Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kids Don't Deserve This

Kids don't deserve to be sick. If one thing resonates with me after watching Roscoe struggle in the hospital for almost 8 months now, it is that kids don't deserve to be sick or deal with major problems. During the time when we've been in the NICU we've seen many babies come in and be poked with needles and subjected to surgeries to repair their brokenness. We've seen a baby leave with Down Syndrome and we've seen one baby in Roscoe's room struggle and then disappear (death). All of this is not fair to these kids.

We come in for most of the day, but some things Roscoe has endured without us. For instance, I came in on Monday after he'd had blood drawn from his arteries and found two needle marks on one wrist (shown below) and one needle mark on the other wrist (not shown):

I didn't see him cry, but I know that he did. We heard from the nurse that the blood clotted when they drew it from his wrist artery on one side, so they had to let him calm down and try again. I've been there before when they draw blood and it isn't nice to experience, but I know he's better if we are there to comfort him. He's been in the hospital for over 30 weeks now, so averaging two blood sticks in his foot each week (they were much more frequent early on) that's 60 blood samples from his feet with a pin prick.

Roscoe has it rough, but there's always someone who has it rougher. I just can't help but think about how unfair it is that the 1st floor and 4th floor of the building where he resides are filled with children who are sick and don't deserve it. Elsewhere there are entire childrens' hospitals full of children who are suffering with illnesses and ailments that they don't deserve.

You might say to yourself, "It's not fair that anyone gets sick" but I can't really agree. As adults or teens we are responsible for ourselves and we do lots of things to get ourselves into trouble. We do damage to ourselves by eating poorly, abusing substances, avoiding exercise, practicing dangerous activities, and filling up with stress. Then we harm our bodies even more by trying to take shortcuts (like pharmaceuticals or surgery) to get ourselves back in good health. Even if we live the healthiest life we can, we still deserve the problems we get. After all, we sin.

We might not be the worst person on the block, but we've all done some things wrong. We've said mean things, lied, lusted, hurt others, and neglected to do the good we know we ought to do. We might try to make up for some bad things we've done by doing some good things, but that's like trying to uneat some ice cream by chasing it with a salad.

I think about this quite a bit as I sit near his bed and watch people walk by outside his window:
When I see someone stroll by outside this window and they are in a wheelchair or carrying an oxygen tank, I think to myself that they probably did something to deserve it. I fully accept that I may be wrong, but the thought still crosses my mind. Oxygen tank? That guy probably smoked too much. Wheelchair? That person probably ate poorly or was lazy. Limping? They probably were doing something stupid.

I realize how hypocritical this is: that I am judging others, something which in itself is wrong to do. I try to correct or muffle these thoughts, but they still come instinctively. In fact, some day I will be shuffled along on a gurney or wheelchair and someone may look at me in the same way, trying to surmise what I did to rightfully deserve this physical retribution.

The point still remains: kids don't deserve it. No matter how you look at the situation, it isn't fair to these kids. They haven't sinned. They haven't abused themselves. They haven't done anything wrong. Yet still, they suffer and fight for life more than some life-long drug addicts do. It isn't fair.

At this point I'm forced to choose my worldview. I can look at the world as a place where bad stuff just happens pointlessly to collections of atoms, and there is no rhyme or reason to it all. Some people just get the short end of the stick and that's too bad. To me this worldview makes things even bleaker, because it leaves my child suffering with no meaning or empathy behind that suffering.

Instead, I am compelled to look at the world through the eyes of our creator. Though sometimes I may want to deny his existence because he does not immediately give me an answer to my questions of "Why is this happening?", I cannot deny that he's there. I see him everywhere, in every part of his creation. The design of the human body, the resiliency of life, the clockwork of creation just screams that he is behind it all.

The fact that the world's most highly-trained doctors can do little more to "fix" a person than to try to stimulate the body's natural growth process loudly speaks to the existence of the body's designer. The doctors can cut, stitch, observe, apply ointments, and inject medicines and nutrients, but that is about all they can do. They cannot heal a scar, grow new pathways, or assimilate, distribute, and utilize nutrition throughout the body. They cannot create a replacement lung from scratch. They cannot weave Roscoe a new heart.

To think that these doctors are the ultimate hope of fixing Roscoe is the equivalent of relying on a shade-tree auto mechanic with nothing more than duct tape and a screwdriver, while denying that the car ever had teams of engineers and testing behind its design. I am not trying to belittle the doctors' skill or intelligence, because they have been compassionate towards Roscoe with his ultimate healing as their goal. However, when we see healing occur we need to give credit where credit is due. When someone uses duct tape to fix a car, give credit to the man for the creative patch fix, but give more credit to the designer who created a car that is resilient enough to run properly with such a patch in place.

There is a certain reassurance in the fact that God can empathize with my experience. After all, when I look at the scars in my son's wrists, I know that God sees scars in his Son's wrists as well. Those scars are there because of me. He saw his Son fighting for life and suffering punishment that he didn't deserve. That doesn't make my son's suffering any easier for him to endure, but it does reassure me that God knows that kids don't deserve this.


  1. You are a good man, my son. I'm pleased beyond words with whom you've become. I love you with all my heart. Love, Mom
    ps: I'll wipe away my tears now : )

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  3. Thank you for posting this, Shaun. Your strength of character and faith are reflected here in your honesty. Roscoe is blessed to have you as his father.
    Bruce McVicker