Saturday, July 14, 2012

Potty Moment Perspectives

Last night, I took Christopher to the potty in our bathroom in our house (facts that will become significant as you read further), and as I was wiping his bottom, I suddenly had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the opportunity to be caring for him in this matter.

Two night earlier, we were enjoying our favorite family vacation on a houseboat at Lake Powell with three other families. The adults went into town for dinner to celebrate the anniversary of one of the couples, and the kids remained on our boat which was secured in the slip. My wife and I returned shortly after 11:00. Christopher was asleep in our room. As I was getting ready for bed, I noticed Christopher kneeling on his bed. I got him another bottle which he was not interested in. I took him to the bathroom, and he had a large bowel movement. Thinking I had addressed the problem, I walked him back to bed. A couple minutes later, my wife and I heard gurgling noises. I checked on him, and his body was completely limp. His eyes were open but non-responsive. We recognized his symptoms as a seizure. He had had one prior seizure 5 years earlier almost to the day. At that time, we were home, and received state of the art medical attention at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

On this occasion, we raced to the small hospital in Page, Arizona. It was after midnight. They were not particularly equipped to care for a 12 year old child with cerebral palsy suffering from a seizure but were very caring and diligent in their efforts to help him. They gave him two doses of Ativan to stop the seizure, and Christopher's respiration rate decreased to almost zero. It was a bone-chilling scary time watching the medical professionals in Page perform CPR on my son (without chest compressions). I remained relatively calm believing that all would be alright and endeavoring to keep my perspective positive. Christopher was intubated and started on a ventilator. As I watched tears roll down his cheeks, my heart exploded with emotion--not because I thought he was going to die, but because I was so saddened that he was having to endure such trauma. Only 6 hours earlier, he was enjoying surfing, swimming and tubing at the lake he loves. Now, unable to even utter a cry with the breathing tube down his throat, he could only release tears from his eyes to express his fear and discomfort. He must have been so scared.

Two hours later, he and I  were life-flighted on a fixed wing aircraft to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City. Upon arrival there, he was almost instantly extubated, and after sleeping most of the day, awoke in the evening and started getting back to himself, and we brought him home yesterday morning.  He quickly resumed playing with his favorite toys and making his contagiously happy giggles and grins.

From the beginning of this event in Page until last night, I was in a melancholy state. Suddenly, as I cleaned him up on the potty, I snapped out of it and felt the rush of gratitude to be blessed with such a special child as part of our family and life.

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