"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
This morning, someone said they hope I have 'the best Christmas ever' this year. Little did they know what they said sent a chill up and down my spine as if I were standing outside in this cold December air. You see, my 'best Christmas ever' so far was also one that, although it had a good ending, was nothing short of a nightmare. I have no clue why I am about to write this story. I will blame my gloomy mood on the rain that is falling outside. Maybe that is the reason I find myself sitting in front of my computer about to do something I told myself I would never do. Here goes...
We thought J.D. had a bad cold when we stopped by the emergency room on our way to Church that Sunday morning. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I had so much to be thankful for. God had just given me a baby boy and I was so happy. At six-weeks-old, J.D. appeared to be very normal health-wise, other than the terrible cough he had. Not taking any chances, we stopped by the ER, where we learned that it was more than a cough, it was bronchitis. He was immediately hospitalized.
By the following Wednesday, J.D.'s condition had improved and we were told he would be released from the hospital the following morning. Because he appeared to be fine, we left the hospital to go home and rest. Marina was two and I had felt guilty of not being there for her in the previous days that I had stayed at J.D.'s side at the hospital. So that Wednesday night, his mom and I left J.D. at the hospital, under the watchful eye of his Nana. The phone rang way too early the next morning, but the message on the other end of the phone woke me instantly.
The next morning, the doctor wanted to hold J.D. one more time before releasing him from the hospital. I have always wondered why it happened the way it did, but just has his Nana put J.D. in the doctor's arms, he had a seizure. What followed was a nightmare that lasted a little over two years.
Just as J.D. was placed in the doctors arms, he began choking on mucus. Because he was so tiny, the hospital did not have a tube small enough to fit down his throat to draw the stuff out. When I arrived at the hospital, the room was packed with nurses and physicians. One nurse was doing calculations. Her notes were spread out all over the bed. Every available doctor and every available nurse was in his room helping in some way. Things suddenly went into a tailspin. When I walked in the room, one of the first things I was told was 'the helicopter is on its way.' Tests had showed he was well enough to be discharged from the hospital, but something terribly awful had happened to him. I turned and walked out of the room and joined in a chorus of family, friends and hospital staff who were praying for my son.
The helicopter finally arrived and J.D. was airlifted to Kosair Childrens Hospital in Louisville, where he would spend the next four weeks. The diagnosis was Whooping Cough.
I couldn't believe it. I thought that disease had long vanished from society, but, according to the district health department, up to this point there hadn't been a case of Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, in the state of Kentucky in 14 years. Later, I would be told that three other babies had contracted whooping cough and all four children, including my son, had one thing in common, the same pediatrician.
The Chinese call Whooping Cough the cough of a thousand days, and I believe it because that is how long J.D.'s ordeal lasted. My dad, who suffered from Emphysema, said it was the worst cough he had ever heard, including his own. The first time he heard J.D. cough was over the telephone and he cried like a baby. This story is extremely difficult for me to write because I am having to relive it as I do, and over the past 14 years, it has only been on a very rare occasion that I have been able to discuss it without crying. I will say it like this...there was so much trauma, an unbelievable amount, not only for J.D., but for his parents as well. Never before had I experienced anything like it. Month after month after month, J.D. gagged and coughed every 3 to 4 minutes. Eventually, he coughed so much that he completely lost his voice. I remember having to periodically look into his crib to see if he was crying and many times finding him crying hard -- with no sound coming out of his mouth. That took its toll on us. It was more than I could bare. There are no words to describe how it felt seeing him do that. The whole episode was beyond a nightmare. After all these years, I still make it a point not to think about it, but sometimes, when I least expect it, it creeps up on me.
I guess not everyone believes in miracles or in angels like I do, but something truly wonderful happened while J.D. was at Kosair. We had been there for over a week with no vehicle and were sleeping in J.D.'s room. Eventually, J.D.'s Nana drove up to the hospital to help us out. We took advantage of that and got a room at the Ronald McDonald House. Around 5am, Julie woke up screaming that something had happened to J.D. She said she dreamed there was an angel sitting in the middle of J.D.'s bed and that his wings covered the entire bed. She said there was a golden glow all about the room. She said the angel was rocking J.D. in his arms and was singing 'the most beautiful song she had ever heard,' although she could not understand the words.
We took it to mean that something had happened, but we weren't sure if it meant good or bad. Up to this point, J.D. had slept very little because every 3 to 4 minutes he was coughing, choking and gagging. It was literally non-stop 24/7. So, not knowing what to think, we ran to the hospital as fast as we could go and found J.D. asleep in his bed..sleeping calmly. His Nana was very surprised by our sudden entrance. She said that just a few minutes before we got there, suddenly J.D. went limp and fell fast asleep. Whether or not anyone else believes it, I will always believe that God performed a miracle. J.D. slept almost 12 hours that day. No one could believe he was suddenly sleeping so sound.
Seven days later, we brought him home. It was a week before Christmas, but he was quarantined until the first of February. So, the entire Christmas and New Year holidays were spent shut in at home, but we made the best of it and it turned out to be one of the best Christmases I have ever had.
Something happened on my first day back at work after J.D. had come home from the hospital. We were living in Burkesville. There was a big snow on the ground and the temperature was just above zero. I backed my car out of the driveway and out onto the street and reached down to turned on the radio. The very first words that came from the car speakers were these: "I heard about His healing and His cleansing power revealing, how He made the lame to walk again and taught the blind to see." In my heart, which was racing 90mph, it was God telling me that it was He who was responsible for J.D.'s recovery. At that moment, it was as if all of the trauma, all of the pain and agonizing, all the fears and the worrying was suddenly swept away, and all I could do was cry. As I drove out of town, I rolled my window down and, for next few miles, screamed 'Praise God' as loud as I could over and over and over. All that I had held in was released. I was overcome with joy and thanks. God had spared my precious child.
About the time J.D. reached his second birthday, he stopped coughing. Finally, it was over. Today, except for the occasional use of an inhaler, you can't tell that he was once so sick.
What has been my greatest Christmas so far? The one where I was reminded that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. The rest of James 1:17 is awesome..."and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. The last part, neither shadow of turning, means that God did not leave me or my family, and most importantly, J.D., in the midst of that storm.
There is no shadow of turning with thee
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not
As thou hast been thou forever will be