Monday, April 11, 2011

Many are the plans… Part I, What is going on?

"Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand." -Proverbs 19:21

Preparing for a vacation is usually a little stressful but mostly exciting.  This year topped them all. 

Thursday Evening:

We got a call from my husband’s doctor after office hours, asking us to come in to discuss his MRI results.  Everyone knows that’s not good.  The MRI report from the radiologist showed a tumor above his left eye.  The radiologist reported it as a lymphoma.  But we wouldn’t know for sure until we saw the specialist on Monday.  Either way, surgery was the plan to remove the tumor whether it was lymphoma or benign.  Leaving him out of work until further notice.

Friday Night, March 25th, A Call To 911 :

I found my 15 month old baby boy laying face down on his pillow, gray, eyes rolled back, unresponsive and not breathing.  I yelled for my husband, who met me half way on the stairs, "he's not breathing, call 911!"

JD has a severe peanut allergy, so my first thought was anaphylaxis?  Or did he choke on something?  The girls are always putting things in his crib. Did he suffocate in his pillow? His skin was cold, a febrile seizure never crossed my mind.

I am registered nurse.  I practice handling these situations.  But all I kept thinking was “this isn’t suppose to happen in my own home, not to my own child." In the middle of our living room floor, I began CPR on our little JD.  He was only taking a small half-breath through his nose every 15 or 20 seconds on his own.  He seemed to be getting more and more gray, meanwhile our sweet little girls watched from the next room, trembling underneath a blanket.

I kept reminding myself, 30 compressions:2 breaths, was that even right?  He was so gray and so still, I never even thought to check for a heart beat at first, my head was just swimming, so I had started in with compressions.  I was just sure so he was gone.

“Dear Jesus, dear Jesus, dear Jesus,” I had no other words, just “dear Jesus,” thank God He knows the cry of our hearts even when the words won’t come.

I finally paused to think for a moment, I checked for a heartbeat.  Yes, he had heartbeat.  So, I just continued breathing for my baby.

My husband says it was about 5 or 10 minutes before JD took a breath on his own.  I wouldn’t know.  When he did take a normal breath, I yelled out, "He's breathing!" But no one answered; my husband had run to get the neighbors and the girls were so still and so silent that my heart hurt even more for them. 

My husband had called our closest prayer warriors who were praying with us as well.  Later, my mother-in-law shared with us that there was an exact moment when she felt a blanket of peace come over her and she told my father-in-law that something had happened; that either JD had gone home to be with the Lord or that he was OK and breathing again.  She was right. 

JD laid on the floor and moaned in meek quiet sounds for a long time, as his breathing slowly returned and his eyes began to re-focus.  I picked him up and rocked him back and forth, whispering in his ear, “cry for mama, please, just cry for mama.”  A different sense of panic began to settle in as I realized that he was now alive and breathing but still not alert or coherent.  It was about that time that EMS came through the door and immediately took JD from my arms.

JD stated to cry when the stranger took him and so did I.

I remember a man in a red sweatshirt standing beside me in my kitchen as they laid my son on the floor and put an oxygen mask on his face.  I was leaning back against the sink, and he had his arm around me, ensuring that I wasn’t going to collapse.  I have no idea who he was, or even what he looked like, but I appreciated it.

“He’s OK, he’s breathing, he’s OK now.” 

“Tell us what happened.”

“Mom, you did a great job.”

“He’s OK.”

Pretty sure I didn’t give them any useful information at that point. I just remember thinking “Ok? are you kidding me? OK? How can you say that he is OK?  He wasn’t breathing!”  But I suppose relatively speaking, he was “OK.”

It had only taken 15 minutes for EMS to arrive, according to them.  Soon after, my dear friend Lynn arrived, our neighbor, and shortly after that, my parents arrived in amazing time.  

In the ambulance we learned that JD had a temperature of 101 axillary, in spite of his cold skin.  “Looks like he had a febrile seizure, this happens all the time.”

Now I was angry.  How dare they say, “this happens all the time?”  How dare they?!  Maybe febrile seizures are common (and they are, my pediatrician later informed me that they see this about twice a month in their practice, and actually one of our daughters had had a febrile seizure before as well, but nothing like this) but common or not, it is not normal to find your child not breathing!  That does not happen all the time!  And he was face down in his pillow, what if we hadn’t heard the strange groan on the monitor?  What if we hadn’t gone to his room?  What would have happened?  “This happens all the time?”  Seriously? I don't think so.

Then I began to feel angry with myself. 

My middle daughter had been fighting croup and high temps for days on end.  I had been feeling drained and a little zombie-like from sleep deprivation and from the emotional pull of thinking about my husband’s condition; but JD… he had been fine!  He was a little warm when he went to bed that night, so I had changed his pajama’s to a lighter T-shirt when I laid him down.  But he was still smiling, happy, and silly at that time.  I had gotten home from the doctor’s office with AN4 just minutes before his bedtime and I was so focused on helping her to feel better that I guess I missed the fact that he was becoming feverish as well. My plan had been to maybe give him some Tylenol when I went to bed an hour later, but I guess I was a little too late.   

In the ER

I remember feeling so shaky that I couldn’t hold JD anymore.  I was afraid I would drop him.  There were a myriad of tests, vitals, blood draws, urine samples, etc., to be done.  Everything came back fine.  He was a healthy boy sound asleep on the stretcher with a croupy cough… and a fever.  Four hours from the onset of our nightmare, the ER doctor sent us home.

We rode home with our Pastor, who had unselfishly come to the ER on a Friday night to be with us.  When we arrived at home, JB6 was watching a movie (at midnight) and AN4 was asleep in her meme’s lap.  JD jumped out of my arms and ran for his “Brahaw” (grandpa) like nothing had ever happened, he played and munched on crackers.  A hug from my Dad and heart-felt prayer from our pastor brought some closure on the night.

JD slept in our room that night.  And every night since.  He snored sort of funny and I laid awake wondering if he was too hot, too cold, would he get a pneumonia from when he vomited?  I set the alarm for every 2-3 hours to alternate his Tylenol and Motrin and just to check on him, in case I happened to fall asleep.  This was a cycle that I would repeat for the next 10 days, as his fever never relented.

Saturday was a blur.

We were blessed with groceries from family that allowed us to remain at home.  I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.  I got my thoughts together enough to post on FB what had taken place.  We were overwhelmed with over 100 different comments/messages about people praying for our family.  We felt the power of those prayers. I often say that JD was so joyful and playful the next day that it seemed like nothing ever happened.  But our hearts will never forget what took place and we will always be thankful for the outcome.

Sunday Morning:

We were supposed to be leaving for our two week-well planned trip to PA this day.  Not so.  Instead, I got up late as my husband watched the kiddos so that I could sleep in a little.  I took a shower around 1100, I began to pray, giving thanks for all that God had brought JD through and asking for a positive outcome for my husband as well.  I felt the intense presence of peace.  I got out of the shower and sent my mother-in-law this email:

Feeling an overwhelming peace today, praying that you are too. -Jen

She responded:

Yes, me too.
As I with Moses, so I will be with you. (“As I was with James, so I will be with you (Dan)) Thank You, Lord.
Praying for the grace for God for you too, Jen. I think it would be VERY difficult being the wife and mother in such a situation. God’s peace is an wonderful treasure.
Love, Mom

Monday Morning:

We headed to the specialist appointment.  He performed all the necessary tests and assessments.  The doctor then smiled and said, “well there is certainly no tumor there, I didn’t think so looking at the MRI, but looking at your eye I can see that there is definitely no tumor there.”  He then showed us the MRI and why he didn’t think there was any tumor there.  He showed us pictures of other surgeries he had done to contrast the two.  He said with 99% certainty, there was no tumor.  He will have follow up blood work to rule out any other conditions that may be causing the inflammation around his eye (which we continue to pray about) but at that moment, our greatest fear was overcome.

We were feeling a little bit like an over-used dishrag at that point, our emotions basically drained.  So neither of us knew how to respond.  “Are you sure?”  He was sure.  We wondered why we ever worried in the first place but then we thanked God for every prayer said on our behalf. 
Vacation plans back on.  One day to pack and then hitting the road… but the ride did not stop there.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

"For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:8-11

"...The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." -James 5:16b


  1. Jen - I cannot imagine the fear that you had with both JD & Dan. Please know that your family has been in our prayers. Love, Sarah

  2. Oh my gosh. All this time I thought you were on a lovely family vacation. What you have been through! I can't imagine finding my child in that state. Thank goodness you knew what to do. I'm so glad everything turned out well for your family!

  3. What an experience! I'm so glad you've made it to the other side of it ok.

  4. intense! I was in tears just feeling all your panic in the moments of CPR, you did a great job that little boy is as lucky as can be.

  5. What a roller coaster ride of life. Your family has been in our prayers! Joyfully happy for the good news of your husband and outcome of your little boy!

  6. wow Jen. What an ordeal. You did real good. I know how hard it is to let the nurse take over when you're a mom first. Kudos to you. Sending many prayers your way and thank God your husband is tumor free and your boy is doing so much better.



  7. Love you guys and praying for you all!
    Grace and Peace

  8. I have no words. I've been saving all of these posts to read in order. I just started with this one and I'm crying all over again for you & your family. We serve a wonderful Lord who is certainly watching out for you & yours.