Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Unexpected Vacations, Cooking Anew, and Facing Eternity

Wow. It's been a long time since I've talked to you. Life has taken some unexpected turns since I last wrote.

In May my beloved and I went to Reno, NV in search of treatment for his Lymes Disease. We found out several things concerning his health, including his food allergies which ended up playing a large part in the pain he'd been dealing with.

The treatments at the Sierra Integrative Medical Center lasted for six weeks. I ended up flying back home and then bringing our four boys back with me for the duration of Travis' treatment. Two 12-hour days of driving straight through from Minnesota to Nevada gave us a lot to talk about and gave me a new appreciation for seeing the country through the eyes of young men.

We made it home as July took off. It seemed we'd missed so much of the summer and our own home improvement projects that we tried to make up for lost time. The summer flew by and in the midst of it all I was trying to learn how to cook gluten free. I could write a book about that alone!

Then summer turned into fall and winter, bringing with it harvesting and the holidays. It didn't seem like much time had passed before Christmas was staring us in the face. It was during this time that our littlest son faced eternity. It was a Christmas I'll never forget.

We'd been visiting my folks for several days and had just spent the last two evenings at my sisters' homes, snacking on Christmas goodies, laughing about old times, and watching the nieces and nephews play. Winter weather prevented us from going home the day planned so we snuggled back into my parent's guest bedroom and stayed another night.

During the night our 20 month old son, Ty, slept restlessly. He woke up with the peeking sun, whimpering. I crawled out of bed to rock him. Instead of a sleepy smile, I was greeted with rosy cheeks, a warm forehead, and 'mommy, I don't feel good' eyes. What worried me most was his raspy breathing.

He'd had a touch of croup about this time last year. You know, that barking seal cough that scares parents and usually requires a Nebulizer treatment or two. Travis and I rocked with him next to a steaming pot of water. We bundled him up and took him outside in the cold air. We tried all of the nurse's suggestions but his breathing only sounded worse. When we arrived at the clinic, they listened to his breathing and took us back to ER.

We were sent home with a prescription for pneumonia and Nebulizer treatments. I suggested that we go back to my folks, pack up our bags and the boys and get the prescription filled on the way home. Ty was sleepy and this way he could get his much needed rest. Travis shook his head. "Let's get the prescription right away. We'll give the boys an early lunch and then head home."

One decision can change your life.

By the time we got back to my parents', Ty had fallen asleep. We laid him on the bed and proceeded to start lunch. About fifteen minutes later he woke up. He was hot, glassy-eyed, and his breathing made my heart skip. When we tried to give him the medicine he couldn't even swallow it. He drooled it out in a pathetic wheeze.

Within five minutes we'd called the hospital back and were on our way into town again. This time they took X-rays of his throat and a Dr. came into the room with a sober face. "I'm not going to kid you," he said. "This is life-threatening."

Ty's throat was swelling shut.

Amid the blur of the doctor's voice, Travis' grave nods, and nurses coming to and fro, I simply held my baby close to my chest and rocked him back and forth, back and forth. Suddenly it all came back. My beloved Katie.

Oh, God. Not again.

Four days to the due date. The lack of movement. Fear gripping my heart. The ultrasound and a still gray form on the screen. The stunning realization that she was gone before I'd ever gotten to know her. Empty arms when they took her body away.

This time it would be different. I had known Katie only through her movements. But I knew Ty by the softness of his skin as I held him. I knew him by his hungry cry when I had nursed him. I knew him by the twinkle in his eyes and his pudgy arms circling my neck in a hug.

Oh, merciful Father. I can't do this again.

But as the doctor left the room and Travis wrapped me in his arms, a peace that only my God could give, stilled my frantic heart.

"God, he is yours. He is yours. You love him more than I." I don't know how many times I repeated this. It could have been minutes, it could have been just once. But I knew with all certainty that my little Ty was His first. Not mine. As much as I loved my baby, my Father loved him more.

The next hour was filled with a flurry of activity.

"We're calling an ambulance and taking him to a bigger hospital."

"We need to sedate and intubate him."

"You need to leave the room while we do this procedure. You can say your good-byes first."

My heart dropped. Good-byes. I knew what that meant. There might never be hellos again. I might never see his little face peering over the side of my bed in the early morning light. I might never chase him through the house just to hear his infectious giggles. I might never see his eyes fill with love when our noses rubbed together.

I laid my cheek next to his. It was still so hot. I hummed him our favorite song just as I did when he took his nap.

I don't know if he heard me.

The flurry increased.

"We're airlifting him."

"No, mom can't come with. Here are directions to the hospital."

The doctors and nurses weren't being callous. They were being professional. They were doing the jobs they'd been trained for. But oh, how I hated to leave him.

Then there was the blur of going back to my parent's house. The boys had gone to my sister's. We threw clothes in a suitcase and drove to the hospital. With each passing mile we prayed and reminded each other that God had prepared us for this. When Katie died God became the pillar of strength I'd never known before.

He still was.

He'd been with us the first time. And He was with us still.


Oh, how tiny Ty looked in that hospital crib. Tubes went down his throat and into his nose. Wires ran from IV's in both hands and feet. Machines surrounded his bed. Monitors blinked red lights and numbers I didn't understand. And he slept.

Oblivious to everything around him, Ty was now fully sedated. He was temporarily paralyzed so he wouldn't dislodge the tube with his movements. Because of the paralysis medication he was given steroids to prevent internal bleeding and a machine breathed for him. He was given several antibiotics until the test results came back. He was given extra fluids so he wouldn't become dehydrated. The list went on . . .

And still he slept.

We hovered around his bed. We whispered and sang to him. We touched his cheeks and kissed his fingers. We prayed. We talked to doctors. We watched the clock turn minutes into hours and hours into days. For six days Travis and I lived in that ICU room while Ty slept.

Finally, the day came that the doctors decided to switch his tube to a smaller size. This was a good sign. The swelling was coming down. If progress continued at this rate he may be breathing on his own by tomorrow.

Travis and I went with the nurses as they wheeled him down the hall and into the elevators. The procedure was done and we were on our way back. Tears were rolling down his little cheeks. Why was he crying? Had he felt pain? Had he needed me, even in his sleep, and I wasn't there? I didn't have to say the words out loud before Travis squeezed my hand in reassurance.

When we arrived back in his ICU room the nurses started getting Ty settled again. Suddenly Travis noticed one of the monitors. Ty's oxygen level was dropping. Fast. A nurse looked at his tube and shouted for a doctor. The tape that held Ty's tube to his face had gotten wet and had slipped. The tube was no longer in his lungs and since he was still on the paralysis medication, he couldn't breathe on his own.

My heart dropped in my chest. The doctor rushed in and started hammering out orders. Nurses rushed in and out of the room at his command. Travis and I stood in a corner, clutching each other's hands and praying silently. All we could do was stand back and watch.

Once again the Lord reminded me that Ty was His. If Ty's time on earth had reached its end, then it was because God ordained it before time began. This was in God's hands. Not ours. Not the doctor's and nurses'. The end result would be what God had planned for our good and His glory.

They reversed the paralysis medications and gave Ty oxygen manually for about 20 min. before they allowed him to breathe on his own.

Twenty minutes is a very long time.

And then the sound I longed to hear. A cry. Weak and feeble as it was, Ty was crying. The whole room sagged in relief.

"Mom, sit here. You can hold him now."

Can a mother's empty arms ever feel so full? How could the weight of my baby release a flood gate of tears? Gratefulness. Joy. Love. That's how. Humbled. God had let me keep my baby a little longer.

He's here right now, sitting on my lap as I type. We're home. He's alive. His smile has never been brighter.

God's mercies are simply overwhelming.


Anonymous said...

This one had me weeping!

Steve n Vickie said...

Wow! So thankful, you got to spend a little more time with your little one. We'll be praying for you as he finishes up recovering from such an ordeal.

Paula J. Miller said...

Thank you for your prayers. I can't tell you how good it feels to rock him to sleep each night!

God's mercies never fail to amaze me. I pray I can raise the boys in a way that pleases Him.