July 19, 2017
Have you ever sat praying with your child, and he or she prays for something, and you think to yourself, “Oooo, that’s not gonna happen”?
It happens occasionally at our house, but it’s usually not too big of a deal. Theo has prayed for a German Shepherd a million times, and I’ll just say, “Oh bud, there’s really no room for a German Shepherd at our house.”
Well, on this particular night, I sat driving the car while Theo prayed from the back seat. As I listened to his prayer request, I thought, “Oh Lord, can you please make that happen for him?” Let me rewind.
Friday July 7th was a scheduled chemo day. Leading up to Friday, Theo had consistently complained of a headache, every day, several times a day. Theo never complains. Goodness, he was bowling the day he was diagnosed with Leukemia in first place. So after six consecutive days of complaining all day of a headache, and with no signs of sickness in our house in any of the others, I, along with my business management degree, concluded that Theo had a brain tumor. They have always said that the instance of brain cancer in boys with Leukemia is significantly higher than girls. So much so, that they treat boys with Leukemia an entire year longer than girls with Leukemia. I was worried.
With my parents in charge at our house and Scott off from school for the day, the three of us drove to Theo’s chemo appointment. Scott and I had prayed fervently the night before that our doctor would take our concern to heart and help us figure out what was causing Theo’s headaches. I love our team at CHOP and they did indeed take us seriously, from the intake nurse all the way up to the head oncologist. Theo’s counts were sky high and he passed a neurological exam, so that was encouraging. They also explained to us that a brain tumor was not a concern, (oops), but instead the concern would be Leukemia in Theo’s brain. The only way to know that for sure would be a spinal tap, and they were open to scheduling a spinal tap ahead of time if the headaches continued. We were to wait out the weekend and call on Monday if he still had a headache. Scott and I felt satisfied with their conclusion and were content waiting through the weekend to see if Theo felt any better. And it was nice to know that my tumor theory was a little off track.
Chemo went smoothly, we headed back home, and Theo and I fell asleep on the couch. Theo woke up around 3pm with a temperature of 102.7. We knew that meant he had to be hospitalized within an hour in case of an infection. We knew we couldn’t make it to the city in under an hour, so we agreed that I would take Theo to our local hospital. I even called CHOP to tell them what was going on, and they said to go and have the local ER call them for instructions.
Now before I go on, we love our local hospital. I have given birth there many times and my father had heart surgery there just a few years ago. They are wonderful people and brilliant professionals. However, I can now honestly say, it is not a cancer hospital.
Theo and I enter into the ER. They asked me if anything weird was going on, and I replied Theo had chemo earlier that morning and he’d been having headaches all week, but our CHOP team was aware of that. That’s when things went downhill. First we were sent for a cat scan. Then we found ourselves waiting in the hallway for a chest x-ray. I called Scott and whispered into my phone, “I think we’re on the wrong track here. I don’t know what to do. He needs a blood culture and antibiotics immediately. They haven’t even accessed his port. What should I do?” It was a tough spot, because I had just been reminded in the morning that my business management degree didn’t help much in the cancer world, and yet the downtown nurse had prepped me with what I should expect from the ER and this wasn’t it. I was racking my brain; Do I humble myself? Do I speak up? Can someone please help our son?
Once we returned to our triage room our nurse explained that they couldn’t access Theo’s port. They didn’t even have a port kit in the building. They wanted to do two arm sticks, but they couldn’t answer how they would take a blood culture from his port line. Theo started crying. The nurse left the room. I whispered to Theo, “I’m going to get you out of here buddy, I’ll take you to CHOP.” With my best combination of humility and assertion I said to the doctor, “I’d like to leave and I’d like to take him to CHOP.” It actually worked. They called CHOP, they cleared us to travel, and we left.
It was now 6:45pm. It had been four hours since we discovered Theo’s fever. There was no gas in the car, neither of us had had dinner, my cell was on low battery, we still didn’t know why Theo had such a high fever, and I was discouraged. So, I put my big girl pants on, I filled the gas tank, got us milkshakes at McDonalds, bought a phone charger from Staples, and headed down Route 3. At the very least, it was a beautiful summer night.
I turned to Theo in the back seat and I said, “Let’s pray buddy.”
He prayed, “Dear God, please help me to get a boy nurse to do my port. Amen.”
Ooo. A boy? Nurse? In the ER? Who has experience with ports? “Amen,” I choked.
I can’t even type this without tearing up, honestly. It was now 8pm, we were in our triage room of CHOP’s downtown ER, we’re the only people there, and this young, healthy man bounced into our room. He pulled down his shirt collar exposing a scar and said, “Hey buddy, guess what this is? It’s my scar, from my port.”
I will never forget that moment. John was indeed a boy, a nurse, and a cancer survivor who boasted he used to access his own port.
Needless to say, our night went really well from that point on. It was so well worth the grief of the previous five hours. John took great care of Theo. Oh, and, John found 3 bull eyes on Theo’s back. Remember the headaches? Theo tested positive for Lymes. A small bump in the road, but so much better than a brain tumor.
It’s those speechless moments that carry us along the long roads in life. May the Lord grant you your own speechless moments and the strength to keep on going in between.
And, if you think of him, will you please pray that Theo heals from Lymes?
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.