Wednesday, June 19, 2013

From my heart: Asher's episode and my sanctification

I have been so thankful to the Lord for His goodness in so many ways to me over the last couple of days that I decided I would share the details here - that others may be encouraged and that I will be able to read this myself in years to come and be reminded of what a wonderful Lord I serve.

On Monday around midday Asher was lying under her play gym as I started getting lunch ready. I walked past her and noticed that she was not playing with her toys but was lying still and looking to the side. I got down on the floor to talk to her and noticed that her eyes were far off to the side - as if she was trying to look into the ground. I gently lifted her head towards me to try and get her to focus on me but could not get her to look at me. After trying a few things to get her attention I picked her up. Her eyes were no longer off to the side - but it was like there was no one behind the eyes. I called Ruth over and asked her to help me try and get her to smile but neither of us could "get her attention" at all. If her eyes were directly to us we could see that she was not looking at us. Ruth said she looks very tired and so I looked at the clock and noted that it was only 12:15 and she would not need to go down for a nap for at least another 15 minutes. She normally does not go to sleep without sucking on her dummy either - so I knew she was not just falling asleep.

After a few more minutes I decided to call the health line to get their advice. We chatted about what was going on and as the "vacant episode" was just carrying on she said she would send the ambulance. She sent all my info through and transferred my call. I sat trying to get Asher's attention while chatting to the lady and getting her assurance that the ambulance was on it's way. My worry was that she would stop breathing and it was also just so frightening to watch - just not able at all to get her "out of it". Eventually I was calm enough to not keep the lady on the phone - knowing that I could call back if anything changed. As I put down the phone it rang and it was the local doctor. I quickly updated him on what was happening and he said he was on his way over.

By this stage it was already after 12:35 - so it had gone on for well over 20 minutes. Twice through this time there were a few seconds where Asher actually moved her arms and legs a bit - but just as quickly she was totally still again. Within 10 minutes we had an influx of people arriving. All the volunteer paramedics have pagers so they are notified of any call outs. They are "first response" and as there were 3 of them in our little village - all three of them arrived. Just as the first lady arrived Asher's mouth started going a bit blue - so she asked her husband (the 2nd paramedic) to fetch the oxygen from their car. The doctor then arrived and by the time they had the oxygen in she had pinked up again and it was not needed.

Then the ambulance arrived and we had 6 medial people here. By this stage Asher was finally starting to "come out of it" and move her arms and legs and tongue. It had been at least 30 minutes from when I first noticed her. By this stage she was exhausted though and I could see she wanted to sleep. I got her dummy for her and she fell asleep. What a scary half an hour that had been.

The doctor suggested I head into town to the hospital so that they could check her out properly and one of the paramedics suggested I pack a bag for myself as well - as there was a good chance they would want to keep her overnight for observation. This upset Rachel a bit but one of the paramedics had noticed and sat chatting to Rachel about it and reassuring her that it was most probably just going to be the one night. Rachel had told her that I had been in hospital a long time with Asher and she was worried it would happen again. It was amazing to me to realize that for Rachel - the Friday to Monday stay in hospital when I was 39 weeks was a very long time for her. She is my "big girl" and is getting so independent in so many ways. It was a reminder for me of how important I am in my children's lives. It is an important job that I do and I suppose it's also nice to know that I will be missed.

At some point Noortje also arrived. She was going out for a walk and thought she would come past our place and ask Hannah and Ruth if they wanted to join her before their regular after lunch visits. She immediately offered to stay with the children until Brendon got home. I chatted to him once we were on the road and he immediately headed home. Hannah and Ruth then still got their visit at Noortje's house. :-)

It was a long trip into town as they stopped a couple of times to just check Asher's vitals. She slept well through the whole trip and woke as we arrived at the hospital. It was just such a wonderful blessing to see her happy little face again - smiling at the nurses and bringing so many smiles to so many faces. It did not take too long for us to get settled at Childrens' Accute Assesment and I was very thankful for their parents station with bread and things so I could finally get some lunch (even if it was a skinny peace of white bread with Vegemite - it was thoroughly enjoyed).

Checks, an ECG and chats with doctors filled up the afternoon. I was so VERY thankful when the dinner trolley came past and they had a meal for me. The lovely beef stew and veggies went down very well. Another advantage to breastfeeding (I don't know if all the mothers get food but I know as a breastfeeding mum I got food as that is the only way for them to "feed" the patient).

We were then moved to the children's ward for the night. Another group of lovely nurses caring for us there and doing regular checks through the night (temperature, pulse and saturation levels - making sure she was getting enough oxygen in). Another ECG after another chat with yet another doctor (some how the first ECG report had not made it into the file) and permission to go home. The doctor on Tuesday morning was apologising for not being able to conclusively tell me what happened (she understands that for parents it's so helpful to just know what actually happened). She was so understanding though and was happy to answer any questions I had. She acknowledged that this is the hardest time for families - basically having to just give it time and wait and see if it ever happens again. She said that very often children can have these random episodes that never happen again. If however it was a seizure and if it were to recur - it would more than likely have a very similar picture. So although it will be frightening - it won't be as frightening as the first time as I have seen it before.

Once the doctor had left the nurse stayed a little longer to chat some more. She asked if I had any other questions and it was so good for me to be able to chat openly with her. She understood that I wanted to think through different situations so that I could understand what to do. We had such a good chat about CPR and she gave me great tips too. (I have done training and know what the "book" says - but it's totally different when you have your own child in your arms.) It's good to know that if a baby does stop breathing - sometimes just blowing into their face or rubbing their back or chest can be enough to help them breath properly again. It was so good to feel more prepared if I ever faced an emergency situation again.

The Lord graciously allowed the timing of things to work out so well that I could get to have my lunch (lovely chicken and salad) before Brendon and the children arrived to pick us up. They were then treated to Burger King while I got some shopping done. Home by 3 and out again by 4 to do the Ballet run. Quite a day.

As I reflected on the previous two days I am just so thankful to the Lord for all His many blessings.
All the physical blessings and people that surround us and then on a deeper spiritual level too.

Physically I am so very thankful to know about these paramedics in our neighbourhood who are "first response" and if we happen to ever have an emergency and the ambulance happens to be far away - we still have a number of people rather close to us who have excellent knowledge and physical equipment that could help. I am thankful for all the many friendly people who each in their way were a blessing from the Lord to me. The ladies on the phone, the off duty paramedics in our area, the paramedics on duty, Noortje's willingness to just change her plans to help as she could, all the friendly doctors and nurses at the hospital (let me not forget the lovely lady who brought the food) and the friends who have written and given support and prayers. I thank the Lord for each one.

I am always so very thankful for how friendly, kind, understanding and caring people can be. All those people who we had contact with were all so supportive and even if in their minds it was not such a serious event - they acknowledged how frightening it was for us.

And then onto the spiritual things that I learnt. I know from how I have handled things in the past that my desire to be in control of things effects me in many ways. I like to plan everything in advance and I like to "work it all out". When things like this happen it can often put me out and cause me a lot of stress.

When I look back over this time I see how much the Lord has worked in my heart. Even though it was terribly frightening when Asher had the "episode" and I was very emotional, there was a deep down peace - knowing that God was in control. I did not "freak out" but just calmly (although perhaps with many tears) handled things as they happened. Heading into town I was not trying to work out how the next few days would pan out (what I would normally be doing) but rather just trusted the Lord for it all and left it in His hands. I didn't get frustrated at all the things that I would naturally react too like the unexpected trip to town and Brendon having to take off work. Even that night - facing little sleep on the uncomfortable bed and dealing with all the noise of the ward (well past midnight). I was at peace - just taking things one step at a time. Accepting it would be a night of waking often (either from banging doors or needing to feed Asher) and not getting upset about it.

From a medical perspective I also see how the Lord had taken over and allowed me to not try and think ahead and analyse everything. We don't know what happened and we don't know if it will happen again but I have a stillness in my heart about it all that I know is only from the Lord. I have a friend who has faced medical challenges over the last 2 years and she has shared what is often the simple thought that helps her in hard times. "Be still and know that I am God." How wonderful to have the Lord helping my heart to be still through this time.

Now if you have read my previous "From the heart" post about Suffering here - then you would know that what I had to really learn at the beginning of this month was to trust the Lord with my sanctification (getting rid of my sin). I know that when I was saved the Lord justified me. I was declared righteous and my sins were washed away. I was made  as white as snow (Psalm 51:7). My sin has been removed as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12) and I can stand before God because of the blood of Jesus Christ that accomplishes this. Trusting in what Christ has done for me and not anything that I have done.

My struggle however was to trust in Him for the sanctifying work that still needs to happen in my life. Although I am covered by His blood - I am still sinful and struggle with my sin (hating it and desperately wanting to be freed from my sin). My sanctification is the process in this life of learning to obey God more, to stop sinning and to become more and more like Him. I learnt this month though that I need to trust God for this work too. Yes, I can put effort in and do things that are right and I can think about how to try and "put off" the sin that I see. Philippians 2:12 "work out your salvation with fear and trembling". I do however need to be careful that I do not judge my relationship with God on how "well I do" in getting rid of my sin. Earlier in Philippians Paul says "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6.

This was the wonderful comfort that the Lord gave me this week. He showed me that He is at work in me. He is refining me and making me more like Him. Yes, I can often feel so frustrated at how long it is taking and I take comfort in the fact that Paul struggled with this too. He writes in Romans 7:15 "For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate."

What a wonderful heavenly Father I have. He has helped me to trust Him more and has given me opportunities to see that He is at work and I really can trust Him.

Not only can I fully trust Him with the health of each of my children but I know I can trust Him fully with our spiritual lives too.

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