One Year Later
He wasn't optimistic.
But God gave me my best birthday gift ever. By the end of that day, Luke wasn't out of the woods, but the crisis had passed. They put him in a bed that kept him prone and his lungs began to heal. Seven days later, they put him back into a regular bed. A few days after that, they began to wean him from the respirator that had breathed for him for three weeks. A few days later, they began to let him wake up. We were worried about whether the hypoxia he suffered made his brain injuries worse, but when he woke up enough t communicate, he began using sign language to ask questions since the trach hole in his throat prevented him from talking.
Day by day, the extent of God's miracle became clear. From the edge of death, Luke has recovered nearly 100% and he did it with blazing fast speed. Today he works with the grounds maintenance crews at UT, spends a lot of time with his girlfriends and not enough time with his old man, but that's ok. I get a thrill every time I see him walk in the door, smile that Luke smile, and say "Hey Paw!"
Today, Luke is asking for another miracle; one for somebody else.
I don't know what his relationship to this young lady is, but Luke is asking that all the folks who prayed for his recovery to pray for Chelsea Williams, an 18 year old girl who accidentally overdosed and is now in the hospital in a coma. I watched Luke fade away in a coma, and I've watched Henry Granju's mama Katie go through the death of her child to an overdose, and I pray that no other mother or father will have to face the same fear and pain. I pray that God will be with Chelsea and her family, and that He will bring them together with Him, in Hiw will and His time. I pray that He will shower them with His Grace, Mercy, and Love, and give them the strength they need to get through this trial. I ask this in Jesus' name, the Son of God, who died for my sins so I could take this to the Father and be seen as washed in righteousness.
God said Yes
The Bible tells us that God loves our prayers. We are to pray to Him our praise and worship, tell Him the desires of our hearts, request guidance and strength in our daily lives, and ask that He speak to us. The Bible also tells us that God can and will perform miracles for us, even today - He confirms and attests to us His love and our salvation "by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." (Heb 2:4)
For the first time in my life, I have found myself in need of a true miracle.
On Memorial Day, Rich's youngest son was in a car wreck. His Jeep slid on a rain-slick curve and ran off the road. He sustained a head injury, in addition to broken ribs, lacerated lung with hemo-pneumothorax, and a minor fracture of his ankle. After a 90 minute extrication, he was rushed to the nearest trauma center. In the ER, he was responding appropriately, smiling at his dad and laughing with his best friend. Due to the knock on the head and the fractured ribs, he was taken to the ICU for observation. Shortly after arriving there, his level of consciousness started to decline. An astute nurse saw this and soon, Luke was being put under heavy sedation, intubated and put on a ventilator. A CT scan showed bleeding in his head and he had signs of increased cranial pressure.
While more than a little concerned, I felt assured that God had this under control. Of course I was praying for healing and recovery for Luke. The possibilities they were speaking of were very dire - the name for the injury he had is Diffuse Axonal Injury. A bit of research on the term revealed a very grim prognosis. Of those who sustain this kind of brain injury, 90% will never wake up. Of those who do, 90% will have major cognitive and/or motor deficits. Of the rest of that 1% the injury results in minor to moderate disability. When I read this, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I prayed harder.
Wednesday morning, after I spent much of the previous night in deep prayer, the CT scan was repeated. Praise God in Heaven - the damage turned out to be very minor, limited to a small part of the brain and best of all, was not progressing. While he still had sustained the damage from the bleed, it was small.
Our celebration that Luke would be OK was short-lived however. As they started to back down the paralytic that was keeping him still, they soon found that his lungs were not functioning very effectively. After only three days on the ventilator, he developed ARDS - acute respiratory syndrome. His lungs were stiff, filled with fluid and could not transfer oxygen effectively to his bloodstream. They had to keep him on the ventilator and let his lungs heal - but the Catch 22 is that being on the ventilator is what made his lungs sick in the first place.
Over the next week, his progress went from 3 steps forward and 2 steps back to 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. We continued praying - seeking God's face and His divine guidance and reassurance. Rich got some answers, but I still felt adrift and useless. My faith sustained, I continued having faith that Luke would still recover, and I focused on being there to support my husband while he was there for his children and family.
As the days turned into a week, and Luke made little to no progress, in my prayers, I asked God to show me what I needed to do. Two things kept coming to my mind ... the word "supplication" and the verse Jeremiah 29:11 - which happens to be my life verse: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." To this I answered, "Guide me, Holy Spirit, to do the works commanded of me. Use me as you will."
Sunday evening, I was preparing to leave the hospital when we were called back to speak with the doctor. He gave us the news that we had hoped to never have to hear, that Luke was deteriorating and was headed to what was eventually going to be his final respiratory crisis. It could be days, it could be hours. But there was little else that could be done. But there was one hope - a special bed that would allow them to easily change his position to prone, and rotate from side to side and tilt up and down. The chances of this bed working were small, and the risks in moving him were great. It would take several hours for the bed to arrive, as there were only three in the region. I believe Rich knew that he had to go for the only chance we had - having already placed Luke in God's hands. With my support, he told the doctor to go for it. Get the bed. It was already on the way.
The doctor also told us that it would be reasonable to gather the entire family at that time - even the children who were far away. One daughter in Birmingham, one in California, and even the son deployed with the Army in Iraq. The calls went out and local family began gathering at the hospital within minutes.
And then I began praying. I was begging God to not take him, that we needed him here with us. I said, "Your will, Lord, not ours, but please hear our prayer that he stay here with us - healed, whole and healthy. Lord, Lord, Lord ... please don't take him! Have mercy on his father, his mother, his family, and most of all on his beloved Lindsey. Please don't take him, Lord ... DON'T!"
Even as I spoke with Rich and the rest of the family, that prayer repeated unceasing in my mind. Then we were called back to Luke's bedside. He was deteriorating faster than previously thought. Though his oxygen levels were good, he was not perfusing well, CO2 was building up and he was becoming acidotic. They needed to move him to the prone position right away. But this would be an additional move, and another big risk of causing an irreversible crisis.
We had a while to be with Luke while they prepared for the move. God came down and weighed on me heavily. Hardly thinking about it, I just did it ... I went to Luke's side and layed my hands on his chest, and then I prayed.
I prayed with every ounce of energy, every fiber of my soul, and with every bit of love in my heart. Now it seems as if in a dream, all I remember is repeating the prayer over and over, "Your will, Lord, not ours, but please hear our prayer that he stay here with us - healed, whole and healthy. Lord, Lord, Lord ... please don't take him! Have mercy on his father, his mother, his family, and most of all on his beloved Lindsey. Please don't take him, Lord ... DON'T! In the sweet name of our Glorious Lord Jesus Christ, I pray!" alternating with that supplication that was demanded of me, "Lord, I know I am unworthy, my prayers are but a whisper, but I come to You humbly begging for Your grace and favor. We need a miracle for this child of Yours, please hear me, Lord, and grant us this miracle. In His Name, Lord ... I beg of you!"
Tears washed from my eyes in great torrents, I was shaking and my legs quickly grew weak, but I knew I had to keep on. I had God's ear and I meant to shout our pleas into it. The nursing team was moving around me, I was barely aware of their presence, yet I was taking it all in, every detail. One nurse's aid, despite the gravity of the situation, made jokes and laughed. I prayed for grace and compassion for her. I prayed for divine guidance of the medical team - "Lord, be here with us, work through the nurses, guide their hands so that no harm comes to Luke!"
Rich and I stood across the hall as they moved him, holding each other, still praying. And then it was done. His numbers were bad, and we all held our breath waiting for him to recover. The prayers were unceasing - "A miracle, Lord ... oh please grant us this miracle!" And slowly, but surely, Luke's numbers crept back up ... but we would still have to face the move, and risks, again when the bed arrived later that morning.
Although I was able to speak to others, I remained in this prayerful state. We finally retired to the family lounge to try to sleep, but I could not relax, and so I prayed.
They started calling other families back for doctors rounds at 7:30. They called us last, around 8:30. The bed was there and they were going to start moving him soon. It was a new shift of nurses by then, and Luke had held on in his face down position quite well. We had a glimmer of hope that the bed would be beneficial.
Again, as they prepared, I prayed with my hands on Luke. The same prayers, with some thanksgiving for the hope we had received ... the same physical and total emotional and mental involvement, with same dreamlike state as before. This time though, when the team was ready to start the move, they stopped ... and then they circled around Luke with us, we joined hands and were lead in a beautiful prayer by Jeanie, the clinical specialist.
It would take about an hour to move Luke, and due to the size of the bed, and close quarters in the room, they had us leave the ICU and return to the family lounge. As we did, a strange and wonderful sense of peace settled over me, and I knew in my heart that Luke was going to be OK.
A little while later, we went back in to see Luke in this huge bed ... hanging upside down, gently cradled in this crazy looking contraption, Luke began healing ... REALLY healing. Within a couple more hours, his oxygen was up at near normal levels, and his CO2 was dropping. His fever, though encased in the bed without the cooling blanket, came down to 101. By every measurement and number, he was doing so much better.
Three days later, as I write this, he has improved magnificently. The medical team is astounded. We again speak of WHEN Luke wakes up, not IF. The family that was called in from out of town, and out of country, is not here for the worst a family can face, but a celebration.
We are seeing a miracle unfold here ... the doctors tell us that Luke could wake up with cognitive deficits and possible long term or permanent damage to his lungs, which could limit his activities. But I firmly believe, and have faith that when God starts a miracle, he finishes it. Luke is going to be OK, really OK.
There have been hundreds of people called to pray for Luke, to ask God for this miracle. Hundreds of people obeyed that call. Their lives have been blessed. We are seeing this miracle. We asked, He answered ...
God said "Yes"