Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

How a Killer Bat Taught me Perspective

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From Jeremy: This is an article I wrote last year about being gaining perspective. Last week there was another bat in the house, and I was reminded of how important it is to keep life framed well.

Last Tuesday was one of those days for me. One I would rather forget, but never will.

Every Tuesday morning I have to be at work at 6:30am for a meeting. Getting up earlier than usual makes any day a little tougher, and when I go to bed on Monday nights, my body groans with complaint.

How we feel about our lives has nothing to do with our reality, and everything to do with what we are comparing our reality to.

God gave me a difficult day to teach me that every one is a blessing.

photo by Brian Beggerly (Creative Commons)

The Bronchiolotis

Our 7 month old baby girl was sick. For those of you with small children, you understand how a sick baby completely disrupts life.

She had RSV (the bronchiolitis).  It was a sleepless and irritable Sunday and Monday. My wife took her to the doctor and he said, “Well, she is bad, but she’s not terrible. When she gets terrible, we will have to admit her to the hospital.”

So we spent Monday morning trying to decide whether she was still bad or had crossed over into terrible. Monday was a long night.

On Tuesday Grace had another visit to the doctor. The badness was still bad, but apparently not terrible yet.

A new fear was planted in our brains, however. Dehydration. Grace was not eating much and we were asked to give her plenty of fluids and to try Pediasure. A difficult task for a baby that refuses to drink from a bottle.

That Tuesday morning I groaned more than usual.

The Killer Bat

After school Tuesday my boys went to a birthday party.  To let my wife and baby rest, I took our 6 year old daughter out for a daddy-daughter date. This part of the day was wonderful. But on the way home my wife called to tell me that a bat was in our house.

A bat? How does that happen? More importantly, what was I supposed to do about it?

If I give too many details of what occurred regarding the bat I might be writing about marriage reconciliation next week, so I will keep it simple. Basically I had to stop and buy a bat catching net.

Armed with the net, I searched every inch of the house. The bat that was never found.

This wasn’t obvious to me at first, but my wife explained that you can’t go to bed as normal with an alleged bat loose in the house. It could be anywhere, ready to swoop down and kill us.

After it first tried to attack her, my wife quarantined herself and the baby in one of the bedrooms, so we knew it to be safe. We rearranged furniture and blew up air mattresses and had all 4 kids sleeping in the safe bedroom.

Despite fears of rabies, everyone fell asleep, including me. Finally.

The Vomit

I awoke at midnight to the sounds of my wife stomping around the house, and my 6 year old crying in the bathroom.

When the stomping made its way into our bedroom, my wife informed me that our other daughter had thrown up all over the entire house and everything was covered in vomit. I went in our bathroom and there our little girl stood just outside the shower wrapped in a towel, trembling, and the shower painted a certain shade of barf.

We have 4 kids and  are accusomted to vomit nights. But my daughter had taken it to another level.

After cleaning up the mess, things did settle down. Our RSV infested baby stopped wheezing and slept well. The forced expulsion of gastric contents out of the 4 year old ceased.

My wife and I were both worn out. Being physically and emotionally exhausted, we wondered if a day could be any worse.

The Perspective

When I awoke that Wednesday morning, I groaned more than I do on Tuesday mornings.

On my way to work I received a phone call from another doctor at the hospital. Although I had not been on call the night before, he was requesting my help. In the early hours of the morning, a family had been driving from Miami back to Chicago after a wedding.

As the SUV they were crowded into was approaching Louisville, the driver fell asleep. The vehicle flipped multiple times. Three people were killed. Two were children and one was the groom.

There were two more children in the accident that suffered fractured legs. The phone call was placed to ask me to treat their injuries. After finishing their surgeries, I went to the waiting room to speak to the mother.

I had to interrupt the coroner interviewing her about the death of her other kids.

Suddenly I realized that my previous day filled with RSV, a bat infested house, and vomit, had not been so bad after all.

Have you ever had a lesson on perspective?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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17 Replies

  1. What a powerful lesson, Jeremy! It’s one that we all need to learn on a daily basis.

    A bat is one of the few animals we’ve NOT had in our house. Squirrels, birds, mice, voles, yes but not bats.

    Katie

  2. Glenn

    I remember during a particularly difficult stretch both mentally and physically….I was sitting eating my PB&J sandwich wondering “God..why did you take away my high paying great job and leave me with working two jobs to survive….”. A co worker sat down next to me and said “PB&J… like champagne and caviar….God is good.”

    Turns out she had lost her car that morning..and 1 of her daughters was very ill and in the hospital…perspective indeed.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story, Glenn.

  4. We’ve had none of those. Maybe you get one or all of the others?

  5. One day my wife called me at work, frantic. I couldn’t really understand what she was saying. As it turned out, a routine ultrasound during our 3rd pregnancy found our pre-born son with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, in which the diaphragm does not form properly, allowing the intestines into the heart and lung area, thereby inhibiting the development of those vital organs. Often fatal, otherwise potentially life long health conditions.

    Even though lots of prayers, an excellent children’s hospital, surgeon, and God’s providence resulted in a now amazingly strong and healthy 10 year old, my perspective was changed.

    With the hindsight of a decade, it seems as if we were just “playing house”; I’ll be the daddy and go to work, you be the mommy, they’ll be the kids…

    Today, I believe that we are thriving as a family in order to to something special – give back, write, teach, and so on.

    Great article! What’s scarier – sick kids or bats?

  6. Must be. Or maybe if you have a cat (or two), you’re more likely to get crawling animals than flying ones.

  7. That’s a great story. I’m glad that he has done so well and that your life is better as a result.

  8. Bats are scarier. Sick kids are noisier.

  9. Jeremy, a couple weeks ago, my daughter and I went to pick up my wife from work. I was in a bad mood. I didn’t want to spend my valuable time driving around. I wanted to do something else that was enjoyable.

    When making a left turn, something told me to swerve a little to the left and I missed having an accident by a couple of inches. A car was coming the other direction and made a right turn and came into my lane. All I could do was pray and thank God for His protection. The impact would fallen almost squarely where my daughter’s seat is positioned.
    This obviously made me rethink my bad mood.

    I was so shaken that my 2 yr old kept asking, “Daddy, you okay? Daddy, you okay?” To which I replied. “Yes, we are okay. Yes we are okay.”

  10. I got to give you props for being able to walk into a situation like that with the car accident. That’s got to weight heavy on the heart.

    I get reality checks on my perspective all the time talking to our youth students. Their stories break my heart and remind me that the troubles I thought I had were
    not really trouble at all.

  11. Wow. Glad everyone is okay.

  12. Life is wacky. It’s amazing how quickly our perspective can change. We are truly blessed and need to thank God every day for every moment. And we need to make the most of every moment.

    Blessed are those who take nothing for granted. Nothing.

    Great story Jeremy. Thanks for sharing.

  13. This is why we need to get started today.

  14. Thank you Jeremy for this story…
    God bless you
    Janet

  15. Perspective indeed. Wow. That last bold type threw me. Thanks for the story, Jeremy.

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