tragedy to triumph

I can’t believe that in the past two years I haven’t taken the time to share this story. Maybe it’s because it’s a very difficult story for me to tell. Maybe it’s the fear that this could happen again. I really don’t know, but it feels like it’s time to try to share this.

October 23, 2012. It was a normal Tuesday. I had spent the day at work and the kids had spent the day in school. I came home for a quick supper and would then turn around to head back for worship team practice. All that came to a sudden stop around 5pm. Hannah came into the bedroom and asked for a breathing treatment. Given her asthma, this wasn’t anything unusual. What happened next was.

During the treatment she started having even more difficulty and started turning pale. We immediately picked her up with the intent of putting her in the car and heading to the emergency room just 5 minutes away. Well, before we got to the car, she turned blue and stopped breathing. What had been, to this point in time, chronic asthma, became severe, acute asthma in the blink of an eye.

What happened next will forever be burned in my mind. Beth is on the ground in our front yard with Hannah giving her mouth to mouth. I’m frantic and on the phone with 9-1-1. I feel sorry for the lady that was talking to me as I have no doubt that I was not friendly or patient with her. The paramedics arrived, scooped up Hannah and Beth and were racing to Trident Hospital. For a moment, I’m standing alone in the front yard, not knowing if that’s the last time I would see my youngest daughter or not. Fear absolutely paralyzed me. After what I can only guess was about 2 or 3 minutes of being stunned, I grabbed my keys and phone and headed to the hospital. From the drive to the hospital, I only remember that I made 1 phone call to spread the word of what had happened and shockingly I remembered to have that person get the word out to cancel worship team practice.

There are 2 things that I will never forget upon arriving at Trident. I wanted to race in through the doors, but there was that fear again. My feet felt as though they weighed about 100 lbs. and I slowly trudged across the parking lot towards the emergency room seemingly certain that I was about to hear the worst news of my life. The first memory I have is that as I walked up there stood 3 very good friends of ours outside. I don’t remember what I said to them or what they said to me, but I’ll never forget who it was and it will always mean so much to me. Of course I am left to wonder how in the world they beat me there. When I walked into the ER, it was a struggle to even get into Hannah’s room. This time, not because of fear, but because of medical personnel trying to keep me out of the room for whatever reason. I’m sure it was a valid reason, but this daddy was having none of it. I walked in the room, and there on the bed was my soon to be 4 year old baby girl with a tube down her throat and a machine was breathing for her. My world was collapsing.

We were only at Trident for about an hour and a half before they transported Hannah to MUSC in downtown Charleston. For the next few days, this was Hannah.

I keep that picture in my phone. As much as I want to delete it, I can’t. It serves as a constant reminder to me of how precious each day is and how fragile this life can be.

She was in ICU from Tuesday night until Saturday morning. Tests, procedures, alarms going off, doctors, nurses…it’s all a big blur. Beth never left the hospital. I would go home at night to take care of the dog. Our friends kept Carrie busy with sleepovers at a different house every night.

To make a long story short, this episode was brought on by a simple infection that got into Hannah’s airway and began closing the airway off. She came off the ventilator Friday night and was moved out of ICU on Saturday. This was one of the best images that I remember from that day.

Two more days in the hospital and on Monday afternoon, we brought our baby girl home. She still deals with asthma. Controller medications are an everyday part of life for her. I pray daily that God would completely heal her from this disease, but even if He chooses not to, I am so grateful that He chose to spare her life 2 years ago. When I watch her run and play, I can’t help but sit back and smile. Two years ago, I didn’t know if she would survive. Now, she’s thriving and loving life. Hannah Joy will always be my little fighter.