Some of you knew my little man, Grady Lee, spent a week flat in bed. Sick, sick, sick. Terribly sick. I can't say thank you enough to those who knew and took time to pray and encourage him. The thoughtful cards, balloons, and simple gifts were small day-brighteners for him. Although, if I'm honest, he was too sick when he received them to open or read them himself. I knew he liked them, though, because I got the teeniest of smiles when I'd walk into his room and say, "Guess what? Someone else is thinking about you today!"
Let me back up.
Our family spent several days at the beach in late July. On Wednesday morning, July 31, we checked out of our hotel and headed home. My little man woke up that morning complaining of a headache and I assumed it was due to being in the sun, sand, and surf for endless hours over the last several days. Maybe he didn't drink enough. Maybe the sun was catching up with him. Maybe he was simply tired.
During the four hour drive home, he hardly made a peep and wasn't interested in eating any of the usual car snacks or even a burger and fries when we stopped for lunch. This is when I clued in that maybe he was actually sick. Grady Lee likes to eat. A lot and all the time. Refusing food raised my eyebrow.
When we got home, he asked to take a nap and I had to wake him up three hours later to see if he wanted dinner. He said no and when I felt him he was feverish.
A handful of hours later, he vomited. Over the next 30 hours, he vomited 20 times and his temperature wouldn't budge below 101. Tylenol and Ibuprofen weren't making a difference, and try as we may to get some type of liquid to stay in, Grady Lee couldn't keep anything down. In addition, he'd wake from a sweaty sleep yelling in pain about a horrible headache.
By Friday morning I knew he needed help. We brought him to a local ER and within minutes he was in a bed, given pain and nausea meds, and getting prepped for an IV bag of fluids. I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew his body desperately needed the help. Grady Lee, however, managed to let out quite the set of screams and wails as the nurse approached him with needles. For being so sick and weak, we realized quickly that his lungs were in no way impacted!
A series of blood tests didn't reveal anything of concern, so once his two bags of fluids drained and he was able to drink on his own, we were sent home. We all had hopes that he was over the worst of it now that his body had the oomph it needed to stay hydrated.
About four hours after returning home, his fever spiked, he began with diarrhea, and he cried in pain about his head aching. What to do, what to do?
We followed doctors orders for the next 24 hours, but when fluids wouldn't stay in and his fever wouldn't drop and his head pain wouldn't lessen, we were told to return to the ER. This was almost four full days with no food or drink and his usually-energetic body was limp and very pale.
This time we were told to visit the children's ER so that in the event he needed to be admitted, we were already at the children's hospital and he wouldn't need to be transferred. While he received excellent care at the ER on Friday, within minutes of arriving at the children's ER the difference in attitude and communication toward Grady Lee was remarkably different. A "Child Life Specialist" distracted him with an iPad while he got another IV; she asked him a string of unimportant and random questions to keep him occupied while the nurse drew blood. And, win of all wins: the nurse produce grape-flavored Tylenol at Grady Lee's request.
More blood and head tests were performed and, again, everything came back clear. Great news - it was nothing serious! Frustrating news - now what? After more fluids and meds, we returned home and were told that if there was no improvement in 24 hours to return immediately.
Praise God, Sunday afternoon his fever began to lower and he was able to suck liquids through a straw. Progress. By Sunday evening Grady Lee ate a popsicle and a few pieces of watermelon. More progress.
Throughout Sunday and Monday, Grady and I "forced" four ounces of liquids into him every two hours. I promise it was a whole lot more work than it seems. Especially for a little guy who was sound asleep and needed to be roused and who refused to take anything we'd offer. I'm fairly certain his fever erased his memories of those days because now that he is well and running around again he hasn't mentioned the cruel and unusual things we did to get liquids into him!
On Tuesday afternoon, Grady Lee asked to watch a cartoon. This was huge. He'd spent the previous week in a room as dark and as quiet as we could make it because of his head pain. By the end of the day on Tuesday, he was able to sit on his own and was eating small amounts of food. He even began talking and smiling again. I was getting glimpses of the personality in my little man and it made me all the more anxious to have him fully healed and engaged again.
From Wednesday through the end of last week, he slowly regained strength. Having laid flat for seven straight days and not being able to hold even his head up, he realized that something as simple as walking up the stairs was quite a workout! A few short walks outside each day and all the food he could possibly want, meant that by Saturday he was almost back to himself.
What a week and a half! It's never easy to see my kids sick or hurting or scared. And it's never easy to see doctors puzzled and unsure of reasons. Thankfully, in the midst of pain and confusion, I had a God I repeatedly turned to that had the calm and strength and energy I needed.
I remember praying with Grady Lee many times that God promised to never leave him or forsake him, and that God promised to hear every prayer we offered and promised to answer it according to His good purposes. I think, for Grady Lee, getting so sick and for so long, was one of his first rubber-meets-the-road in learning to trust God and believe He is in control.
So, two weeks later and he's smiling. Running and jumping and climbing and yelling! The crazy, all-energy, little man is back to himself. Thank you for praying. Thank you for caring. And that you, Jesus, for teaching me to pray in new ways.