Note: This is a lengthy read, and I'm certain it's the longest I will ever post. However, to show the hand of the Lord in this situation I would be remiss to omit some details.
December 12, 1995 was a turning point in my life when I truly learned to lean on the Lord. I started having premature labor at 31 weeks into my pregnancy. After rushing to the hospital in Leesburg, Virginia, I was told I would not leave the hospital until my baby was born. Drugs were given to help mature his lungs, but they would be of no avail unless 48 hours passed before delivery. As I laid there in the hospital bed reflecting on this fate, I knew prayer was my only resource to improve these circumstances. I was informed my baby could only possibly weigh two or three pounds at most and may not breath on his own. I started calling everyone I knew to rally prayer support and was placed on multiple church prayer lists in different states. Specifically, I asked the prayers to include that he would weigh more than three pounds and would breath on his own when he was born.
On the morning of December 14, 1995, the strategy of preventing labor was changed and the doctor announced he had to induce labor. Forty-eight hours had barely passed and my baby boy, Evan, weighed a hefty 4.5 pounds for a 31 week baby! The doctor stated if he had been born at full term he would have weighed 9 or 10 pounds. Evan was breathing on his own when he was born, but later had to be put on oxygen assistance for three days.
One nurse stated this hospital stay for Evan would be like a roller coaster ride for my husband and I. That was a very fitting and apt description as there were some good days, but mostly bad days, and we found that things can change in a matter of hours for these tiny babies. On Christmas Eve, we had a meeting with the physicians and I don't believe there was a single internal organ in Evan's body that had a positive report. It was incredibly overwhelming and devastating.
Two of the many problems were mild hydrocephalus, which is excess fluid on the brain, and also a Grade II brain hemorrhage. A leading Washington, D.C. area neurosurgeon was brought in to consult on Evan's case. The neurosurgeon had a different approach to the hydrocephalus diagnosis than most of his peers. He preferred to wait and observe development to determine if a shunt would be necessary. The neurosurgeon related that an associate of his had the same condition, but never had a shunt. In most cases, a shunt is inserted in the brain to drain the excess fluid into the stomach. As a child grows, the shunt has to be lengthened, which results in multiple surgeries. The neonatologist told me several times that Evan would have to have a shunt and that, basically, she did not agree with the neurosurgeon's "wait and see" method. I never refuted her words, out of respect for her position, but as my faith was beginning to rise I always said in my mind, "No, that's not the way it's going to be."
A view looking from our front door to a neighboring complex - the fence is barely visible and the snow was so deep cars were marked were yellow tape.
And to make things more challenging, the "Blizzard of '96" (as the newscasters termed it) hit parts of the East coast. A whopping 28 inches of snow fell on January 7, 1996 (to be followed by eight more inches on January 12, 1996). The whole area was immobilized for a couple of days and hospital personnel had to be picked up at their homes by military vehicles. My husband, who was an executive chef at a hotel, decided he should be at his workplace before the storm hit and, obviously, was stuck there. Since we had just moved two months earlier from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, the hospital introduced us to a couple who had a premature boy a year earlier. This couple was a tremendous blessing in many ways and they also arranged a friend with a four wheel drive to take me to the hospital. Due to the deep snow, my ride could only come within one half mile of my home. This meant walking in thigh high snow coming and going, but every step was worth it.
When I arrived at the hospital, my heart seemed to freeze as I saw Evan was a ghastly gray color, a gray of death. By the time I left that evening, his normal color returned to my great relief. It is very important for premature babies to have their mothers' company. How thankful I was to have a ride provided for me after missing two days at the hospital.
Finally, things started improving by Evan's one month birthday. After 35 days in the hospital, two spinal taps, two blood transfusions, numerous CT scans, ultrasounds, etc., Evan was sent home on January 17, 1996 on a heart monitor and a doctor ordered quarantine for four months. I will never forget the words of one of his nurses: "He looked so bad for so long, I just didn't know if he would make it, and I didn't have the heart to tell you."
I had become friends with my delivery nurse and one day while she was visiting, she commented that a committee at the hospital reviews and recommends writing off the account balance in a few select cases every year. But, she added, "Don't get your hopes up." I knew our income was well below the household average of $80,000 for Loudoun County, Virginia. Armed with the knowledge from the nurse, I made it a prayer mission. By the next month, our $9,000 balance after insurance was written off! Amazing! We still had other bills associated with the hospitalization to pay, but this was the largest.
We were still following up with the neurosurgeon and Evan's development was progressing enough not to require the shunt. James 5:16 NIV states: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." I prayed constantly day and night for healing for Evan and that he would not ever have a shunt. When Evan was nine months old one night while I was praying I heard "He's healed. How many times are you going to ask?" It was not an audible voice, but it still made me look around. I had the indescribable perfect peace that he was healed.
In October, 1996, we moved to Boca Raton, Florida since my husband got a job at a hotel there. After a month, he decided his job was not working out, so another long distance move was made to my home state, Oklahoma. My husband then left to work in another state.
After the upheaval of many long distance moves, severe marital problems, and the stress of all described here, I was about six months late in getting Evan a checkup with a neurosurgeon. At this time Evan was 2 years old. First, another CT scan had to be taken and I brought the previous one for a comparison study. I was told at the time the CT was taken, that there was no change in the previous scan. I couldn't believe what I was hearing! How could I have been so wrong with what I heard the night I was praying when he was 9 months old! I had been so confident, so sure, and now I was disillusioned and despondent. As I think back now, it is unusual to find out the reading on a CT scan at the time it's taken. Then, I started getting into fear because I had delayed this appointment. What if I had caused harm for procrastinating?
I had to wait a week for the neurosurgeon's appointment. The doctor asked if Evan had ever had seizures or any problems to which I replied no, except for a speech delay. After his examination, he informed me that Evan would not have any problems since he had not yet exhibited any. The speech delay was not significant. The neurosurgeon stated, "No treatment is needed, and I do not think that any further CT scans or routine visits are necessary." I was so stunned I had to ask him to repeat his words! That was one of the happiest days of my life!
The takeaway from this: the Lord is still in the miracle business and faith must be kept even when things in the natural are not looking the way we think they should. Yes, the CT scans were the same, but the words "he's healed" were true. Evan is a good-hearted, intelligent teenager who makes the honor roll 99% of the time. And yes, indeed, prayer changes things!
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