Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Diana Trautwein’s story, “A Christmas Remembered”

Here’s Diana Trautwein’s riveting Christmas vignette,
the fourth* and final of our guest blog posts.

A Christmas Remembered

Christmas was one week away. As usual, I had more to do than I had hours in the day. Would I manage to keep all the plates twirling overhead as the final countdown loomed? Just the night before, our nine-year-old had played in a school concert; he complained that his foot hurt and I noticed that he limped as the brass section marched into place.

That morning, he clearly didn’t want to go to school; he was slightly feverish, so I told him he could take the day off, tagging along on my errands. “You can rest in the car at the grocery store, honey, but I’ll need you to come in with me at church. I’ve got a rehearsal for Sunday morning.”

As our trio sang into the microphone, I kept one eye on the balcony, where I watched Eric entertaining himself. My tall, lanky son was crawling his way around the balcony floor. “That’s odd,” I thought.

As we headed back to the car, I commented, “It looks like that foot is really hurting you. Can you remember anything that might have caused your ankle to twist?”

“It’s not my ankle, Mom. It’s my heel. The bottom of it is so tender, I can’t step on it at all.” That was odd, too.

At home, I took his temperature; it was now 102 degrees, triggering a call to the pediatrician. Dr. Graves was a large, kind, and careful doctor, never given to alarmism. She laid Eric out on the table, examined him and looked at me hard.

“I don’t like this at all. I don’t like the combination of fever and severe bone pain. I’m calling an orthopedist right now and I want you there ASAP.”

My heart sank. I had dragged this kid all over town. Could he be seriously sick? The entire orthopedic staff was out, having their annual Christmas party, but the doctor came back to see my son. He looked grave.

“I am admitting this boy to the hospital. Take him there now. I am certain that he has osteomyelitis, a serious infection of the bone, and he needs to be on IV antibiotics immediately. You can count on a three-week stay.”

Three weeks??

Now thoroughly frightened, I called my husband and then admitted our boy. We took turns returning home to tend our two older daughters and to pack a few things; we would need to trade off nights at the hospital for as long as it took.

Suddenly, all those plates spinning around in the air came crashing down around my feet. Presents still to buy and wrap? So what? Christmas baking unfinished? Too bad. All of it went on permanent ‘hold’ as we contemplated our son’s illness.

We had called our church prayer line as soon as Eric was admitted and we knew our large circle of family and friends was praying for our boy. We spent our time talking with medical personnel, arranging for our daughters’ care, accompanying Eric to all of his tests and scans.

The orthopedist said, “It’s too risky to cut into his foot for a culture, so I’m guessing the cause of this infection. I’ll try two drugs that should make a difference - IF I’ve guessed correctly.”

We gulped and nodded, hoping that he was as good as his reputation. We sent up wordless cries to heaven as Eric was hooked up to his IV tower, and we began to wait.

A bone scan had revealed a hole the size of a quarter in the bottom of his left heel. Something was literally eating his bone away. He and his dad had taken apart an old jungle gym the week before and both of them had used their feet to kick at rusted joints. We guessed that the problem had its source there.

But the outcome? Completely unknown from day to day. At day four, another series of x-rays and scans were taken. The hole had shrunk considerably! And the pain and fever were lessening. Thank you, Lord! The doctor was astounded at the speed of Eric’s recovery, commenting that the Christmas spirit had accomplished something medicine alone could not.

We took him home on Christmas Eve, two full weeks sooner than expected. He was on crutches for Christmas morning - but he was home! The baking was still undone, the presents were not wrapped - but none of that mattered. Our family circle was complete; together, we opened the last window on the Advent calendar, welcoming the Babe of Bethlehem to our world, grateful beyond words for God’s gift of antibiotics and for well-informed guesses!

You’ll enjoy Diana’s blog, DRGT/Just Wondering.* She’s a deep thinker and eloquent writer, a woman after God’s own heart.

*Links and resources:

Samantha’s Christmas story,

Kathy’s Christmas story,

Nancy’s Christmas story,

Diana’s blog, DRGT/Just Wondering,


  1. Diana, Wow, what a beautiful story of a Christmas miracle! My heart was pounding as I related to your angst over your son's sudden and debilitating illness. I am rejoicing with you in his recovery and in your awareness of all that really matters. Your story is a testimony to the power of prayer and God's mercy and love. Wonderful! Wishing you continued blessings in the New Year.

  2. Diana, what a wonderful story. I've seen osteomyelitis and it isn't pretty. You definitely had a Christmas miracle.

    Isn't it amazing how fast our perspective on what is important and what is not, can change so fast?

  3. Kathy and Janet, I just knew you'd marvel at Diana's story! You're right, Janet -- such things help us immediately recognize what our real priorities are, and like Kathy said, what really matters. I especially appreciate the way Diana recognized God's involvement in every bit of it.

    Happy New Year, you two!


  4. Thanks, ladies, for your kind comments. That son is now almost 40 and a doctor himself. That was a very scary time and we were so grateful for healing graces! I wish I could tell you that I have managed to hang onto that right perspective as I face into the mountain of Christmas each year - not always so. But writing it out this year was a great reminder and encouragement for this Christmas at least!

  5. I know this is a busy, busy time for you Diana, so I want to thank you for stopping by.

    I had to smile when I read that your son is now a doctor himself. Have you ever noticed that a young person with a signficant medical issue often goes into medicine as adults? That seems like a Romans 8:28 thing to me, a way God not only works out things for good, but helps kids recognize His plans for them in life.

    Bless you, Diana, during this busy, emotional time.


  6. I'm imagining that moment when you looked up and found him crawling in the church balcony.


  7. What Sheila said. But I'm afraid my first thought might have been--if it had been my grandgirl--"stop with the drama, already."

    I wonder if that was when he decided to be a doctor.

  8. Hi, Sheila and Sandra, thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year!


  9. Thanks to that later group of friends who showed up here - and yes, I'm sure this episode had something to do with his deciding to go into medicine. There was another one, when he was 14, about 5 years after this one, that was far scarier in some ways, and that one played a part, too. He tells me it was when he was counseling high school students and had to accompany a kid to an ER while they were on a missions trip in Mexico. Personally, I think it happened when he fell in love with his wife - she has wanted to be a doctor since she was 10. Now they both are. But - - in the current climate, they are not particularly happy about that decision and that makes it tough for me as the mom. They're both great at it - but the paperwork and the threat of constant litigation and the hours - just plain wears them out. So...we shall see. Maybe they'll be second career folks, who knows?