Hi friends! If you haven’t noticed it has been a couple week’s since I last posted on my blog. It’s amazing how life can change in the blink of an eye. For those of you who follow me on instagram, probably have heard about the hard last several days our family has had. For those who haven’t heard, I am going to share some experiences that have been traumatic and life changing for our family…and yet, so beautiful and wonderful at the same time. If you come to my blog for recipes, feel free to skip over this post. However, if you want a glimpse into our life and would be so kind as to allow me to share my heart with you, I would love you to join me on this journey.
I have a confession. I am an awful journal keeper! I think the last time I wrote in my journal was over a year ago. Thus, the reason I have a blog. Although my kids won’t be able to look back on my blog and know the ins and outs of their life as a child, they will hopefully know they were well loved, well fed and they had a Mom who wanted to document some of my most important memories and experiences with them. For the rest of you, I appreciate your patience as I every now and then, share moments in our life that I feel I will want to remember in the future. So, when the day comes (hopefully when we are old and gray) and Deals to Meals seises to exist, my recipes and most memorable moments will live on. That’s my hope anyway 😉
Well, last week was one of those weeks that seem to stop you in your tracks and make you take a good, long look at your life and put things into perspective. This crazy journey began a week ago Saturday. Our youngest son Blake has always had respiratory problems. He was hospitalized with RSV when he was 9 months old and it was a very frightening experience as a mother. After a week he finally improved and was able to come home. Since that time, he has suffered with respiratory problems nearly every month of his life. He was misdiagnosed for awhile but we eventually found out he has a severe case of asthma. Well, last Saturday he came down with a fever and began having breathing trouble. We tried the ‘usual’ asthma methods to help him get better to no avail. Monday morning I frantically called his pediatrician and got him into be seen. They immediately hooked him up to an oxygen tank and gave him breathing treatments. We stayed at the doctor’s office for 5-6 hours, while they tried to watch him and see if he was okay. They finally decided to send us home with hundreds of dollars of antibiotics, medicine and had Home Health bring us oxygen tanks to keep his oxygen up until he got better. They found he had pneumonia, the flu and rhino virus (how is that for an awful combination! Poor kid).
For two nights I couldn’t sleep. I slept by him, watched his breathing and just about went crazy not knowing what I could do to help him. I brought him back each day to the doctors office and they sent me home with a different ‘solution’ or method to try to help his breathing. On Wednesday I took my other two kids to the same doctor and found out they had Strep Throat and the Flu. At this point, all five of our children were sick with the flu. Blake was just the most sick and couldn’t even lift his head off of his pillow. I had that gut-instinct that knew something was wrong. However, we have some of the most horrific insurance there could be (it stinks to be self employed!) So, we knew any amount of time in the emergency room and/or hospital would cost $10000 without blinking an eye. Of course, our child is worth WAY more than that, but it does make you have to stop and think when is it ‘necessary’ that we go in.
After several hours watching my son and my heart practically breaking because he was so uncomfortable, we called the doctor and said we couldn’t take it anymore. He needed to be admitted to the hospital. He agreed, met us there and we drove as fast as we could. On the way to the hospital our son began grabbing his throat saying that he was choking. This of course wigged me out as a mom and told my husband to drive faster (if that was even possible). We got him admitted, they hooked him up to oxygen, got an iv going and hurried and took some x-rays. At this point my sweet little four year old boy was screaming in pain (not like him at all!). What seemed like an eternity, the doctor came back in with tears in his eyes saying he was sorry but he had bad news (not what parents want to hear). The x-rays showed that Blake’s lungs were basically in respiratory failure and his body cavity, neck, and sides were filled with air. Air was being released from his lungs and it was filling his body cavity. Come to find out, when air is inside your body, it is excruciating and it gives the person the feeling they are drowning from the inside out. No wonder my son was so distraught. At this point, my prayers were growing in intensity and I really didn’t know what to say. The doctor said they were going to life flight our son to Primary Children’s Hospital ICU (one of the best children’s hospitals in the world). I was grateful he was going there because I knew he would get the very best care possible. However, I would not be able to stay with my son on a helicopter so they chose to have him go by ambulance.
The awesome EMT’s (they were fantastic!) came, put him on a stretcher and drove him (and me) to Primary’s as quickly as they could. They had to give my son lots of morphine to keep him still so his lungs wouldn’t collapse from him coughing so hard. My husband drove behind us and actually beat us to the hospital (I told you..he drives fast ;). Once we got to the ICU it was like I was watching a movie. There were doctors and nurses everywhere. The ICU was filled with sick children, parents crying, machines everywhere and the commotion was unlike anything I have ever experienced. By this point it was almost midnight and I had not slept in two days. My body was starting to give out and I felt like I was going to faint. I prayed that I would be able to be strong and be able to hold it together for my son and husband. It was heart wrenching watching them work on my son’s little body. They were trying every machine, every medicine and everything they could think of to try and stabilize him. His oxygen and heart rate was way off the charts and his body was in complete distress. Nothing was seeming to work. Not to mention, he was still ballistic with pain and there was nothing I could do other than sit there and watch him scream. For those of you who have been in experiences where your children are crying out in pain and you have to just sit there and watch, it is utterly unbearable. It is like your stomach and throat get all tied up in knots and you feel like you are choking. Suffocating.
At this point all I could think was I need to pray. I needed a quite, peaceful place to talk to my Heavenly Father. My husband and I both were craving that solace that comes through prayer but it was no where to be found. The ICU was so packed that we were already sharing a room with another little girl who had crying and upset family as well. The noise level was insane. I decided to go to the restroom to try and find some peace and quite. I went around the corner, locked the door and poured my heart out to God. I knew he was listening. I knew he knew my son’s situation and I knew he was watching over us and would help me through this experience. This knowledge didn’t take the pain away, but it helped bring me comfort to know I had reached out to my Heavenly Father and he would hear my prayers.
The next several hours are a blur. There was no sleep to be had. My husband tried to close his eyes for a couple hours, but as a Mom, I’m not sure that would be possible. My eyes were glued to my son’s vitals machine and my heart sunk every time alarms went off and he was not doing well. Through the night I prayed. I prayed practically for 8 hours straight. There was nothing else my mind could focus on. I sang hymns in my mind to bring me comfort and then I prayed some more. I thought of my Savior Jesus Christ, who in the Garden of Gethsemane, had endured all of the pains of the entire world. I knew through his Atonement that he had already taken upon him the pains that I was feeling. In that moment I felt and appreciated his sacrifice more than I ever had before. It was one of the most tender and special experiences of this week. I truly felt his arms around me and I knew He would be with me–no matter what happened to my son.
The next morning (which felt like an eternity!!) the doctors were still concerned about his breathing. Several doctors gathered around him and were debating whether they should put him on a ventilator/life support. They had increased his oxygen rates all night and that was the last thing to do. Hearing those words felt like a dagger had been shoved through my heart. I felt like it was an out of body experience. I wanted to scream out…”Don’t you know you are talking about my son?! He is not a number. He is not just any patient. He is my sweet, happy, smiley four year old boy. He can not be hooked up to life support and become a vegetable!” It took all I had to just sit there, squeezing Todd’s hand and trying not to fall onto the floor in a puddle of tears. We both were praying that this would not be the outcome. Just at that time they announced over the intercom that they were having a ICU parent lunch. That was the last thing I wanted to go to, but my husband had a feeling we should go. He practically drug me along (out of my wallowing) and we went into a room with several parents who had children in the ICU. We talked to different parents who were going through similar tragedies as we were and others who had things much worse. One couple had been in there with their son (who was born with half of a heart) for several weeks. They said they won’t be going home for up to a year–and that was if he survived. Another mother was in the ICU with her son who had the flesh eating disease. They had already removed his fingers and toes and there were surgeons ready to remove his face (what?!?!). How horrific! These parents had teared filled eyes but were strong. In that moment it was as if we were able to gain strength from them. We saw their courage, their faith and it buoyed our spirits. As we walked back into our sons small room it felt different. Nothing had changed with our son, but it helped give us a major dose of perspective. No matter what happened to our son, we knew we would not be alone in tragedy. People lose their children. They hold onto their faith, they put their trust in an all-knowing Heavenly Father and they continue on. Todd and I finally were given some peace that whatever happened, we would be okay. After that, we tried to make the most of the day. We tickled our son’s legs, rubbed his cute, squishy cheeks, told him we loved him (although at this state he was basically sedated into an induced comma) and treasured every moment we had with him.
That night we had a tender mercy given to us. As the day progressed my son’s vitals started to stabilize. The machines were doing all of the work for his lungs, but he was at least getting to a more ‘normal’ range. Our prayers were answered that it looked like the ventilator wasn’t going to have to happen. At this point, I hadn’t slept in three days and I knew I had to try and rest. My husband and I cuddled up on the chair (that was about 2 feet wide) and we went to sleep. The nurses (George…I love you!), were so amazing and took complete care of Blake. They loved him and treated him like they would their own son (every nurse we had became angels to us!!). We finally got a few hours of sleep and woke up feeling optimistic. There was nothing to technically be optimistic about, but we just felt lighter. It was Thursday that we began being inundated with texts, emails and people calling to let us know they were praying for us. We began hearing about hundreds (probably even thousands) of people who were praying for our son. Hearing about all of these prayers–many from strangers) was so humbling. There are so many wonderful people in this world. No matter what faith you are, prayers are heard and I know that to be true. Also, I realized the power that comes from collective prayer. We have experienced this before with other family members who needed prayers, but this was the first time I had felt this for myself. We physically were lifted and elevated from the dark, sad place we were, to a lighter, happier place. Our outlook was brighter. Our burdens felt like they were being carried for us and I was reminded of a scripture that has become my new favorites.
Mosiah 24: 12-18 (from The Book of Mormon)
12. And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
13. And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort.
14. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as a witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
15. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
16. And so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you.
I felt the truth of these verses in those moments. We put our faith in God and he in turn, help strengthen us to carry the burden of possibly losing our son. At the same time, we trusted that if it was His will, we knew he could perform a miracle and save our son.
Friday morning (having been in ICU about 32 hours) will be a moment I will never forget. The respiratory therapist came to wash my sons face and give his face a break from the bi-pap machine. Any time his oxygen mask was removed in the past day and half, Blake’s oxygen levels would plummet and it became all-out-emergency mode in the ICU. The therapist was nervous to take off his mask, but had a back-up oxygen mask to give him the few seconds he needed to clean his face. He hurried and took off the mask (working frantically), washed his face and then went to put the mask back on before his oxygen levels dropped too far. Right as he went to put it back on, he realized he lost the spongy-fabric that went on my sons forehead. He started to panic and began looking all over the bed and on my son. He couldn’t find it anywhere. You could tell he began to be nervous because he knew he only had a few seconds to get the mask back on Blake. All of a sudden, we looked at his vital-machine and his oxygen number was 93. Time seemed to stand still. It was like we all were in shock. His heart beat began to drop dramatically and his respiratory rate was dropping as well (that’s a good thing ;). We all stared at that number of 93 in disbelief and the respiratory therapist said, “What is happening? He is NOT on any oxygen”. We all stood there, not daring to move. More nurses and doctors came in and pretty soon we all couldn’t help but laugh in disbelief. Blake, who had just hours before been on a machine that was doing 80% of his breathing for him, was now breathing room air with no assistance and his numbers were perfect.
The next hour we all just sat around watching those numbers. From that moment on (our ‘miracle moment’ we’ve called it), his oxygen remained in a perfect range (93-98). After an hour they said, “we have to release you from the ICU–his breathing is too perfect, we can’t keep him in here any longer”. All of the doctors and RT were in complete shock. They all said several times they had never seen a child go from a bi-pap machine to breathing room air in a matter of seconds. Usually this process takes days to months to achieve and here my son was breathing without any assistance after nearly passing away just a day before. My heart was overflowing with love and gratitude. As soon as my husband and I could, we went and found a quite room, locked the door and poured out our hearts in gratitude to Heavenly Father. We knew He showed forth His hand and saved our son. We’re not sure why it wasn’t his time to go, but we do know that if it weren’t for prayer, the faith of so many, our son would not be here today.
With in an hour, we were walking away from that small, dark and terrifying ICU room we called home for a couple days. As we left, I had the saddest feeling that we were leaving a sacred place. As my husband walked out, he had an overwhelming feeling that angels were there bidding us farewell and that our son would now be okay. We felt families prayers and love from this side of the veil to the other. This was a sweet and tender moment for all of us.
The remaining 24 hours we spent playing, snuggling and loving on Blake. We could hardly keep ourselves off of him. It was so fun to have him removed from all of his chords and IV’s. He was having a hay-day. The sweet nurses brought him any treat he wanted, he got to watch t.v., read stories, play games, build legos, etc. He kept saying, “I don’t want to go home”. We could not believe our eyes. The nurses and doctors on the regular floor could not believe he was ICU a few hours earlier. He looked and was acting completely healthy and normal. We had literally seen a miracle.
There really aren’t words to describe the emotions of this past week. We went from mourning the loss of our youngest son, to the elation of having him back with us in full health. We are not sure why we were given this miracle when there are so many who pray and don’t receive the answers they are hoping for. I wish we had the answers to these questions but we don’t. All I know, is God is real. He is good. He has a grand plan and purpose for each of us. If we pray to Him, we will be heard. We will be given the direction, support, strength and understanding we need. It may not always make sense now, but as we pray, we will be able to feel the love he has for us. This week has taught me so many things. I feel like I have learned more in this past week than I have in most of my life combined. For that I am grateful. Afflictions have a way of teaching us the things we need to learn in a more powerful and heartfelt way than any other method ever could. I am truly thankful for this trial and this experience. I hope it will make me a better mother, a more supportive friend, to have more empathy for those going through loss and a more faithful servant of Heavenly Father. I promised God that if he saved my son I would ‘stand as a witness’ and testify to others of His mercy and love. Thank you for letting me share this journey we have been on. I know we all don’t have the same beliefs and go through all different trials in our life. Hopefully we can all reach out to those who are suffering. Be a little more kind. Pray for others a little more sincerely and find more ways to serve. People around us need love and we can be an instrument in our Heavenly Father’s hands by reaching out to his children.
Thank you again for all of your prayers, concern, emails, acts of service and love shown to our family this week. It means more than we can ever express!