The Road Trip Emergency

Originally posted on July 9, 2014.

I thought we were going to get off Scot-free on vacation.

No doctor visit. No ER trip. No hospital admission for Nathan.

On our road trip back–less than ten hours from home–we had to take Nathan to the ER in Mobile, Alabama.

We were staying at a hotel at our halfway point in Spanish Fort. It was a fitful night of sleep. Nathan kept waking up, whimpering, refluxing, and flipping around in bed. At 11:30 pm he had a screaming fit. I patted his back to get him to sleep. I didn’t get him out of bed, turn on the light, or anything. I just did the minimum amount of soothing and went back to bed myself.

It wasn’t until 3:30 am when we were getting packed up and ready to be back on the road, when I hear my husband whisper-shout to me, “We’ve got a big problem!”

Nathan pulled out his G-tube. Completely pulled out the balloon and everything. Who knows how long it had been out (I’m guessing he pulled it during his 11:30 pm fit), but regardless it had been a long time because the stoma was quickly closing. We tried to put in a new tube but it had closed too much. Fortunately, I packed a sterile urinary catheter. We were able to insert the catheter which held stoma from further closing until we got to the ER.

The University of Southern Alabama Women’s and Children’s Hospital was only seven miles away and in the direction we were headed. Thank goodness it was a children’s hospital, otherwise I don’t know if they would have his size button. The ER doctor was able to get the stoma dilated using a thermometer probe of all things. Next time I think we (and by “we” I mean my amazing husband) could repair it with a probe no problem if it comes out again.

It was a sobering experience for me. We had just spent a month with no hiccups. It was a month of enjoying Nathan and doing normal baby things with him. Of course, I didn’t expect any trouble on the way home. As it was happening, right there in the middle of all the chaos and panicking about the stoma closing, both my husband and I were praying that it would just go in and we wouldn’t have to go to the hospital.

That wasn’t to be.

Joni Eareckson Tada wrote in Piper’s book Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (which you can download for free by the way), “My cross is not my wheelchair. My cross is my attitude.” That really stuck with me and became incredibly relevant. The anxiety and anger and frustration over our circumstance and plans being derailed was overcoming me. So I eventually I got to a place where I prayed,

Okay, God if you want us to spend several hours in the ER, I will choose to be okay with that. 

If our insurance plan doesn’t cover this hospital, I’ll decide that it’s not the end of the world and be okay with that too. 

Ultimately, if he has to have repeat surgery to get another G-tube placed right here by an unknown doctor in Alabama, I’ll accept that too.

It felt good to live in a place of surrender. I didn’t like the circumstances any better but it certainly took the onus off me to figure our way out of that mess. It was up to God at that point. Also, my amazing husband had already brewed up a back-up plan. His plan was if the stoma closed too much, then we would ask the doctor to drop an NG tube down his nose so that we could feed him and drive home for the surgery. I’m thankful that it didn’t come to that. The whole ER visit took a little under two hours, which is unheard of in my history of ER experiences.

Through it all, big brother’s attitude was a beautiful example of willingly and joyfully accepting the circumstances. I waited in the car with him while my husband was in the ER with Nathan. It was 4:30 in the morning and Mac was happy as a lark. He didn’t care that we were stuck in a stuffy minivan in the parking lot. He was thrilled that I opened the moon roof so he could pop his head out and look at the stars with his binoculars, and use his tree frog toy to call fellow frogs, and read Splat the Cat stories with me in the “sitter seat” (his word for the passenger seat). Those are not things I would normally choose to do so early in the day, but things that I appreciated much more because I chose to surrender our unwanted experience, and my attitude, to God.

Now we’re safely back home and I’m still working on this mess…and my attitude about it.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to safe his life will lose it; who whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Mac 16: 24-26

My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!

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