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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Count Your Blessings, Name Them One by One...

     Travis' brain pressures continued to stabilize, as well as his other vital signs.  The antibiotics were working, and his spinal meningitis was getting better.  His fever was gone. The C-diff bacteria infection was beginning to improve.   He was still in a coma.  He was still on a ventilator. He still had severe damage to his brain.  He wasn't exactly out of the woods,  but the first time since he came into the hospital, things were getting better instead of worse.

      The exhaustion of hospital life began to take it's toll on all of us physically.  We were tired. Our small children were feeling the absence not only of their big brother, but also the absence of their Mom.  Jed and I decided it was time for me to come home some from the hospital.  I was afraid to leave Travis, but I felt confident with his  nurses and they promised me they would call if there was the tiniest change or concern.

     My husband dropped my car off so I would be able to come home in the evenings and go back to the hospital early in the mornings.  We had different friends and family that volunteered to stay with Travis every night that we weren't there.  The time had come for me to get in my car and drive home.  It seems like a simple thing, but I felt like I had been abducted by aliens and living in another universe so very far away from my own.  I got in my car and drove out of the hospital parking lot, and immediately tears began to flow.  I felt like I couldn't breathe, like an elephant was sitting on my chest.  I had to pull over, I couldn't see because of the tears and I didn't think I could focus on the road well enough to drive.  I considered going back into the hospital and postponing going home.  I closed my eyes and said a prayer, it was more like a few words in my mind "help me. please."  As I sat in the dark parking lot, feeling like I was stuck in a cave that I couldn't find my way out of, a song came into my mind that I have heard and sang in church all of my life.  "Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has done."  My racing heart began to slow down.  My flood of tears reduced to a stream of tears and I could breathe.  I thought to myself "OK, I can do this."  I put my car in drive and headed down the canyon to our home about 45 minutes away.  The song again came in my mind.  "When upon life's billow's your are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost, count your many blessings name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done." The thought occurred to me to literally count my blessings.  I started try and think of blessings, it seemed like life my life had turned into a giant storm and I had no control over anything anymore.  Our son was barely hanging onto life.  Our family unit had been separated.   I was physically exhausted.  My husband Jed had to go back to work, in spite of how exhausted physically and emotionally we were. The rent was still due. We still had car payments, we still had student loans to pay and groceries to buy.  It didn't help that the medical bills were mounting into the hundreds of thousands of dollars at this point. I didn't know what the future held for us.  I didn't know how long our son would live, or what the future might look like for him, if he did.   The song continued to play in my mind "Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, and you will be singing as the days go by."  Blessings...I tried to shift my focus and think of some. It seemed when I tried to think of blessings only darkness came to mind. I thought a little prayer in my mind..."please help me remember my blessings"  1. I am thankful Travis is alive.  2. I am thankful for my husband 3. I am thankful our other children are healthy.  4.  I am thankful for the small triumphs Travis has made so far.  5. I am thankful for the nurses Travis has caring for him.  As I began to list my blessings in my mind a shift began to take place inside of me.  I became calm again.  I could breathe and didn't feel like an elephant was smashing my chest.  I could think clearly,  I felt warm inside, I felt loved, my love for my family and our friends seemed to radiate through my body.  My mind and heart seemed to transform from darkness and despair to being filled with light and hope.

     This became a ritual for me each night as I would drive home. As soon as I would drive out of the parking lot I would start to count my blessings. In the beginning I would be finished counting after a short time, but with each drive home more and more blessings flowed into my mind that I had been given.  I remember one night in particular I pulled up into my driveway after a long day at the hospital with tears flowing down my face.  I had counted blessings all the way home and this time I had tears of joy, and love overflowing because I felt so loved and blessed.  The 45 minute drive was no longer enough time to name all that I had to be thankful for.

      The time had come to wean Travis off of the ventilator and see if he could breathe on his own.  I arrived at the hospital early, our family and a whole host of prayer warriors had been fasting and praying for Travis that his body would be able to breathe on it's own.  I knew if he didn't get off of that breathing machine sooner than later, it was likely that he would never come off.  I knew we had been given so many miracles, but wasn't sure exactly what the Lord had in mind for Travis.  The medical team had began weaning Travis off of all of the coma inducing meds, and it showed that his lungs were functioning somewhat on their own, but not completely.  Jed and I had prepared ourselves for whatever the outcome might be.  I had seen the hand of the Lord in every  detail of this entire ordeal, and knew He would not leave us alone this time.  I also knew His will and plan is not always the same as mine.  Today would reveal a little more of His plan for Travis.

     The ventilator was removed and Travis began to breathe on his own.  His lungs were weak, but he was breathing without any medical help. He didn't move,  he didn't respond.  His eyes opened just a little bit, almost like a newborn baby that wasn't quite ready to open his eyes and view the world just yet.

      We had been given another miracle to add to our list of blessings.  I knew that day, whether

Travis took a breath or not, we were loved.  I was loved. I knew our prayers had been heard. I knew that the baby born to Mary in Bethlehem thousands of years ago had touched my life.  I wasn't there when the wise men came to the stable bearing gifts.  I didn't walk with Him as he walked the streets of Galilee and Jerusalem.  However, the promise he made to all mankind many millennia ago, he has kept.  He has not left me comfortless,  I have never been alone.  He has lightened my burdens when I thought they were too hard to bear. 

     "So amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be discouraged, God is over all;  Count your many blessings,  angel's will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey's end."

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