We're seeing more mothers killing their children, and society, or at least a fair part of it, making excuses for them.
I remember one of the arguments against abortion being that it would devalue life, particularly that of children.
Are we seeing that now?
Why is Katie Suing?
Katie Granju has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the two people she believes gave her son a lethal dose of methadone and the clinic that supplied the methadone. You can see the filing here.
And if you feel like diving into a cesspool, you can read the comments on the KNS story here.
There are people commenting who know nothing about the case, and have obviously failed to read either the filing or the article they are commenting on. Or it could be that they did read it, but were blinded by prejudice, ignorance, and/or hate. What really angers me is how many of these people who claim that Henry got what he deserved also claim to be good Christians who love the Lord.
Apparently they forget that Jesus didn't hang out with folks like them; He pretty much told them that they were headed to Hell with the Pharisees and other hypocrites. Jesus hung out with folks like Henry; sinners who had lost their way and were looking for redemption, the outcasts of polite society. If anyone bothers to read Henry's story, you can't help but see that he was looking for redemption, a way out of the trap that is addiction. Tragically, that search was cut short by two people who took advantage of him, abused him, fed his addiction, and then sat by and callously watched him suffer, struggling to breathe, waiting until they were threatened with police before finally calling for medical help.
It truly is a horrible story, yet there are many who believe that Henry got no less than what he deserved because he was a drug addict, and that his mother is filing a lawsuit to deflect guilt, his and hers, and to try and take financial advantage of Henry's tragedy.
Needless to say, I am not one of those people, and here's my response to them.
First, Henry was not a criminal. He was never arrested for dealing, much less tried and convicted. Remember the whole, "innocent until proven guilty" thing? You might want to look that up; it's kind of the basis for our entire legal system. It says you can't treat somebody like a criminal until you prove they are one in a court of law. No court ever found Henry guilty of dealing drugs; no policemen ever arrested him for it.
That being said, his mother has repeatedly and clearly admitted that Henry was using drugs, and probably selling them to support his habit. She's gone so far to write that she had hoped that Henry would get busted so that he might get the help he needed but that never happened. So much for shifting blame.
It seems many believe that he deserved to die for using and/or selling drugs, that because he made some bad choices that somehow justice was done when he was left to choke on his own vomit for 6 hours before the two "Good Samaritans" called for help. (Yeah, the lead investigator told Katie that Yolanda and Randall were just two good people trying to help a kid in trouble. Nothing to see here folks. Move along.)
All of you self righteous parents, who believe that Henry's death may have been tragic, but ultimately his own responsibility, what would your reaction be if somebody let your child die like that, refusing to call for help? Would you tell yourself that your child was using drugs, deserved to die, and then go on with your golf game? Reading some of the comments on the story, some of you just might, which tells me you shouldn't be allowed to have a dog, much less a child. I'll tell you one thing. I'm a Navy vet, like my father and grandfather, and my oldest son is in the Army and just got back from his second tour in Iraq, and the comments I've read on this story make me question whether our sacrifices were worth it. The day after Memorial Day, I wonder if all the men and women who have did in service to this nation died in vain. The hatred shown and the willingness to cast somebody off because they have a problem, or because they fail to live up to some arbitrary standards makes me sick. The worst part is that this attitude is apparently shared by the people in our government who are supposed to rise above this kind of crap and enforce the rule of law impartially, and not as some kind of perverted popularity contest.
"Did you hear? A kid was beaten severely, robbed, and then was taken by two people who gave him a lethal overdose of drugs and watched him choke for 6 hours before calling for medical help. He died a few days later."
"My God! That's awful! How did this happen? Did they arrest anybody?"
"No, apparently, the kid had a drug problem and..."
"He was a junkie! Hell, he deserved what he got! Probably saved the tax payers a bundle by just letting the whole thing go away..."
Really? Is that the way we want our law enforcement to work? One standard for people we approve of and another for those who don't quite make the grade?
The Tennessee law code, TCA 39-13-210, states clearly that anybody who gives a drug illegally to another person is guilty of second degree murder if that person dies as a result of that drug. The medical examiner's report explicitly links Henry's death to the drug overdose. In fact, the KCSO is on record as declining to prosecute the assault on Henry because he died of the overdose. They have not stated a reason for declining to prosecute the murder by overdose. Henry's mother has been forced to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court because for whatever reason, the Knox County Sheriff and the DA's office have declined to enforce, investigate, or prosecute violators of the law.
In short, they don't want to do their job, either because there may be some political ramifications, or because Henry was an addict, an "unattractive victim," as one assistant DA told Katie.
For me, I can't decide which explanation is more repugnant, and the truth is that regardless of which one they claim, they don't get to make that choice. Their oath is to uphold the law, without prejudice, and for whatever reason, political or pragmatic, they have collectively failed to do so.
The hate and intolerance, as displayed in the comments to this story, is giving them the political cover to do so. So let me ask you people something. What happens when you become an 'unattractive victim?' What happens when the powers that be decide that your rights are not worth defending because you don't meet their standards? What will you do then?
In fighting for Henry, Katie is not denying that he was a drug addict. She's not saying that he had no responsibility for his actions; in fact, she held him accountable in every way she could, even after he turned 18 and became a legal adult. They tried in patient and out patient treatment. They tried soft love, tough love, making rules, setting restrictions. In the end, she had to make the ultimate sacrifice of removing him from her home to protect her other children. Not because Henry was a danger, but because his siblings were suffering from his addiction, paying a price in fear and worry that they never should have to pay. I grew up with an alcoholic father, and I know the pain that inflicts on the family so I understand the painful choice Katie had to make.
In fighting for Henry, she's not trying to escape the burden of responsibility for making those choices; as a parent, she feels responsibility for everything that happens to all of her children and she will carry that weight for the rest of her life. Because of Henry's addiction, she had to make a brutally hard decision, and she will carry the consequences of that decision, right or wrong, to her grave with her.
She's suing because no matter how hard she's tried, nobody in the Knox County government gives a damn about Henry and what happened to him, and not only is that unfair to Henry, it means that it will happen again to another young person.
And it will keep happening again and again until somebody finally stands up and screams STOP! ENOUGH! You can't kill any more of our children!
And having stood up and said something, then that person must follow up and actually do something.
Our newspapers won't do it.
Our police won't do it.
Our DA won't do it.
Our medical examiner says she doesn't have the time or resources to do it.
So Katie and her family are doing it. Not to take the responsibility away from Henry, but to make sure that this doesn't happen again to any other family. Because Henry is not the only victim here.
For all to many people, Henry was just a junkie. But Henry was a son, a big brother, a nephew, a cousin, a friend, and a good kid. He was a talented musician with a desire to travel and see the world. He was a free spirit with a big heart and a bigger imagination. He was so much more than 'just a junkie,' and Katie wants us to see Henry, and not just Henry but all drug addicts, as who they are, not what they are; as brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands, and wives.
Because until we see them as people, we're comfortable as passing them off as 'just a junkie,' another 'unattractive victim' whose death is something to disregard rather than to mourn.
That's what this lawsuit is about. And that's why I stand behind Katie.
Quick! Before Somebody Notices!
Isaac loves his job and is seeing another lovely young lady.
Sabrina is doing great and both grandbabies are fay and happy.
Erinne is back at school, Meagn and Mason are both healthy and happy.
Cassandra is back home from Adam's homecoming, safe, sound, and ready to have a baby in July.
Luke has completely healed from his injuries, is employed, and seeing his young lady on a frequent basis.
Lissa, we need to leave town and take a vacation while we can!
My Lenten Sacrifice: Sharing the Pain
Over the last few weeks I've started playing Farmville on Facebook, and it has grown to take up a fair chunk of what little spare time I have left in my day. While it's fun to build up a farm and I enjoy interacting with my neighbors, for the next 40 days, my bakery will be cold, and my lands will remain fallow.
But Lent is about more than self denial; it is also a time for reflection, introspection and self discovery. And that is what I'm going to do with the time I would have spent playing a game.
So why do I call that "sharing the pain?"
Because here is where I'm going to do that reflection, introspection, and self discovery.
Lucky you, right?
Last night, I discovered that after a long silence, I have some things to say that need saying, so I'm going with it.
So, if you are one of my Farmville neighbors, I'll be back after Easter. If you are one of the literally dozens of people anxiously awaiting my infrequent blog posts (ok, dozens may be a slight exaggeration.) your long wait is about to be rewarded. And if you are one of the billions that couldn't care whether I ever write anything again, go back to your game of Angry Birds.
Watch Out for Floyd’s Wrecker Service
When I approached him, Jimmy informed me that I owed him a 'drop fee' of $75.00, or he would finish hauling my truck up onto the flatbed and I could pay more to pick it up at the yard.
I was pretty angry, and I argued with him, but he was firm, $75 on the spot or more later. I asked him who had reported my truck since it was only there for 5 minutes and he said nobody had called; he was just patrolling the lot and saw that my truck did not have a sticker.
I continued to argue and he started to pull the truck up onto the flatbed, and I stopped him and said I'd pay him, but that it didn't seem right.
I was right to think so.
It seems that there's a conflict in the law. According to TCA 66-28-518,
(a) A landlord may have an unauthorized vehicle towed or otherwise removed from real property leased or rented by such landlord for residential purposes, upon giving ten (10) days written notice by posting the same upon the subject vehicle.
(b) A landlord may have a tenant's, occupant's, tenant's guest's, or trespasser's vehicle immediately towed or otherwise removed from such real property, without notice, if and when such person fails to comply with the landlord's permit parking policy as defined in the landlord's posted signage.
But 55-16-112 says that:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this part or of title 66, chapter 19, part 1, in order for a garagekeeper or a towing firm to tow or to store a vehicle the garagekeeper or towing firm shall obtain an express written authorization for towing and storage of each vehicle from a law enforcement officer with appropriate jurisdiction, or from the owner of the vehicle, or from the owner, or the authorized agent of the owner, of the private property from which the vehicle is to be towed. The authorization shall include all of the information required by § 66-19-103(d). In addition to any other penalty provided by this part or by title 66, chapter 19, part 1, a violation of the provisions of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
So now begins an adventure with the law.
Will I get my money back, or will we go to court to find out which part of the law applies?
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; So Much for Compromise
If so, then how would you address the similar issues arising from openly gay men and women serving on a ship at sea?
I was stationed on a coed ship for 3 years, and the Navy developed policies to deal with these issues, some practical, some not so much. Every single one of those policies was violated every time we went to sea. Ships routinely came back from deployment with pregnant female crew members. More to the point, female members of my work center were very candid about telling us that there were areas of their berthing compartments where they were afraid to go, for fear of being accosted/assaulted by other women.
While stationed on the Nimitz, a guy in my department was taken off the ship, not because he was gay, but because he was caught with another guy in a sexual act in the showers during a power outage.
Was he a victim of DADT? Or his own irresponsibility?
Two more examples then you can all dismiss me as homophobic and sexist.
The Shenandoah was a destroyer tender, and as a non combatant ship, carried a coed crew. The crew numbered right around 1300, just over half women. During the non-deployment part of a 2 year cycle, the average pregnancy rate was 5-10 women.Shortly before a 6 month deployment, 40-50 of the female sailors would become pregnant, disqualifying them from deployment. Since pregnancy is temporary, these women would not be replaced, and the ship would deploy with a short crew. In essence, some women were deliberately timing their pregnancies to skip deployments, leaving the rest of the crew to take up their slack.
Second, the Navy establishes certain physical fitness standards that it considers to be the minimum for a sailor to be fully functional aboard ship. Even though male and female sailors in the same rating have exactly the same jobs, and perform the same functions during general quarters, those minimum standards are lowered for women. While this makes things easier for women to meet the standard, it kind of sucks for the injured guy who has to depend on her to pull him through an escape scuttle while the ship is in combat or sinking.
The point is simple. We're trading the effectiveness of our defensive forces with the political correctness imposed by idealists who have no experience in the reality of military life. It would be nice if the folks pushing this stuff would at least acknowledge that the question is not whether these policies will have an adverse impact on readiness and effectiveness, but whether the benefit outweighs that impact.
But it's easier to scream "Homophobe!" and go back to feeling good about yourself. In the meantime, an already tough, dangerous job just got a little bit tougher.
Two New Astrophotos
A nearly full moon. Taken using a 10' Meade LX200 and a Canon EOS Rebel at prime focus. I used a 6.3 focal reducer and a nebula filter to size the image and cut down on the glare.
Jupiter and moons. Taken using a 10' Meade LX200 and a Canon EOS Rebel at prime focus. This is a composite of two images. The first was shot at a low exposure to capture the color bands on Jupiter, and a longer exposure was used to get the moons. At some point, I want to try multiple exposures for Jupiter to try and enhance the detail, but that will wait until I get a CCD camera.
Burning the Koran
I'm not sure that message will have the effect they are intending. If I were a Muslim intent on imposing Sharia everywhere, and my most hated target replied to the murder of thousands and the loss of billions of dollars by burning a few dozen books, well, let's just say that I would like the math on that transaction very much.
Of course, the moderates have their own argument. Well, they're moderates, so they would probably object, not too strenuously of course, to the term argument, preferring instead the more innocuous position. But they'll hold it very firmly, thank you very much, as long as nobody is offended of course. And there position? Usually abject bowing, along with a cower or two as needed.
That was mean of me, I know, but I have a hard time with folks who lack the conviction to take a stand, and then congratulate themselves on how superior they are for their cowardice.
Me? What do I think?
Well, it's pretty simple. I haven't read the Koran from cover to cover but I have done more than a little bit of study, and I'm pretty much convinced that if the Devil decided to write a book that totally corrupted every major Christian principle, he could buy a copy of the Koran and save himself some time.
Oh dear. A moderate just passed out.
Maybe someday I'll have the time to walk through the Koran with you and show you why I've come to that conclusion, but then again, instead of taking my word for it, why not read it for yourself? Of course, you'll have to read an English translation, which isn't really considered a Koran, at least, not by fundamentalist Muslims, who claim that the Koran can only be a Koran if it is in the original language. Of course this raises an interesting question. If the folks in Florida are burning English language Korans, why would anybody get upset, since they aren't really Korans in the first place?
But let's not get sidetracked.
So, in my opinion, the Koran, written roughly 600 years after the New Testament books, seems to almost deliberately pervert the Gospel contained in those books, and reaching even further back, rewrites much of the Old Testament as well. It explicitly calls for the murder or subjugation of all non believers, saving the bloodiest, nastiest language for Jews and Christians. And, unlike the Bible, there is no New Testament to moderate the bloodier requirements of Islam.
But does that mean we should burn a few Korans in an effort to make some asinine gesture?
If you want to burn some books, start with everything published by Harlequin; reading a few of those books is like dipping your mind in hydrochloric acid.
For any Christian out there who thinks burning Korans is a good thing, ask yourself one question; will this help win lost souls away from the deceptions of Islam, or will it harden the hearts of the very people you are supposed to be trying to reach?
It's so simple when you stop and think about it, isn't it?
Luke Update, and Then Some
LUKE IS HOME!
When I posted last, Luke was off the vent and being considered for Long Tern Acute Critical Care because they thought he wasn't strong enough or well enough for rehab at Patricia Neal. Well, when God works a miracle, he doesn't go half way. Shortly after I wrote the last entry, Luke's respiratory therapist decided to try capping the trach tube to see how well Luke could breathe through his mouth and nose. They expected him to go for 30 minutes to an hour before needing to go back on the trach collar. Eight hours later, when it was about time to go to bed, Luke indicated that he was feeling a little short of breath, and asked for the cap to be pulled for the night. While the cap was off, he talked to us, and let us know that his mind was intact for the most part, although with all of the drugs, it was hard to assess just how much damage there was, if any.
The next day, they capped his trach again and allowed him to breathe in supplemental oxygen through a nasal cannula as needed. He never went back on the trach again. That afternoon, he saw a physical therapist for the first time. I helped with the evaluation. Luke was able to respond to all commands, and while he was very weak, he was able to sit on the side of his bed for ten minutes, working with the therapist. He required significant support, but he was working for the entire rime. After 30 minutes of therapy, the PT looked at me and said "This young man is ready for Patrica Neal!"
I did not cry; I just got a little sweat in my eye.
The Pat Neal rep was a little bit more realistic, and told us that while Luke was too strong for LTACC, he wasn't quite ready for full rehab yet, so they decided to move him to a regular room to get him out of the ICU and let him start gaining some strength. On July 3rd, Luke moved to the 10th floor. His meds were reduced, and he was allowed to have ice chips. We managed to get one popsicle for him, but they didn't want him to take in anything by mouth until they pulled the trach tube. After three days in the room, he was ready to transfer, but there were delays in getting all the doctors and therapists there to sign off on his release and it wasn't until July 9 that he made the transfer to Patricia Neal. At that time, he was cleared to eat solid food, and had his trach tube removed.
During the six days he was on the 10th floor, Luke ws visited by his nurses and a couple of the doctors. They all wanted to see the young man they had worked so hard and long for. Working in a trauma ICU is extremely difficult. The doctors and nurses have to give their patients the best care possible, all the while realizing that most everybody there is facing some pretty long odds. I can't imagine having to go into work each day knowing that the young man or woman that you've been working on so hard is liable to die. Their ability to maintain their focus and their intensity, and their ability to invest a little piece of themselves into each patient they care for is nothing short of heroic. That's why it comes as no surprise that when they have a patient who defies the odds, who not only survives, but recovers fully, and rapidly, they want to celebrate with the patient and the family. They are a part of our family now, and even though Luke doesn't really know them, we will go back and introduce him to the heroes that worked with energy, intelligence and a large helping of prayer and faith to save his life.
Luke went to Patricia Neal on Friday. Saturday morning, they did an assessment. Monday, he met his doctor and began rehab. They asked him to walk 15 steps. He walked 80. On Tuesday, he asked what he had to do to go home by the weekend. The doctor told him to work hard during his therapy sessions, and that it was a realistic goal. On Thursday, he came home!
On June 13th, they told us he was hours from death. On June 20th, they told us he would be in the ICU for weeks, the hospital even longer, then months of inpatient rehab. By June 27th, the smart ones had stopped making predictions. Luke was recovering too quickly, and too fully. God was at work in him, and Luke progressed as quickly as they would let him. Now he's at home, and getting ready to go to his first outpatient rehab class tomorrow. LAst night, he went out to dinner with his family, digging in to lasagna and chicken parmigiana like nothing ever happened.
There are some signs that he was sick. He lost 50 lbs. He walks with a pronounced limp due to a bad bone bruise on his knee. He tires easily, and his hands are shaky. There may be some residual nerve damage from the sedation and paralysis, or it could be related to the anoxia, but in either case, we know it will be healed as well. Luke is working hard to get back to the man he was before the accident, a teenager with a pickup truck, a pretty girlfriend, and a new puppy. It's going to be hard for us to let him be that teenager; we know how close we came to losing him. It's going to be hard to sit back and watch him go his own way again; I'm going to worry about him every time he gets on the road, whether he's driving or not. Then again, I'm worrying more about all of my kids. As a parent, I've been exceptionally lucky. I've raised six kids, and never hd to deal with a really bad illness or injury before. Sure, we've had our crises and our dramas, and many many trips to the emergency room, and one or two scares, but never anything like this. The bubble of invulnerability has been fractured before, but never shattered.
Now it has. Like a teenager finally coming to grips with their own mortality, I've been faced with a parent's worst fear: losing a child. From a distance, I watched my friend Katie as she went through it, and through my own fear and sorrow, I mourned for Henry with her even as I prayed that I would not have to follow her into that grief. And thanks be to God, I didn't have to. But I was forced to confront an aweful truth: my children are not in my hands, but in God's. And my spelling of 'aweful' was deliberate. I released Luke into God's hands, and God gave him back to me. It's an awful thing to have to learn, that you are powerless to save your child; it is an awesome thing to to learn, that God isn't.
As grateful as I am to God for sparing my son, I am left with a question that has no easy answer. Why did Luke live, and not Henry? Katie and her friends and family prayed just as hard and just as earnestly for Henry. A God who works miracle could surely have worked two at the same time. Why did Henry have to die in God's plan?
I know what the Bible says: "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" In other words, "Who are you to think you can understand My ways?" While I concede the logic of the answer, emotionally, it is unsatisfying and for a grieving parent, it's no help at all. Understanding that God's plan, while working for good, is incomprehensible to the limited mortal mind doesn't help much when you're mourning the loss of your child.It bothers me because part of being a Christian is to love your neighbors, and part of that is trying to bring them comfort when they need it, and right now, I don't know of any comfort I can give except the cold comfort of faith in the goodness of God. How can I convince a grieving mother of the glory of God when I would have a hard time believing it myself? I rejoice today because Luke lives. If one of my children died tomorrow, would I still rejoice and proclaim God's glory? I don't know and I don't want to know. I want to believe that I could still stand in praise like my friend Kathy, who lost her son to cancer, but I just don't know. I'd like to believe I have the faith of the Centurion, but honesty compels me to admit that I only reach that level of faith intermittently, when I'm left with no other choice.
So did God save Luke because I'm a better Christian than Katie? Hardly! I am a Christian, but I am also a sinner, and I'm no better than any other man or woman. Like the bumper sticker says, I'm just forgiven.
So we're left with faith again, but on second thought, maybe faith isn't such a cold comfort after all. Maybe I'm being deceived, even now. When I prayed those nights for the life of my son, when I had to give him up and place him in God's hands, I was comforted, and it was through faith. I believed Luke would be healed and that faith did comfort me even on the darkest night. That faith also allowed me to finally place Luke in God's hands and to let God take him if that was His plan. I can't claim to walk in that level of faith right now, but I did that night, and I'm trying to stay there. Faith doesn't have to be perfect to be effective; it just has to be there. I still don't know why Luke lived and not Henry, and I don't know what I would say to Katie if she asked me that question, but maybe this is one of those times when I don't need to know what to say, but to let the Holy Spirit speak through me..
I'd still like to have a better answer.
How to Win a New Client: Luke Update
And that brings me to the point of today's post. Luke is now well enough to leave the ICU, but not well enough to go to a standard room. They used the term LTACC, which stands for Long Term Acute Critical Care. I was not a big fan of that label, as long term sounds very ominous, and not at all in line with what we've seen from Luke, but I was relieved when the doctor explained that in this case, long term means a time measured in weeks instead of days. If they thought he would be ready for Patricia Neal or other full rehab facilities in a few days then they would move him to a floor room, but he believes Luke will need a little more time than that to get his trach out and to be weaned from the high level of sedation he's on. UT no longer maintains beds for transitional patients like Luke, so they're presenting options to the insurance company for the next phase of his care.
I met with representatives from the two facilities in Luke's room today to assess their programs, capabilities, and see how well Luke would fit in.
The rep from Facility A was an RN with 20 years of experience in a hospital setting in various capacities. She was familiar with Luke's history, and had read his chart in full. She was aware of some of the unique features of his stay here at UT, and outlined a multi-pronged strategy to perform rehab on his brain and his lungs, including stimulation of the damaged nuerons. Facility A is located within a hospital setting, with doctors on site 24/7, and is fully capable of handling any contingency in house.
The rep from Facility B was a respiratory technician who looked like he finished his training sometime last week. He didn't know anything about Luke's case, not even basic information, like how long he'd been in the ICU, or the extent of his injuries, or even that there was a brain trauma involved. He said they were very good at weaning patients off of ventilators. I pointed to Luke and said that he was already off the ventilator, and the rep said that was okay, they were good at weaning patients off of trachs as well. Facility B is located in a nursing home. and the rep very proudly assured me that they kept a RN and a respiratory therapist on site 24/7. I asked him how many beds they had and he said 16.
One RN for 16 beds. Luke is too sick to be in a regular hospital room with one nurse to four beds, and some clown wants to send him to a facility with one nurse for 16 beds.
I don't think so.
I asked how they would handle an emergency, and he said they had a doctor on call, but if the emergency were severe, they could call 911.
Let's just say that I know where I want Luke to go, and if the insurance company picks Facility B, there will be a bit of a ruckus. I'll bring him home first.
Luke is Improving
I'm trying to stay patient, but I'm really ready to get my son back.
A Mystery Solved
And it gets worse.
They finally arrive at the Promised, and when their scouts come back and tell them that there are giants there, they are struck dumb with fear, apparently believing that the God who did all of that can't handle a giant or two.
Who could be that stupid?
Apparently, I can and am.
I'm living in a miracle. My son should have died in the crash. I've seen the jeep, and where the driver's side used to be, there's an impression of a very large tree. The floorboard is crumpled around where his feet were, the gas pedal was in his steering wheel, the gas tank was thrown 75 feet from the car, the battery was found even further away, and the hat that was on his head was found over the next hill. My son should have died from the damage to his lungs. We came within hours of losing him as his organ systems were in jeopardy of shutting down due to extended hypoxia. But my son is being healed of the injuries to his lungs and I am certain that he will be healed from all of his other injuries as well. I'm certain because there's another miracle going on here.
As I wrote about earlier, I believe that God answered a prayer from me by telling me that my son would be given back to me whole and healthy. This occurred before the big crisis with his lungs and it is the only thing that kept me from folding up during that long night. I've also seen God's hand at work moving people and events to conform to His plan, and I know for a fact that He is very active in my life right now.
And that leads me back to the Israelites because right now, I'm almost exactly like them. Like them, I'm living a life surrounded by miracles, but I'm still afraid. When Luke doesn't improve as quickly as I think he should, I start to worry. When something doesn't go exactly right, I get scared. I want him to wake up now and when he won't, I start to worry that he won't ever wake up, and I get scared. He gets an infection, and I start to worry that he'll slide backwards into ARDS and I get scared. How can I be afraid when I see all these miracles around me?
I believe what I was told, that Luke will be okay, but while I have plenty of faith, it is not constant. I doubt. I don't doubt God; I doubt myself. I wonder whether I understood His message correctly. Did I get it wrong? Was He only giving me peace, and not really a promise? Did I not pray enough, or hard enough? Have I taken too much for granted? Have I not praised Him enough? All of these questions boil down to one grave fear; what have I done to make me worthy enough for the Creator of the Universe to stretch out His hand and heal my son?
The answer to that question is simple: Nothing. I am not worthy of a miracle, yet I'm in the middle of one, and that is where my doubt comes from. That's where my fear comes from. And it turns out that I'm in pretty good company. Sure the Israelites balked at entering the Promised Land, and cost themselves an entire generation, and while I have a new understanding for why they did so, I've got a better example to follow.
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him,“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?
That passage answers a lot of questions for me. Peter, the rock upon which Christ built his church doubted the power of God even while he was in the middle of a miracle himself!
Suddenly, I don't feel so bad.
And I'm going to follow his example. Whenever I feel that the high winds and heavy seas of the real world are causing me to doubt, to fear, or to question my faith, when I feel myself beginning to sink beneath the waves, I'll cry out, "Lord, save me." I may sink like a stone every time I step out of the boat, but I'll step out every time He asks me to. And when my faith isn't enough, I know His Grace is always sufficient. Luke will be okay, and will be leaving the ICU soon,not in weeks or months like some of his new nurses are saying. I'll take God's word over theirs every time. There may be some giants ahead for us, but I know that the God who brought Luke back from the very brink of death is big enough to handle a couple of Giants for me.
Besides, my middle name is David.
So Much to Say; So Many Stories
First of all, Luke is holding steady. We're in a sort of holding pattern while we wait for a slot in the OR. Luke's lungs have improved to the point where it's safe to give him a tracheotomy, and we really need to do that in order to wake him up. If we try to wake him up right now, the irritation from his breathing and feeding tubes would probably lead to him hurting himself or damaging his lungs, which are greatly improved, but by no means healed. We're hoping to get a slot in the OR Tuesday, but the doctors said we might have to wait until Wednesday. I've very nervous about waiting; the longer he's on the vent, the more time we have for something bad to happen. This pins and needles waiting is awful. Of course, I'm much happier to be where we are now than where we were last week, but I really, really want them to let Luke wake up.
Father's Day was a very interesting day. Lissa got herself a new netbook. Lindsey got a new bloodhound puppy. (Don't tell Luke. It's a surprise.) My sister bought herself a smoker. And I got to take my wife and Lindsey out for pizza. That I paid for. Oh, they did take me out to Marble Slab for ice cream, but that doesn't really count because mine was free.
I got a better present than anybody. Luke opened his eyes while I was in his room. He was still heavily sedated, and he probably wasn't really aware I was there, except in a vague almost unconscious way, but then again, he's 18, and that's probably pretty close to his usual level of awareness of my presence.
An update for those who are concerned about Jill, the English lady whose husband suffered a stroke. First of all, the preliminary prognosis of an unrecoverable stroke has been adjusted dramatically. Her husband is not out of the woods, but he's off the ventilator, able to speak and recognize her, and is now expected to recover, although the extent of any deficits is unknown. Her son Paul flew out to be with her, and although he had to go back home yesterday, her sister-in-law will be out to stay with her later in the week.
I met Paul in the SCC lounge, and despite the fact that I knew Jill's son was coming, and that he was watching soccer, and that he spoke with a clear English accent, I didn't identify him as Jill's son until she came up and started talking to him. Yes, sleep deprivation is taking its toll on a once great mind.
People ask me how I deal with the stress and strain over such a long period of time. I wish I had some answers to give them, but the truth is I just keep stepping forward and trusting God to carry me forward. I can tell you that every time I start to feel sorry for myself, God shows me just how well off I really am. A couple of days ago, I sat in the lounge and pretended not to hear as a mother fought for the life of one son while making plans to bury another. My heart was breaking for her, but I knew there was nothing I could do or say, and that she would just resent it if I tried to intrude. I said a quiet prayer for her.
I find myself doing that a lot these days. Lissa and I were leaving Luke's bed yesterday and as we walked through the hall, there was a small family group praying. I put my hand on Lissa's shoulder and let her lead me as I bowed my head, closed my eyes and prayed for strength for them. I prayed for Judy, who lost her loved one; for Gary, whose wife of 15 years is fighting an aneurysm; for Brandon, who was in a car wreck like Luke; for Jeff and his sister Michelle; I pray for people I don't even know, that I just pass in the hallway.
I guess that's how I deal with it, by praying for those who need it.
Luke's nurses have been exceptional through the whole thing. I can't praise them highly enough except to say that God is working miracles through their hands and more importantly, their hearts. I won't name names because I don't want to embarrass them or cause them any difficulties, but I will be forever grateful to each one of them because they truly invested themselves in my son. They treated him like he was part of their family, and let us be part of their team. We bonded with them almost immediately. I can't imagine the emotional cost that bringing that level of commitment to your patient must cost them, but I can say that it was deeply appreciated.
One of Luke's nurses got sick and had to take some time off. Her replacement impressed me tremendously because instead of just reading the chart, she asked us to tell her all about Luke. She wanted to get to know him as a person, and not just a patient.
Another one of Luke's nurses confided that they had thought about taking another patient after their days off because they didn't think they could handle it emotionally if things went any further south. But in an act of what I consider to be tremendous courage, they did come back to nurse him because they knew they were needed, both by Luke, and by us. I don't know what they pay you guys, but whatever it is, it isn't enough.
I know some of Luke's nurses are reading this, and I want you to know, even though I've already told most of you directly, that your passion and commitment to Luke didn't just save his life, it gave me the strength to stand strong for him. You kept me informed, which allowed me to worry when appropriate; you educated me so I could assess what was going on; you kicked me out and made me go home when I needed to; you paid me the compliment of being totally honest with me, and you did so with kindness and grace. Because of you, I didn't wind up in a bed next to Luke.
The doctors are pretty good too.
I believe there may be something of a double standard at work in the SCC. When Sandy spends the night back with Luke, the staff works to accommodate her and make her comfortable. When I stay back there, I sit on the toilet seat cover, lean up against the cold glass and try not to slide off the seat. Maybe I'm not showing enough leg...
There is still a union protest going in in front of the hospital which suits me just fine. As long as they are out there sitting under the shade behind their sign, I know that the people who are in the hospital right now taking care of my son are motivated by something a little bit stronger than greed.
I'm going to close this out by saying "Thank You" to all the people who have come by, written, sent food or flowers, posted comments, or added Luke to their prayer circles and chains. Your love, support, and prayers have helped us tremendously and I pray that you are all blessed in return. I've been blessed so much through this, and am being allowed to be in the middle of a miracle. I've been given the smallest of glimpses into God's Plan, and while I don't ever hope to understand it all, He's given me enough insight to know that even tremendous trials like this one work for good in accordance with His purpose. This gives me great comfort, and I hope I can share that comfort with as many people as possible.
One of the most troubling questions for Christianity is "Why do bad things happen to good people?" I tried to answer that one earlier, but I've learned that what I used to believe barely scratched the surface. I was right in what I believed, but my knowledge was very shallow; it was intellectual, not spiritual.
The question now is how do I communicate that depth of knowledge and understanding to other people without requiring them to go through what I just went through. When I get an answer, I'll let you know.
Wake Up Call for All Penguins
If all goes as planned tomorrow, Luke will be moved from the prone bed onto a standard hospital bed. He'll have his endotracheal tube replaced by a tracheotomy tube, he'll finally get the CT scan they've been waiting two weeks for, and they'll get him to begin to wake up for the first time. It's an ambitious schedule, and while I'm excited to see him making so much progress, I'm a little bit nervous about pushing too far too fast, but I know God has things under control.
It was kind of funny today. I've spent more time with Luke over the last three weeks than I have in probably all of last year. Between school and his girlfriend, I don't get to see much of him. And fathers don't generally get a lot of physical contact with their kids after a certain age. As they grow up, a quick manly hug or a handshake replace holding hands, brushing their hair out of their face, and kissing boo-boos to make them better. As I sit beside him in the ICU, I find myself touching him like I did when he was little. I place my hand on his chest, so I can feel his heartbeat, and his lungs move as he breathes.I hold his hand, feeling his pulse just beneath the skin as I talk to him about yesterday and tomorrow. I rub his back while I tell him over and over again about how much I love him and how proud I am of him. Every now and then, because he can't stop me, I touch his feet. What's really strange is that even though I've spent hours talking to him, touching him, or just sitting with him, I'm really starting to miss him. It's been almost three weeks since I've heard his voice or felt his hug.It's been nineteen days since I heard him laugh or saw him smile.
That's too long.
On his third day in the ICU, Luke's girlfriend Lindsey brought in a small stuffed penguin, It was a bit ragged and held together with duck tape where the dog had gotten hold of it. Her mother Sandy explained the significance of the toy. Luke and Lindsey had been watching a TV show about a certain species of penguins that mates for life. The show followed two penguins that mated, then were separated. One wound up in a zoo, while the other remained free. Years passed, and the pair did not mate with other penguins. Then fate intervened, and the free penguin was captures, and brought to the same zoo. The two penguins recognized each other, and the next season, they mated.
Luke looked at Lindsey and in all seriousness asked her, "Will you be my penguin?"
He'll probably kill me for telling this story, but that's my boy in a nutshell, and that's why I'm really missing him.
Lord, let him wake up tomorrow and still be that kind of a man. And while you're answering prayers, make me more like him please.
My Next Task
Earlier today The thought crossed my mind that I needed to give the rest of my family to God, just as I had done with Luke. It was a nice thought,and I figured I'd get around to it in a couple of days, but right then, I was too busy enjoying the progress Luke was making. I've never lived in the middle of a miracle before.
Procrastination is not a sound practice when dealing with God, and tonight, my family exploded. The strain of worrying about Luke finally got to us and things went very badly. Some of my kids do not like my wife. They've made their feelings quite clear, never quite crossing the line into outright rudeness, but making her feel unwanted in a hundred small ways. Last night, they crossed a line, and now Lissa doesn't want anything to do with them, they don't want anything to do with her or me, my ex wife is cussing me for not taking the kids' side, and all I want to do is take care of my son and pray he gets out of here intact with a functioning brain. I'm being put into a position where I'm supposed to choose between my wife and my kids.
Not gonna happen.
I spent a couple of hours in the chapel and walking the hospital grounds praying. It's getting to be a habit I guess, and two things happened. First, I lost my anger. I've forgiven all involved.I understand the pressures that build up and while I don't approve of the actions taken, or accept them as valid in anyway, I let all of that go. Second, I've given this all up to God. I can't resolve the issues going on here so I'm not even going to try. I'm also not going to respond to threats, whether implied or overt. I choose who I want in my family and I want all my kids, their kids, assorted pets, and my wife. That's my family. If there are those who can't accept being in a family with others I've chosen, and they choose to walk away, that's their choice, not mine. It's not what I want and they will always be welcome to return if they change their mind. I will never stop loving any of them.
To modify a phrase, "Love 'em all, and let God sort' em out."
It's 4:30 in the morning. I'm going to stretch out on an uncomfortable chair and sleep for a bit.