Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Miracle

I am remembering the miracle that happend in our family one year ago today. Before I tell the story, you have to know something about me; I'm not the over-protective type. I generally don't get too excited when my kids get sick, and I'm not one to miss work myself or rush off to the doctor at the first sign of illness. That being said... Last winter I was reading information online about babies with Ds and how, in many cases, the nasal passage, wind pipe and ear canals are very narrow. The article went on to say that if ever your child needed treatment with tubes in the ears, or have tubes inserted down the throat for any reason that one should inform the physician. It's not common that a doctor would know this about Ds, and an average sized tube could cause injury. I remember the fleeting thought, "I'm sure I'll never need to use this information, but it's interesting..." Several weeks after I read the article I took Nate to his pediatrician. He was due for his shots, but because he woke in the early morning hours with a croup-like cough, his doctor told me to bring him in earlier than his scheduled time so he could see him. I learned that croup isn't the illness, but a symptom of something else. So Nate was tested for several things like pneumonia, the flu and bronchitis. He didn't have any of them, yet the cough persisted. So, we held off on the shots, and I took him home. I was told to run a hot shower and boil a large pot of water on the stove and let the steam fill the house. This would allow him to breathe easier. Nate suffered all the way home and couldn't catch his breath. When I brought him inside I started the water boiling...all the while holding him as my heart began to pound. Then something happened to me that's never happened before. My panic button got pushed and I dropped everything I was doing and frantically looked for the phone. I booted the notion out of my head that I had just left the doctor's office and they're gonna think I'm a kook... and dialed 911. Again, something I had never in my life ever done. As I'm trying to calmly answer the operator's questions, she paused for a moment and asked "is that your son I hear gasping in the phone?" "Yes!" I answered and tried not to lose my composure in sheer panic at not being able to help Nate breathe. When the paramedics arrived they immediately put an oxygen mask over Nate's face and began to treat him. On the way to the hospital, as they were pulling out tubes and getting ready to put them in his little nose I blurted out..."Please! Be son has Down syndrome, and his little air ways are so small...please be careful!" The paramedic was very calm. He radioed in Nathan's stats and informed the emergency staff of his diagnosis. He worked swiftly and carefully as he did everything possible to save my son's life. The monitor that was hooked up to Nathan's oxygen supply keep flashing 80, 81, 84, 80...and I asked him what that was. He told me it was the oxygen saturation rate. I didn't know what that meant. Thank God I didn't know what that meant. In the emergency room there was a team of experts ready to administer the greatest care for Nathan. It was just like you see on TV where there is the head ER doctor monitoring every single thing, and then a team of doctors from every specialty waiting for their orders. He was surrounded by several doctors at once. I told every one I saw that he had Down syndrome and to please be careful...even though I knew everyone already knew his diagnosis. We were asked if we wanted the chaplain to come. That's when all the air left the room. James said no...he was a pastor and we had that covered...but we both felt the enormous implication of that question. But it wasn't long after that when we saw Renee come rushing in to pray with us. Although she was in fact one of the chaplains on staff at the hospital, she was also a dear friend, and wife to one of our church elders. After a chest xray and other tests we were told that Nate did in fact have pneumonia, and a collapsed lung. We were told that he had aspirated and there was nothing that could be done for that except wait it out to see. There is no way to go into a lung and remove fluid. We had been in the ER for about 45 minutes at that point. Then James said, "what are we looking at here? I mean on a scare-scale of 1-10, where are we at?" The ER doctor replied, "well, when you got here, we were at an 8. Right now, I'd say we're at a 5". A 5? WHAT? It was then that I actually did fall apart, and wept in my husband's arms. We were transported once again by ambulance to another that had a PICU. When we arrived, Nate's room was all set up for him with a hand-made quilt, a large paper cartoon taped to his bed with his name written on it and a new staff of doctors ready to care for him at this next level. By now it was later in the evening. Nate had been stabilized prior to the transport, and they were ready for a new round of tests. As I walked through the PICU, I saw my pastor coming around the corner heading for Nate's room. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort at the sight of him. He told me that the entire prayer team was at that moment praying for Nate. I knew this was true. As a pastor's wife, I've been on the receiving end of those phone calls where there is an immediate call to prayer. At some point in the middle of the the wee hours of early morning, I opened my eyes and tried to focus on Nate lying in his hospital crib. I saw a figure of a woman standing over him, gently stroking his head and whispering to him and I fell back asleep. In the morning I asked who had been in the room, and I was told it was one of the 3rd shift nurses who knew Nate and wanted to come up after her shift was over to see him. It was Jeanne, the wife of another elder from our church, come to lay her hands on our boy and lift him up in prayer. We are extraordinarily blessed. The bottom line is this; after the test results came back a second time, there was no trace of pneumonia. His lung was in fine condition, he was "saturating" at 99% by morning, nursing again by the early afternoon, and there was no medical explanation as to what had happened. After initially being told that we'd be in the PICU for a few weeks, we were kept over night one more night for observation purposes, and this was after being moved to a regular room and out of the PICU. Nate was discharged the following morning. You know it, and I know it, and everyone in the hospital knows it that Nate was healed. I found out later that the ER doctor at the first hospital we went to was a Christian, and that he'd been praying the whole time he as treating Nathan. That is amazing. Here's my thought...didn't anyone hear me when I said he had Down syndrome? I said it right away...and everyone who treated him knew it. Why didn't it matter? As parents of children with Ds, and especially now after Trig Palin has become a household name, we are led to believe that the lives of children with Ds are disdainful to the medical community, and the advice to rid yourself of the burden is so prevalent. But if this is true, why the extraordinary care? How is it that every single doctor and nurse that treated him in the PICU fell head over heels for him? Does anyone else see the irony in this story as it pertains to the cold fact that 90% of Ds pregnancies are terminated? Why do you suppose everyone was rushing around trying to save his life, like his was the most important life in the world...when just a few months prior his life would have thoughtlessly been snuffed out, and most would have thought for the best? Interesting, isn't it?


  1. It just goes to show the blatent contradiction that exists. Nathan IS such a miracle. In everyway. God has such an awesome plan for little Natie. We love him so much Jill.

  2. Wow, Jill, that is a miracle for sure. We know they happen all the time, but to have it happen publicly is being words. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow. Did you ever just take me on a ride. Thank God you called 911 and praise Him for how He cared for Nate through so many others! As a NICU nurse, I always had a weakness for the DS babies. Now that you and another good friend of mine have these special little ones I'm enjoying the blessings vicariously! Good post, Jill.