeing what can possibly be done to help.
We also live in a state of dependence on God, and stories from other female ruptured appendix survivors tell us that she perhaps will have to go the route of adoption instead of carrying her own biological children. There is sorrow in that, but also a sense of joy and wonder that some little people out there could be given to our sweet Caroline to raise. God is good, all the time.
In the meantime, Caroline is the girl with the golden voice. She sings in school productions, the local opera company, and on the worship team at church. She babysits, organizes circles around Martha Stewart, and enjoys close friendships. She has a future ahead of her designed by the God who loves her.
Want to read more of Caroline's story? Pick up a copy of Lost & Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace.