Thoughts from the Family

[Bryan] St Luke’s Hospital

Friday March 20, morning and early afternoon

Friday early morning was a time of handing off a heavy burden to the staff of St Luke’s. My father and sister Beth were absolutely exhausted. After two or three hours of debriefing as a family of three-when we just talked about our experience of the last three days, Dad and Beth  slept for a block of three or four hours.  This is probably the first time since this saga began. The fact that they could sleep is a testament to the fact that they have let go some of the emotional burden.

For mom this period from 1:00am to 7:00am was a time of attempting to establish metabolic equilibrium. She came in with a body temperature of 91 deg. F. We were told later by staff that this was the lowest body temperature they have ever seen. By 7:00am they were able to bring her vital signs and blood chemistry into a relative normal range. Activity in mom’s room calmed a bit prior to 7:00am and allowed me my first time alone with her. My heart was broken and the tears were profuse. The thoughts, feelings and memories were a torrent.  I am sure many of you feel this way.  It was a time of making peace over opportunities never taken, and a recognition that we must all choose the path in life we are meant to walk… and how well have we done?  The answer is that we would be lost without the grace of God.

At 7:30am the attending physician came by while I was still the only family in the room. He gave me a very straight appraisal based on the data provided by the Nicaraguan Hospital and what had been observed thus far at St Luke’s.  Several forms of key external stimuli resulted in no response and the digital scans of the head revealed severe trauma from which the Dr. suggested there was little to no chance of normal recovery. This was deafening news. Dr. McCoullah indicated that two additional tests could be run that would provide clarity of brain activity or lack thereof.

The first  test, a nuclear blood flow test, would determine if there was any blood flow to mom’s brain.  In the course of preparing for the test mom became extremely unstable metabolically and the test was cancelled for fear that she would end in cardiac arrest. This was a dramatic 30 minutes where we literally experienced the possibility of losing mom and a dialogue was forced to determine if family would allow for extreme cardiac response measures to keep her alive. It was agreed that we would honor mom’s intent in her living will and let her go into God’s hand if it came to that. This was a turning point where we had to reckon with what we could not control.

There would be one more period of extended grace for us as family: Mom’s vitals became stable once again through an increased dosage of intravenous treatments. We were shook to the core and resigned to fact that we might ultimately lose mom.  We read scripture, (John chpts 16 and 17) to mom and each other. We were fearful that mom might not last until Amy and Bobby might arrive. We were greatly relieved when Amy arrived around 11:00am and she was so grateful to see her mother again.

Dad in the midst of tears and controlled emotion suggested we step away as a family and find some food and space in order to sort out the situation.

Mom was somewhat stable going into the afternoon, only through the administration of sustaining medication.  Given mom’s stability it was determined that the nuclear blood flow test would be attempted a second time.

While mom was having this test, Glenn Smith and daughters Torie and McKenzie arrived at the hospital.  Eventually we gathered in one of the waiting rooms for a very meaningful time of prayer where we laid down the burden we could not carry and relinquished mom to the Lord’s will.  This was a difficult but freeing moment.   Is this not what we all must come to?

I Peter 5: 6-7, 10

Humble yourself therefore under the God’s mighty hand, that he might lift you up in due time.  Cast all you anxiety on him for He cares for you.   And the God of all grace, who called you to eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will himself restore you  and make you strong.