Those of you who know me in person understand why things have been slow on the blogosphere for me. Sometimes life suprises you in incredible ways; some good, some not so good. Since the good is intimately wrapped up within the not so good, I will start with the not so good events that precipitated our crazy life going off on a tangent in July.
Travel back to July 26th. It was an ordinary summer day at our house, with a few slight changes. The Four Amigos were outdoors having fun in the sun while I cleaned up inside and chatted with my mother. Tex was notably absent as he had accompanied his youth group to camp a few days earlier, having earned the money for the fees all by himself by mowing our neighbor's lawn for the last several months. My mom was visiting, trying to help make up for the missing person by doing some of the things I normally do (laundry and dishes, which I am always happy to defer to anyone who offers), so I could do the things Tex usually does (like the outdoor work), plus some cleaning projects I was working on. Hubby was at work, and Poppy was at home.
Ring Ring went the phone. "Hello?" I said.
"Mrs. ---, it's Pastor Robert. Calling from camp."
"Oh, hello." I'll admit that my first thought was 'Uh-oh. What did Tex get into? Someone must have convinced him to do something he would normally never do and...' that's about as far as my line of reasoning got.
"Well, there's a situation here. Tex has been injured and the ambulance is here checking him over."
"What?! What happened?" Gone are thoughts of normal worries. Instead are concerns that all is well, and it isn't.
"Well, the kids were having a soccer match and another camper on his team who happens to weigh about 300 lbs and stands 6'4", collided with Tex when they both went for the ball and fell into each other pretty hard. The other guy is okay, but Tex has vomited twice and the camp nurse insisted we call the ambulance to have him checked out."
"Okay." I breathe a sigh of relief. It sounds like it could be a minor mishap. After all, who gets hurt badly playing soccer? They are just being careful, I think. "Where did he get hurt?"
"Well, he seems to have been hit in the stomach and the groin. I think the groin is hurting him more because he's doubled over and complaining about how it hurts. He passed out on his way to go lie down, but the people here don't seem panicked so I think he will be all right."
"Do I need to come right now?" I ask. We are four hours away from camp, if traffic is light.
"At this point, I don't think so. I think Tex would say he wants to stay once they clear him to go."
"Okay. Will you go to the hospital with him and keep me updated? I don't want him to be alone. I can leave at a moment's notice if things change. My mom is here and willing to stay with my kids." She's been listening to the conversation and nods her head.
"Of course, I will. Here's my cell number. Call anytime. I will call as soon as we get there and they tell me what they will be doing." Pastor Robert hangs up and I stare in shock at my mother. Because everyone seemed so calm and matter of fact, I feel that maybe it is just a bad hit to the groin and he will be fine, but my mother's instinct wants to go be with him. Then my "don't be a worry wart and embarass him and make him leave the fun he's worked so hard for" sense overrides that, and I am stuck, not knowing what to do. I call Hubby, and he is flabbergasted. He offers to leave work immediately, but since I know there are some very important people there this week that he has to interact with and that he really can't leave until that is done, I tell him just to make sure he leaves before traffic gets bad, so we can go if we decide we need to. My mom calls my dad and he jumps in his car right away and heads over.
An hour later and Pastor Robert has called again. This time the news is not so good. It seems Tex has been in terrible pain since they brought him in and though they've dosed him with heavy painkillers, he's not feeling any better. He's moaning constantly. I feel horrible for not being there with him.
Robert tells me they are sending him for a CT scan and an MRI, to see what is going on in his abdomen. When my dad walks in and hears the news, he suggests I call my husband to see where he is (he hasn't left yet, and it would be two hours in the current traffic were he to leave immediately), and then offers to leave with me right away, just in case. Pastor Robert seconds the idea by pointing out that even if it winds up being nothing major, Tex is going to be one very sore kid for a while, and the campsite does not have a/c, nor are the cots comfortable. If I'd known that from the beginning, I think I'd have left immediately. As it is, it takes me about 5 mintues to throw some books in a bag with my headache meds and my computer (to look up what is going on if there is something wrong), and we head out with mom keeping the little ones calm with PBJs and a story. We are figuring we are on our way to pick Tex up and bring him home. Neither one of us is thinking that we are going there to stay for two weeks.
Our drive to City Hospital takes four hours. About half way there the news on the imaging comes in and it's not good. There is fluid in places there shouldn't be, and that means that his bowels are perforated somewhere. He will need surgery, but they have to do more tests, clear up a room and find a surgeon, and get us there to sign forms. Boy, do I feel guilty for not being an hour closer than I am...
We arrive just as they are prepping him for surgery. We thank Robert profusely and he excuses himself to go back to camp after praying over Tex with us. I get to talk to the surgeon, telling her what Pastor Robert told me about the situation, including the apparently TWO times Tex fell and hit his head when trying to walk inside to get to a bed. This prompts her to send him for a quick image of his head to make sure there is not a bleed (there isn't), and then there are a million forms to sign, including the one that says one of the possible side effects of the surgery is death. That is a very frightening and humbling statement. They may be quick to say that they just have to include that because it could happen, and the chances are few, but it is still out there.
However, I feel I had supernatural peace over me as I think I held it together pretty well. We asked if we could pray over Tex before they took him in and they were happy to let us do so, then we kissed and hugged him goodbye, promised to keep praying for him, and then were escorted to the waiting area around midnight.
Once we sat down I realized I'd developed a severe headache and all I wanted to do was close my eyes, so I did and my thoughts kept running wild. An hour or so later, a nurse came in to update us that they'd found the tear and all was going well in their efforts to repair it. I tried to read, I think my dad watched the tv, or maybe he read, too, I don't remember. I think I dozed off for a little less than an hour because of the headache.
Finally, at about three in the morning, the surgeon came in and said that she'd found a section of torn small bowel and removed it, then noticed that approximately five inches next to it were very flimsy and looked like they'd tear given any pressure, so she removed a total of six inches of small bowel and reattached the two ends together. She said she'd throroughly cleaned the matter out the abdominal cavity that had leaked through the perforated areas, and spent a lot of time making sure she hadn't missed anything. She explained they were currently sewing him up, and that he'd be taken to recovery in the next half hour or so, so someone would come in soon and show us the way.
Whew. Praise God! He made it through and they didn't have to take it all out (this was given as a possibility and scared the heck out of me as I know two individuals with this issue and it is not what I want for my 15 year old son, for sure). With a lighter heart, I quickly called Hubby and my mom, then we were led to Recovery, where Tex was slowly coming to. I reassured him that all was well, and the nurses told us they'd take us all to the OB ward, where they often put their pediatric post-operative patients to keep them in a safer (less germy) environment with more one on one nursing care.
One on one was right because we were the ONLY folks on the ward. The nurses were spectacular and the hospital had a policy of allowing parents to stay in the rooms for free as they felt the children healed more quickly and were cared for better. Hooray! Another provision by the Lord, as I could not imagine where the money for a hotel for however long we'd be there (we were told a minimum of a week) would come from. We all settled in...Tex was given pain meds and left alone for a few hours to sleep, and dad and I managed a few hours of shuteye on some awesome chairs that pulled out into mini-beds. Crazy day, but God's crazy love and care for us brought us through.
I know for sure it wasn't my own strength keeping me going during those hours of waiting (even if you count the hour I slept, and who is to say that the terrible headache didn't keep my focus off of my anxiety and the sleep get me through the worst of it?). It wasn't my own graciousness that kept my tone polite and my words sweet to the folks who helped us. I was feeling overwhelmed and far from happy.
My little boy was in a world of hurt and there was nothing I could do to help him but pray. But there you have it...that IS the biggest thing you can sometimes do. PRAY. And we did that. So did lots of other people. I heard from someone that the young man who collided with Tex organized the campers to pray for him four times each day. He was so sorry the accident had happened and so sure that the continued prayers would help. And they did.
Sometimes the best thing you can do besides pray is to be there. I was so blessed to be there with my son. It turned out to be a blessing for us that Poppy was with me instead of Hubby because the little ones needed Daddy to help them get through the tough time. Plus, Hubby's folks decided to drive up and see Tex, then drove the four hours to our house and spend a few days with the little one, which helped distract them even more.
It was a blessing that this accident happened right as the Olympics started. It gave Tex something to distract him. I know that seems like a silly thing to be thankful for, but when your child does not get anything to eat for almost a week, then when he finally gets to eat he vomits it back up and gets that horrible NG tube shoved back down, and taken off of liquids and food for another week, you are thankful for whatever distractions there might be.
We were so thankful to the folks from the local church that sponsors the camp. The pastor, his wife, his lovely daughters, and many of the youth and adults from the camp came over at various times to visit with, pray for, and entertain Tex. Several young ladies from the youth group came one night when he was allowed to have soft foods, and brought him ice cream and a movie. I think it was a funny one with Vin Diesel, but I can't remember exactly which one. It didn't matter because he was simply happy for the company and the laughter. They ministered to me by providing me with a gift card to their favorite local oriental restaurant (poor Poppy is not into that sort of food...so there was more for me), and Poppy graciously stayed with Tex while I went out for a few hours with a book and unwound over a delicious salad, some hot tea, and a generous plateful General Tso's Chicken and lo mein.
We were incredibly blessed by the wonderful nursing staff. I've never met a nice bunch of nurses. They did anything and everything they could to make Tex's stay and ours comfortable and less stressful. Many days they visited with Tex, joking with him, and making him feel as if it wasn't quite so bad as it was. One sweet young lady even treated us to pizza one night! And the blessing of being on the OB ward just can't be beat. If we'd been on the regular pediatric ward, Tex would have had less attention, less rest, fewer freedoms to have visitors, and our ability to stay with him could have been severely limited. Thank you, City Hospital!
And what a wonderful doctor Tex had. She was truly used as an instrument of God to bring him back to health. She was careful and conscienscious and caring. The weekend doc was great, as well, knowing when it was time to go ahead and push on, and being willing to step back when necessary.
Even the folks back home pulled some miracles out of their pockets...if you remember, Poppy and I left with nothing but the clothes on our back (and my one back of stuff I never leave home without). Nanny stepped in and packed him a bag, Hubby packed a bag for me, and a wonderfully kind church member actually brought our bags to us on our third or fourth day there. Boy, let me tell you...you can be very thankful for a shower after spending that long in the same clothes!
Once the hunger pangs and the post-surgical pain started wearing off, Tex was ultra-grateful for his Poppy being there. Moms are nice, and you like them around when you are miserable, but when you want to watch sports or talk computers, well, Poppys are better. Unless the sport happens to be men's trampoline or water polo and you are yukking it up with your mom wondering why anyone would ever want to do water polo and have to wear that horrible headgear, and wondering how on earth trampoline became a sport...
Last, but certainly not least, is the blessing that was initiated by my sister-in-law months before the accident. This blessing came to a head during our hospital stay, and perhaps, our stay there is what tipped the scales in our favor. We are so thankful that the Lord can use things that we'd never wish to have happen for our good, and that He knows what is going to happen before it happens and provides provision for us before we know it is needed.
Of course, if you don't know what is coming next on the blessing list, you are wondering what I am talking about. But it's late as I write this so rather than go in longer, I will suggest that you tune in Monday, because that, as they say, is another story.
Never forget that life is full of blessings, both large and small. Appreciate them every day, for every day is a blessing and a gift.
To read more details about Tex's story, check out What's Been Happening at Your House Lately? It was written when the events were more fresh in my mind...and don't forget to check back here next week for Sometimes Life Just Takes Over, Part Two. You are sure to be surprised! I sure was. I am grinning giddily just thinking about it. See you then.
Blessings to you,