One of my favorite bloggers is Kelle Hampton of Enjoying the Small Things. About a year ago her life got hit with a bus. One of those crazy freakin' buses that come from nowhere and smack into your world so hard that you know life isn't going to be the same from that moment on. I wept as I read her blog that touched so many lives, literally millions. I have read her blog at least once a week since that post heard round the world.
I got hit by that bus.
Even worse, my baby got hit by that bus. That damned bus. If you read my last post you know that that tick tick ticking cough turned into pneumonia. When the doctor said that word, "pneumonia," I thought of Mrs. Brisby and the rats of Nimh. How she scrambled frantically to go see Mr. Ages to find the medicine for her son, Timmy, who was sick with pneumonia. I thought of that little mama mouse scurrying to and fro to salvage the pieces of her life and stitch her world back together.
I am that little mama mouse.
It is hard to keep my eyes on the future, looking ahead. My natural tendency is to look back and dwell on decisions I made that got me here, that got her here, like it is my fault that she has this. That is because my faulty human nature tends to think I have some sort of control. I can assure you, and now I can assure myself, that I am completely out of control. Control has been replaced with helplessness. My faith, my ever growing faith, is pulling my heart forward with some sort of magnetic quality so that I must look forward. Think ahead. She will be ok. We will go home with her in the back seat. She will still be the big sister.
Then fear creeps in like a virus. Like pneumonia. I go to the bathroom and on the walk down the hall I envision myself sprinting down the hall with my hair flying wildly, like a Rascal Flats video, screaming a high pitched frantic mama yell. I see myself crumbling to the linoleum in a broken heap. I see myself looking into Nick's eyes and ..... and then I make myself stop. STOP!
"Jesus take the wheel, give me one more chance, save me from this road I'm on, Jesus take the wheel," what comforting lyrics from the hospital room tv at just the right moment as I type about fear. And my favorite singer, Carrie Underwood, is now singing, "How great thou art" on CBS. What a choice to make on a national platform. Thank you, Carrie. I need this right now. My soul needs this reminder that I am loved by a majestic, powerful God who has a plan for my sweet angel hooked up to tubes and pumps that make my heart stop with every beep and purr. "Then sings my soul, my savior God to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art!"
That is how fast my thoughts are transitioning from fear to hope. But I am choosing to cling to hope. Harper is a fighter, she can beat this.
I took her to the doctor on Monday for a fever and cough. After examination, doc sent us home with an antibiotic. After we had been home a few hours the fever didn't go down. I continued to give her Tylenol and Motrin to keep the fever down, but at midnight it spiked to 104 so I gave her a cold shower. Tuesday morning she was just weak so I took her back to the doctor. After a quick listen to her lungs he ordered a chest x-ray which revealed pneumonia. Scurrying mama mouse. He sent us straight to the hospital. We checked in Tuesday evening and waited. On Wednesday we waited. On Thursday we took more x-rays and a cat scan. Then doc gave us orders to transfer to Sutton's in Schumpert.
The ambulance ride was like a delusional nightmare. I sat sideways facing Harper, swallowing back nausea from the heat, stress and shock. "I am not riding in an ambulance with my daughter on a stretcher. I am not." I tried to look forward at the road to keep me from throwing up all over Harper. The paramedic gave me a vomit bag and offered to give me a shot, but I said no because I hate needles. I noticed the driving paramedic's eyes darting from the road to his lap where a spiraled black cord connected to the cigarette lighter. "I don't mean to be a #itch, but what is he looking at?" The paramedic in the back with me looked at me like I was crazy, glanced around to the driver, then told me that he was looking at the GPS. "I think you are just really tired," she said. Well I am not stupid. I saw the GPS and it was not connected to the cord in his lap! UGH! Then she leaned forward and said something to him. I tried not to stare but when I did glance back that way the cord was curled up in the drink tray and his eyes were on the road. The ambulance didn't swerve so badly after that.
When we arrived at Sutton's I felt like I was panting after the paramedics as they strode with intentional steps to get Harper to the right place. I was carrying three bags, I was nauseous, I was out of breath, I was afraid. I wondered if they would even notice me melting into a puddle behind them.
They pushed her into a bright room where five nurses stood ready to assist. Moving her from the gurney to her bed was like taming an alligator. A sweet blonde nurse tried to lead me down the hall while I choked back the silent tears streaming down my cheeks. Each step I took was haunted by her wails, "I want my mama! Maaaammmaaaa!" She opened the door to the hospitality room where Nick was waiting for me. I dropped the bags and fell into his loving, panic-stricken embrace. The door opened again and the sweet blonde asked me to come back to the room until she was secure. I ran-walked down the hall in "hold on, honey, Mama's coming'," kind of way. My girl is a fighter. I held her hand and tried to talk in that soothing mama voice, tried to tell her to calm down that it was going to be OK while my insides were screaming louder than she was. I know I looked a mess and the nurses kept giving me sideways looks of pity. I really didn't care. When they had her calmed down a little, Nick and I were taken into a large room of computer screens and introduced to our new doctor. His name sounds like "keshy" but it starts with a Q. You figure it out. We sat down in front of a large screen where he showed us images from the cat scan. This is the first time we were shown anything to try to help us understand what was happening inside of her body. The white skeleton on the black background was my baby. A gray cloud covered where a lung should have been. He showed us several views of her chest, explained the procedure while I hid my face in Nick's fleece, and then we gave him the go ahead to start "right now."
We waited. Together. This time together was too intimate to share. It is for me to lock away in my stash of memories of things I absolutely love about my husband.
We received our first update after about 45 minutes. The tube was in, fluid poured out, it is going good so far. Another update 30 minutes later said he was finished and the team was giving her a central line. During this terrible waiting time we were flooded with prayers from friends, colleagues, and family. We can't thank you enough. Sometime that night we both closed our eyes in different rooms of the hospital.
At 4am Friday morning I awoke when the x-ray tech came into the room. I peered over my pillow while they moved her ever so gingerly to take the photo. I closed my eyes. An hour later Dr. Q asked me to follow him into the computer room so I grabbed Nick from down the hall and we sat, once again, with sandpaper eyes, in front of the large screen. This time two images were in front of us. One from 7:35 pm and the other from 4:11am. The new picture showed two lungs. One was nice and full of air, the other was still cloudy, but filled with air. Strange wires and tubes draped over the skeletal image like jewelry on a gypsy. Already we could see improvement. Then he showed us how much fluid has been collected from her lung. At this moment three white boxes are lined around the side of her bed on the floor, like cans at a fraternity house, to show how much fluid was consumed. Each box holds 200cc, the first two are completely full and closed off. The third is still slowly filling with the thick yellow fluid flowing from the tube in her side. Over 450cc from her one little lung.
So everyone is asking for updates but we really don't have any just yet. Her fever went up again today to 103 but they are controlling that with Tylenol every 4 hours. She stirred some today and I was able to look into her perfect blue eyes for a brief moment. Her mouth is full of tubes, a wire is going down her nose, there is tape holding the wires and tubes, but through all of that I was able to see her little dry lips form the most precious word in the whole world, "mommy." I just held her hand, stroked her hair, kissed her and told her how much she is loved. They said she can hear me. At one point she squeezed my hand as if to let me know that she knows I am by her side. In that instant my heart spilled over with love and broke at the same time.
Writing this helps. Texting and talking helps because in those moments I am not sitting here listening to the whiz and hum of machines. I don't hear occasional beeps or see tiny blinking lights. Somewhere down the hall Nick's eyes are closed. I think it is time for me to close mine as well. This is part of my soul on the screen and my heart is on the bed beside me.
*** update at 8:51am Saturday morning***
Her nurse just showed us the latest report. The LEFT lung (the healthier lung) is completely free of the affusion (yucky stuff). That is an improvement since we got here on Thursday! The RIGHT lung (unhealthy lung) is almost free of the fluid, another good sign, even though it is still infected. They increased her antibiotic from 300mg to 400mg last night so we will hopefully see some improvement in her blood count, fever, etc.
***update at 10:33am Saturday morning***
God is so good! Dr. Q arrived, met with us and showed us the x-rays. the black screen now showed two lungs full of air! Two normal sized lungs. He just took out the tube in her side that was draining fluid from the lungs and bandaged her up. Now they are taking her off of the sedation so that she can be weaned from the ventilator! Thank you Jesus!
As he stooped over her bedside preparing I prayed for wisdom, discretion, and steady hands for Dr. Q and Gene, our nurse. Dr. Q looked in my eyes, "You are brave." I wanted to tell him he is wrong, that I'm really scared out of my mind. I peered around his backside while he removed the tape, then I walked to the opposite side of her bed and held her hand, stroked her forehead, watched and prayed. I kept taking deep breaths and tried to bend my knees so they wouldn't lock up. I didn't want to fall out like a middle school choir kid at the first concert. Don't lock your knees.
His gloved hands worked steadily to snip the sutures and pull the thin white cord from her side. He showed me the size of the tube that was actually inside of her body - much smaller than the tube connected to the drain tubs. Breathe, Mama. "Jesus loves me" played softly from the CD player beside her bed. Again, God's provision. He stepped away from the bed, smiled up at me, checked the monitors and washed his hands. Then he placed the round end of the stethoscope to her chest. First the left side then the right. He smiled. "Decrease the sedation," he told the nurse, "Let's get her ready to remove the ventilator."
Did I hear him correctly? Remove the ventilator? You mean, she might be able to breathe on her own by tonight? She might be able to lock eyes with me and know how much she is loved? Yes, I heard him correctly.
I stood by her bed crying tears of joy and silently praising my ever present God. Dr. Q received a tight embrace from a happy Mama and then I went down the hall to tell Nick. We crossed the hall into the chapel and praised God for this miracle. We prayed for continued healing for our girl. We thanked Him for placing such amazing prayer warriors in our path. We thanked Him for competent doctors and nurses. We thanked Him for loving us and our family. God IS good. We know we are not completely in the clear but this is an amazing step in the right direction.
As I'm writing this post, Gene walks in and smiles at me. "You know this is a miracle right?" Yes, I know. "It is just amazing that he is taking her off of the ventilator so fast."
"Not too fast, right?" I queried.
"No. He is the best. Any other doctor would keep her on there for a lot longer. He is the best. You are lucky you got him."
"Not lucky. Blessed. That is God's provision for us." At this point those darned tears started again.
"This is a miracle. You know you could've lost her. Infection was that bad."
"I know," sniff, "You just don't want to let your mind go there. But we know and we are so grateful. Everyone in our town is praying for her."
"It works," he said. "It is powerful stuff. This is the good part about my job."
I am blessed and highly favored, as is my girl. My fightin' fiery curly headed cherub. I know we have a long road ahead of us. I know. But this is our miracle and I will never think of Easter the same. Each year I will not only celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, I will remember this fight. This fear. And this miracle.
***update at 12:44 Saturday***
They successfully removed the ventilator and she is breathing on her own. She is still receiving oxygen through the canula (nose tube). She has opened her precious blue eyes, she is trying to speak to us, she is resting.
***update 4:07 Saturday***
About 30 minutes after the previous post Harper took a step backwards. The xray they took after removing the tubes looked worse than the one this morning that gave the doctor the confidence to remove them. It has been a scary afternoon. Such a dramatic high followed by a terrifying low. Hope and fear. PLEASE continue to pray for healing for Harper. She IS a fighter. We need prayer!!
***update 4:19 Saturday***
Our amazing nurse, Gene, just called Dr. Q to ask about Harper. Dr. Q said that he expected some fluid to become evident in her lung and that his plan is for her to expel it by coughing. When she wakes up from her rest and is completely off of the sedation she will wear a vibrating vest to help loosed the schmagma in her lungs. Then he wants her to try to stand up and walk around to help her cough it up. The good news is that the doctor is not surprised, he expected it, and he has a plan for her. It has been a very long, taxing afternoon. I cried on my own mama's shoulder and to be honest, it felt so good. I needed to be loved on for a second. I'm still her baby girl and it is hard to believe that she loves me the way I love Harper Leigh. We appreciate all of the love, support and prayers. Please don't stop.
***update 7:41pm Saturday***
We have had a positive evening. Dr. Q came to our room to reassure us that she is doing fine. According to him she is in recovery mode. We are by no means in the clear, but we are so much better than we were earlier this afternoon. A lot of that has to do with removal of fear due to his thorough explanations, which included a diagram of the lungs and how they work. Now we need the antibiotics to fight off all of the infection and build up her strength. If you need a mental picture of her progress this is the best I can do as tired as I am: she stood with assistance to move to a chair for about an hour. She ate a red popcicle (only after she stuck out her bottom lip when we presented her with an orange one), she drank some water through a straw. She let me know that she wanted the Tinker Bell blanket I was using instead of the white hospital blanket. She told us she wants to go to the beach. She pointed at the TV when she saw the Wizard of Oz. She is fighting her battle.
Nick and I are crumpled together now on the couch by her bed looking across the room at our blessing, our little miracle. We are tired. Again, we want to thank everyone for the prayers. Prayer changes things and we believe this now more than ever. Resting now.
Please continue to pray and I will add updates to the bottom of this post as we get them.