Lightning does strike twice

March 15, 2019

With so many things to be thankful for, I can hardly pass the opportunity to thank the hundreds of people who have expressed their love and concern through our second life-threatening ailment with one of our grandkids. This time, it was our six-year-old spunky little Kate.

Kate is the precocious little girl that started talking, saying insightful and hilarious things  long before her second birthday. She’s capable of being a little dramatic sometimes, too, so her parents, Daniel and Lindsay, didn’t think too much of her telling them that she was too tired to finish a one mile walk around the neighborhood. Her complaint worried them slightly when they went overnight camping about a month ago and Kate couldn’t race Lindsay back to the campsite. It was only about 60 yards. Even then, they merely wondered if she was getting sick.

Then, 16 days ago, Kate had a sharp headache as she was getting ready to go to kindergarten. She said she was dizzy and was seeing double. Lindsay looked at her and noticed that one eye had a sluggish pupil and wasn’t tracking with the other eye.

She took her to the doctor and the N.P. told her to see an opthamologist. The opthamologist immediately referred her to a neurologist. Back to the Doctor’s office for a referral where the M.D. examined her closely and sent her straight to the hospital for an MRI and contacted the Neurologist.

The next morning, (two weeks ago today) the Neurologist came into Kate’s hospital room and confirmed that Kate had had a stroke. They would immediately begin tests to find the cause but the Dr. warned them that it could be weeks before they knew the cause.

It was less than two hours. A cardiologist told her parents that he had never heard anything like Kate’s heart. They investigated further and found a large myxoma tumor filling one ventricle of her heart. They beleive that bloodclots were forming on the myxoma, breaking off and had caused the stroke. The neurologist eventually told them that there was evidence in her brain that this stroke was not her first one.

The hospital flew Kate to New Orleans where there was a team of Doctors and equipment to perform open-heart surgery on a six-year-old. There was no room on the plane for either of her parents and it was Mardi Gras weekend, so traffic was horrendous.

Jeff and I left immediately and (Jeff ) drove through the night to be on hand to take care of Kate’s little brothers so Daniel and Lindsay could both be with Kate as she underwent her ordeal.

Kate showing off her IV the night before surgery.Already the effects of the stroke have pretty well resolved themselves. 

All of us were a little worried about 13 month old Henry. He wasn’t completely weaned and is sometimes a little clingy. But in another tender mercy, Henry accepted my care (and even  the sippy cup) and affection happily and was remarkably easy to care for.

Add to the chaos, Kate’s brother Andy was turning four on the day of the surgery. He had been counting down the days for MONTHS, and now, everyones prayers, attention, fasting and concern was turned on Kate. Well, not quite everyone. When the families in their church family there in Alexandria found out Andy had a birthday that day, they dropped by bringing presents for him, cupcakes, balloons and playmates. I made him a “digger truck” cake, (it pleased him, but it certainly wasn’t anything to enter in the fair,)  Of course Daniel and Lindsay promised that they would celebrate again when they got home. I think it’s safe to say that Andy had the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!

The myxoma was approximately two inches by one inch. The ventrical was already enlarged to function around it. The cardiologist carved out some extra flesh to ensure that the myxoma doesn’t come back.

The next day, Kate was up and walking around.

The day after that she spent her time coloring

The doctors sent her home on Thursday because she was doing so well, they had no reason to keep her.

She showed off her 5 inch incision. There were small bruises on her wrist, arm, neck and ankle where the heart-lung-bypass machine and IV’s were hooked up.

That night, she asked for some Tylenol for the pain.

That was the last pain killer she has had. Gifts, flowers, treats, coloring materials of every variety, a zoo of stuffed animals and hundreds of kind notes and cards flooded into their Louisiana home.

We’d been there just a week and half, but there was no good reason to stay any longer. Kate needed little special care and we became guests instead of helpers.  We’re going on a fancy trip with them next month and so we will see them again very soon. The doctors clearned Kate for the cruise and now we’re hoping that they’ll give the OK for her to even go on the waterslide. It seems as though she’ll  better than 100%!

Her mother posted on Facebook that she took the kids to the zoo 9 days post op and had to remind Kate not to run. She can’t go back to school for another week and is livng it up.

Maybe I should capitalize LIVING!

Though all of this, once again, I am humbled and rejoice in the outpouring of love and faith that has come to us via Kate.  (The prison warden from the prison where Daniel is a psychologist sent a card and stuffed bear with the note, “Recovery starts Now! –The Warden.”  Not every six year-old has open heart surgery and not every six year olds gets a personal note from her daddy’s prison!

On a more thoughtful note, I stand all amazed that our loving Heavenly Father allows so many of his children to participate in His miracles. Even the doctors, who began training many years before Kate was born, learned to participate in miracles. Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the first surgeon to perform cardiac surgery on child. He prepared the way for Kate’s miracle. The nurses and doctors and researchers also participated.

I have no idea how many people fasted and prayed for Kate. But EVERYONE who did (and does) participates in a miracle.

I don’t know what’s next for us. But I thank God for this miracle and for the faith of all those who offered it yet again for some that I love.

This is five days after Kate’s open heart surgery. Andy looks a little like the cat that ate the canary, don’t you think?


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