by Freida Harrison
On Tuesday, August 21, 2012, my phone rang at 7:20 in the morning. From the ringtone, I knew it was my daughter, and adrenaline shot through me like a rocket. She would not be calling me at this time of day unless there was a problem. Acting on sheer instinct, I made a giant leap to grab the phone and answer it. I heard my daughter’s frantic voice say, “Mom, Jayden isn’t responding to me! His eyes are open, but he can’t move or talk. I asked him to say Mommy, and he can only say the ‘Mmm’ sound. He can’t even sit up in his bed!”
“Where is Bryan?” I asked.
“He was on his way to work. I called him, and he’s headed back home.”
Trying to remain calm, I replied, “Good. Does Jayden have other symptoms?”
“His fingers are curled into the palms of his hands, and he can’t uncurl them. And he’s very cold.”
“Have you taken his temperature?”
“I’m doing that now.” Then she exclaimed, “Mom, it’s only 97.1!
“Hypothermia.” Silently, I prayed for God to help me give her the best advice for this crucial moment. Then I asked:
“What is the name of that small hospital in Sugar Land where you said you would go if the kids had an emergency?”
“St. Luke’s.” Gina answered.
“Yes, that one.” “Where is the baby?”
“In her bouncy seat. She woke up early and has been fed. Bryce is downstairs watching PBS.”
“Since you’re basically ready to go, I think it’d be best for you to take Jayden to the Emergency Room at St. Luke’s. I think you can get him there faster than an ambulance can find your house. They can get him stable, then send him on to Texas Children’s Hospital. Wrap Jayden in his warm quilt and go. Don’t wait for Bryan. Just go on and let him meet you there.”
“Ok. Thanks Mom, I’ll call you as soon as I can. I love you.”
Then she was gone. At the moment, all I could do for them was pray. She lived five hours away from me. Should I pack some clothes and make the drive to their house now or wait?
I called my husband to let him know what was happening with our grandson—our grandson who had been born with a heart defect and had open heart surgery when he was ten days old and now, at age two, was very, very sick.
Gina called around 9:45. When they arrived at the Emergency Room, Jayden’s temperature had dropped dangerously low to 92.8. The doctors and nurses had rushed to put the “bear hugger” on him to get his temperature higher. They attached him to all kinds of machines and discovered that his blood sugar level had plummeted. Tension filled the room. They scurried to calculate the right amount of the medicines to administer—we were on the brink of losing him!—Again! They shoved the medicines into his IV hoping for a fast turnaround. Fear gripped my heart like a vise when Gina called with this update. She sounded so tired. The only good news was that Bryan was with them. I paced the floor, cried, and prayed. I needed to be there!
It seemed like an eternity before I received the next phone call at approximately 11:00 that morning. The turnaround had not been immediate, but Jayden’s temperature was finally up to 96 degrees, and his blood sugar was better. He wasn’t talking or walking, but he was stable enough that they were transporting him by ambulance to Texas Children’s Hospital. The doctors had run several tests which had all been negative. They had no clue what was wrong, but he was better, and we had hope.
Gina had to ride in the front of the ambulance while Jayden was in the back with the paramedics who were strangers to him. The fact that he wasn’t screaming for his Mommy told me how sick he was. I could hear worry and exhaustion in Gina’s voice.
The next phone call came later in the day. The doctors put Jayden in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Texas Children’s—very near the room where he had been right after his birth. They still had no idea what was wrong, and Gina wanted me to wait until the next day to make the trip. Bryce, Jayden’s big brother who was 5 years old at this time, was with “angel Martha” and her family, and Gina and Bryan had their 3-month-old baby girl with them at the hospital. They were taking turns going in to be with Jayden because the baby couldn’t go into the CVICU.
The following morning, I made the five-hour trip to their house, and Martha brought Bryce to me. He was tired and very upset about his little brother. When I finally got him calmed and settled enough to watch a movie, he fell asleep in the big brown chair within five minutes.
Gina called from the hospital to tell me that Jayden was stable and doing much better. Praise God! He was talking and could move around. Tears of relief fell like raindrops, splattering onto the countertop that I was leaning on for support. However, the doctors were still baffled about the cause of Jayden’s illness. He had to stay in the hospital while they monitored his heart and worked as a team to find the cause.
Again, Christian brothers and sisters brought food to the house and were praying non-stop for little Jayden. Many supportive people were walking with us on this frightening journey. We were not alone.
On Thursday, Bryan came home to get Bryce and me to take us to the hospital. I was going to spend some time with Jayden while Bryan spent time with Bryce. Gina was holding the baby in the waiting room outside the CVICU.
When I walked in the room, there sat my two-year-old grandson in an adult-sized, wooden rocking chair, with monitors attached to his heart, drawing on paper, and playing with little toys on a rolling food cart positioned in front of him. The huge chair made Jayden look miniature. His ear-to-ear smile, those big brown eyes dancing with merriment, along with his exclamation of “Gammy!”, told me how much better he was doing. Other than the dark circles under his eyes, he looked good.
He couldn’t move around much because the heart monitors became detached easily which made alarm sounds, and the nurses would come running. But Jayden wasn’t concerned. He sat in the big chair making growling noises as he pretended that his tiny dinosaur toys were fighting each other. I helped him make a volcano, a tree, and a water pond for them with play dough. He told me why the dinosaurs were fighting, and where to place the play dough pieces that we made. Hearing that little voice was sweet music!
While I was there, a few close family friends dropped in to see Jayden. One brought him a cap which he put on backwards, then he showed his visitor the dinosaurs and the volcano which he kept pretending was erupting.
At this point, the doctors were thinking Jayden’s health problem might be neurological, but they continued to monitor his heart.
My husband made the trip to see Jayden two days later on Saturday, and by the time he got there, Jayden had been moved to a regular room. This made everything much easier.
While in this room, the nurses put Jayden’s heart monitor in a teddy bear backpack so he could walk around and not be constricted to a chair or the bed. The monitor was a little heavy for him, and there were several times when Bryan (his daddy) had to catch him when he began to topple over backwards. Jayden just laughed and continued to charm all the nurses.
On Sunday, the diligent doctors had an answer for us. The cause was complications with his heart medication. How frightening to know that something we were giving our little one to help him, had brought us very close to losing him! They kept him in the hospital one more night to monitor his heart and observe his reaction to the new medication.
He came home the next day shortly after noon. Both relief and excitement swept through me when I saw Jayden walking in the door of his home with a big smile on his face after being in the hospital for six days and nights. He had grown very attached to his hospital gown and was still wearing it. Once again, our little boy was making us laugh!
Together, we all praised God for restoring Jayden’s health.
Jayden turned five years old yesterday and is a healthy, normal little boy in every way. He takes heart medication twice a day and sees his heart doctor every six months, but his life is like any other child of his age. Without being told or seeing his scars, no one would know that he was born with a heart defect or that he has had any health problems. He wrestles with his older brother, loves on his little sister, charms his grandparents as well as others, and gets into trouble sometimes. He has a great sense of humor and amuses us with his mischievous ways. We are so grateful.
“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3 (NIV)
Heavenly Father, thank you for being with Jayden and healing him. Thank you for the doctors and nurses who saved Jayden’s life at St. Luke’s hospital in Sugar Land. Thank you for the ambulance driver and the paramedics who transported Jayden to TCH. Thank you for the doctors, nurses, aides, volunteers, and everyone who works at Texas Children’s Hospital. They are so dedicated to their little patients. Thank you for the many people who prayed, provided food, called, or helped in any way during our times of stress with Jayden’s health problems. Bless each one of them for their many acts of love, kindness, and support. May I learn from their shining example. Thank you for giving each one of us the strength we needed to get through those difficult times. Please continue to be with Jayden as he grows strong and healthy. Thank you for our other grandchildren—Luke, Maci, Bryce, and Hallie Mae. They are all precious, priceless gifts to love and treasure. I already see them serving You in so many ways. My prayer is that they will all grow up to be powerful warriors for You and always stand firm in the faith. I thank you, and I praise your Holy name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(There will be one more much-shorter story, titled “Heart Lessons from Jayden”, tomorrow.)
Copyright © 2014, Freida Harrison, all rights reserved, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Pictures from Freida Harrison, Copyright © All rights reserved. Bible scripture taken from New International Version 84.