Monday, May 31, 2010

judah in the hospital - as posted on facebook

(for those of you who are not on facebook, this is what's happening:)
okay, i'm gonna try to get all of this down because there are a lot of questions out there and i hope to address most of them right here.

it's 7:54 am on monday, memorial day. i am so thankful for the people who have and who continue to protect, aid, fight for and serve our country. i'm not always proud to be an american but i am ALWAYS thankful! i thought about that exact thing while driving judah to the emergency room two days ago. but i'll start from the beginning:

judah and i came down to southern california for the weekend to watch my "nephew" owen while his parents went to a wedding in las vegas. we arrived thursday evening. early friday morning, about 4 am, judah woke up and told me her tummy hurt. she couldn't keep still. she was squirming, crawling and climbing. then she began to vomit. a lot. after trying to clean everything and calm her down, we both slept fitfully for about an hour. so, around 8ish (?) we got up and my friends got ready to leave for vegas. judah was listless but i suspected she was worn out. throughout the day i offered her sips of anything she might be interested in drinking. that evening my friend shannon visited. she was gracious to purchase some pedialyte for judah. that evening and night judah sipped a bit more, but was still wiped out. around 3 am she started running a fever. i gave her tylenol and wiped her down with damp washcloths. owen woke at 5:30 and i had to take care of him. i was thankful to get them both sleeping for a little bit and took a nap myself. however, that morning judah's temperature rose and rose instead of coming down. i called her pediatrician back in oakhurst and he told me to take her to the e.r.
immediately i was on the phone with jessica, owen's aunt. she said to absolutely bring him right over to her house and not think anything more about it. which i did.
judah and i went to the e.r. and i was overwhelmed with the "convenience" of it. the ability to drive merely blocks, walk into the e.r., fill out two pieces of paper and then be seen was just shocking. yes, it took a long time once we were in, but we were in! we were in a clean, sterile hospital and we would be seen. how gracious is our God? i relived so many haitian hospital visits, or times when there should have been hospital visits, in my mind all the while.
brendie, my other best friend, arrived in her perfectly brendie fashion. see, i didn't have a cell phone and i didn't know what hospital i was going to when i left bren a message on facebook. i simply said, "i am taking judah to the hospital, i don't know what it's called, and i don't have a phone. emily gave me directions." from that message, bren was able to a) reach emily and ascertain the name of the hospital; b) get directions from her location to mine; and c) purchase a cell phone for me on the way. this is small example of the amazingness of brendie.
i had been doing a great job of being tough while judah was being checked out until i saw bren. then i cried just a bit.
we were worried about dehydration. judah hadn't been taking in enough fluids. they started an i.v. right away. they took urine and blood samples. they took an xray of her abdomen and of her chest. and then we waited. and waited. the (very nice) doctor came back and said the cultures were all clear as were the xrays. he was still concerned with the tenderness of her (distended and taunt) abdomen so he ordered a cat scan. i was very grateful for his desire to be thorough.
the cat scan showed some indefinite "blocking" of her . . . well, that wasn't definite either. the doc said he wanted to admit her and continue putting fluids in her overnight. however, holy cross medical center does not have a pediatric unit. that meant judah and i were going to go to another hospital via ambulance. scary. but also, i was thanking the Lord again that i was here in the states and had this amazing access to medial help!
so i rode on my first gurney and in my first ambulance. we were admitted to providence tarzana (still don't know exactly where i am) medical center at about midnight. the nurses here are superb. the paramedics, it should be said, were also very kind. one of them was the first to call judah by name. i could see she noticed; she followed him closely with her eyes and head.
we were admitted to a nice sized room and that is when i first heard the word "surgeon." i didn't like it. up until then, i was thinking they simply needed to hydrate her and that would make things start moving again and clear up the "blockage." the nurse told me the doctor and the surgeon would be coming by shortly. at that point they had to put in an N/G (nasal gastric) tube. yes, that's a tube in her nose emptying her intestine of disgustingness. i hated this part. her wide eyes. her asking me, "hold judah, mama." "mama, it hurts." hated hated that.
next i was told that i'd see the surgeon in the morning, rather than that night. we tried sleeping. i held her hand so she wouldn't rip out the NG tube. my parents arrived from home around 1am. praise God! they brought essentials (change of clothes, etc.) and prayed with judah and i before checking into a hotel.
saturday we waited and waited all day for the surgeon to come and tell us the next step. we did some more xrays and waited. dr. upperman came to see us after 5pm, i think. he was kind, patient, very informative, and certain of himself. he said, "common things are common." basically, there is no surgical history, no reason for judah to have a twisted or abscessed bowel. most likely, it was appendicitis. we then had to go for a "contrast cat scan" which was supposed to be more conclusive. i know i've harped on people for sharing TOO MUCH on facebook , so i'll just say, this was not a pleasant procedure.
they ordered a stat read on the cat scan and got it. but the scan was not conclusive re: appendicitis. dr. upperman decided to go in laparoscopically, still believing he would find appendicitis. he didn't.
as soon as he saw her intestine, he knew he'd have to open her up. a portion of it had died. this was the low point for me. the nurse came to the waiting room and said, "i just came out to tell you that we're opening her up." i suppose she said something more, but i don't know that she did. she certainly wasn't very comforting. then she walked away. i started to cry and made my dad make some phone calls for me. one of which sent brendie back down (now her third visit) to us. i was crying and praying and i took comfort in the fact that the Lord has a plan for me and for judah. a plan for a future and a hope. i also felt the Lord reminding me to be still and know that He is God. He told me that the peace He gives me is not the peace of this world, but a far greater, a true peace. i rested in that. scared, but believing in Christ.

dr upperman found that the intestine had twisted on itself and that about 8ish inches had simply become dead tissue. what was unknown was why this had happened. it would be understandable if judah had a history of surgery. in that case, she could have built up some scar tissue that could possibly block or contort the intestine. but she has no such history. (well, i guess she does NOW, but she didn't last night.)
dr. upperman had to take out that section of the intestine and repair the remaining length. can you believe that after surgery he came out and showed me pictures of my daughter's intestines on his iphone? it was so obvious which part was healthy and which part was dead. it was crazy to look at those pictures that had been taken just within that hour of the inside of my child. crazy.

my mom was standing in the hallway, anxious, when she saw them transporting judah to the PICU. she motioned and we all went running to catch a glimpse. then i just cried while my parents and bren hugged me. what a relief to see her being moved into recovery!! praise the Lord!!

what happens now? now we wait some more. a minimum of 7-8 days. minimum. we have to see that there is no leaking of the repair sight. that she doesn't get an infection. that she can handle drinking and eating. but it's so fragile he won't even let her try drinking for 4 more days. painful when she wakes up asking for exactly that: something to drink.
i've been drinking water with my back to her only when she's asleep. i just feel awful doing it in front of her. she can't understand why she can't have anything.

judah is a fighter. she's a smart girl. she has an incredible memory. and she is my blessing from the Lord. i know she will fight to get better. please pray that she wins that battle. please pray that she does not have an infection. please pray that there are no further complications in the near or far future.

last night as i was sitting with my parents in the waiting room, my mom said, "i don't know about you, but i can feel everyone's prayers." i shared that i could too. the image in my head was the verizon map. all those red spots showing up across the country were not indicating cell phone coverage, rather those were people praying to our Almighty God for judah and myself. we felt it. please keep 'em coming.

love and thankfulness for you all,
angela (grateful mama of judah icky-licky googob)

Thursday, May 13, 2010


to the only sinner at my church:

i see you there, sitting in the back.
we all see you.
are you appropriately contrite during slow songs?
do you show immense thankfulness when grace is proclaimed?
are you just going to sit there while the rest of us stand, sway, and raise our hands?
don't you of all people know the sacrifice Christ paid for you?

we, the righteous, living the exemplified Christian life, are watching. and we can tell by your un-raised hand that your repentance is not genuine.
any Father would be a fool to kill the fatted calf for you.

here, watch me. i'll show you how it's done.
the worship leader is picking it up; if you love Jesus,
clap now.
if you don't clap, i'll know; you can't fool me.

what's that you say?
lost my focus?
no, no.
see i'm the righteous son.
i stayed faithful.
i've never committed a sin quite as heinous as yours.
i'm pretty sure that gives me the right to tell you when you're in the wrong.
~ signed,
ms. holierthanthou III

these thoughts came to me one day while visiting a church out of town. i was sitting near the back, lost in thought, questioning why the pastor was saying what he was and trying to find any Scripture at all to support what he was teaching. as a multi-tasker, while i was looking up verses that were not posted on the overhead screen, i was thinking that if someone were watching me instead of the speaker, they may form a misconception or two. and then i thought about all the times we watch others in church. all those times we make judgement calls we're not qualified to make. i think it's fairly obvious why the Lord tells us not to judge lest we be judged. even when we think we know something about a person, we still have no right to condemn them for anything. knowing the grace and mercy of our own redemption, we cannot begin to think about looking down on anyone else. especially our own brothers and sisters!
while shuffling through my ipod today, i came across jennifer knapp, a long-neglected friend. her song "hold me now" is one of my all time favorites. and while we're on the subject of redemption and forgiveness, i thought i'd post the lyrics here as a beautiful reminder:

"hold me now"

from glass alabaster, she pours out the depths of her soul
oh, foot of Christ, would You wait if her harlotry's known?
falls a tear to darken the dirt of humblest offerings to forgive the hurt

she is strong enough to stand in Your love
i can hear her say

"i'm weak, i am poor
i'm broken, Lord, but i'm Yours
hold me now, hold me now"

let he without sin cast the first stone, if you will
to say My bride isn't worth half the blood that I've spilled
point your fingers, and laugh if you choose
to say My beloved is borrowed and used

she is strong enough to stand in My love
I can hear her say

"i'm weak, i am poor
i'm broken, Lord, but i'm Yours
hold me now, hold me now

when i'm weak and i'm poor
i'm broken, Lord, but i'm Yours
hold me now, hold me now"

- jennifer knapp

Monday, May 3, 2010

the day the earth shook

i have a friend, more of an acquaintance really, who is a full-time missionary in haiti.
she, along with her husband and their large tribe of children, moved to haiti just a few months before i did. i met her eldest daughter first. then slowly, over time, met more and more family members. i, along with hundreds of others, felt that i knew tara even before i met her.

reason being?
she had a blog. a daily, colorful blog about living in haiti, life with children,
and about the man she loves.
oh, and i always logged on to see troy's pictures.
(i even asked for his book last Christmas. i don't have it yet, so if anyone is feeling so inclined . . . )

anyhow, i have had a few snippets of conversation with tara over the years. most of these have actually been since i left haiti. at that point, she and her family moved into the city and began working with two different organizations: heartline ministries and world wide village.

on january 12, i began praying fervently for the livesay family. i prayed protection over troy as he headed out day after day to find survivors. i prayed for strength, peace, endurance, protection for tara as she daily fielded more tasks than i could take on in a month. she did all this while being afraid and while having absolutely no control over her circumstances. that is hard on a good day. on a bad day, the kind of day when you're not even given options on how to properly care for your own children in the midst of horrendous circumstances, that is your worst nightmare. i was praying for their children. praying peace, praying for visas, praying that the younger ones would not grasp the horrors of the situation.
if you were watching the news that first week, there is a really good chance you saw troy's face and read his tweets about what he was encountering and what help was needed. he was the news before anderson cooper. troy now has nearly 10,000 followers on twitter. that number skyrocketed right after the quake.

as i anxiously waited for news of my loved ones in haiti, i sat by the computer and tried to glean all the information i could from twitter, facebook, emails, cnn, etc. i prayed and prayed.
i cried my eyes out. and i wondered what they were all living through.

my friend megan was there. she was working with the livesays. it was because of her and troy that we learned only hours after the earthquake that every single child at three angels was alive and unharmed!!

in a series of blog posts, tara has taken the time to fill us in on what she remembers happening in those first crucial days. her posts can be found here, here, here and here (in that order).

these are emotionally charged posts and with good reason. i would encourage each of you to take the time to read them, even if it is hard for you to do so. this is history documented. this is real life, unedited (well, mostly).

on january 13, i posted a short blog about prayer, places to donate, and my "family members" from whom i still had not heard. on january 15, i wrote this. what i wrote there rings true today. please remember to pray daily, hourly for the people of haiti.
their pain is still real, but our God is still bigger.