Saturday, November 19, 2011

IN THE VALLEY...part 3

October 11, 2011

When Dr. Turner told us Josh needed to be transported to BSA in Amarillo, Josh tried to talk him out of it. He had gotten to know and adore the staff at Coon Memorial Hospital and felt comfortable there. Dr Turner explained that they did not have the technology available to them to monitor Josh’s condition to the degree that he needed to be monitored.

At first we thought he was going to be transported by ambulance. Then we found out that he was in critical enough condition to warrant air transportation. Again, Josh seemed daunted by the situation. By this time, Josh had begun hallucinating and was often disoriented. He had begun hearing voices of people who were not in the room. He would doze for a few minutes and then wake up startled, and ask where everyone had gone. He was sure the room had been filled with people. He would rattle off a list of names of people he was sure had just been in the room. None of them had been there. This frustrated and confused him.

We were unsure as to whether they would allow Brian or I to fly with him, so Brian ran home, grabbed some things for a few nights stay and got on the road towards Amarillo. We did not want Josh to arrive at the hospital without one of us there. One of the nurses, Logan who had become a great friend to Josh, was off that day but had come by to see him. He assured Josh that the helicopter was the best way to go. Logan talked Josh through the whole process. By the time the helicopter arrived, Josh had warmed up to the idea of a helicopter ride.

As it turned out, they did allow me to ride in the helicopter with him. As they prepared Josh for travel, the pilot brought me outside to orientate me for the flight. As we waited outside for Josh to arrive, we sat facing the emergency room doors that he would be wheeled out of. We had been waiting for a while when all of a sudden the doors opened and a pack of people swarmed out, with Josh in the middle of the pack on his stretcher. Hospital staff, as well as dear friends, that had come to see him off, surrounded him. It warmed my heart.

Even though we were there due to rough circumstances, the ride was amazing. As we flew over the rooftops of Dalhart, it was breathtaking to see things from an aerial view. As I took in the view, I could see the skyline of Dalhart, Dumas and Amarillo all at the same time. I could see hills and valleys that I never knew were out there. It dawned on me that this is how different the Lord’s view must be from our own. He gets to see the whole picture of our lives. That thought, oddly enough, brought me great comfort.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The Sunday prior to Josh being hospitalized, we had a guest worship leader, at our church, by the name of Matthew Duhon. The atmosphere seemed electric and alive. As we participated in worship, I missed Josh being with us at church, and wished he had been there to hear Matthew. He would have loved his vibrant, youthful energy, just as the other youth did, but I particularly wanted him to see Matthew. Matthew was, well…bald. Earlier in Josh’s treatment, his hair-loss was an extremely low spot in his journey. I wanted him to see Mathew sporting his baldness, boldly. Matthew was young and trendy appeared to have chosen his lack of hair as part of his cool look. (We learned otherwise earlierJ)

We sang many amazing songs that morning, some newer worship songs and some tastefully updated hymns. Among them was an updated version of, “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”.  In the following days, when Josh’s was hospitalized, I awoke with that same song running through my thoughts. As the days went by, and Josh’s condition worsened, the song became louder in my head.

Your blood speaks a better word. Than all the empty claims I’ve heard upon this earth, speaks righteousness for me. And stands in my defense, Jesus it’s Your blood

What can wash away our sins? What can make us whole again? Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can wash us pure as snow? Welcomed as the friends of God. Nothing but Your blood Nothing but Your blood King Jesus
Your cross testifies in grace. Tells of the Father’s heart to make a way for us. 
Now boldly we approach. Not by earthly confidence. It’s only Your blood.
We thank You for the blood. We thank You for the blood
We praise You for the blood. We praise You for the blood
Nothing but Your blood, nothing but Your blood King Jesus

In our family, we fully believe that nothing happens by, “accident”, even the songs that run through our head. At one point, in a passing thought, I asked the Lord why that particular song ran through my head…He stopped me in my tracks…I heard His voice clearly head and in my heart…”It is Josh’s blood that is damaged”….

 What can make (Josh) whole again? Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

To be continued…

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

IN THE VALLEY...part 1

Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

I must apologize for my lack of current blogging. My wonderful husband has the uncanny ability to accurately communicate through the written word in times of crisis. I, on the other hand, go into “shut-down mode”. It is sometimes even difficult to eek out a text, and when I do, it is only a scant, often non-descriptive cry for prayer.

Josh is currently sleeping calmly in his hospital bed here at BSA. We are on round four of five. We are simply waiting for days of chemo to go by. Josh usually sleeps through these days, waking only in the afternoons. During those brief hours of him being awake, his room is buzzing with nurses, doctors, visitors and laughter. This time of him receiving chemo is, for the most, the easy part. The scary times come in the days that follow.

So now, once again, as I sit in a quite PICU hospital room, I will attempt to piece together the events that transpired over the last few months. Please forgive me if I ramble and jump around a bit. I will be processing some of this information for the first time. Even now, as I begin to write a lump grows in my throat, the air in the room seems to be getting thicker and the feeling of nausea is overwhelming.

I write this for two reasons, one, for all of you who have faithfully walked this journey with us. You have prayed with and for us, cried with us, fed us, laughed with us and carried us when we could no longer walk on our own. We could not have walked this road without you. Two, because I never, ever want to forget God’s unending Mercy and Grace he has showered over us.


September 28, 2011
When Josh received chemo last time, it was his third of five rounds and he was treated at MD Anderson in Houston. It was a pretty normal treatment. He did sleep more than he usually does but we knew the third round was a stronger dose so we were not really surprised when he slept so much.

October 1, 2011
He slept most of the way home, and then more when we were home. The only concern we had with him sleeping so much was that he was not getting much fluid. Even the few moments he was awake he was not really hungry or thirsty. We encouraged him to eat but more importantly to drink as much fluid as possible. Nothing really sounded good to him but he would drink a few swallows.

October 6, 2011
He had his blood drawn in the hospital on Thursday and all seemed good. By Sunday he seemed to be running a low-grade fever but nothing that alarmed us. He seemed a little more pale than usual as well.

October 10, 2011
Monday morning we had Home-health come out and take blood for his labs. Just a little over an hour later, Brian called to say that we needed to get Josh over to the hospital right away for a transfusion. His blood counts had plummeted over the weekend. Brian came home right away and we attempted to get Josh into the car. He had become so week that he could barely walk. Brian had to carry him out to the car.

We got right into a room at Coon Memorial Hospital. The lab technician is a good friend of ours, and said he ran the results right over to our doctor as soon he saw how low the numbers were. I could see look of concern in his eyes as well as in the faces of the nurses.

I naively thought that they could just transfuse him and all would be good. Oh, if could have just been that easy. His fever had also gone up. Not too dramatically but enough that they were pretty sure he would need to be officially admitted.

Latter that day, he was officially admitted and given a steady flow of blood, platelets and other fluids. His fever continued to climb. More fluids were given. His critical condition warranted one-to-one nursing care. We had amazing nurses camped out in his room throughout the day. His awesome doctor also came by throughout the day to monitor his condition. A steady stream of dear friends from our church family and community came by to pray with us, wish him well, and bring us wonderful things to eat and drink.

Even with all of the great care, Josh still was not getting better. His fever began to spike to new dangerous levels. His breathing became shallow. He was given antibiotics to fight the cause of the fever, still he grew worse. His breathing became fast and even shallower and he began to hallucinate. He heard voices of people that were not in the room. He also began to have terrifying dreams.

As I look back, my memories are only dream-like. Some things seemed to have happened in slow motion while other things seemed to take place in a flurry of activity. Some events and conversations I do not recall at all. My precious, comical daughter seems to think my impaired memory is because of my age. I believe it is because Our Papa Father knows just how much our minds and hearts can take and mercifully blocks out the rest.

I can remember crying often. I tried keeping my fears from Josh. Many times I would escape to the bathroom down hall when I simply could no longer hide my fear and pain. After releasing a torrent of emotions and tears, I would attempt to re-compose before returning to his bedside. Often silent tears would streak down my face as I sat beside him while he fitfully slept. No matter how much I willed them to stop, they would not comply.

October 11, 2011
On Wednesday morning, Brian had gone to the office, in an attempt to get through some of his backlogged work. Josh seemed stable that morning but then, as the morning went on, he seemed to grow worse. They had hooked him up to oxygen but he just could not seem to breath normally. He was also having some pain in his left side.

Shortly before noon, I stepped out of the room with a visitor. Just as I was closing the door behind me, I heard him make a weird sound and start violently coughing. I ran back in. His heart rate spiked to well over 200. (His normal heart rate is around 50-70). He said that something funny happened with his heart that made him start coughing.

We had a rush of activity in his room. His nurse attempted to get his heart rate down. His doctor was called in. I frantically tried to get a hold of Brian. I had poor phone reception while in Josh’s hospital room and could not get a call out. I texted Brian to please come immediately. I attempted several times to get my text to send. It must have gone out eventually because Brian and Pastor Rodney arrived right after Dr. Turner.

Dr Turner is known for his ability to de-escalate a crisis situation. This time was no exception. He came in, amidst the chaos and seemed to calm things down. My fears lessened as I watched him calmly assess the situation. He had a pretty logical explanation for Josh’s heart rate elevation. The panic that could be felt in the room earlier seemed to dissipate.

Shortly after that, Dr Turner explained that Josh needed to be transferred to the PICU at BSA in Amarillo.  A little alarm went off in the back of my head but I ignored it, wanting to blissfully believe all was still OK.

To be continued….