Tuesday, March 15, 2016

God's Hand. Ellie's Heart.

I’ve hesitated whether to write anything publicly about experiences around here of late. We’ve written plenty in private emails, text exchanges and journal entries, and thought that would be the extent of it. As I laid my head on my pillow last night, it took a surprising effort to fall asleep despite feeling utterly exhausted from a long day. The events of the last month kept playing themselves out in my mind, and after falling to my knees in humble prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude, sleep did come. With it, came the thought that I should be more open about sharing our experiences with others. It is part of our faith, our belief and our testimony--that God is not only in the details of our lives, but He is a God of miracles, and they do still exist in our world today. We have experienced them. Therefore, we will share an abridged version of our experience, in our small way of testifying of God's goodness, mercy and love.

I wrote about Ellie's mystery finger injury a few weeks back. We never did find out a reason for it being broken in two places, but that enigmatic finger turned out to be the start of a series of miracles in Ellie's life. 

I'm going to write the series of events briefly. We know what we view as miracles, I don't need to identify them specifically.

At Ellie's appointment for her finger, the receptionist told me Ellie was due for a well-check up and that I should schedule one. I had planned for her to get one around her upcoming 12th birthday in May to coincide with her getting the required junior high shots. But instead, for whatever reason, I made an appointment for the next week.

A week later at that visit, Ellie's pediatrician spent extra time listening to Ellie's heart. Thinking she heard something abnormal, she had 2 other doctors come in and listen. I stood there as both of the other doctors said everything sounded within the normal range. Our doctor listened again and had the others listen to HER stethoscope, but they still thought everything sounded normal.  Regardless of her co-workers opinions, our pediatrician told me she felt as though Ellie needed to be referred to a pediatric cardiologist at Primary Children's Medical Center.

I was able to get an appointment AT PRIMARY CHILDREN'S MEDICAL CENTER FOUR days later.

The pediatric cardiologist found everything normal that she could HEAR, but routinely did an EKG in which they found a problem within the "electrical system of the heart." The pediatric cardiologist herself, recognized the "powers that be" causing our pediatrician to refer us for something that is impossible to hear. Due to the results of the EKG, she referred us to an electrophysiologist. Knowing Ellie was in the middle of cheer competition season and typically very active (cast was due off the next week and we were planning to go to Portland for a competition), and knowing high exertion could be risky, the cardiologist went up to the front desk and made an appointment with us for the soonest we could be seen. We were to return one week later.

A few days after Ellie's initial cardiologist appointment, I returned to our pediatrician for an unrelated issue with another child. I gave her a brief update on Ellie. After her initial shock that Ellie had already been seen by the cardiologist, she looked me in the eyes and said, "Someone wanted me to hear something that day."

When checking in the next week with the electrophysiologist, I overheard the receptionists talking surprisingly about our appointment. We came to find out a few minutes later, that the doctor actually wasn't "in clinic" that day, but had set up our appointment amidst a conference call and interviews upstairs.

In layman terms, the doctor informed us that Ellie had an abnormality within the functioning of her heart. Unbeknownst to us, she was born with the abnormality, but she never had any symptoms....yet. Due to the lack of symptoms, if she were to continue in physically exerting gymnastics/cheer, it is quite likely we would have never known anything was wrong with her heart until it was quite possibly too late and she could go into cardiac arrest. That could have been 2 weeks or 5 years from now.

Ellie was told she needed to have a procedure done on her heart, and that until it was done, she would be unable to participate in any physically exerting activities (way more devastating to her than the words "at risk of sudden death" that the doctor kept throwing around the conversation). Abruptly stepping down from her competition cheer team smack dab in the middle of competitions was not an easy task for a constant cartwheel flipping and back-hand springing 11 year old girl to do.

Yesterday, March 14th, Ellie underwent a 4 hour procedure on her heart. It was a long 4 hours, but despite me feeling fidgety, Mike and I never felt anxious or worried while waiting for news of the procedure progress. As text after text came through my phone throughout the day, I felt the love, concern, faith and prayers of so many people close to us. 
The procedure went very well. The doctor said it was only a matter of time until the symptoms of her condition would have appeared. It is now 98% likely it is completely fixed, though they'll know with certainty in 2 months

Here we are a day later. Ellie is doing great! She is sore at the sites the three catheters entered into her body, but after a lazy, restful day today, she will be almost completely back to real life tomorrow. 

Today, I gifted Ellie three bracelets I purchased at the hospital gift shop yesterday. I told her, I picked out each one for a specific reason and I want them to always be a tangible reminder of three things. 1. The heart is self-explanatory-but to always remember the story associated with that heart of hers beating inside her body. 2. The "love you" one-is to remember all the people that have given her gifts, sent texts, served us, etc. I hope she always remembers how many people love and care for her. 3. The angel bracelet is to remind her that Heavenly Father uses people here on earth to accomplish His works. There is no end to the angels both seen and unseen that play a part in our lives. (We think our pediatrician is one of them.)

We have no explanation for why some youth meet a sudden death on a gym floor or a sports field, and why Ellie was likely spared that ending. We acknowledge the Lord's hand in Ellie's life. We feel humbled and very blessed that we have been the benefactors of true, modern-day miracles.

We believe God lives. We believe He loves us, and we believe that He is involved in the details of our lives. 


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