Thursday, July 26, 2012


It has been quite a long time since I have updated this blog. As many of you may know, Joshua had his first surgery of two major surgeries in May. What was supposed to only be two weeks ended up being a good month-long stay. Unfortunately, right after his surgery, less than 24 hours, our poor son crashed. I was called around 2:00 AM by the nurse stating he was having a hard time settling down after the surgery. I drove back to the hospital to do my best to comfort him. Apparently he contracted a viral infection and his temperature was off the charts and they were doing everything they could to bring it down. His surgery required a band to be placed around his ventricle in order to strengthen it before his second surgery, called the duo switch, which is scheduled for January.  With every increase in temperature, the heart has to increase its work load by 11% in order to fight off the infection. Unfortunately, with the new band placed around his ventricle and the extra work required by the heart, the output was just too much and his little heart gave out and stopped completely. 

Around 5AM, while I was helping him sit up in order to breathe easier, he slowly brought his hand up to try to remove the oxygen mask. Within seconds, while I was looking down at him to stop him from doing so, the room was filled with doctors and nurses. I had no idea what just happened. I was still cradling him when, before I knew it, I ended up in the back corner of the room. The tiny room in the PICU was now crowded beyond capacity with hospital staff. I just stood there, trying to figure out what was going on. Nothing was registering with me until after about 10 minutes there was a slight part between staff and I could see my son, lying there limp, lifeless, breathless and blue.

At that moment I knew exactly what was going on and I grabbed my phone and left the room. I immediately called my husband who had left a few weeks earlier for Army Captain's Career Course in Missouri. He was going to be there for a good six months, but now the whole paradigm had changed. He heard my voice and how frantic I was but was quiet. After I told him what was going on, I pleaded with him to say something. He just didn’t know what to say. Soon after the doctor came by, sat down with me and while Phil was on the phone told us that he had crashed but that he was breathing now and seemed to be out of the worst. I asked if I could go see him but she said they had to paralyze him and were still working on him and to wait a good ½ hour to an hour. We breathed a heavy sigh, thanked her, and Phil commented that he needed to go to the gym to work off some steam.

About ½ hour after this, I kept peering through the PICU windows as my son’s room was right at the end. I became more confused as it seemed more and more doctors and staff were rushing to his room. I was under the impression he was doing better, but the situation seemed to be getting worse. Just as if the doctor read my mind, she walked out of the PICU door and said, “Kathy, it doesn’t look good. His heart has stopped completely and we can’t get it to beat on its own. We have to do emergency surgery.” Of course she saw the fear in my face but also knowing she had to be as honest as possible, put her arm around me and said, “I’m so sorry, but really, it doesn’t look good.”

With that, she walked over to the elevator to keep it open for transport. In that moment, pure fear enveloped me in a way I never experienced. The PICU doors flew open while I saw a doctor on top of him trying to keep his heart pumping with NUMEROUS doctors and nurses surrounding his gurney. They were screaming to the other doctor, asking if the elevator door was open. She yelled yes but they couldn’t hear her and kept requesting a response. Suddenly I blurted out, “YES…IT’S OPEN…GO!”

In those seconds from the time they moved his gurney from his room to the elevator, I had a most personal, sacred and intense learning experience that I will NEVER forget. Of course, as a mother, I was in shear panic. But, in that intense state, I suddenly heard a LOUD voice, as if standing directly in front of me, bellow, “IT IS NOT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU!.” Of course, this immediately took my mind off of the fear as it completely caught me off guard. Soon after, the voice became calmer and then continued to teach me what seemed like a million years worth of knowledge. He continued to explain that not all of our trials that we experience are suppose to be completely for or about us. That there was a doctor there that needed to learn something so critical and important in order for him or her to help another individual sometime, someday, somewhere and that only Joshua and his condition would be able to teach him or her what they needed to know. He went on to explain that Joshua had agreed to this before his earthly experience and then, he gave me a crash but yet profound course on how we are all so interconnected we, as mere mortals, have NO IDEA. That it is not just happenstance that we just bump in to that person in the elevator that we may never meet again. That somehow, for some reason, in ways we cannot comprehend, we are all so very connected that he is in so much more control than we can ever realize. There are honestly no human, mortal words in any language that can truly detail the knowledge that my Heavenly Father blessed me with in that fragile, terrifying moment of my life.

By the time the elevator doors closed, I was as calm as I could possibly be. I had already come to accept that if this little boy was to be taken home, then it was not in vain. That there was purpose. And, if the Lord decided that his life was to continue, it is NOT in vain, there is purpose. I truly was enlightened, and with that enlightenment, came peace.

A few minutes past as I reflected on what just happened. I then started to call Phil but, of course, he was working out so was not able to get a hold of him right away. In the meantime, I called family to inform them of the dire situation Joshua was in and requested prayers and fasting. Finally, I was able to get a hold of Phil and told him, “Phil, you need to come out here because either your little boy will have passed away, and I will need you. Or, if he survives, HE will need you.” He remained very quiet on the phone and then said, “I’m on my way.”

Seven hours later, dressed in a tie, he walked out of the San Francisco airport. I look back on this with such awe and respect for my husband. During that whole trip, he had no idea if he was going to find his son dead or alive upon arrival. I can’t even imagine the fear and torment he must of went through. Nonetheless, knowing that regardless of his son’s condition, he had to give him a blessing, he dressed in his Sunday best so that he could immediately administer to him a priesthood blessing.

We had previously arranged with the local Bishop of our church to meet us at the hospital. Around midnight, there he was and Phil and he immediately gave Joshua a priesthood blessing. Of course Joshua was not awake and would be kept asleep for a good week following in order to allow his heart a time to rest and heal. After a good week, they had to go back in a third time to tighten the band in order to lessen the regurgitation on his heart. But, three surgeries and one month later, we walked out of Stanford Hospital with our little Joshua. 

Since we have been home, he has not had to go to the ER once. He is doing VERY well and is the happy, fun-loving boy that he has always been. His second surgery is scheduled for January and this will be much more risky and severe and we have been told that we will be at the hospital for AT LEAST one month. Luckily, Phil will have just returned from Missouri by then so he will be able to man the troops during my absence. Of course our hope is that with time, his heart will be as good as new. He won’t be able to ever participate in competitive sports, but for the most part, and per Dr. Hanley, he should be able to have a long and normal life after these surgeries. Of course, we cannot forget the will of the Lord and how deeply grateful and full of love I am for a loving Heavenly Father to allow us more time with our beautiful son and to also bless me with life-lasting wisdom that will not only stay with me during my sojourn in this life, but for all eternity.


Amy Murphy said...

Oh, my word!!! I've been waiting so long to hear an update on Joshua! I'm so glad that he is doing better now after his horrific time in the hospital. Please keep us updated. :)