Friday, June 28, 2013

A Place Prepared

Tyler on Christmas Day.  
You can already see the lines under his eyes and the hollowing of his cheeks, 
though we didn't realize at the time what these were indicating.

"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God..."  Revelation 12:6

Despite having taken a semester course on Revelation, there is still much of this book that eludes me.  However, I've always loved the above verse where God prepared a special place of protection for the woman described in the preceding verses.  Looking back on the events of the past three weeks, I can clearly see how the Lord has done the same for my family.

It's a little-known fact that when Dylan was born, a very misguided pediatrician accused me of parental neglect when I mentioned that we'd not had to take a child to the doctor for illness in over two years (we had taken them in for well-child checkups).  She told me that it was impossible that none of our three older children could be so healthy and therefore concluded that we were denying sick children a physician's care.  As a result, she called in Social Services on me.  I was dumbfounded, hurt, and angry that she would say such an outlandish thing.  I cannot begin to imagine what would have happened if my parents had told me I couldn't go to the doctor when I had those awful, double ear infections as a child.  Memories of those ear infections are enough to ensure that I would never, ever avoid taking in a sick child.

For several weeks after, I wrestled with the injustice of it all.  What should have been a very happy occasion - the birth of our beautiful baby - was marred by the terror of possibly dealing with Child Protective Services and the threat of them coming to my home (once we left the hospital, we never heard from them again, thankfully).  How could any good come from this?

I believe that God allowed this atrocious woman to say what she did as a prevention.  When Tyler got sick, his symptoms did not initially warrant an expensive trip to Urgent Care - he was not so violently ill as to convey the possibility of dehydration; the lack of fever seemed to indicate a mild illness (although the oddity of that was what eventually caused us to take him in); and his weight loss could have easily been attributed to his being under the weather.  However, I could not shake the accusation of parental neglect, and I think that ultimately inspired us to action more quickly than we might have otherwise done.  While I hope to never see that pediatrician again, I can see how the Lord used a seemingly-horrible experience for good.

When I did take Tyler to Urgent Care, I asked for a pager so that we could sit in the car to wait instead of collecting more germs in the waiting room.  For reasons unknown, the pager never went off, resulting in our having to wait even longer to see a doctor.  This was frustrating at the time, but it ultimately caused us to see a different doctor than we would have if the pager had worked.  This doctor's bedside manner was amazing:  he did not needlessly alarm me, but once he was certain about the diagnosis, he was very direct, thorough, and calm when he explained what was about to happen.  I cannot imagine any other doctor handling the situation better than he did, and I am also certain that had the pager worked, we would have been seen by a different doctor who very likely would not have been as good.  Also, the delay meant that the diagnosis came around 5:30PM, just a few minutes after my dad had gotten home from work.  When I called to ask him if he and Mom could come get the middle two Spark Plugs, he was home and available to jump in the car right away.  Any earlier, and we would have had to wait for him to arrive home. 

I can even see how Jon's CSF leak prepared us for Tyler's diabetes diagnosis.  We were already accustomed to a life-threatening medical condition (though thankfully, when both CSF and diabetes are closely monitored, the health risks are greatly reduced); we knew how frequent sick days affect daily life; and we've experienced dealing with the frustration of insurance issues, frequent doctor's visits, and the other headaches that often accompany such health problems.

All of this isn't to say that things are easy or that we've sailed through this with shining colors.  We have to take everything a day at a time, and we continually need the prayers of everyone around us.  Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is the second most common childhood disease (asthma is the first), which means that the doctors know exactly what to do for Tyler (as opposed to Jon's CSF leak, where doctors are, at present, completely baffled).  As wonderful as that is, he is more prone to illness in general, and viruses will also be more problematic for him than for the other Spark Plugs.  We're currently awaiting test results to see if Tyler also has Celiac Disease, and we'll also have to get the rest of our family tested for genetic markers that may indicate the likelihood of anyone else developing T1D.

I know that the Lord is already preparing us for the future, whatever it may hold, just as He prepared us for everything we've recently faced.  It really doesn't matter whether or not we'll be dealing with Celiac Disease or multiple T1D diagnoses. He is working out everything for our good and His glory, and knowing that brings the peace that surpasses any earthly peace we might have formerly known.

As a friend of mine likes to say, "God's got this," and that's all that really matters!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Update on Tyler

Thank you all for your prayers, encouragement, phone calls, and offers of help. This past week has been the hardest we have yet encountered, but it was made easier because of everyone's support.

A little background: Tyler started noticeably thinning out about the time that Dylan was born. We assumed he had hit a growth spurt, but when he began vomiting last weekend without running a fever, we grew concerned. I weighed him and was shocked to see that he'd lost 6 pounds in 3 months. We made an appointment with our family doctor for Wednesday, but he lost another pound on Tuesday and we took him to Urgent Care. There he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes with blood sugar over 400 (normal for him should be under 120) and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This can be fatal if left untreated, so he was taken by ambulance to Lucile Packard's Pediatric ICU. There he was slowly rehydrated and given insulin. Wednesday he was moved out of PICU and we began an intensive training course in caring for a type 1 diabetes patient.

We were discharged Thursday afternoon with a binder full of needed information. Over the next two weeks, we will be constantly adjusting Tyler's insulin dosages as we determine how his body responds to treatment. This is far from a one-size-fits-all regimen, and as he grows, we will adjust further. We've been told that even if we follow everything perfectly, he will still have good days and bad days. Viruses will be particularly hard on him, just as they are for Jon because of Jon's cerebro-spinal fluid leak.

Many have asked how we're holding up. The initial diagnosis was devastating, but each day gets a little better. Because of my phobia of sickness (vomiting in particular) and dislike of blood and needles (I've passed out at blood drives), all of this appeals to me as much as a pet tarantula would to an arachnophobiac. Despite my squeamishness, I sense the Lord's peace more than I have ever before. Jon is doing amazingly well, though he says he still feels very stressed. Tyler is taking everything in stride and is even doing his own blood sugar checks.

Tyler should not have any lasting health consequences from his weight loss or DKA. The doctors say that he will regain the weight in about a month and that his increased appetite will adjust back to normal in a few weeks. Likewise, his teeth will correct the decalcification that was taking place as his nutrient-starved body took minerals from anywhere it could.   Once we've gotten his insulin dose tailored to his specific needs, he should be able to participate in any activities he wants to and will not be limited in life (aside from not being able to join the military - can't have a pilot with bouncing blood sugar up in the air!).  We are grateful for this prognosis!

Our greatest need right now is for prayer: for Jon's coming layoff; for the rough days ahead; for finding better health coverage for the high cost of Tyler's ongoing care; and for our continued trust in the Lord's mercy. Time does not permit me to share the numerous ways in which we have clearly seen God's grace in all of this. There is too much to be thankful for.

As a final thought, we would like to make a photobook for Tyler with pictures of those who have been praying and with the many verses that everyone has shared with us. If you would like to be included, feel free to email me a picture. Also, if your church has been praying and you would like to include the name of your congregation, feel free to send that as well. Our goal is to have a tangible reminder of God's goodness. This will be especially comforting during the rough times we are bound to encounter.