After several weeks of our oldest son battling sickness, we were done watching him suffer. He had endured multiple doctor appointments, testing, swollen tonsils, lack of appetite, and very little energy to get through each day. Naturally quite lean, the four pound weight loss (a miracle in and of itself that it was not more) made a shocking sight when he was shirtless.
Blood work proved he did not have strep throat, mono, and a variety of other possible sicknesses. In fact, his numbers were indicating that his body was successfully fighting whatever virus or unknown that was ravaging his body. But he was not getting better.
The only thing the doctors could see as a clear problem were his painfully swollen tonsils that had white spots of infection on them. Even on a good day, Spock’s tonsils have always been abnormally large and he has snored loudly most of his life. We consulted with an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) doctor last Thursday.
He had tubes put in his ears as a toddler but, at the time, the physician believed keeping the tonsils would be best. This ENT took one look in Spock’s mouth and declared, “Oh my word. They have to go!”
For weeks we had listened to Spock struggle to breathe as he slept and I had video to show the ENT. Three seconds into the video the ENT said, “Oh my word. He has severe sleep apnea! I don’t need to do a sleep study to diagnosis that. His tonsils have to go!”
Scheduling put the surgery at exactly a week out. To get him through that week, the ENT prescribed a three day dose of steroid. Two weeks prior, we had made a trip to the ER because he was struggling to breathe at night. At that time, he was given a steroid that was effective for 72 hours to reduce swelling. It had helped him then but, this time, we did not notice much of a difference by day two. There was a slight increase in his energy level, but his breathing while he slept was still painful to hear.
On Saturday evening (day 3 of the steroid), I went to check on him. We could typically hear him long before reaching his doorway but, that time, I heard nothing. I found him struggling as never before. His small chest was caving in as he fought for air. Then he would give a short gasp before starting over. It was terrifying to watch.
We woke him up (because he did not struggle like that while awake) and I called the emergency line to page the ENT doctor right away. The doctor called ahead to the hospital and demanded immediate and direct admittance to the pediatric unit. Surgery would be moved to Sunday morning.
While Eric called his family, I called mine and threw things into an overnight bag. When I heard my mom say, “We’re getting in the car right now,” I couldn’t help by cry. We were terrified and exhausted from watching our child struggle for weeks. I don’t think it matters how old you grow, there are times when you need your parents. I needed their comforting presence and help.
And, as a mom, Spock needed me. He was scared. God gave me, the girl who cries through Hallmark commercials, the strength to hide the tears and find a comforting smile, calm voice, and steady presence.
“You are going to be okay, but we need to let the doctors and nurses watch you tonight so you can sleep better.”
Since my parents would arrive in six hours, Eric stayed home with our youngest two for the night while I drove Spock to the hospital. The doctor had told me to park in a parking garage, walk to the nearest main entrance, and then call security to let us in. It was late and I was alone with my child. There was no way I was going to put him at further risk.
I pulled up to the ER entrance and carried him to the front desk. After explaining that we were expected on the third floor, the ER nurse called for a security guard. He kindly parked my car and brought my keys (and the phone I had accidently left in the car) to the room that Spock was placed in for the night.
We didn’t know until the next day that the pediatric floor is set up in levels. From what we were told, rooms are like rungs on a ladder leading to the PICU based on severity of the case. They put him in the first room out of PICU, and his monitors were being monitored in PICU. We knew it was serious, but discovering that he had been so close to being placed in PICU made us understand its depth all the more.
Spock bravely endured his first IV and another steroid was administered to decrease the severe swelling. They allowed me to lay next to him that night per his request. A wave of energy hit him around 2 a.m.. He talked for a good hour and we watched a movie. Finally, he drifted off and I listened to him softly snoring (I had not heard him breath so “normally” in several weeks). Though sleep alluded me for most of the night, I was incredibly relieved to know that Spock was comfortable, safe, and that the ordeal would soon be over so he could begin healing.
I believe in God’s sovereignty and perfect timing. There is a purpose for everything. Thinking back now on that night brings me to tears. What if we had not discovered Spock struggling any sooner? What if he had gone on for five more nights until the surgery that was originally scheduled? I look at the “what ifs” to say this: If not for God, how might this story have been different? He parted the waters. He directed our footsteps. “God stood by my side and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17). I fall on my face before Him in awe and thankfulness!!!