Sunday, January 5, 2014
#3 - Journal Entry from December 19, 2010
The ambulance ride was long. I’m sure the snowy weather helped that, but so did my impatience in not being able to do anything to help. They just held oxygen on her and we tried to keep her awake. It was so sad to see my little 2 ½ month old baby on a gurney the size to fit an adult. She looked so sweet in her pink velour church dress. I wanted to scoop her up; to hold her next to my skin; to rouse her enough to nurse or comfort her in some way. Instead she lay strapped to the bed with an oxygen mask over her as we tried to keep her awake. Even a weak cry was a good sign.
At one point the ambulance stopped and they talked about trading vehicles, as the hospital ambulance met our volunteer ambulance crew in route on the highway. They decided instead to have the hospital paramedic get in the ambulance with us and to continue down the highway. They took her temperature rectally and I remember wanting to keep her warm, not to have her little newborn legs exposed to the cold air as they took her temp.What should have taken about 55 minutes was almost double that in the weather conditions. I remember heading into the hospital room, one I had been in before when another one of our kids split his eye brow and got stitches; and the time another baby of ours had croup. Being there was a familiar place. Although it’s an older, small hospital, the doctors and nurses have always been friendly and helpful with their small-town willingness. That put me at ease that this situation would be similar.
They moved her to a smaller, baby-sized bed and although it wasn’t the same as me holding her, somehow it seemed more fitting, like she would have looked in a basinet. Maybe it had a warming feature over the top of her, but everything is such a blur. I don’t remember the order that things happened and all the people in the room and what they were doing. Nurses and doctors hooked her up to machines and recorded numbers, ordered medicines, and hurried in and out of the room. One person I remember being there was Jason’s best friend, a chiropractor in the area. He could help us make sense of things they were doing for Bryer and translate ‘doctor-talk’ for us. They took her vitals and got her stable and then allowed Jason and his friend to give her a Priesthood Blessing. They laid their hands on her head and said the words I believe God would say if He were there. I don’t remember the words that were said in that blessing. What I do remember is for an instant all the commotion, the busyness, the chaos in the room… all calmed. For a moment there was clarity and peace. When the prayer was done the reset button had been hit and everyone went back to work on Bryer, but with a different kind of feeling in the room.
I don’t remember how things progressed, but they made the decision to transfer Bryer to a bigger hospital. With her breathing complications they said they couldn’t transport her without an air tube to insure she could breathe in route. It was confusing since her oxygen saturation percentage showed near 100%, but we put our trust in the doctors that they knew what needed to be done for our little girl. Through this process I remember the doctor saying several times that after the next step they needed to check her back, but no one did.They sent her through a CT scan and explained that she would need to hold very still for it to work. This whole time I had wished she would cry or wake up, now I hoped she would sleep and hold still, reasoning that if they could get a good read then the problem would be revealed and they could cure her.
Jason and I stood in a little room outside the CT machine and watched the scan come up on the computer. The grey-white matter differences were hard to see. She pointed out there was no mid-line shift and no major masses that could be seen, which were good signs. She suggested that Bryer showed signs of meningitis.As we met Bryer back in the ER room I felt the doctors were prepared with at least some knowledge of how to help. They gave medicines to combat meningitis; they took some blood for testing, and worked to intubate her. It was mentioned again by someone to check her back. For what, I didn’t understand.
The process to get a breathing tube down Bryer’s throat was painful to watch. They had to give her something to stop her breathing, ‘bagging’ her to keep air going into her lungs until they were ready to attempt the process. It was like something out of the movies watching a second doctor repeatedly squeezing this ball of air to fill her lungs, then stopping long enough to intubate. The lead doctor tipped Bryer’s head back in an unnatural position to get her trachea in a straight line in order to feed the tube down. They only had a certain amount of time to do it before they had to start bagging again to get air into her lungs. I stood at Bryer’s side and watched my baby’s head be tilted and contorted to get the right angle. My body physically ached for her. I said a silent prayer for the doctor’s hands to be guided.Time ran out and the tube was inserted into her stomach rather than her trachea. I don’t remember how long they bagged and let both Bryer and the doctor rest before they tried the whole process again. Bagging… Bagging... Bagging... Quit bagging. Head tilt. The doctor was trying hard to get the tube in just the right spot. I noticed how large her hands looked as they enveloped Bryer’s tiny head. Her hands and arms shook, putting pressure on Bryer’s head, contorted from the rest of her body to get just the right angle. There was mention of her heart rate spiking and remaining high. Everything I ever knew about a baby’s soft spot and the head being supported gently went out the window. As much as I wanted Bryer to escape from the situation, I reminded myself that this process was necessary for them to be able to transport her to a bigger hospital.
Time ran out again. And again, it was unsuccessful. My heart dropped and they began to bag her again. I could not watch my baby endure this kind of trauma. I knew the doctors were doing the very best they could. I knew it was necessary, but I just couldn’t watch my tiny infant lay so helpless; trusting in a process that wasn’t working. I left Jason by her side and found a chair across the room. I buried my face in my hands and tried to gather my strength so I could be strong for her. Jason’s friend came over and said, “Bryer needs you right now. You need to be by her side.” So with the very last ounces of courage I could gather I went back to her side.Trying to be hopeful for this third time, I stood still next to her. Bagging... Bagging... Bagging... Quit bagging. Head tilt. Pressure on her head. Shaking hands envelop her tiny head as the doctor’s words pleaded, “Please Jesus, please be with me.” The Angle. The timing and angle had to be perfect. And then the doctor released Bryer’s head from her hands. It was confirmed with an x-ray that it was in the right position! I felt relief run through my body.
Everyone in the room seemed to breathe a little easier, knowing Bryer had what they called a ‘patented airway.’ The lead doctor talked to Jason and me. She was crying and still shaken up from the adrenaline of the situation. She apologized repeatedly for it taking so long and said she was praying all along for it to work. She said it shouldn’t have been so hard to do and that she doesn’t usually work with infants. We thanked her for her help and being willing to make it through. I could have hugged the lady at that point. Maybe I did. I can’t remember in the blur of things.They finally checked her back at that point and noted some purple marks down the middle of her back along her spinal cord. The lead doctor called the bigger hospital to fill them in on the little patient coming. I stood in on the conversation as she restated that this was an illness and nothing more, probable meningitis. She told the doctor on the other end that we were a good family, good parents. I wondered why that was an important part of Bryer’s care, but was thankful for the compliment.
Things moved faster from there. Discussion was had about transporting via Life Flight, but the weather was still too bad for them to land so we were loaded into the ambulance. I rode in the front of the ambulance while two paramedics sat next to Bryer and gave me updates on how she was doing. Jason and his friend followed behind us. I texted family to let them know what was going on and where we were headed. I made light conversation with the driver and she explained that the snow storm was so bad that she couldn’t turn on the ambulance lights, as they were reflecting off the falling snow and making it even harder to see. Our long trip to the bigger hospital drew on longer.
As I go back through this day a sentence stands out to me. “As much as I wanted Bryer to escape from the situation, I reminded myself that this process was necessary for them to be able to transport her to a bigger hospital.” Sometimes we are asked to endure hard things. In God’s way, this is all part of a refining process. I think He feels the same about us – He wishes He could help us escape from the situation. He also knows this process is necessary for our growth to move beyond it, to get to a better place.
Picture something hard you have been through in the past. How did you feel? How did you react to your circumstances? How did you get through it? Now, how do you feel about the people you meet that are currently going through a similar situation? Is your compassion increased? Is your heart softened toward them? Do you have a desire to reach out and help them? Are you drawn to relate to them your experience and growth from it? All over the world people are going through trials – in your own neighborhood even; maybe at work; maybe in your own family. We can reach out to those around us that are enduring hard things. If you are in the middle of the trial, look for those that sense your pain, who can relate to you, and allow their help through it. (Easier than it sounds, I know, to allow another human being to help our self-sufficient selves. Humble yourself.) We are not to go through this life as individuals. God’s plan is for us to help each other when we are able and to accept help when we need it. Know that He would scoop you up and escape with you – because He feels your pain, your agony, your stress. And He is allowing you to endure it because He has confidence in you that this is the exact thing you need to be refined. Not to have fun, but just be refined. Having a cheerful attitude is bonus points. (Just because someone has a cheerful attitude through their trial does not mean they have it taken care of and don’t need help. They need it! That is how they have figured out how to deal with it emotionally.) Once you have been refined in one trial, He counts on you to go out and help someone else through it.