Thursday, March 10, 2005
The Object of a Thousand Prayers
"'One day we may able to laugh at this, but right now I have to tell you that your son is going to die." Speaking softly with his Indian accent, the doctor went on, "The number of white blood cells in his body will be nearly impossible to overcome. We have ordered a life flight helicopter to take Trevor to the Children's Hospital in Birmingham."
Monday, March 10, 1986
The evening before he spiked a fever. We rushed him home from church. After pouring some Tylenol down his little throat and giving him a bath, we put him to bed planning to call the doctor in the morning. Trevor awoke early running a high fever. We got into the car heading for the pediatrician's office calling the doctor while on the way. On the examination table lay my Trevor listless and bleary-eyed. After ruling out strep and an ear infection, the doctor suggested it might just be a virus. I was to give him fluids and bring him back if he did not perk up.
I asked if the doctor wanted me to bring Trevor back the next day, and he said, "No, bring him back today." He muttered something about Reye's syndrome. I didn't know much about Reye's syndrome, but I knew it was serious.
Bewildered, I put Trevor in his infant car seat, and believe me, it was the easiest time I ever had putting him in. No thrashing, no resisting, no trying to get out. I offered him a cup of juice which he took and then let fall out of his hand. As I drove watching him in the rear view mirror, I realized that although he was not asleep, he was not moving. I turned the car around and went back to the doctor.
When we arrived back at the doctor's office, he directed us to the nearby hospital where Trevor was quickly admitted. Right away they tapped his spine to check for meningitis. A nurse came out and commented that he was "sooo goooood." Remember, this was Alabama. Then she said, "We tapped his spine and he didn't even cry." That's when I fell apart inside. When I was four the doctors at Henry Ford hospital in Detroit tapped my spine. To this day I recall it as the single most painful experience of my life. No crying meant something was very wrong.
Within a few minutes the doctor told us that Trevor's spinal fluid showed positive for meningitis. Whether it was viral or bacterial was uncertain, but the doctor hooked him up to intravenous antibiotics anyway. He ordered a life-flight helicopter. The prognosis could not have been worse.
Trevor's strawberry blond curls matted around his neck and forehead. Motors, monitors, bottles, tubes, and needles flushed fluids into his tiny little hand. Flat on his back, he laid comatose on a gurney. Ken and I went in. We washed his hot, still body with a rag and sang a little song we sang to him everyday, "Trevor, Jesus loves you; Trevor, Jesus loves you; Trevor, Jesus loves you; and love came gushing down. Seek and ye shall find, ask anywhere, give a knock and the door will opened and love, love, love came gushing down." Then the next verse, "Trevor, Daddy loves you," was followed by "Trevor, Mommy loves you," which was followed by "Trevor, Christopher loves you." The song continued through nearly all of the grandparent, aunt, uncle, and cousin verses. Then it went to the folks at church.
We kept singing. We kept wiping his head. We breathed in and out, but the air seemed heavy. Finally, came the roar of the helicopter landing and life-flight attendants transferring Trevor to their gurney. Just as they were leaving our sight, I saw a little hand grab at the IV cord. My heart skipped a beat. Trevor's reach was the first voluntary move I had seen for hours. The first flicker of hope.
The EMTs wouldn't let us ride in the helicopter. One hundred miles lay between our new home in slow, sleepy Sheffield, Alabama and the relatively big city of Birmingham.
The receiver on the phone seemed to weigh ten pounds. I tried to call my mom in Michigan to ask her to pray. The hospital operator patiently waited as I tried two or three times to remember our phone number and then my mom's. The numbers would run together and get out of order. I stopped and started several times until all the numbers came to me.
After receiving the call, Mom said she sat in the same chair for hours waiting to hear from us again.
The long road to Birmingham
The sun went down on the longest two-hour one hundred mile ride of our lives. Hurling through the darkness, we whispered the possibilities. Everything we ever wanted, thought, and believed seemed to crowd into our consciousness.
I remember trying to recall every promise I could think of in the Bible and I could not come up with ONE that said our baby would live.
My knowledge of meningitis consisted of three cases. Two victims died. One remained profoundly crippled both physically and mentally. The doctor told us that this infection of the lining of brain could affect any function the brain affected.
It took me an hour to begin to think of what words to think about praying. I knew I had no bargaining power. But on the other hand, I knew that God could move mountains if He chose to do so. If he could move mountains, he could cure my son.
I knew Jesus raised a couple of kids from the dead.
But he didn't raise them all.
I thought--I can ask. I can ask. I will ask.
I asked God to give us Trevor. I pleaded, if we could raise Trevor to be His Child, to be a good, loving person--then please, please, please, let him live. We wanted him. We would take him blind. We would take him deaf. We would take him crippled. We would take him mentally impaired.
We would take Trevor anyway God would give him to us.
Bright blue doors opened into the ER at University of Alabama Birmingham's Children's Hospital. As we pushed on the doors, we did not know if Trevor would be dead or alive. When the bright lights from the center hit our eyes after our long dark ride, we blinked back temporary blindness. Somewhere in that blur we heard Trevor crying.
Walking a few steps into ICU following that raspy little cry, we saw him thrashing around trying to get the IVs out. He recognized us, smiled, and when I leaned over and sang "You are my.."
He filled in, "sunshine."
Someone in the ER called our name announcing a call from a Dr. Mark Ottenweller. Mark, a brother from our church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana called to check on Trevor and to let us know that folks there were praying for him. My college roommate, Ann McDonald Lane called me. Phone calls came into the ward from all over the country including my home state of Michigan. Hundreds of Christians from the metropolitan Detroit area happened to be meeting that night at my home congregation, Van Dyke Church of Christ, to hear a fellowship luminary speak--someone like Max Lucado, Rubel Shelley, or Jim Woodruff. They prayed for Trevor.
Ten days of antibiotic therapy followed based on the diagnosis of bacterial meningitis. The head pediatric neurologist told the med students on their pediatric rotation that Trevor was an amazing case. He said there was no explanation for the his recovery.
As the years passed and Trevor reached new developmental stages, we silently, anxiously watched for residual effects. There were none. At fourteen after a battery of tests, we found his vision was 20-15. His hearing more acute than the average person. Intelligence testing---well, all parents think their kids are smart, but he's darn smart.
There is no secret brag here about our faith. We were mostly afraid. There is this memory and the realization that his life was spared.
There is the recollection that we prayed and that our friends prayed.
There is the realization that many others pray and God does not grant them the life of their child; many others pray and God does not grant the physical or mental health so deeply desired.
So this to you, Trevor--though the scriptures give no specific revelation about your life it remains true that against all odds, you survived. You not only survived, but were blessed with vision, with hearing, with intellect. You see the most intricate and interesting features of everything from photographs to flowers. You hear not only the notes in everything from symphonies to punk rock medleys---you hear everything we say no matter where or when we say it.
Now that you are a grown man please realize that your life and well being have been the object of a thousand prayers.
May God grant that you see what He wants you to see; hear what He wants you to hear; and you hunger for the knowledge of His Story.
As for me and Ken, we still have never found that we can laugh at this, but we thank God for Trevor, Chris, and for the length of journey here together.