Thank you, tired little tigers, for reminding me to be thankful

By Chris Maza

Every so often you should stop and think about what you’re thankful for.

A lot of times, however, something unexpected forces you to do so.

For me this year, it was the “tired little tigers.”

Last week I got a call from my soon-to-be-2-year-old daughter’s daycare provider.

She had a fever and had to go home. Not an unusual set of circumstances, especially given the time of year. In fact, my wife and I had just been discussing our streak of good fortune and how she hadn’t yet been sent home sick.

Her fever when we left daycare was 101.3. By the time her mother got home from work, it had risen to 103.7. With the doctor’s office about to close and no way to squeeze her in, we were instructed to take her to the emergency room.

For her part, our daughter was a rock star. The doctors and nurses kept warning us that she was going to cry when they did one thing or another, but she didn’t even flinch, even at a finger prick for a blood sugar test. The same cannot be said for mom and dad, who each had their moments of consternation and frustration as they watched their sick child sit in a hospital bed in her “tired little tiger” miniature hospital gown.

Luckily, after several tests and a lot of waiting, the results were negative for flu and the doctors said there was no ear infection or signs of RSV – just a virus that spiked a really high fever.

We can’t say enough good things about the staff at Baystate Medical Center’s pediatric emergency room. All of the doctors and nurses were extremely friendly, helpful and kept us in the loop with everything. With as positive as the outcome was and the fact that our four-hour ER visit had us home by around 9 p.m., I came to realize how exhausting the hospital experience is. It also made me reflect on how blessed we are to have a healthy child and acknowledge that I can’t even begin to understand the mental, emotional and physical toll that is taken on parents who have children with serious medical issues – not at all forgetting that those children are experiencing the same exhaustion in addition to whatever symptoms they face due to their ailments.

Compounding things for me was the fact that a day earlier I had been compiling excerpts from the Thompsonville Press for the Our Town section of the Longmeadow News’ sister paper, the Enfield Press. Our Town is a collection of writings that helps paint a picture of life in the Thompsonville section of Enfield, Connecticut, in 1889. In this week’s edition all those years ago, there was a mention of a woman who lost her 7-year-old daughter due to illness, the fourth child she had lost in a year, along with her husband who had died a year prior. It’s not uncommon; while perusing these archives, I find myself regularly reading about young children succumbing to illness – simple illnesses that today are often considered nuisances.

I’m thankful to have access to medical care and that we live in an age where treatments and vaccinations have made such a difference in our lives. I am even more thankful that such great care is available so readily, as flawed as the healthcare system may be.

What seemed to be a routine call from daycare sparked a far-from-routine wave of contemplation and appreciation that I admittedly don’t engage in often enough during the hustle of life. And in the end, it’s the little things, the things that drive me nuts for which I’m really grateful.

I’m grateful that I’ll be able to watch my daughter run after the dog with Minnie Mouse in one hand, a dinosaur in another. I’m grateful that I’ll be there to hear whatever her newest favorite word is next week, even though this week it’s “No,” and probably will be again next week. I’m grateful that she’ll try to eat every vegetable while we are trying to prepare dinner then refuse to even look at them when they are in front of her at the table. I’m thankful that when we’re trying to get out the door tomorrow, I’m going to inevitably ask, “Where’s your shoe?” because she’s walking around with one on and the other one is probably under the couch.

A soon-to-be-two-year-old sitting in a hospital bed in a hospital gown covered in cartoon tigers made me stop and count my blessings.

For that, I am thankful.