I like surprises. Well, most surprises. I don’t like to have surprise visitors when I am still in my pajamas, or when I have a sink full of dirty dishes. I don’t like it when my husband springs a surprise on me like “We need new tires on the car today. No, it can’t wait until next month.” I don’t like receiving surprise doctor bills in the mail or unexpected bad news or to find out the ugly truth about something.
I do like surprise parties; little gifts or flowers from my husband “just because”; the exciting news that somebody’s having a baby! I like to unwrap a gift when I don’t have a clue as to what it can be. I love it when one of my grandchildren amazes me with an awesome talent, compassion, wisdom or spiritual insight beyond their years. I would say my life has had far more of the good surprises than it has of the bad. Praise the Lord.
This week we had a bad—a very bad—surprise out of the blue. And then we had a very good surprise.
Thursday started out to be an ordinary day. We’ve delighted in how well our Robbie has been doing in recent months and that day was no exception. He was enjoying listening to his children’s music on his little DVD player and playing with a couple new little toys I had bought him recently. I spent the day getting ready to go to my sister’s in the evening to work on a birthday party we were planning for my mother and her twin sister. I made supper for Bob and Robbie before I left—smothered burritos, one of their favorites. When I left the house, they were about to take a nap before they had their supper.
Cheree and I enjoyed making our supper together at her house and then spent the next hour or two brainstorming ideas for the party. We always enjoy working on projects together and letting the creative juices flow. It seems our two heads are better than one and we giggle and hoot and holler as we feed off each other’s whacky ideas!
It was about 8:30 when Bob called. Robbie was having bad seizures and he was concerned. It is not unusual for Robbie to have grand mals. It was unusual for Bob to be as worried over it as he seemed to be. After discussing it with me, he said he was giving Robbie 20 mg of Valium to try to stop the seizure. That always seems to work with grand mal seizures for Robbie, but 25 minutes later he called again. Robbie was still seizing and he wondered if he should give him another 10 mg. I hesitated. We had never given him that extra dose before. He finally decided to do it and try to get a hold of Robbie’s doctor. I told him I was on my way home.
I was four or five minutes away when Bob called me again. The doctor on call had finally called him back and told him to get Robbie to the emergency room. Bob called an ambulance—there was no way we could get him in his wheelchair or our car with him seizing like that. I walked in a minute or two before the paramedics and was shocked to see how bad Robbie looked. The EMTs had Robbie whisked away in less than a minute. Bob rode in the ambulance with Robbie while I followed behind in the car.
There were seven or eight people working on Robbie when I got there. It was a frightening scene—even though we have been through this before, and deal with seizures on an everyday basis. Finally, they decided to drug him so deeply and put him on a ventilator so that his brain could stop misfiring and get a rest. It was the only way we could stop the seizures at that point. In the past when Robbie had been in “status” condition before (unstoppable seizures) he had been on a ventilator for weeks and in the hospital for a month at a time.
We were in a state of shock. How could this have happened so suddenly? He has been doing so beautifully in the last few months. We had even seen little miracles along the way—Robbie eating and drinking by mouth after 14 years of being tube-fed; Robbie taking steps, standing and crawling; Robbie using more signs to communicate and shades of the old, mischievous scamp he had once been. Robbie’s back! everyone exclaimed in delight.
We were stunned—unsure of how this could have happened and then wondering what did it mean? Would we be back in the hospital for another month? Would there be more brain damage? Would we be back to square one with the tube feedings and a totally bedridden and drugged up child? He was now in critical condition and in the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit. All we could do was pray, leaving Robbie in the Lord’s hands, and wait for some answers.
We did not have long to wait. That was the other surprise—the good surprise. By Saturday morning the seizures had stopped completely and they were able to take Robbie off the ventilator. He had developed a bit of pneumonia due to aspirating either when he was seizing or when they intubated him, but it had disappeared from the x-rays by Saturday morning, as well! He was grinning from ear to ear at us and eager to listen to his music on his DVD player and play with his toys. And he was a little feisty, too—a sure sign he was feeling better and on the mend! For him to go from critical to happy, happy, happy in 36 hours was nothing short of an astonishing miracle to us!
As I sat in that intensive care unit, I couldn’t help but think how intense God’s care is of us. When we are frightened, He brings peace. When we are enveloped in worry and stress, He soothes us with His comforting embrace. When we feel helpless and alone, He promises to walk beside us. When we are hurting, He heals our spirits with His love. I Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” All we have to do is give our cares to Him and rest in His intensive care.
When I think of God’s loving care I think of Psalm 23. The Lord is my Shepherd, the One who tenderly provides, protects, guides, soothes, saves, comforts, supports, gives joy and mercy and blessing, and finally takes us safely Home. That is intense love and care!
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Robbie will most likely go home from the hospital today or tomorrow. What a happy surprise to go home so quickly and with a child who is no worse for the experience. We are praising God for His loving care for Robbie—and for us. It is only when we go through the worst in life that we fell the comfort and love and care of the Lord most intensely—and we thank Him for that.