Are laws good or bad?

Yesterday I received a letter in the mail that I’ve been dreading for years. I was notified that our insurance will be discontinued on June 30. But I’m not supposed to worry, because they have a plan that’s “comparable,” that can start July 1.

Our insurance is being discontinued, like so many others...but don't simply blame a law and call it quits. Work for solutions. It's why we live where we live.

Our insurance is being discontinued, like so many others…but don’t simply blame a law and call it quits. Work for solutions. It’s why we live where we live.

Except I don’t trust that it is.

It’s not that I’m always this distrustful. But George doesn’t rely on me taking someone else’s word for it. We live in North Dakota. His pediatrician is in South Dakota. His specialists are in Minnesota. Right now, I don’t have to worry about things like “networks” and “preferred providers” and whatever other words they throw in the way of the search for medicine.

George, summer 2010, before we had a diagnosis more than "failure to thrive." This is the picture that I look at when I wonder if I'm pushing too hard...and then I push harder.

George, summer 2010, (about 16-months old, wearing 6-9 month clothing) before we had a diagnosis more than “failure to thrive.” This is the picture that I look at when I wonder if I’m pushing too hard…and then I push harder.

But I digress.

So, I posted last night that I received the dreaded letter, and the response was pretty much what I figured it would be – people blamed the law.

Is it the law’s fault? Did the law write itself? Did it pass on its own? Has it not had a chance to be corrected? The flaws less flawed? The problems less problematic? The promises more promissory?

And yet, we’re so quick to blame the legislation. Blame the party. Blame whatever inanimate object, thing or idea that cannot possibly take the blame. So where does the blame lie? (Here’s where I probably lose a little popularity…) It lies with legislators, lawmakers, elected officials…and us.

That’s right. I take partial responsibility. Do you? I voted. And have, in every election since I turned 18. Which means I’m partially to blame. Not because I didn’t vote “right,” but because I haven’t done enough to make sure that my lawmakers understand who I am, where I’m coming from and what it is that I need from the laws they are passing.

I cannot blame the law, when I haven’t done as much as I could do to ensure that the changes I need are being made. And that doesn’t begin and end with complaining – it includes constructive criticism, yes, but also solutions – real ones.

Let me be clear, I know of several families (real ones), that have been helped by the Affordable Care Act. I do not deny that we truly need access for all to health care, and health insurance, as well.

I guess it’s time I get to working on my suggestions for solutions, because I definitely have a problem.

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Being a perfect parent

It’s been a crazy few days…in ways that I can’t even begin to explain. We couldn’t get to church this morning because Boss Man returned from his uncle’s funeral at 2 this morning, and I stayed up to watch cows so he could sleep. I took a few moments this morning for myself and did a little thinking, I guess some would call it reflecting, maybe others would call it meditating.

I’m reading a book called “99 Ways to Raise Spiritually Healthy Children,” by Kathleen Long Bostrom. It’s not my usual reading fare…but any time I see something that I think will help me be a better parent, I’m game to read it.

The first two pages went straight to my heart…and I know I’ll be hooked for the other 98 ways (but I’ll only read them one chapter per day, so I can soak in the information). The first thing the book tells me is that you should forget about being a “perfect” parent. Instead, work on being “pretty good” or “good enough.” The term that they use that spoke most to my heart? Be a perfect parent for your child.

Amen.

This chapter came with three things to always remember: 1) Remind yourself that you’re only human. Let go of mistakes and missed opportunities. 2) Recognize things that you can’t control. Go with the flow. 3) Remember the big picture. You’re not in this alone, and believe in grace.

You ARE a good parent, you just can’t base your judgment off what others think. You can’t use someone else’s ruler to measure your worth as a parent. So stop doing it.

Why does this speak to me so much? I don’t think these words would have stopped me so completely this morning, had it not been for our youngest son – you all know him as George on this blog.

Before George was born, we knew that he was trouble. At 13 weeks pregnant, I became very, very sick and ended up having an emergency gall bladder removal. The risk of the surgery to his survival was pretty high, but the risk of leaving it in was high as well. We moved forward, and he showed a great amount of resilience. My right kidney gave me all sorts of trouble, and we finally got to the answer during the final weeks of my last pregnancy. I have a twist in the tube that goes from my kidney to my bladder, and pregnancy would close off that twist…blocking my kidney and causing lots of pain. Stents were painful as well, so I tried my best to make it as far as I could.

In the last few weeks of my pregnancy with George, we did an amniocentesis to see if we could deliver early. At 37 weeks, it shouldn’t have been much of a problem, but my doctor wanted to make sure. It was a good thing she did, because even at that stage in my pregnancy, his lungs were very immature. We waited until 39 weeks to the day, then delivered by repeat c-section. (I had one regular delivery and three c-sections.)

He had a few hours of trouble with breathing, but nothing major. I spent a few extra days in the hospital because of problems with my cesarean. George and I left the hospital with a clean bill of health.

But that bubble didn’t last long.

Late-onset jaundice, troubles gaining weight, something that seemed like colic, but not…finally I gave in and went to the doctor, but our regular doctor wasn’t in. Blood work, lab tests. We left the clinic with promises of phone calls with answers. The clinic is an hour from our farm, so I took advantage of the time to get a few groceries and other items not available in our small community.

My skinny, tiny little boy. My heart.

My skinny, tiny little boy. My heart.

Something told me to check our home voicemail. We received a message from the doctor himself, asking for me to return his call ASAP. (I don’t know why they didn’t use the cell phone number I gave them.) I did, and received the news that we needed to get to the hospital. We were being admitted.

What was wrong? It seemed like everything. Nothing made sense. Off-the-charts liver enzymes, critically low blood sugar, etc. There were more lab tests with flags than normal. And we didn’t have a clue what was going on…he was three months old.

Who can deny this determination? Meet all of your challenges head-on.

Who can deny this determination? Meet all of your challenges head-on.

That began a whirl-wind of appointments, specialists and 18-months not knowing what was going on. I pushed and pushed…knowing somewhere there would be an answer. Failure-to-thrive is a symptom, not a diagnosis.

Finally, the fourth physician that was involved at Mayo (or maybe sixth? seventh? I lose track.) came up with a long-shot. Ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. (You can check out the OTC tab on top) Yes, spell check, I know that’s spelled right. I’ve had to spell it many, many times.

Low-protein diet, tons of doctor’s visits, extreme caution with illnesses…it’s been a crazy ride. Imagine, a rancher’s son living the life of a vegan – yet stricter. But the payoff? Weight. Curiosity. Growth. Imagination. My son.

I have NOT been a perfect parent. But I have been the perfect parent for my son.

According to science, my son isn’t expected to live to see the age of 5. He’ll be 4 in April. According to science, my son should have developmental disabilities. His MRI shows the gaps where his white matter should be. He’s an extremely intelligent little boy who knows all his letters, colors, numbers and shapes. He has started adding and subtracting and can read simple words. According to science, he should be sickly and weak. He hasn’t been in the hospital since last year at this time. According to science, he shouldn’t be growing. His blood work shows that he produces no measurable amount of growth hormone. His pituitary gland is small and malformed. Yet he weighs 42 pounds and has grown three inches this year.

We are beating odds and blowing away science. And we won’t quit pushing.

No, I am not a perfect parent. But I am perfect for my son. And he is perfect for me.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6