Children's Stories: The Tummy-ache

The Tummy-ache
by Jeannette Pelton

"Mommy!," shouted Maria. "Mommy!" It was late at night as Maria called from her bed. "My tummy hurts."

Mother came into her bedroom and turned on the light. "Where do you hurt?" asked Mommy. She felt her head. "Oh dear, you have a fever, too." Mother felt Maria's tummy. When she pushed on it, she howled out loud. "I'm going to get dressed and take you into the clinic."

Maria cried on the way to the doctor. Her head seemed to swim, and whenever Mommy hit a bump she thought she would throw up. Finally, they reached the doctor's clinic. Then she did throw up.

The nurse heard Mommy's description and took Maria back to the examining room. The doctor took some blood out of her arm. Maria tried hard not to cry, but it was very scary. Mommy held her hand. The doctor looked very serious.

"I'm afraid Maria has got appendicitis. She'll have to have her appendix taken out right away. It might break open and then she could get much worse. She might even die. I've called the hospital, and they will be waiting for you."

Mommy carried Maria out to the car for the two-block trip to the hospital. They went into the emergency room. A man dressed in green met them and had mother put Maria on a bed with wheels. Maria tightened her hold around Mommy's neck. "I'm afraid, Mommy. Don't go away."

Mommy smiled at her. "You don't need to be afraid. Remember what Jesus said? 'I will give my angels charge over you to keep you safe.' Your angel is right here. Part of you is sick and the doctors need to fix it. You won't feel anything because they will give you medicine so you will sleep. When you wake up, it will be all over and we can soon go home. Don't be afraid. Let's have a prayer before you go with the doctor." Maria let go and folded her hands and closed her eyes. "Dear Jesus, please help the doctors make Maria well again. Don't let her be too scared and don't let it hurt too much. Help her to be very brave. Thank you, Jesus. Amen." Mommy kissed Maria and the man wheeled the bed away.

The next morning when Maria woke up, Mommy was waiting by the bed with her teddy bear and a new puzzle.

"How do you feel?" asked Mommy.

Maria thought for a minute. "I'm thirsty. My tummy doesn't hurt as bad."

"Doctor says we can take you home later this afternoon, here's a drink of water."

Maria looked down at the bandage on her stomach. It looked so big it frightened her.

"Do I have a very big hole in my stomach?" she whispered.

"No, you don't. The doctor took out the spoiled appendix and sewed you back up. We'll go to Dr. Hatton to have the stitches removed end of next week."

Later that day, Maria and Mother went home. Mother put Maria to bed and told her to take a little nap while she made supper. She closed her eyes but couldn't quite seem to go to sleep. She wondered what stitches looked like. She wondered if she lifted the edge of the bandage, could she see them? Just as she was about to try mother came back in. "I thought you might like some apple juice," she smiled. "It is going to be hard to stay in bed for a few days, so I thought you might like to watch a nature video. I've asked your sister to bring a couple of them home from school." Maria drank her juice. Mother studied her a minute. "What's the matter? Do you hurt? Would it feel good if I rubbed your back?"

"It only hurts a little. But when I sit up I get dizzy."

"That will go away soon. It's always like that after an operation."

"Mommy, why did my appendix spoil?"

"What do you mean?"

"I eat good food, I sleep and drink water, and everything, so why did my appendix spoil?"

Mother thought for a minute. "You didn't do anything wrong, if that's what's bothering you. Good health habits will help you stay well and help you keep from getting sick, but sometimes things happen just because of sin. There isn't anything you can do about it, except take care of yourself and give your life to Jesus. He gives strength to resist disease and be happy."

"How long will it be before I am all better?"

"By Sabbath, you should be able to be up and out of bed. That's two days. You won't be well enough to go to church this week, but you will be next week. I'll call your teacher and tell her. Anything she wants to send home for you, your sister can bring. In three weeks, you won't even know you had been sick, except that you'll have a little scar where the bad appendix was taken out."

"Will it always be there?"

"Yes, it will fade a little as time passes, but it will still be there."

Maria thought for minute. "Why didn't Jesus stop my tummy from hurting?"

"But He did," answered Mommy. "Jesus helped the doctor know how to make you better. And He made your body so it can fix itself. There are little white blood cells working hard to kill any germs that might have gotten into the wound. There are other cells whose job it is to mend the skin and muscles, and more red blood cells are being made in your bones. Jesus made your whole body in such a wonderful way that it can repair itself. Sometimes it needs help, like when the doctor helped you by taking away the spoiled appendix, but most of the time your body works really well. That's why it's important to take good care of it by eating good food, and getting exercise, and resting, and drinking lots of water."

"If my body is doing all that work, it's probably getting sleepy," said Maria. "I think I can take my nap now."

"Good. When your sister comes back, you two can watch the video while I finish making supper." Mother smiled and pulled the drapes shut. "If you need anything, just call me. I'll leave your door open."

"OK, Mommy."

"Have a good little sleep, Maria."

Source: Making Families Whole: Family Ministries Planbook. Silver Spring, MD; Department of Family Ministries, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1995.

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