The Waiting Room
It was the first time in weeks that I was not able to be in the room with my son. So there I was sitting in the waiting room. WAITING…
There were more seats than there were people and that was a good thing. There I sat, unaccustomed to just sitting and waiting to go in to see him. I had been with him since the first day he entered the first hospital. Just how many days before? I couldn't even remember.
This was the 4th hospital in a series of transfers.
How did we get here?
I had ridden to this latest hospital with my son…in an ambulance. Not knowing what was happening…sitting across from him in the back of the ambulance, next to a man I had never seen before…a man whom I depended on to keep my son alive until we reached the hospital.
At any other time, I would have considered a ride such as this an adventure. What a ride! Racing through traffic, with lights and siren blaring. Flying through every intersection, running every red light in our way! A clear path opened before us as if we owned the streets and highways. But this was no thrill ride. This was a race to save a life and I had a front-row seat watching, praying, waiting as we nearly flew to the hospital. This was deeply personal. My only son's life was in the balance.
We had been many days in this 4th hospital. Brad was experiencing non-stop seizures that had begun with a migraine. Just 8 years earlier a migraine had led to a stroke and we were praying against all odds that we were not heading down that same road.
These non-stop seizures were a new development, and the doctors at the best hospital in the nation were having a difficult time getting them under control. Brad was in danger of brain damage, or even death if they could not be stopped.
And so he was admitted to the Neurocritical Care Unit (NCCU) of Johns Hopkins University Hospital and we were only allowed to see him during limited hours each day. My husband and daughter had gotten a hotel room in town so that we could stay close to the hospital each night.
My first and only emotional breakdown occurred in the restroom of that waiting room as we were leaving the hospital that first night.
I had been by my son's side 24/7 since he had entered that first hospital. I had been his advocate. Speaking for him when he was unable to speak...anticipating his needs when the nurses could not understand him. And at times, correcting the mistakes of the very tired and overworked nursing staff. Like a lioness protecting her cub, I had been fierce in overseeing my son's care. Now they were asking me to leave him overnight in the hospital, in his unconscious state, intubated and with tubes coming and going from every cavity of my man-child's body...and they wanted me to leave?
I could not wrap my mind around the whole scenario. So, as we were leaving, I stepped into the bathroom to have a moment. I needed to get myself together as I did not want my daughter to be distraught from seeing my reaction to this unsettling dilemma. As the tears began to flow, the dam burst and I wept as I had never wept before. Hard, gut-wrenching sobs tore through my body. Ugly, guttural cries came from somewhere deep inside me as my knees buckled beneath me and I sank to the floor. I felt as though my heart was literally being ripped from my body. I could not control the flow of tears, they would not stop. The trickle of tears had become a rushing torrent.
It seems that I could handle anything that my son was going through as long as I could be with him. Watch over him. Pray over him. Protect him. But now all control was out of my hands and I was a broken woman.
I had no other choice but to surrender control and give my son into the loving hands of my Heavenly Father...all over again as I had done before when he suffered his stroke at the age of thirteen. I knew from experience that God loved my son even more than I did and that whatever was to come was in His good and loving hands. (I wrote about that experience here: Sacrificial Faith).
After trying increased and varying antiseizure medications, all to no avail, the doctors' decision was to induce a pharmacological coma. And in the days ahead I found myself once again...in the NCCU Waiting Room.
Back in the waiting room...
There I sat feeling helpless. Dependent on the medical staff looking after my son. Trusting God with my son's very life. Waiting desperately for the times they would allow us back into the NCCU. Just...waiting...
And as I sat waiting and praying, I noticed a young woman. She seemed so very young. She was fidgeting as if she was unsure what she was supposed to be doing. And so I began to talk to her. Her name was Jessica.
Her husband was there in the NCCU because he was experiencing swelling of the brain. It was bad, and they had to induce a coma to give his brain a chance and stop the swelling. They had just told her that her husband had experienced a pretty rough night and she was feeling distraught.
I asked her if I could pray with her. Right there in the waiting room we bowed our heads and prayed...for healing, for the doctors treating her husband, for her own peace...for the peace that passes all understanding to guard her heart and mind.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guards your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I was so thankful that God opened my eyes to see this young woman in her distress and gave me the courage to reach out to her, to pray with her. I saw her later that day again in the waiting room and she seemed to be doing better, in spite of hearing the news that they were taking her husband down for a CT scan to make sure he still had brain activity. I whispered a prayer again as she walked away.
Here's the thing. I don't know the outcome for Jessica and her husband. Sadly, I never saw her in the waiting room after that day. But I do know that God wanted me to pray for and with her. He had a purpose when He prompted me to talk to her...to pray with her. I trust that He has worked through it for her good and His glory.
Sometimes in the midst of our own crisis, God is calling us to reach out and minister to others. I have experienced this enough to know it is true...enough to even look for it in the midst of my own pain and trials.
And enough to wonder when and where...I missed it. It breaks my heart to think that perhaps there have been more opportunities missed than I care to admit. But I cannot let that bog me down in the mire of self-pity. I pray that God will continue giving me eyes to see when to step up and into His works in progress.
God has brought us through this crisis with our son. So many years later, I can see so clearly how He held us in the palm of His hand, how He carried us when we could barely put one foot in front of the other. He continues to be our strength and our shield.
And so I will continue to look to be a comfort, as He, the God of all comfort, has comforted me.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Who do you turn to in times of crisis?
Has God used you to bring comfort to others who are going through situations similar to those you have been through?
WRITTEN BY: GAY IDLE
For more from Gay, head to her website: www.gayidle.com
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