I’m a Fraud

I’m one of those people who are generally pretty good in a crisis. I tend to remain calm while I’m going through it, but as soon as we’re “out of the woods” I break down.

When Taylor was 9 months old we couldn’t get him to wake up one Saturday morning. He’d sort of open his eyes, but didn’t seem able to keep them open. His little lips were gray and his breathing was shallow. Todd was very ill with pneumonia so I strapped Taylor into his car seat and made the 30 minute drive to the emergency room in about 15 minutes.

There was no waiting for me and we were taken into a private examination room instead of a curtained area. He was listless during their examination, he didn’t flinch when they swabbed his nose, and their faces told me a whole lot even though their mouths didn’t. It seemed like forever though it was only short minutes when the doctor said they needed to do a spinal tap to rule out meningitis and a nurse escorted me out of the room. His words were burned into my memory – “Your baby is very ill. You need to be prepared for anything.”

I knew what he was saying to me, but I refused to freak out because it wouldn’t do any good. We didn’t have cell phones at the time so I found the phone in the waiting room and called my frantic husband. I can only imagine his feeling of helplessness. He wanted to be right there, knowing what was going on. But it turned out he wasn’t even allowed at the hospital.

My sick child was so out of it he didn’t twitch or move a muscle when they did the spinal tap. But thankfully it wasn’t meningitis. It was RSV and severe dehydration. He was admitted to ICU for 24 hours until the crisis was past and then the general pediatric floor for four days after that. My parents still lived in California at the time and on day three my mother showed up at the hospital so I could go home, see Todd, have a shower, eat something normal, change my clothes. I wouldn’t leave Taylor alone and with Todd banned from the hospital because of his pneumonia I’d had no breaks. (Not knowing any of this was going on, Todd’s doctor wanted to admit him. When Todd explained our situation – and that it would be too much for me – the doctor agreed and made Todd promise to come into the office every day for a shot of something or other.)

I don’t believe I cried at all while I was in the hospital with Taylor. Never once. Partly because I didn’t figure it would do me any good and partly because I worried if I started I might not stop. And it wasn’t about me. It was about my baby. I had to be strong for him. You can bet I did a lot of praying, though. And so did my heathen (at that time) husband at home.

Todd’s cousin, Joe D., picked my mom up at the airport and drove her to the hospital. What a relief it was to see her. Taylor was still undergoing breathing treatments, but by this time it was clear he was going to be fine. I walked outside for the first time in three days and drove home – much slower than I’d driven there. I talked to Todd for a little bit and then went to take a shower.

You know how wonderful a hot shower feels when you haven’t had one in a few days and you’re feeling uber grungy? As the water washed the previous days away, so did the tears that came rushing out. I think I ended up sitting on the floor of the shower, arms wrapped around my knees and sobbing uncontrollably. Not tears of despair, but tears of relief and tears of gratitude to God. All the emotion I’d been holding at bay poured out. The dam was breached and there was no turning back.

After my shower I felt wonderful. Inside and out. I took the best nap of my life in my own, comfortable bed; I ate something besides hospital food; I spent a little time with my recovering husband; and as I drove back to the hospital I felt lighter than I had in several days.

That event is a rather extreme illustration of how I tick, but it’s the best example I could think of. And the reason I brought it up is because of my experience last week. I say I’m a fraud because I kept telling everyone I wasn’t worried about my bone scan. But it wasn’t just everyone else I was saying this to, it was myself. I must be a pretty good actress because I believed me.

After I’d received the call from the oncologist I made a few phone calls, sent some e-mails, posted here on my blog I ended up in a total funk. I didn’t react the way I had with Taylor’s ordeal, but I did have a bit of a breakdown in the form of withdrawal. I wanted to be with my family and I wanted to be alone all at the same time. I felt like one of those rubber band toys that you twist and twist and twist until it won’t twist any more and then you let it go. Except I hadn’t realized I was being twisted so taught until I was released.

I guess it was bothering me more than I appreciated. Even Friday morning as I was getting ready for my Homies (named for my ladies’ home team – bible study – by my fellow Homie, Tina) I was a bit funkitated. It was rainy and dreary outside and I was feeling blah. But just pulling up to the house we were meeting at was enough to make me feel better. And then those crazy women finished me off.

So you see. I’m not as brave and calm as I seem to be. Oh, I think I am at the time, but afterwards I realize I was just suppressing my anxiety. Still, this mechanism has served me well so I don’t imagine I’ll be changing any time soon.

And the last thing I have to say about that is this. Any perceived strength or bravery on my part is simply an extension of my faith. It’s the way God made me – a chip off my mother’s block – and it’s a gift. But I don’t handle anything without my God. When I start to feel anxious I ask for peace and He gives it to me. When I start to feel depressed I ask for joy and He gives it to me. And I love Him all the more for it.


  1. Monnik on February 4, 2008 at 11:09 am

    What an amazing explanation of how you tick. I think many of us can identify with you – especially when it comes to putting on a brave front and getting through the crisis.I do the same when I’m in a crisis – I try not to ask for a specific outcome, but I ask for peace and the ability to cope. It’s worked for me so far, even though I didn’t always get the outcomes I wanted, at least I was granted peace and coping skills.

  2. Jenster on February 4, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I try not to ask for a specific outcome, but I ask for peace and the ability to cope.That’s what I do, too. Usually. Though I’m always sure to tell God what I want first. lol

  3. His Girl on February 4, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I didn’t think I could enjoy you more… but I do- I can’t imagine how since I liked you so much already.you are such a source of encouragement to me 🙂

  4. Sing4joy on February 4, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Wow. You described me to a “T”(without the bone scan)When the twins were babies we had a carbon monoxide scare at which time my husband was somewhere doing what the Air Force wanted him to do and I had to find a place for them to go while this manic fire department team shut down my home in order to do their readings or whatever and I just went through it, stoic as can be. Then when they finally told me everything was clear, it was a false alarm, I just lost it at all the possible things that could have happened to my babies. And though I didn’t understand it at the time, God was solely the source of my strength and has always been – even before I knew it. You are more transparent than you think and I appreciate it.

  5. radioactive girl on February 4, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I think I am exactly the same way (surprised, right?) When things are happening, I convince myself that I am fine and then afterwards I realize/finally notice how tense and worried I actually was. I guess I would rather do that than fall apart while in crisis, right?

  6. Shauna on February 4, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Jen, you’re not a fraud. You’re open, honest and real. I think this is what His peace is all about. It passes our understanding and at the times we’re in need, it gives us strength and ability to deal with life’s curveballs. Then, when the crisis has past and we’ve come out the otherside, reality comes knockin’. The possibilities hit us, we’re overwhelmed and we sob out our gratitude and all the useless fear that was lurking.But make no mistake; it was His peace, which he gave you, that held you together. You’re such an inspiration. I wanna be just like you when I grow up. 😉

  7. Gretchen on February 4, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Of COURSE you were nervous about the outcome. You have faced the unimaginable for most of us, and no matter how many NEDs you get, how could you NOT have at least a kernal of “what if”??? I know God has seen you through this and will continue to be faithful, but no matter what we call it, there’s a certain amount of grief and loss associated with not having your life be as you had imagined. None of us thinks that cancer will be in our future. We’re young. We’re healthy. We’re doing just fine. And then…guess what? Not so fine. This is an amazing post of hope, and of the Father giving you what you need when you need it. I pray He will always do so. Many hugs, Friend. I won’t call you brave, but I might think it in my head. 🙂

  8. April on February 4, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    You are so not a fraud. You are as real as real can get. Thanks for your transparency. You are an encouragement to me dear friend. Praying for you as you come to mind….

  9. Katybug on February 4, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Fraud? Really, Jen. I’ve met frauds in my life. You do not qualify. We respond the same way to crises…I think I told you before about not worrying about my first dr. appointment, but the night before I totally lost it. And you’re absolutely right…it’s God’s work in your life that allows you to be you. And that’s what I love so much about you!!!BTW, is “funkitated” in the dictionary?

  10. Jaime on February 4, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Hey there…..I totally agree with everyone above – you are not a fraud; this is just how you get through hard times, which is fine. I am the same way – I was fine throughout the biopsies and unclear results and the surgery – but when I finally got the results that they got everything and I need to come back for my postop visit and then every 3 months after that for 2 years, I broke down crying. I had been so busy “taking care of things” – insurance stuff, and asking for days off, and researching health info, etc – that I never slowed down to check in with myself, and when I finally had the answers, I was able to breathe, and fall apart. At any rate, I think you are still brave – even if you don’t think so……just continuing to have faith in the face of fear and uncertainty is bravery.

  11. Swishy on February 5, 2008 at 12:47 am

    Oh, I totally know what you mean! And you said it all so eloquently, too 🙂

  12. Becky on February 5, 2008 at 2:27 am

    You totally nailed it with this post, Jenster.I agree with the others…you’re not at all a fraud…you’re a very real person coping with crisis in the best way you know how. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with optimistic self-talk heading into a potential crisis situation. In a way, it’s like smiling when you don’t feel like smiling inside. Sometimes you have to do that first before the happy feelings follow.As always, our faithful Lord met you where you were, with what you needed to get through. To Him be the Glory! And I know it’s all Him…but your trust in him in light of all you’ve been through is truly inspiring.

  13. Cheryl Wray on February 5, 2008 at 11:09 am

    What a frightening experience with little Taylor. I can only imagine how scary that was!And I think that your story here is just wonderful to share. Everyone gets nervous and scared; we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. And, yes, my perceived strength (I am very positive person) only comes from my faith. When you know that it’s all gonna work out–even in the ultimate showdown, between life and death–then it makes it so m uch easier to get through. I can’t imagine how people without Christ in their life deal with things.Will be praying that everything remains well with you!!!

  14. susan on February 5, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Fraud? More like couragous. I’m the same way (although I haven’t been tested nearly the same way as you have) There’s simply no time for tears or worrying, it only makes things worse. Watching your journey through this always amazes and inspires me. You’re one of my heros. Really.

  15. Sandy on February 5, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Wow, that is powerful. Thank you for sharing. My faith has increased …Sandy

  16. Sandy on February 5, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Wow, that is powerful. Thank you for sharing. My faith has increased …Sandy

  17. lahdeedah on February 5, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    I feel we have lived parallel lives, Jen. I spent four days in a hospital in Fresno, while my (then) four-year-old son struggled to breathe in an oxygen tent. But unlike you, my faith is new. I love reading your posts because I like how you think, laugh, love and trust. I’ve always been happy, but I haven’t always had peace. I hope to one day be able to pray with as much faith as you. And I hope to be as big a fraud as you :)Love,Jill

  18. Lynilu on February 6, 2008 at 2:17 am

    Strong spiritual conviction is an amazing thing, isn’t it. The best thing is that it sustains us even when we forget we have it. 🙂 Gee, do you think it might be because of who is on the other end of the Promise?I came to thank you for the well wishes you left at my blog. I am better, and I hope to be myself soon. All is well, isn’t it?

  19. Jen on February 6, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Bless you Jen! You are a woman who knows Who to call upon in a crisis. That makes you *wise* – not a fraud! Hugs!

  20. KT on February 6, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Jen, you’re a lot braver than you think, because you’ve found a way to get through anything….a way that works for you. And, you are brave enough to talk about it. I think you are terrific!I am definitely with you on the cleansing cry. There’s nothing wrong with letting loose. It just lets everything go and you feel so much better afterwards. Sometimes I think I should schedule one in every now and then.Take care, KatieP.S. You are definitely not a fraud! You are genuine, which is one reason I truly enjoy your blog.

  21. Eileen on February 7, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Jen, Sweetie, You are so not a fraud!! I love the honesty of this post. You go into the protective mode, to protect yourself, but mostly to protect your loved ones around you. If you let your true fear and anxieties all out, it would be so overwhelming for you. You keep it together, do what you have to do, and keep praying. I think it is a total defense mechanism, and when things are all ok, it is safe for you to let it all out. And you should!!! That is a HUGE major stressor that you have been carrying around and worrying about, and Thank God, it is over. Letting out those scared, negative feelings is normal and healing, and allows you to move on, with a lighter heart and soul. God know exactly what he’s doing.Love you.XOXOX

  22. Lynilu on February 7, 2008 at 1:06 am

    Jen, go check my blog. I’ve passed along to you an award. You’re one of my heroes. Hugs. 🙂

  23. SweetAnnee on February 15, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Jen..how did the scan come out.I’ve tried to find it.you ARE brave..God does that for uslovingly, Deena

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