Thursday, April 27, 2017

He Loves Us More

At the tail end of summer and right before our youngest daughter was to start kindergarten she got a really bad cold.  We tried all the at home remedies and over the counter medications but she just couldn't shake it.  After about three of four days of her being sick enough to stay inside and not want to play I thought it best to take her to our doctor.  We made an appointment with the only available physician's assistant in the office at the time.  He wasn't my favorite, but he was still very good.  He did all the things we expected him to do like checked her ears, checked her throat, and then he listened to her lungs and her heart.  After listening to her heart he then asked me a question a doctor has never asked us before.  He said, "How long has she had that heart murmur?"  That question caught me off guard.  I replied, "What heart murmur?"  He said, "Yeah, your daughter has a heart murmur.  Let's get her over this cold and then bring her back and we will check her again, and we will give her the shot she still needs for school.  We are out of stock right now.  You can also call us in a couple of days if you want to see if the shot is in stock and just bring her back, you don't need another appointment, and we will give it to her even if the cold is not completely cleared up."  

I left our doctor's office a bit puzzled and I remember thinking this guy is off his rocker.  Well, about two weeks later I caught the same cold our daughter had and ended up making an appointment for myself.  This time at another location for our doctor.  When I made the appointment I mentioned that I would also like to get my daughter in for the shot she still needed while we are in the office.  The physician's assistant checked me over and gave me the same kind of medication he had given my daughter.  Once he we done checking me out, he asked a question that I thought was a bit odd about our daughter.  I explained that we needed to get the shot she still needed for school and the other office was out of stock when she was in two weeks ago, and he said, "How did that appointment go?"  That question surprised me because I remembered thinking, funny you should ask.  I then explained that Lexi had the same cold I had and while Dale was checking her over he asked how long she had had her heart murmur.  I then explained that we had no idea she had one.  The Physician's Assistant, Nathan, said, "Well, do you mind if I take a listen?"  He listened to her heart and said, "Yeah, she has a murmur."  And then he said, "We just happen to have a cardiologist in the office right now, do you mind if he listens to her heart?"  The cardiologist came into the room and listened to her heart and then he said, "She definitely has a murmur and it isn't an emergency right now, but she really needs to see a pediatric cardiologist."  When they were both done examining Lexi they left the room for a few minutes.  When Nathan came back into the room he asked if he could make the appointment for Lexi and he wanted to make sure I would get her there no matter the day or time.  I agreed and the appointment was made for about a month later.  Which was the soonest they could get us in.

As we waiting the long month for our daughter's appointment with the specialist my husband and I were concerned but not too worried.  The day of the appointment I took the day off work and took our daughter to the appointment.  My husband wasn't feeling well so he stayed home.  When Lexi and I arrived at the doctor's office the waiting room was empty.  The doctor was busy with his first appointment for the day and eventually this little girl just a year or two older came out with her mother to wait for a test to be done.  The little girl was wearing a hospital gown with the ties in the front instead of in the back.  The little girl sat in a chair next to her mother and then began to play with one of the toys sitting on a table in the waiting room.  The little girl had a long thick scar that ran right down the middle of her chest.  Lexi of course noticed the scar and seemed to really pay close attention to this little girl.  While we waited for our appointment I commented to the Mom of the little girl that by the looks of things their family had been through a lot.  As I made that comment I was silently thanking my Heavenly Father that we did not have that trial to go through.  The mother agreed that they had indeed been through a lot.  In fact, the mother proceeded to tell me that her little girl had to have open heart surgery twice and that was why her scar was so dark red and thick.  She said they were there for an echo cardiogram to make sure everything was good.  

After waiting for what seemed to be an eternity our name was called.  The nurse took us into a room and proceeded to take Lexi's vitals and then explained that they needed to do an EKG.  They explained everything quite well to Lexi and I was impressed that she wasn't scared at all.  Once the test was complete the printout was taken to the doctor who reviewed it.  When he was done reviewing the test he came into the examination room we were in and he talked with Lexi for a moment and then he looked at me and said he was going to explain to me what was going on with our daughter in a way as not to upset her.  He then asked me if I would be able to not react so she didn't get scared.  He then pulled out a piece of paper with a picture of a heart on it.  For the next ten minutes he walked me through what that little EKG machine had revealed. Our daughter had a hole between the two chambers in her heart that was causing the oxygenated blood to mix with the other blood.  He then explained that she also had a heart murmur and that her mitral valve was in need of repair as well.  He said they would need to do an Echo cardiogram on Lexi and would like to set it up for the next day to confirm and get a good look at what needed to be done, but that all of this would require our daughter to have open heart surgery.  

I got through the doctor's explanation just fine without breaking down and crying.  In fact, I didn't say much, but asked one or two questions as he drew on the piece of paper with blue and red colored pencils to illustrate everything.  The doctor was pretty amazing.  When he got up to leave the room and as he was standing in the hallway and looking into the exam room I must of had a deer in the headlights look on my face because the doctor then asked me, "Are you okay?"  I burst out and just started to cry.  I held it together until he asked me if I was okay.  I got my daughter dressed and then we both went out to the front desk to set up the test for the next day.  

The doctor's office was clear across town and as I walked, holding my daughter's hand, down the walkway to the elevator and then to the parking garage I was still crying pretty hard, but Lexi was surprisingly calm.  In fact, I remember telling her how sorry I was and she looked up at me and said, "Mom, I'm gonna be okay."  I knew at that moment that those words were placed in my little five year old daughter's mouth by the Holy Ghost for my benefit.  When we got to the car it took me a moment to wipe the tears from my eyes so I could actually see well enough to drive us home. We had to take the freeway to get to our home and I still don't know how I was able to do that without completely losing it, but I did.  

When I got home my husband met us at the door to our kitchen and he could tell something was very wrong when he saw my face.  He then asked how everything went and I broke down and started to cry again.  I could barely get the words out and I pulled out the piece of paper the doctor gave me with all of his writing and drawings.  I then proceeded to explain to my husband in the best way I knew how what was happening with our daughter's heart.  I then explained that all of this would require open heart surgery to repair everything.  By the time I was finished explaining everything my husband was crying just as hard as I was.  I explained that the doctor's office would work with our insurance to receive authorization for the referral to the cardiac surgeon, but we would have to travel to the Children's Hospital to see him.  

We had to wait another month to get in to see the cardiac surgeon.  By now, the company I was working for and the one our insurance was through was about to close their doors in our city so time was running out.  At the time I didn't know exactly what that meant.  As we were getting ready to meet with the cardiac surgeon my head was spinning.  I kept thinking about everything they were going to do to our little girl and I was terrified for her.  I kept thinking about the what ifs.  You know, what if something goes wrong?  What if some fluke accident happens and we lose her?  What if when they turn off all the machines they have to use to keep her body working, while they literally stop the blood from pumping through her heart, and she doesn't wake up?  What about them having to crack her rib cage to to get to her little heart?  The what ifs had me totally freaked out and I spent many nights crying and in a panicked state.  My husband thought I was more concerned with how this whole thing was effecting me, but I wasn't thinking of myself.  I was only thinking of our little girl.  Kevin and I are rarely on the same page.  We tend to compliment each other. This time I did the freak out before. Kevin's freak out would come later on the day of the surgery and after.

About a week before the big day Kevin gave Lexi a blessing.  That blessing was for her and her alone. Then a long time family friend, who also happened to be the man that sealed Kevin and I together in the temple, insisted on giving her a blessing himself.  He wouldn't take no for an answer and Kevin couldn't bring himself to tell this good man that we had already given our sweet little girl a blessing. We agreed to meet with our good friend at our church building one evening.  We gathered together as a family in chairs in a half circle. Our friend said a few words and then asked for Lexi to come sit in the chair in front of him. Our friend gave an amazing blessing, but this blessing was not intended for our daughter. His blessing was for our family and we all felt this incredible sense of peace come over us from that blessing on, and right up until her follow up appointment after her surgery.  That sense of peace carried me through and I remember actually being able to fall asleep without shedding tears on my pillow at night. That sense of peace also carried me through the next Sunday at church when our dear Bishop stood at the pulpit, in tears and barely able to speak, and asked that our ward come together for a fast for our little girl and our family. Hearing our Bishop and seeing him physically moved to the point of not being able to speak as he stood there at the pulpit and asked for a fast for our daughter and family was very humbling.  Normally I would have cried as soon as he spoke and asked the ward to help in such a profound way, but I didn't cry. I didn't even go running from the building because I couldn't stand it.  I just sat there and listened and felt that sweet spirit in that room as we felt the love of everyone around us fill that room. It was something I myself had never experienced in such a profound way probably because I had never been through something quite like this before.

The big day arrived and we sent our other three children to school or to a friends house who agreed to take and pick up up all three of our children from school. The ward was amazing and they took over and picked up and brought our kids down to the hospital along with food for everyone that came down to the hospital with us.  We had all the grandparents and extended family there with us and we had several friends there as well.  One friend happened to have a teenage daughter go through a heart transplant with the exact same group of doctors that were operating on our daughter.  We didn't learn that until after the surgery had started.  As it turned out the group of doctor's that were operating on our daughter happened to be the best in the Southwest.  We learned that bit of information from our friend as well. The mother of our teenage friend and I decided to walk around the hospital a bit because she could tell I just needed to get away and keep busy.  As we were walking past the admitting department out came a doctor from what seemed like a back door.  When he saw this Mom, he immediately asked, "Where is Katie, and is everything okay?"  The Mom assured the doctor that all was well with her daughter and then proceeded to tell the doctor that she was only there to be with us as our daughter was having surgery that day.  The doctor then asked me for my daughter's name and then he said he just left our little girl and she was doing great and they were just bringing her out of the recovery room now and she will be in her hospital room very soon. I could have kissed that doctor right there in that hallway. Lucky for him I refrained from doing that, but I did race back to my husband to let him know the good news.  

Lexi was taken to her hospital room and there she stayed for the next four days.  After some time the pace maker that was used as a precaution was removed from her and the lead wires were pulled out of her chest.  That was a rough and painful day for our little girl.  The physician's assistant forgot to have pain medications given to Lexi about an hour before she pulled that little stunt.  Luckily the attending nurse let the Physician's Assistant know she shouldn't have done that before speaking with her first.  Like I said before Lexi was only in the hospital for four days after her surgery and on the fourth day she was able to come home and wear a Eeyore costume to go to the ward Halloween party that night and collect some candy with the other kids as they went trunk or treating.  She really wanted to go and we only let her stay out for a few minutes and then we brought her home to rest.  I was only home with Lexi for about a week before I received a telephone call from my employer letting me know that they were closing their doors and were letting everyone go.  They wanted me to come and clean out my desk.  Then about a week after that Lexi had her follow up appointment with the pediatric cardiologist she saw in the very beginning.  She was given another echo cardiogram and everything checked out great.  The surgeons patched up the hole in her heart and repaired the mitral valve.  Now she only goes in for check ups every few years just to make sure everything is a-okay.  Lexi is now 17 and will be turning 18 on about a month and a half.  


Just a little background information....the mother of the teenage girl that had a heart transplant, she later died of a heart condition most of their family had.  The same heart condition that required their daughter to have a heart transplant, and the same heart condition that took their first born son at a very young age. After this surgery we didn't see this sweet family that went out of their way to have their daughter talk to our daughter, and to be there for us while our little girl went through her surgery. They were there through it all and we never had to ask them to be there, they were just there, but I was so grateful that they were.  Well, the day this dear woman died, and before anyone ever informed me that she had passed, I could not get this dear lady out of my mind. I thought about her all day.  This woman's name kept coming to mind over and over again it just kept coming up.  So I tried to call her home, but I couldn't get through. 

The promptings I received that day were very specific and I was informed that my dear friend had passed before anyone called to let me know.  I wasn't the only one that had received these kinds of promptings that day. After my friends passing I recalled a few comments her family made about how the Lord loved their wife and mother and that He knew them, because He prompted myself and three other women in their ward to reach out to her that day in various ways. This family was so grateful for these women for following those promptings. I knew what they said was true because I had experienced it myself.

The Lord did indeed know my sweet friends name. I know this because He whispered it to me over and over again until I got the message. He wanted me (and others) to go show His love for this woman and her family. Because I know He knows her name, I know without a doubt that He knows mine too. And because I witnessed His making things happen for my little girl and one of His older daughter's (my friend), I know that He was in every single detail, right down to having a cardiologist in our Primary Care doctor's office that day to listen to our daughter's heart, that He had our friend insist on giving our little girl another blessing that calmed my troubled mind and heart, as well as the mind and heart of my husband and our children, that He made sure our medical coverage was intact right up until after everything was complete for the surgery.  There are so many ways we were made aware that our Heavenly Father was there and very much involved in every single detail of our lives through this entire experience.  We truly are very blessed.  Sometimes the Lord saves us from hard things, sometimes He allows us to experience the hard things, because He knows the end from the beginning.  There are reasons we experience hard things.  It doesn't mean He loves us any less because He allows us to go through hard, even heartbreaking things.  Quite the opposite.  It means He loves us more, and trusts us enough to be able to handle those experiences and become better for having gone through them.  
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