When thinking back over all of the hurdles we have crossed with Matthew since 2007, the hardest emotionally, is thinking back to the day that changed our lives forever. It was the day Matthew had a glimpse into the beauty and love that is heaven.
It had been a harrowing week of no answers and no hope. It was all in God's hands and the medical professionals that were entrusted to care for him. Believe me when I say they were doing EVERYTHING in their power to try and figure out what was causing this tiny, innocent four year old to be in such critical condition. With blood pressures soaring over 200, 210, 220 systolic, we knew that stroke, heart attack, or death could be imminent. These were deadly blood pressures for any adult, but when you see this thin, frail little body with numbers like this ravaging his body, it was gut clenching.
The day had finally come. It was to be the day he was transferred to another hospital with a specialized team of nephrologists trained to diagnose and treat whatever kidney issue was at work here. Tests had identified the renal system, but without the help of a skilled pediatric nephrologist, a clear cut diagnosis could not be made.
A trauma nurse was sent with the ambulance to make the ride to New Orleans. The team had arrived and now we just needed to wait for Matthew to wake completely from the bed side procedure he had just gone through to reposition his arterial line and insert a central line. After a few minutes we were let back into his room. His daddy, myself, and his nanny (who by the way is a registered nurse) gathered around his bed. There was a lot of nervous excitement in the room. We knew this would be the day to bring more answers. With answers would come a game plan. Within just a couple of minutes he woke up and smiled looking almost refreshed. The dark black circles remained around his hallow eyes.
"Hey Buddy! Are you ready to go on a fun ride in the ambulance?" He smiled with the tiny bit of energy he had in him. He talked about riding in the ambulance. He was looking forward to it. Being a huge automobile lover, this was a real treat for him. There was chit chat. He was very lucid and coherent. Very aware of his surroundings and what was happening this day.
The preparations were under way to get him from his bed to the stretcher and out the door. This required unhooking the leads and monitors that he had been chained to for the past week. As the portable monitors were being set up we continued to talk about how much fun the ride would be to New Orleans. His daddy would be going with him as well. Then, just like the snap of a finger, his eyes rolled back in his head and he was out. Not asleep, but out. Solid.
There was not immediate panic. I mentally told myself that he was very tired and maybe the medicine from his bed side procedure was at play. Even though he had been so awake just a few seconds earlier. At first there was quiet, stroking of his hands and face. "Matthew, wake up. Come on baby, time to get up and go." After an amount of time had passed the attention from the medical staff quickly turned from portable monitors to that of Matthew. The nurse began trying to ease him awake. As did his nanny. I trusted that they knew what to do and what was going on. This was normal right? This is supposed to happen right?
The nurse immediately pressed the call button for the doctor to come in, and when she didn't come right back in, the nurse bolted from the door. I could hear the conversation outside the room. By this time, Matthew's color had turned nearly pale white. His lips lost all evidence of the pink color of life. Our world started whirling at the speed of light. In an instant, his nanny, quickly moved to the side and told my husband and I to get close and talk to him. Tell him everything you want to say. This was an urgent, pressing statement. One I knew that I needed to treat with importance. We gathered on each side of his head and began persuading. "Come on Matthew! It is time to wake up. We need you to wake up. Mommy and daddy love you." The pleas turned from "wake up" to " we love you with all our hearts." I remember my husband and I glancing quickly up at each other. Each of us had eyes filled with tears the size of the ocean. Unspoken words of dread and fear were all over our faces. We knew this was not good.
Outside the room, I could hear the doctor calling to the hospital in New Orleans he was to be transferred to. The call to the PICU stated the down turn in his condition. When I heard the sentence, "I don't know if he is going to make it" I wanted to just crumble into the floor and pretend none of this was happening.
Then the prayers started pouring from me. "Please God, don't take my baby yet! He is so young and innocent. He has a life of greatness to live." Not really knowing if they would be heard, I just kept repeating them. "God, not yet. If you give my son back to me, I will give my life to you."
As the clocked ticked by it seemed more and more hopeless. Sobs were uncontrollable. We continued to stroke Matthew's sweet cheeks and kiss him. Tell him we love him. This all elapsed over a period that was documented in his medical record as about three to five minutes. It may as well been five years.
Then, just like that, his beautiful hazel eyes shot open! It was a second of disbelief. God, have you really given him back? He glanced around the room and said, "Mom, why is everyone crying?" There was a collective sigh that I am sure could have been heard down the hallway of the PICU. There are simply no words that I have been able to use in the past six years that can truly describe the intense, amazing, emotional weight that was lifted in an instant.
We just looked at Matthew and I asked him with the biggest smile if he had a nice nap. There was no time for words. The medical staff went into high gear prepping him for immediate transfer to New Orleans. Another call was made to the PICU letting them know Matthew did indeed pull through and was headed there ASAP. There was to be a full battery of tests to be done as a workup to determine what had just happened in that room.
We would come to realize in later months, that there was such a higher power at work. A power that would lead Matthew nearly two months later to share the most amazing journey of his walk with four angels as he neared the gates of heaven.
His story has been a testament of the power of prayer and the ability to have faith even in the darkest times. The chance for us to share this, to bring hope and an insight into what is on the other side has been nothing but a blessing. It's a journey that's not over yet.
A Boy Back From Heaven--Coming March 11th!
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