Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Red Like Blood

I started reading Red Like Blood while in the Pediatric ICU. It was a difficult time and I needed something to read when things were quiet and she was asleep. Knowing that I had to review this book, I chose it, not really knowing much about it. I definitely didn't expect it to be a book that would be so helpful, so tailored to many of my questions and circumstances.

First, the authors are incredibly likable and transparent. I found myself identifying more with Pastor Coffey than Mr. Bevington throughout much of it, because I also grew up in the church and haven't strayed far from it, but I still enjoyed hearing both voices on the different subject matters of grace and God. It did take me a bit of time to get used to the different styles of writing the two of them have, and at times it felt a bit disjointed because of that, but I soon became accustomed to this style.

As with all books, I had some questions. Not so much disagreements, per se, but just a longing to understand more in certain places. To ask questions. To learn. Yet I not only learned and understood much by reading this book, I also found it incredibly comforting. In fact, I fear this review will be biased completely because of my own circumstances while reading this book. It has been a difficult month. As mentioned previously, my daughter has been in the hospital for 3 weeks. Home now, but still facing much difficulties and we're still taking it day by day. I cried while reading this book. My faith was strengthened while reading this book. Suffering was addressed with such honesty, and yet hope. I found myself nearly feeling that Pastor Coffey and Mr. Bevington were my friends, because this book has been an integral part of my journey of understanding and accepting God's grace. Plus, the book was written in such a 'conversational' style that I felt like I knew them through their experiences, and that they understood. Mr. Bevington understood what is was like to feel so helpless and watch his little infant girl in the hospital. Pastor Coffey also knew suffering and waded through it. Like I said, I am probably biased, but this book just gave me such hope and a greater understanding of God and grace.

There's a chapter in this book called "The Math of God". I don't understand so much right now, and I am the type of person who tries to figure God out, frustrated that I cannot. Going through this ordeal with my daughter has been the most exhausting, questioning time in my life but also one where I understand joy and God in a way I've never experienced. This book has been such an affirmation of this.

I am truly grateful I read this book when I did. I was provided a free copy through Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pinch Me

The other day my daughter wistfully asked me in a small voice, "Mommy, am I dreaming? Pinch me. Is this real"? The 'dream' she was referring to is actually a nightmare, and it is very real.
A few weeks ago she had mastoiditis surgery on her ear. They were just about to release her from the hospital when her (very excellent and thorough) ear surgeon requested an MRI as a precursor to being released. That MRI revealed a large blood clot in her head, and a pocket of infection also in her head. In fact, very near her carotid artery. As bad as this news was, we were thankful that they did an MRI so we could address it, and thankful the infection wasn't worse. Instead of going home, we were instead tearfully and immediately transferred to the PICU, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

It was the hardest night of my life. At this point, there was so much we didn't know. Providentially, her surgeon days before she even knew of this complication, had started K on 3 powerful broad spectrum antibiotics 'just in case' of meningitis. Those antibiotics started so early were.... well, a godsend. And her surgeon also took several cultures after the surgery to send to the lab. It took days and days but some finally began to grow and confirm that we were treating it correctly.

The day after they hastily transferred us to PICU they performed another MRI. And we waited anxiously. They wouldn't allow her to eat afterwards, even though she hadn't eaten for the past 16 hours, because there was a possibility they'd need to perform emergency neurosurgery. We waited while the team of doctors reviewed the images with the radiologist. And rejoiced when the verdict was that they thought the infection looked just slightly less. The antibiotics were working! We were kept in the PICU for a bit longer as they worked on getting the heparin dose just right. Once done, we were moved back to pediatrics to await her getting stronger and more stable enough to go home. Plus, they had to figure out what antibiotic regimen we could perform at home. They taught David how to do the heparin (lovenox) injections and I learned how to administer antibiotics through her PICC line.

We went home. I think we were more fearful than when we brought Conor home as a newborn, taking her temperature several times a day, paranoid we were not doing her PICC line exactly right. She was tired, too tired to attend school, which was fine because she had at least one doctor appointment every day that week and even another surgery that week, only this time we were released to go home immediately. Then a few days later, I emailed K's surgeon; she wasn't doing so great. Fever. Tiredness. Her doctor called me back, asking some questions of her vision and urged me to take her to the ER right away. Another MRI. A stay in the PICU and now, we're still in the hospital. I'll flesh out the days more in a subsequent post, but it has truly been a very hard and long road to recovery. Sometimes it is hard to see that we are moving forward. It isn't as neat and tidy as I'd like but it is progress, just intermixed with a lot of questions and tears. Some days I wonder if she'll make it out okay. Other days I reflect back at God's goodness and how far He has already brought us, the amazing doctors he's put in her life, the numerous people that are praying for her -- even states away from us.
Honestly, I wish it was a dream and I'd wake up and it never happened. But it is happening. And as much as I'd like to ignore it or hide from it, I can't.