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….


amy wright said...

I just don't even know what to say, but you are all in my prayers. I love you.

Becky Dietz said...

I'm so glad you're writing the events down. It helps those of us who live away know how to pray. I promise to help carry your burden to the Lord.

Ilene said...

Thank you sweet friends, your prayers mean more than you will ever know. Amy, Sarah got some great pics of you on the mission trip. She was so happy to see you and Jay. Love you both!