On our second to last day of vacation, I was watching Gavin splash away in the baby pool when I noticed a small lump on his head directly over where his right cochlear implant was implanted 6 weeks ago. When I touched it, it felt squishy and filled with fluid and completely not normal. The Holy Spirit set off an alarm within me and let me know this wasn't something I could ignore. I showed John and started making some phone calls back home to our ENT clinic and was told to take Gavin to the nearest Emergency Room for an assessment. John and I decided to wait until the next day when we would be heading home anyway so that we could take him to our own hospital where people knew about his situation and had all of his information already. Again, thanks to the Holy Spirit's prompting. We drove the 5 hours home and I convinced John that it would be easier just to drive straight into the Emergency Room with all the kids and the loaded van instead of going home first. I was expecting our little ER visit to be short -maybe an hour- so someone could examine Gavin, assure us everything was fine, and send us on our way.
I will spare you of all of the sequential details lest I bore you to death, but our "little visit" turned into a 14 hour party in the ER, followed by an inpatient stay for 7 days. It turns out any kind of infection around a cochlear implant is cause for serious concern because of the direct pathway from the cochlear implant device (embedded surgically in the cranial bone) to the brain itself. Gavin had a cerebral spinal fluid leak, which had turned into a Staph infection, which had the potential to turn into Spinal Meningitis if not promptly treated with strong and specific antibiotics. The next days were filled with ultrasounds, cerebral needle aspirations, labs, an emergency I&D surgery, CT scan, spinal tap, more labs, 8 IV starts and failures, and finally a PICC line placement. It was enough to break even the strongest of mothers having to watch your 13 month old being held down while screaming for one procedure after another day after day after day. It was just so unbelievably hard.
One afternoon when I had finally rocked a tear-soaked and exhausted Gavin to sleep in my arms after IV attempt #7, I started sobbing from the stress and the heart-ache and the fatigue. I had the radio on to the local Christian station that normally drives me bonkers except for when I'm desperate. "The River Positive Thought of the Day" came on (ridiculous one-liner pick-me-ups that John and I always make fun of), and it really made me stop and think.
It's the things in life that you cannot change that end up changing you.
And cheesy as that is, isn't it so true? God has been molding me, molding my marriage and molding my family through every set-back and trial we've faced with Gavin. And all the fighting and kicking and screaming on my end doesn't change anything about the circumstances. But when I allow God to change me through the hard times that I'm desperately trying to push away, then I come out of them a little bit stronger and looking a little bit more like Jesus. Or at least I hope to. And then I can look back and see just how closely He was holding onto us when it felt like everything was falling apart.
Gavin is home now and is on the mend. We were so thankful not to have had to remove his cochlear implant and go back to the beginning. He will remain on IV medications at home for the next week to hopefully wipe away any remaining traces of infection and then we will have his PICC line removed if all the labs come back clear. This boy has a heart of steel. He has been through more medical torture in one year than most adults have in their lifetime. He may subconsciously hate the color of hospital gown yellow forever, but we certainly wont hold it against him!