I’m not really sure how to lead into a post such as this. My strangely sarcastic-in-the-face-of-tragedy self contemplated using the lines from Fresh Prince of Bel Air, because well – our lives did get twist turned upside down. But I won’t, because that’s ridiculous. What happened in the days between Wednesday and Saturday of last week was the most contradictory marriage of chaos and peace, and it’s honestly still a little difficult for me to retell the stories. I think that’s understandable, having faced the potential end of my 2nd favorite human’s life. But my village showed up in ways that I still can’t even comprehend, and I know people want to know what happened, and I want to tell you! You prayed and checked in and showed up and fed us and I want you to know why all of that was necessary. So I’ll just start at the top:
Pacey Claire had had a cold for about a week. Nothing serious, benign to the point that I hadn’t even contemplated taking her to see her pediatrician. Wednesday she woke up feeling a little warmer than usual, but I knew she had some molars coming in and her temperament was fine, so again – I wasn’t worried. As the day went on, I found her to be a little more lethargic that her usual non-stop self. By 4 o’clock she was exhausted and laying in my lap. The fever came on quick, one moment she was fine and the next she was on fire. On fire enough for me to pull her head out of my chest and look at her. I could tell in that moment that something wasn’t right. Her eyes were blank and her neck was stiff and she wasn’t responding as I yelled her name and lightly shook her. By the grace of God, my sister was 2 minutes from our house, on her way to pick something up. I called her in hysterics, telling her I didn’t know what was wrong with Pacey but she needed to get here. We got in the car and faced 5 o’clock traffic on Essen to try to get to Our Lady of the Lake’s pediatric ER. I can’t even talk about how long this took (is nothing being done about the complete inaccessibility of that hospital?) By the time we got there and Jeremy met us, Pacey was fine. I mean fine. Playing, talking, laughing. We called my father, a neonatal nurse practitioner, and he told us it sounded like she had had a febrile seizure, that the doctors would probably just send us home. So we didn’t go in. We turned around and headed back to the house. We were shaken up, but confident she was okay. Ha.
Once we got home we changed her into some pajamas and I laid down on the couch with her. Not minutes after this, her whole body made one huge convulsion, and my mama alarms started blaring. I handed her to Jeremy, I did the last one, I’m not sure I can handle it again. We checked the clock and started timing this new, much more serious and scary seizure. Convulsions, eyes deviated, everything you think of when you think about seizures was happening. 5 minutes passed, and it was time to call an ambulance, which took less than 5 minutes to get to us. In Baton Rouge. At 6 o’clock. Miracles upon miracles, I’m telling you. I rode in the ambulance to OLOL’s ER for the second time in a day, watching as they gave my girl dose after dose of Ativan, holding an oxygen mask to her tiny face. From what little, minuscule amount of medical knowledge I have, I could tell she was beginning to struggle to breathe.
We arrive at the ER and Pacey is transported inside and into a room. A man stopped me and asked for my name and address and I’m pretty sure I just stared at him. Where do I live? What is my name? I think my girl is dying. Pretty sure they got that information from me later. I’m standing by myself (Jeremy had driven behind the ambulance) in the door way to an ER room as 8 nurses and a doctor talk about Pacey’s condition. All I hear are the words respiratory failure and intubation. My knees almost give out. Thank Jesus for the nurse who had the wherewithal to back me into a room across the hall and tell me she’ll keep me updated. I’m on the floor when Jeremy arrives, as they intubate our daughter. I just want to hear the word stable, but no one will say it. I’m “that mom” putting a nurse in the awful situation of asking if my daughter’s going to be okay, even though I know she can’t answer.
Jeremy and I pray across the hall, we ask God for miraculous healing and for peace and for us to see His hand clearly. I’m okay. They wheel her back for a CT and chest x-rays and I’m less okay, but the numbness is beginning to set in. Family and friendfamily shows up, the community hotline is apparently on fire, and I’ve never been so thankful for text messaging and email. Already the amount of people praying is overwhelming. I won’t lie, the next bit is blurry. I know they brought her back to us and it was the first time I really looked at her, machines breathing for her, wires all over. Jesus. Our pastor prayed over her, my childhood pastor prayed over her, and then we were moving to the PICU.
It’s 11:30 by this point, and I’m having trouble seeing straight until one of the nurses says “she’s breathing on her own – we’re taking this tube out“. You want to talk about a second wind? Can I hold her comes flying out of my mouth, distorted by tears, and of course the answer is yes. Pacey starts to wake up (we don’t know this yet, but girlfriend has been given enough drugs to knock out an adult by this point), they pull the tube and hand her to me. She’s groggy and confused and I just stare at her. Don’t you ever do that to me again, Pacey Claire. No one sleeps that night, she’s got so much medication in her system she’s completely out of whack, so by morning Jeremy and I have been up for about 26 hours. By some miracle I’m still functioning, because this mama normally needs at least 8 hours of sleep to be human. I’m pretty sure I survived off of coffee and adrenaline for at least 3 days.
There was a litany of tests run to ensure there were no lasting effects from such a prolonged
seizure. X-rays, spinal taps, EEGs, an MRI on Friday. You want to know what one of the scariest things after having your child sedated and paralyzed is? Re-sedation, which was required for them to do an MRI. Thank Jesus for Taylor Vernon’s calming presence in the waiting room, or I may have actually come unglued at that point. All in all, two nights and two days in the ICU, one on the general floor. Every time someone came to update us on her test results the words perfect and normal were the sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard. After the results of the MRI came back normal (so beautiful) and the doctors were confident there was no lasting trauma, discharge papers were filed, and we were packed up waiting by the door by 11 am Saturday.
To say we learned a lot would be the largest understatement I could make. We learned a lot medically, we learned a lot about how OLOL works (y’all, I cannot sing the praises of their staff enough. Our nurses were unreal, the ER nurses and doctors were unreal. I truly love every single one of those people). I also gained an immediate and astounding amount of perspective, a knowledge that I think almost comes hand in hand with a traumatic event as this. What matters and what doesn’t has never been quite so black and white. Just thinking about God’s faithfulness and goodness chokes me up and produces tears that Jeremy’s coming to just understand, I think. If we ever doubt that we are loved, this moment stands as an Ebenezer for the truth and goodness that we are so, so loved.
If you’re still reading this (it’s long. I know it is.) and you prayed for us and our girl even once during the course of last week, the words thank you fall short. But thank you. Thank you for approaching the throne on our behalf. Pacey Claire is walking, talking proof of the unfathomable power and prayer and of our God’s goodness.
The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing Your song again. Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me., let me be singing when the evening comes.
Bless the Lord oh my soul, oh my soul. Worship His Holy name. Sing like never before, oh my soul. I’ll worship Your Holy name.