Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Flashbacks Of A Nightmare

E. coli linked to beef now reported in 5 states
Outbreak traced to ground beef sold in Kroger supermarkets

When I read this headline on my home page (MSNBC), my heart stopped for a second and adrenaline poured into my body for two reasons: one, I buy ground beef at Kroger; and two, my oldest son (now 17) fought for his life for 11 days at Riley Children's Hospital when he was 8 years old after contracting E. coli, which then led to Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome (HUS).

Helplessly watching my son's body shut down, all the while knowing the only thing I could do was pray harder than I've ever prayed before is not a scene I wish to ever re-live for the rest of my life. But it did teach me three important things.

1. God will bring you through anything, as long as you trust that He knows where your life is going better than you do.

2. Building a circle of support and having it in place before something like this happens is of utmost importance.

3. Children are amazingly resilient.

I have been through a couple of broken bones, stitches, losing them in a crowded place, and countless close calls of this sort and that with these three boys of mine. But when a situation with one of your children is life-threatening, your whole world suddenly feels very small. It's just you, your child, and God in the room. It is during these moments that you feel as if you are looking the Lord right square in the eye. And then you begin to bargain for this little one's life.

I do not remember much of what I said or did during that time, but certain things stand out in my memory better than others. I remember the moment Alexx's pediatrician called me at home and told me to remain calm, but to get him to Riley Hospital as quickly as possible because his bloodwork from that morning showed his kidneys were failing. I remember leaving his room when we were first at the hospital and crying in my mom's arms, "I cannot live without this child ..." I remember putting up pictures Alexx had drawn on his hospital room window so we knew which room was his from the outside. I remember sitting in his room in the middle of the night while he slept, researching HUS on the internet and coming undone at what I was reading. I remember Sean and I clinging to one another to keep from falling apart when there was nothing we could do. And I remember the day that all of his levels began going in the right direction.

We've always told Alexx that God must have something special planned for him to save his life twice in eight years. The first time was the day he was born and, knowing he was in trouble, a neo-natal team was waiting in our room for him to be born. Delivered with the cord wrapped tightly around his neck, Alexx was completely purple and unresponsive and had to be worked on for awhile to be revived.

The difference then was that I didn't realize the gravity of that situation until he was doing fine. I had just delivered a baby very quickly at the age of 19. It was scary, but Sean and I didn't realize just how scary until it was all over. Looking back, I wonder if that was God's way of making me realize what a little miracle I had on my hands. Instead of doubting my ability to be a mother so young and wondering why my life had taken this turn, I was just so incredibly thankful that God hadn't taken him from me that morning of January 12, 1991.

I love how God works in our lives to make us see our own strength, as well as understand our weakness without Him. We may not like how we learn the lessons sometimes, but we don't get to choose the curriculum.

I don't know if I've been through the worst in my life yet; but I like to believe that no matter what the situation, I'll be able to make it through to the other side with God's help.


  1. I'll never forget logging off the computer after reading way more than I should have about HUS. I remember crying and thinking "this CANNOT be happening to Alexx...not to our family...please no".

    I'll also never forget Zack climbing up in that hospital bed to be with his buddy.

    Zack has never stepped foot inside a cow barn (the suspected culprit of the e.coli) since Alexx's ordeal.


  2. This was one of the most difficult times in our family. I remember being awake all night that first night wrestling with, being comforted by,strengthened by and yielding my will to God. It was a most helpless feeling to watch my child and grandchild suffer so. I remember at one point, going outside the hospital, finding a place to be alone, begging God in agony, to let me bear their suffering and pain, to somehow transfer it to me, but I knew this wouldn't happen.

    I knew his hand was in it, but didn't know how it would turn out. Then, we started to see his magnificient touch. Too long to go into here, but " the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective". And there were many.