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Just Another Run of the Mill Day, by Leah Atkinson
Review by Robin Bodnar
While at the 2013 Oley conference in Cape Cod, I purchased the book Just Another Run of the Mill Day, by Leah Atkinson. I had met Leah and her son Jameson at the 2010 Oley conference. My son, Andrew, had suffered a mid gut volvulus in December 2009, and Jameson had gone through the same thing in May 2001. Both boys were in their teens and in high school when this happened to them.
Just Another Run of the Mill Day is the story of that journey, and the ripple effects that can happen in a family when a catastrophic medical event changes everything. Leah says, “It is said that life can change in the blink of an eye. I blinked.” This quote truly summarizes the book’s content.
For me, this book was very easy to read, yet emotionally draining. I shed many tears, yet could not put it down. For three years prior, we had been living the first half of its story, but I had never had time to think about it. While reading, my heart sank as memories came flooding back. I am so thankful to have met the Atkinsons early in our journey. Because they traveled the road before us, they helped clear the way, and were a wonderful God sent gift of mentors to us.
Most people [in the general public] could probably relate more to the second half of the book [which is more about Leah’s younger son, Ross], because very few go through what happened in the first half. For me it was the opposite. I lived the first half. With that said, I could empathize with Leah’s journey with Ross. First, I have to say, it is so easy to judge someone whose children are in crisis. Having survived two of my three children’s teenage years (Andrew is still a teen), I could easily have fallen into that trap.
My children are well-adjusted and on their way to living productive lives. But had Andrew gotten sick when his siblings were younger, I think their outcome would have been so different. We wouldn’t have had the time to devote to them. My children were/are “good kids.” But my older son made sure to practice the art of drinking underage so that he could perfect it for when he was legal. I spent many nights praying and crying that he would come home safely. My daughter was such a perfectionist that we worried she would have ulcers by the time she was six. Andrew even had his own skirmish with the law.
When Andrew got sick, my children were young adults, who got put aside. Matthew came home from US Marine Corps training to find his brother in the ICU. He was put aside at Christmas, during his entire leave, so we could be at Andrew’s bedside. I worried, and apologized continually about the time I was not spending with my older children while Andrew was hospitalized. Had they been younger, like Ross, how would they have handled it? Would they have gotten angry? Would they have been afraid? Would their hearts have hurt? Would they have cried out for attention? Most likely, yes, they would have. Would they have turned to drugs and/or alcohol, to ease their anger, fear, and pain?
Children want attention, good or bad. They will take any they can get. At the time when your child is on life support, you do not tend to think about the effects on your other children. Then, when you find out there are lifelong medical issues that your child now faces, how does that affect your other children?
I want to thank Leah for sharing her heart. It could not have been easy to write this book, and to share so honestly, her journey. I also want to thank the Atkinson family for allowing her to share their wrinkles, warts, and scars. At times when life gets hard, and I feel so alone in this journey, I think of the Atkinsons and remember we are not alone on this trail. Others have traveled this path before us.
LifelineLetter, March/April 2014