Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We Didn't Want to Lose Johnny So Soon

Here's what...

...praying and priesthood blessings.

In a previous post, I wrote about how I had not been able to blog for a few days due to keyboard problems, our move into our new home and a set of sick twins. Over the past weekend, however, two sick kids turned into five as the malicious virus spread throughout our family. The twins were afflicted by fevers that spiked to nearly 104 degrees along with congestion and coughing. The the 8-year-old began complaining of a sore throat and body aches accompanied by fever. Soon the 6-year-old girl and the toddler began showing signs of infection as well, suffering from everything to sore throats, coughs, fevers, body aches and congestion.

On Sunday morning, since we had five sick kids, I told John that I would be staying home from church. Our church lasts for three hours each Sunday and because I really felt like I had my hands full, I asked him if he could attend only the first meeting, then come home to help me directly thereafter. He agreed, dressed in his white shirt, tie and jacket, grabbed the truck keys and came to give Johnny, the two-year-old a hug good-bye. John was rewarded by being promptly vomited on.

"I guess I'm staying home," he said, and tossed the 16-year-old the keys to the truck and asked him to take himself and the two older kids to church.

Throughout the morning, we both did our best to keep everyone comfortable, keep vomit contained and comfort babies after having to have snot sucked out of their little noses with a bulb syringe.

Later that afternoon, John mentioned to me that he thought Johnny seemed to be having a hard time breathing. I looked at him and noticed that with each breath, he reflexively opened his mouth wide in an attempt to get more air. John had another church meeting to attend within the half hour, so he gave him a priesthood blessing by the laying on of hands and I told him I would keep an eye on Johnny. As the minutes went on, however, he began to worsen and I thought it was time to call the town doctor.

I told the doctor that Johnny was struggling to breathe and asked if he could see me even though it was Sunday. He agreed and I told him I would be there in 15 minutes. After hanging up the phone, however, the thought came into my mind that I should take him to my friend's house, who owns a nebulizer for her asthmatic son. I called the doctor and told him I was going to try something first and if that didn't work, I would call him back.

We gave Johnny the treatment and he showed good improvement. My friend said I could take her nebulizer home and that it would be a good idea to treat him once or twice more every four hours, as that had always worked well for her son. I was grateful to her and agreed to take the nebulizer.

Three hours later, Johnny's breathing began to worsen again and John suggested that we take him over to his dad's for another priesthood blessing and anointing. You may be asking yourself why we didn't seek medical help through this and the answer is simple. The nearest treatment center is a half an hour drive and even had we decided to make the drive, the medical community here in Mexico is about 20 years behind that of the states and many children simply die as a result of inadequate medical care.

I told John that I couldn't go with him to his father's home, which is across the street, as I was in the process of putting the babies to bed, but that I agreed that he should take him for another blessing as well. I waited for about twenty minutes, then was surprised to see John and his father rush in the front door, John carrying Johnny in his arms.

"Jen!" he called. "We need to do another breathing treatment right now!" I told him that it hadn't been the full four hours, only three and a half, but as I witnessed the struggle little Johnny was having, I agreed that we needed to do something.

As John's dad monitored his gradual improvement with his stethoscope, I told John that I think we needed to think about making the three and a half hour drive to the states where my mom lives to get proper medical help for Johnny. I told him that this was life-threatening if it was asthma because as the bronchial tubes close off, even CPR won't work in a life and death situation because no air can get in. He agreed and I called to all the kids to pack a suitcase for two nights as we were leaving town.

As we were finishing up his treatment, the thought came clearly into my mind that we needed to call our doctor in the main town 30 minutes away and have him look at Johnny to see if there was something he could do to help him before we made the journey to the states. I suggested this idea to John and he nodded and immediately dialed his number from the phonebook in his blackberry. There was no answer. He then thought he could call our bishop, who happens to be John's uncle, as he knew he would have an oxygen tank which we could take with us in case we needed it on the drive. He didn't answer. John tried to call him six more times, but to no avail. He then tried the doctor in the main town again and this time he answered. John told him the problem and asked if there was any way he would be able to help us even though it was Sunday night. He readily agreed, but before hanging up the phone, he mentioned something which later provided proof that God had performed a miracle in our lives that night. He told John that he didn't know how his call had gotten through because his phone was blocked. All calls went to an answering service before they got to him and that John's call shouldn't have gotten through. John simply shrugged his shoulders, thanked him for agreeing to meet us and said that we would be there in 30 minutes.

It seemed like it took decades to get everyone into the car, but in reality, things went very quickly and we were able to arrive at the doctors office at the pre-arranged time. He wasn't there, though, and John tried to call his cell twice, but couldn't get through. After a few minutes, however, he arrived and John took Johnny in while I stayed in the van with the kids. Under normal circumstances, I would have felt very nervous about being in the van outside at that late hour as there have been many drug-related killings in the town as of late, but because of the emergency we were enduring, all thoughts of danger left me as I focused my attention on what little Johnny was going through.

The minutes dragged on and I began to wonder why things were taking so long. I was anxious to get back on the road to the U.S. and things were taking much longer than I had anticipated. I fed a baby, put him to sleep, than opened up the laptop and did some things on the computer. After about an hour, my cell phone rang. It was John calling me from inside the doctor's office.

"Jen! You need to bring in the nebulizer right now and you need to hurry!"

It felt like my stomach had gone into my chest and I could immediately feel the familiar rush of adrenaline that courses through my veins when something horrible has happened. I nearly threw the laptop down in between the passenger and driver's seat, jumped out of the van, handed the sleeping twin to the sleeping 12-year-old, rushed to open the back of the van in which I had packed the large suitcase with the nebulizer, and ran, dragging the suitcase behind me, into the doctor's office.

This particular office has several rooms, including an operating room and as I entered, I could not figure out where they were. I frantically called out to them and heard them calling to me to try to show me where they were. After several attempts of calling, I finally realized that they were in the operating room. I ran through the door, flipped the huge suitcase on a table, got out the nebulizer and handed it to the doctor.

"Okay, just calm down," he said in English. I looked at Johnny, through a face mask in which oxygen and water vapor were being pumped, and he was laboring to breathe, but no different than he had any of the previous times. John firmly said in Spanish that he wanted to take him to the states, but the doctor calmly answered him in Spanish that it wasn't a good idea as we needed to keep him on oxygen and we wouldn't be able to do that if we were in the car. The doctor showed me that Johnny's blood oxygen level was at 95 %, but that his heart rate was more than double what it should have been and for that reason, he advised against using the Albuterol in the nebulizer again, as that had caused the racing heart rate. I asked him what his oxygen level had been before they put the mask on, and he told me it had dipped down to 83 %. I was still confused, however, as to why John had panicked and asked me to rush in from the car with the nebulizer if we weren't even going to use it.

Later, when Johnny had stabilized, and things had calmed down a bit, John and I had a moment alone in the office with Johnny. I asked John why he had called me in from the van the way he did. I told him it had terrified me and that I thought Johnny was dying. He answered saying that not one minute before I had come into the office, Johnny's bronchial tubes had constricted so much that he had literally stopped breathing. He was gasping and nothing was getting in. His little hands had clutched John's arms so tight in a panic and there was a terrified look in his eyes. His oxygen level had plummeted to 83% and even though he was being given 8 liters of oxygen per minute, nothing was helping. John thought Johnny was dying and had called me in a last ditch effort to do something, anything, to help him. He also thought we were going to have to say goodbye and wanted me to have a chance to do so before he died. As Johnny struggled for breathe, John said a fervent prayer to his Father in Heaven, first saying, "Thy will be done, and if you need to take Johnny now, we understand You know what is best, but if at all possible, we would really like to keep Johnny with us for a little longer."

In the 30 to 40 seconds it took me to get into the office with the nebulizer, Johnny had started breathing again, although struggling, and his oxygen level had climbed to 95%. There was no explanation for why he had improved so suddenly. Nothing had changed except that John had offered a desperate father's prayer, asking God's will be done, but please let us keep our son.

I stayed in the office for about an hour with John and Johnny, checking on the kids and switching twins to feed them periodically. Once I realized that he was not stable enough to take to the states, I suggested to John that I take the other 7 kids home. John called his dad and asked him to drive the half hour to accompany me home, as it wasn't safe for me to be driving at that hour, and within 45 minutes, the kids, John's dad and I were on the road home again. John and Johnny stayed in the hospital together as Johnny's oxygen level would not stay at a normal level unless he was hooked to the oxygen tank. Finally at 1:30 in the morning, after gradually decreasing the amount of oxygen that was fed through the mask, Johnny was able to breathe on his own with an oxygen level of 96% and was able to go home.

John was given instructions to have Johnny sleep with the nebulizer with water that night and was told that we needed to take turns staying awake to make sure Johnny kept his mask on. John and I stayed up until four o'clock in the morning, but then Johnny woke up and started struggling with his mask. The more agitated he became, the more he wheezed, so we took his mask off and comforted him until he went back to sleep. John decided that it was best to keep him calm and not try to force him to wear the mask, so we pulled a 3" mattress into our room on the floor right next to our mattress, which also happens to be on the floor as we haven't moved our bed frames in yet, and John slept pressed close to Johnny to make sure he kept breathing through the rest of the night. I slept between the twins in our king size bed next to Johnny and John and marveled at all that had taken place that night. Both the doctor and John's dad said that had we tried to make it to the states, Johnny never would have survived. Why had John and I felt so strongly about visiting the doctor in the main town before heading out? Why had John not been able to get ahold of his uncle, the bishop, for the oxygen tank, thus enabling us to bypass the doctor in the main town and keep going? Why had John's call gotten through to the doctor's phone when he had set it to block all unknown calls? John and I have concluded that there is just one answer. Johnny was supposed to stay on this earth a little longer. He has a mission to accomplish and hasn't achieved that yet and God made sure he could be here to finish it. John and I have wondered why we were asked to go through this experience. We have wondered what we were supposed to learn from it. We have certainly been reminded that God is all-powerful and our lives are in His hands, not ours. Our testimonies of prayer have been strengthened and we have been able to share this experience with our children as we sat together for our Monday night family home evening. We waited until then to tell them the complete story of what had happened and as John spoke in his soothing voice as we all sat around the fireplace, Johnny sitting on the rug in the middle of us playing with toys, I looked at each child and they were all staring at Johnny. I knew their testimonies of prayer and the goodness of God were being strengthened as well, and I am grateful that they were able to experience that spiritual growth.

Johnny is recovering well. He has to have a breathing treatment with the nebulizer and water three times a day (thanks again, Kara, and we will be bringing it back soon!)...

(Johnny enduring a nebulizer treatment)

(Johnny interacting with the family as he waits for his nebulizer time to be up)

... and we have to try to keep him from running around for a few days. Much easier said than done. I guess that's where The Lion King and Finding Nemo come in. Thank goodness for Disney.

Experiences like this make a person reflect on what's important in life and can tend to rearrange one's priorities. I am so grateful that we were given the opportunity to continue raising Johnny in our home, and even though he still has to spend time in time out for pinching the babies a few times each day, I have found that I am more loving and patient with him and that I stare at his cute little face more often and thank God that we didn't have to plan his funeral this weekend.

(Johnny is shown here getting warm with the twins by the fireplace after we came in from traveling in the van a few days ago.)

Thank you for all of your well wishes and prayers when I announced that we had had an emergency on Monday. It meant so much to me to have people that I've never even met offer to pray for our family. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do for me in this blogging world. I'll see you tomorrow.


By the way, simple living, means that you don't have to get a cash advance to get the things you need!!

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Melinda said...

Oh my gosh Jen, how scary. I cried as I read this...I just love that little guy. I hope he gets to feeling better. I hope that you all are all catching up on some rest. My prayers are with you all. Love Ya

Shauna said...

My prayers are with you all too! Hope he gets better soon!

The Jessups said...

Oh my gosh, Jen, I am so glad he everything is okay. Like the first comment, I cried as I read this. Our prayers are with you.

Rachelle Vernon Jones said...

jen, you've been through too much! i am so happy Johnny is okay!
that is SO scary. i can't imagine.
i love the gospel! (that priesthood!)
big big hugs!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jen,
I had to read this twice. First time I skimmed through to the end to make sure everything turned out well and second time to actually see what happened. I'm so sorry you had to go through this. I know it must have killed you to leave him at the Dr. and go home. Does he have ashthma or does the Dr think this was a one time thing? What caused the attack?
Love to you and your family!

Hesses Madhouse said...

Yeah for our Heavenly Father's tender mercies! I'm so glad Johnny's doing better. Such a scary experience, so wonderful to see the Lord's hand so closely in your behalf. My prayers are with you too.

Cambria said...

WOW! I couldn't stop crying. I can not even imagine going through that! I am so so so glad that he is ok! We love you and will pray for you!

Salsa Mama said...

I am bawling sitting here after reading this! I'm so grateful he is doing better and I know Heavenly Father is looking out for him, and for all of us. What a great testimony builder!

AmyK said...

Wow. This post had me in tears... I'm so glad he's okay. What a testimony this boy will have as he grows up...

Tara said...

Oh my goodness....Jen! So glad to hear all is well. It's such a comfort to know that we're not alone in these stressful and scary times. So grateful for the power of prayer and our Heavenly Father's watchful eye.

Globe Trotters said...

Sweet Johhny, I hope he is doing better. Bobbi gave us a short update the other day, but we read this together and were just stunned. Poor you and John! I hope your family is getting better- what a miracle. We are thinking of you! And can't wait to see Johnny and give him a big hug.

the dutson five said...

Oh my goodness... Hope he continues to improve and do well. We are praying for you!

Kelli said...

next time start out with HE IS FINE and then tell the story. I'm on a conference call and looking at your post and had to skip all the way to the end before I freaked out and hung up on people!!!!
Love ya!

Anonymous said...

Wow - how scary. I am so grateful for the priesthood and it's power. We had a somewhat similiar situation with our toddler - and after receiving a priesthood blessing he was a different child.

My prayers will be with you and your family :)

Rhonda said...

Hey Jen, I'm so sorry you had such a frightening experience! Our 7 yr old has had quite the history of similar experiences and emergencies. Email me privately and I can give you some respiratory life-savers to have on hand in case it ever happens again.

Amanda said...

Jen I'm so glad everything worked out like it did. You had me bawling.

Amanda B. said...

Wow!!! Holy Cow- how scary!!! I have been thinking about you and I am so grateful to know he is getting better. I have a family with a history of asthma, so I can appreciate the fear of breathing troubles. I am so grateful for the preisthood and that he was able to get the help he needed!!

Hesses Madhouse said...

I haven't read all of your comments, Jen, and I don't know if anyone's mentioned this to you, or what your doctor has prescribed for Johnny, but I just finished reading your most inspirational account to my husband. He reminded me of something.

Three of our six children have asthma. One thing I learned early on is that one of the tricky/bad things about albuterol is that it masks symptoms. If those symptoms continue to go untreated, kids die. I was told by our doctor that if I'm having to use albuterol more frequently, then my child needs steroids. If your doctor hasn't prescribed anything like this, it might be a good idea to talk to him about.

Hope all is well with everyone at your house. Give Johnny a hug from the Hesses.

Jan T. said...

You are blessed! I'm so glad Johnny is doing better - he definitely is supposed to be on this earth. Thank goodness!

Nik said...

What a heartwrenching story! My little guy is diagnosed asthmatic, but I've never had an experience even NEAR what you've described here. That really makes me think about my blessings.
I'm so glad everything turned out alright.

Carla said...

Oh, my, Jen! Where would we be without our Priesthood? I shutter to think. I'm thankful yall listened and obeyed. I'm glad you were able to have Johnny longer. Nothing is as precious as time is it? I think every now and then we need little reminders of how precious time is. Thank you for sharing your mircales! I never fail to be amazed at our Father and His constant love for us. Bless you all!

Cari said...

I am so glad that it worked out. It's so scary when you are faced with the possibility of losing a loved one, especially a child. I lost my youngest to SIDS on Dec 31, 2006...she was 7weeks 6days old. It is such a terrifying experience, but through the love our Heavenly Father we get through these experiences and look back and see the tender mercies of the Lord. One thing that I am grateful for because of my experience is that my faith in my Heavenly Father's plan for me and my family had grown so much. I am a better parent, more patient, more tolerant. I am so thankful for Lilith being apart of our family and for the knowledge that we'll get to be with her again. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Nikki said...

This is another example of things happening for a reason--the telephone call to the doctor, your friend having a nebulizer, etc. How blessed you all are. I am so glad things turned out the way they did.

Krissy said...

How scary, and what a blessing. The powers of the Priesthood and the will of God is amazing, isn't it? Poor little guy (and poor mama and dad too!) ... Keep us posted on him!

emilyandjasonhansen said...

Hey Jen. What an experience. I don't know how you managed to type all that out. I am so glad everything turned out okay. I hope that you'll post again if there is any further diagnosis on Johnny. Poor little guy. One thing I wanted to mention too was that we used Albuterol for our son this past winter (when he had RSV) and the Albuterol made his heart race. So then the doctor switched to Xopenex which has fewer side effects. I don't know if Johnny has Asthma and will need breathing treatments in the future, but I wanted to let you know there are other options besides Albuterol.

Wow Jen. I'm so glad that Johnny is okay. I got that sick feeling in my stomach and had tears in my eyes reading your story.

bauer zoo said...

i am so happy your son is doing better! my son (4years old) has come to our room several mornings struggling to breathe. thank God for those nebulizers...and doctors that know what they are doing!
your son is in my prayers!

Beth Cotell said...

Wow! What an amazing story!

Too many "coincedences". I think this is a true miracle!

Thank you so much for sharing this!

Alicia The Snowflake said...

I am so glad he is getting better! It is so scary to watch our children struggling to breath. Mine had issues with asthma when he was younger. I am so thankful those days are behind us. Have a great week!

Amy B said...

I am new to your blog. I read your blog and could just feel the love . I also have a son who has serious life threatening medical issues. I know that fear all too well. God is good.
Thank You for sharing this wonderful reminder with me.

Unknown said...

There has never been a time when I have been more grateful for the priesthood and a husband worthy to use it, than I am when my children's lives hang in the balance. (We've had two NICU babies.) Is there greater proof of our Father's love than when the Spirit whispers his promptings, and when blessings of hope, comfort, and healing are given?

My heart goes out to your family. I pray he continues to improve! (I'm going to go hug my little ones...)