Monday, June 2, 2014

Unsure of what's next. And that's okay.

It feels surreal to be back in College Station, Texas tonight. I kinda feel like a fish out of water. I have to remind myself it's okay to drink the water, I hesitate before answering some questions in english instead of spanish, and the world around me appears to be a much different place…even though I have seen it all before. 

So I realize I didn't give much of an update once we got moved out of PICU and then discharged home. Thursday morning Daniel was finally stable enough to go up to the floor. We were put in a room with another mom and baby. I spoke with her a little, but did not get the full story as to why her child was in the hospital. He seemed very healthy to me. That night I overheard the nurse tell the mother that her son could not have anything to eat or drink after 3 am. So I knew that meant he was having some sort of a procedure the next day. NPO babies are not happy babies so we had a long night. The next morning when the cardiologist came by to see Daniel, he then went across the room to see this other baby boy. So now I knew he was having heart surgery. A few minutes later he was taken to the OR and the mom was having a very hard time. I inquired about her son and she told me who their surgeon was. Same guy as ours. So in that moment I was able to comfort this mother, as I had seen first hand how incredible of a surgeon this man was. I assured her that her baby was in wonderful hands. I also showed her Daniel's very well healed incision from less than a week ago. When she realized he was also a heart baby, you could see relief immediately come over her.

Later that day they were getting the room ready to bring up another baby. I was sure it would be the baby that had surgery right before Daniel. But it wasn't. It was the baby that was so critically ill just a couple days before. I couldn't believe it. He looked incredible. The next morning he was running laps around the room and dancing with his big sister. This is why I love peds. Kids are so resilient! The mother wasn't allowed back that day her baby was so sick. She probably had no idea how bad it really was. So she definitely didn't understand why seeing her boy run brought tears to my eyes. 

On Friday morning, Melanie arrived. Melanie is a pedi CVICU nurse in Houston, and because the Lord is so good, she was able to make a last minute trip to Bolivia. She actually volunteered with CDA a few years ago, and we got put in touch through a mutual friend a little while back. We had been in constant communication over the last few weeks, but didn't actually meet face to face until Friday. Of course, there was an instant and beautiful friendship. I was so thankful she was able to come. 

Saturday morning we were promised to be discharged home. 1:00 they told us. Yeah, well in Bolivia things don't ever happen on time, ever. So we knew that meant 2:00 at the earliest. Finally, a nurse came in to tell us to go downstairs to get our bill. Melanie and I run downstairs to be greeted with a bill for 86,000 Bolivianos. That's around $12,000. We looked at each other and laughed. We were not paying privately. Solidarity Bridge and various other donors were covering the medical expenses. However, they went on to tell us that they had no proof of that. So unless we payed in cash right then, we weren't leaving the hospital. We had 30 minutes to get this resolved before they went home until Monday. We started working like mad women to get this figured out. After various phone calls and lots of persistence, the hospital realized they had misplaced the document that stated we were covered through another foundation. Again, they tried to tell us it wouldn't get resolved until Monday, but Melanie and I were practically a brick wall between the two of us- no one was leaving until they had this fixed and we were discharged. A half hour later, we were on our way home! Thank you Jesus! 

Home being to the Booher's house. The Booher's are an amazing family from Oregon. They have lived in Bolivia for almost two years now, and have served as the fourth house for CDA. They have 6 children of their own and usually had about 4 additional CDA babies in their home. They have slowly been transitioning the babies back to the main house since they leave in a couple months, but last week they stepped up and offered to take Daniel for the month of June. This was a huge answer to our prayers about what would be next for him. He really needs to continue to have one on one care for the next few weeks. I was terrified of him going back too early, and getting an infection or getting sick. But when the Booher's stepped up, it couldn't have been more perfect. 

So Saturday I got Melanie and Daniel settled over there. She will be in Bolivia for a few more days to help the Booher's learn how to best care for him. Saying goodbye Saturday night was hard. I have a whole new appreciation for foster parents. People who bring children into their homes, knowing it's temporary. If my heart didn't belong to Jesus, then the moment I handed Daniel over would have absolutely crushed me. But because I have a God I can trust in and embrace His everlasting peace, I could praise Him even as I handed the baby over that I had cared for this last month and loved so deeply.

Multiple people have asked me if coming home was hard. If I am depressed to no longer be with Daniel. And I can confidently say no, I am just fine. Yes, I miss him. I pray there is a day I get to hold him in my arms again. But when I look back at this last month, at the beginning of when this all started, I cannot be anything but oh so thankful. Everything worked out perfectly. In certain moments, I didn't seem to think so. When I first got there, I was very doubtful surgery would happen while I was there, if at all. He was so sick, I was scared the Lord had brought me to Bolivia to be with a baby while he died. It sounds terrible, but with the situation that was in front of me in that moment, that's what it seemed like. But the thing is, I could only see that moment. God sees the beginning and the end. He is the alpha and the omega. And now that I can see more of the picture, I see where God's hand was in every moment every step of the way.

Daniel got strong enough for surgery. It got scheduled promptly. It was preformed without complication. He defied all odds in the PICU. He was discharged home. And the Lord has provided him the specific care he has needed every step of the way. So many people came together to save this baby's life. We have so much to be praising the Lord for. So much. My mind is too preoccupied by His love, grace, and sovereignty, that there's no room for sadness over no longer being there. I am back where I am suppose to be right now. God blessed me with the most incredible month of my life. I refuse to let my own desires distract me from thanking Him for every moment He provided me with Daniel. 

I don't have any idea what's next. For me or for Daniel. I may never see him again on this side of heaven, and if that's the case, that's okay. Or maybe I'll be back in a few months. I don't know. If anything I have learned to give over my time to the Lord. All of it. When He has control of every breath I breathe, then not a second is wasted. During my month in Bolivia, I was put in one situation after another where I was forced to hand over all control to the Lord. And we see how perfectly every piece of my time there worked out. I'm back home now. Back in my normal life and in my comfortable bubble. It's going to be very easy to take my life back from the Lord again. But it's my prayer that I don't. It's my prayer that I will actively choose to allow God to move for me. I want to naturally walk in step with Him, no matter what continent I'm on. 

There's a lot of uncertainty in my life right now. Will the Lord provide the means for me to go on another trip soon? Back to Bolivia? Somewhere else? No where at all? Graduation is within sight. Where will I take a job? What city will I be in? Will I get that dream job in Dallas or Houston? Or stay right here in College Station? When will I get married? Have my own kids? So many questions. So few answers. Normally I would already be in complete panic over each of these. But after living a life for a month where I literally lived from moment to moment. I only moved when the Lord allowed for me to. Nothing was on my own time. I now look at all these unanswered questions and am overcome with peace. Never have a found uncertainty to be peaceful. Because it's not. But Jesus is. So there's peace amongst the uncertainty. The more I grow to know this truth, the more my life becomes less of my own and more of His. And that's exactly how it should be. 

I'm unsure of what's next. And that's okay. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fallen head over heals in love with the PICU

I love the PICU. And especially this one. Yes, we are in the third world. Yes, there is indeed a horrific shortage in resources. And yes, there is so much more education that could be done here amongst staff. But oh, they love so well. And they have taught me so much about how to be a PICU nurse over these last few days. 

Most moments are well controlled. Vent settings are as they need to be and babies are resting. It's quiet. But when you know what hits the fan, it hits hard! Babies turn blue. Alarms go crazy. All of us start scrambling. And most times, a few minutes later- things are calm again. And we get back to focusing on loving babies and families. 

I haven't spent a ton of time in a PICU before this, but I've picked up very quickly that the most important part of anyone's job here is to love well. To love each other well, the patients well, and the families well. 

There are things here that terrify me. Like when they didn't have the right size AMBU bag mask for Daniel- or any other infant for that matter. But there's one thing that does not at all terrify me, and it's the ability for these people to love other people. Which is beautiful. Because that's the first and foremost thing we are called to do, to love God and love others. 

When we first got here I didn't care to know much of who or what was going on around outside of Daniel. He was so unstable that I wasn't focusing any attention on anything but his vitals, breathing, and suctioning needs. After we got through the scary 24 hours, I was able to breath myself and I quickly joined into the community that I am surrounded by. There's an ICU doctor and resident always here. Then an average of about 3-4 nurses that swap out every 6 hours. I have gotten to know each of them well. They have been so welcoming of me being here and serving alongside them has been such a blessing. The doctors take me up to lunch everyday and the nurses are constantly feeding me some delicious dessert or drink. I'm spoiled. 

In an intense environment like this, you become a family quickly. And even though I look different and definitely speak differently, they have brought me into this family of theirs. 

In the last few days I have gotten to share in both the very dark moments and joyful moments with many patients and their families here. When things are bad, they are bad. But when things are good, oh boy are they good! When a baby gets extubated we all rejoice. When IVs, drains, and lines slowly come out as the days go on- we throw a little party for each. When a baby starts taking in formula and food PO again, we really know things are headed in the right direction. When a mother gets to hold her child finally after it's been days or even weeks- we all look up at each other and exchange sweet smiles. I didn't realize how much of a blessing this would be to share in these things from either end of the spectrum. 

As Daniel has become more and more stable and as I've gotten to know the staff better, I've been able to see where I can jump in to help with other babies. They welcome the extra set of hands and the magnitude of all that I'm learning is incredible. Daniel is also spoiled. He has me here with him as much as he pleases. Other babies get an hour or two a day with their parents- maybe. So now that my little guy is doing so much better, I'm able to stretch my arms to the babies around me who's parents aren't here. 

Yesterday a baby was brought after a complex open heart surgery. Even more complex than Daniel's. By the looks of him and his monitors, I could quickly see he wasn't doing well. He was in hypovolemic shock and wasn't stabilizing with fluids or blood on board. I prayed and prayed. Texted some friends to pray. This baby had no one here and I was fearful he was going to die. So as Daniel slept, I stayed by this other baby's bedside. Held his hand and stroked his hair. We squeezed the bags a little harder and continued to watch his numbers go in worsening directions. When I left last night I was not hopeful. 

This morning I got here and the staff joyfully came to tell me "el bebe is mejor!" He had finally stabilized and turned the corner. Our little PICU family had so much to be thankful for! I still haven't seen any parents around for this baby. I pray he has someone at home that loves him. But I can confidently say that while he is here- he is being loved well. 

The surgeon came by this morning to say we wouldn't be leaving the PICU today. Daniel's ejection fraction was a little lower than he would have liked and when they stopped his cardiac drugs, he didn't respond quite as well as he needed to. Things you can pray for, definitely. But nothing we are distraught over. And to be perfectly honest, I'm completely okay with another day in this PICU. With this staff, these babies, and these mommas. 

When I do see the other moms for that hour a day, I love chatting with them. Most of them know the situation with Daniel and I, and they are all amazed by how God has provided- as am I. They also know I'm here all day, so I make sure they know when they are gone, their baby is loved and attended to. 

A little while ago I was feeding one of the other babies when his grandmother came in to see him for the first time since surgery. She immediately began to cry over her sweet grandson. I continued to feed him and she prayed over him. Probably one of my sweetest moments here. I comforted his Abuela and assured her that her grandbaby was doing wonderfully. As I continued to feed him, she continued to pray. And it was so so beautiful. 

To be a PICU nurse, you have to be intelligent, a critical thinker, and operate well under extremely high stress, but most importantly you must love. As Christians, the Bible tells us the exact same thing. 

1 Corinthians 13 says this, "And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have  all faith, so as to remove mountains, but I have not love, I am nothing."

This is so much of what I'm learning- both as a nurse and in my walk with Jesus. I love how The Lord has paralleled this truth for me in plain sight in my work in a PICU in a developing country. I knew God would do be things during my time here, but right now I can barely utter how amazed I truly am by His grace and willingness to teach us. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Running the race and riding the roller coaster of the PICU

The last few days have pretty much just run together. The pediatric ICU is definitely the most intense roller coaster ride I've ever embarked on. Then we can take into account that this isn't a pedi ICU. It's just an ICU. There's few nurses for MANY patients, and resources are lacking. 

Friday morning, right before surgery, things happened very quickly. I had imagined this horrific emotional hand off of the baby to the OR team. But it all happened so quick that I didn't have time to remember to be anxious or to even shed a few tears. And then the surgeon popped around the corner..."you're coming into the OR with me right!?" Uh. Yeah. I guess! He had causally mentioned this the day before but I wasn't entirely sure if he was being serious or not. I decided if things started going terribly wrong I could step out if needed, so I went. 

And it was INCREDIBLE! I was quite impressed with the OR team. They really did know what they were doing. And this surgeon was the nicest guy I have ever met. He walked me through the whole procedure. Taught me more than I will probably ever learn in just a few hours, and laughed and made jokes just like every sarcastic OR team I've ever been around. I had this overwhelming peace the entire time. And then came the moment where they turned off bypass and we watched, anticipating his heart to begin to fill- and it did! No problem! The monitor went from asystole to normal sinus rhythm in seconds. It was beautiful. The hard part was over and we could all breathe again. Daniel had a hole-free, and beautifully pumping heart. Oh, how God's creation is so miraculous. 

We went from the OR straight to ICU. This is where I buckled my seat belt for the roller coaster. Nothing at six flags could top the adrenalin rushes that would ensue over the next 24 hours. 

I have been extremely blessed to be allowed to stay at his bedside 24/7 as I would like. Normally family can come visit for 1-2 hours a day. But the surgeon and ICU doctor were more than happy to let me stay at his bedside. As I said, the staff is already so stretched thin. 

The majority of the time I have sat back and just constantly watched the monitors. Paying attention to every jump, every trend, doing all the things my sweet and experienced ICU friends gave me a crash course in before coming. Most of the time he has been completely stable. But when he crashes, he crashes hard and fast! I've learned that babies have almost no reserve. He would drop his sats from 100% to 40% or even less in no more than 5 seconds. He turns this scary blue/purple color and his BP just sky rockets. This has happened probably 8 times thus far. Mostly while he was still intubated. 

Again, thanks to my friends and my hospital's NICU manager at home that sent me with an infant AMBU bag...I was able to react quickly and appropriately for the first few seconds until the staff could get to the beside. And while on the outside I was calm and would transition into nurse mode in these moments, on the inside I was crashing myself. His heart is still very fragile. We have seconds to reverse these respiratory episodes before much bigger trouble ensues. So those couple minutes of getting him back feel like an eternity. By the end of Friday I felt as though I had run multiple marathons, but in reality I hadn't physically walked even a mile. 

But this is the pedi ICU. This is what my friends say it's like. It's a hard place to work. And it's an even harder place to have a kid in. I've mentioned my cousins who's baby was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago. Their little boy is as healthy as any 5 year old today, but boy do I remember every moment of the year he was in the hospital. I've been in this ICU for a few days and Daniel was only intubated for 24 hours, but gosh I was itching to get that tube out and just asked the doctor how much longer he thinks we will be here. My cousins did this for months!! Their baby was intubated for weeks. They were told their son wouldn't survive. Now that I have been in a teeny tiny itty bitty bit of the same shoes they walked, I look back at that year and have a whole new perspective of all that God did. His grace, His love, the endurance He provided day in and day out. I'm learning so much about our God's character through this journey and as I look back at what He has done in my life, in my family's life, in the past.  

There really is no comfort like the arms of our Father. There's no other place I desire to rest. There's no other place I can draw my strength from. And when I try to look elsewhere, I only grow more weary. 

We are two days post op and Daniel is doing well. Sleeping a lot, but when he does wake up I have to do everything in my power to keep him calm. When he starts to cry, he drops his sats and can't recover without some level of intervention at this point. 

This has been a roller coaster ride like no other. It's been the most difficult, yet rewarding adventure The Lord has ever allowed me to be part of. In a week from now I'll be on a plane back home. I haven't processed through that much though. Right now I'm merely soaking up every last moment I have left with this sweet face. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Tomorrow. Actually, less than 12 hours from now. Everything we have been praying and preparing for. It's tomorrow.

Today has been rather surreal. I first trekked across town to go to the blood bank to donate the blood for his surgery tomorrow. Crazy that that is how it is done here. Actually, not only that, but we also have to go pick the blood up ourselves and bring it to the hospital for the surgery. But I guess they always know they are going to have blood for their patients this way. On the way there I prayed for three specific things…that I wouldn't pass out, that someone there would speak some english, and that I would see an obviously clean needle being used. A guy was rattling off a lot of questions that I was doing my best to answer. Of course when he asked, "Do you do dugs?" (in Spanish)…I didn't quite understand him and hesitated for a looooong time. Fortunately he figured the bewildered look on my face had to do with a lack of understanding, NOT because of street drug habits. He then began speaking in english- thanks God! When I went into the room to donate I closely watched everything being done. A huge sigh of relief came over me when I saw (what looked like) a brand new needle coming at my arm- thanks God! Last time I gave blood, and the time before that, and the time before that, I passed out at the very end of it. I'm always borderline anemic and borderline size eligible for donating, so it isn't odd that this happens. But I really did not want this to happen here, today, in Bolivia. And it didn't- thanks God!

Afterwards, I navigated myself back to the hospital. The looks I get walking around the streets of Cochabamba are hilarious. My blonde hair doesn't help. I can see the thoughts most people are having…does she realize where she is…maybe she's lost…should we help her? 

This afternoon a lot starting happening. Residents, nurses, and other staff kept coming in with consents to be signed and things to tell me about surgery tomorrow. I have learned that being white does not make people assume you do not speak spanish. So here they all came, with their in depth spanish explanations of surgery and tomorrow's process. But God is faithful, and I understood them.

As I started to grow more anxious throughout the day, I decided to cope with netflix. But the baby was not having it. No afternoon nap and was fussy on and off. Not long into my attempt at a movie, I put it on pause and just played with him. That's all he wanted. And it was exactly what I should have been doing to start with. Praying and praising God while playing with the baby- not watching a stupid movie. So that is what we did today. Played, and sang, and cuddled lots. Realizing today was probably going to be the last day I get to hold and bounce him on my knee without wires and tubes all around us. Bittersweet. I teared up frequently today. Both happy tears and sad tears.

Just a little bit ago, a white woman in scrubs poked her head in the door. We spoke to each other a little in spanish but pretty quickly I said, "habla ingles?" She's from Chicago. Yep, she definitely habla ingles. Turns out she was the coordinator from the organization, Solidarity Bridge. They are the ones that are making this entire surgery possible. I knew there was someone, somewhere pulling this all together, but I didn't know details. Well all those details came together when this sweet woman, Jodi, walked into our room. This organization partners with hospitals in Bolivia and Paraguay to provide the medical resources and finances needed for invasive surgeries such as these. I thanked her endlessly. We chatted awhile and I had the opportunity to share with her my connections and the ministry of Casa de Amor. Love when the Lord ties two ends of a story together like this. She then reassured me that his surgeon is the best in Bolivia. He was educated and trained in Belgium, and is absolutely incredible. What a blessing to hear this first hand from someone who has worked with him for years.

Friends, you have faithfully prayed for weeks and weeks now over this boy and entire situation. What a joy it has been to watch God reveal His plan and hear our prayers. So with that, we can rest in the outcome of tomorrow. Because God is good. He is ALWAYS good.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How deep the Father's love for us

We are officially back in the hospital. But this time it is a good thing. Thursday morning is surgery, and I am this strange mix of excited and terrified. Excited because this means the child has a chance at life. He has a chance of being adopted into a loving family. He has a chance to grow and become an incredible man of the Lord. But I am also terrified. Terrified that this baby that I love is about to have his chest cracked open for major open heart surgery. Terrified because at home this operation it fairly routine- here it is a HUGE deal. Terrified because I have had endless conversations with pedi ICU friends who have prepped me a great deal of what to do when X, Y, or Z goes wrong.

So I sit here this morning in this hospital room going back and forth between these two emotions. But there's one truth that does not ever leave my mind…oh, how deep the Father's love for us.  

I cannot even fathom it, really. For a month I have stepped in to be the mother to a child without one. An opportunity I never would have imagined and one that fell into place very quickly. Since I have had this baby 24/7 for a few weeks now, I have come to know him, his personality, and his needs quite well. And he knows me. When he wake up, he reaches for my face to notify me that he's done sleeping. If I lay him on the bed and walk away to do something, he gives me about 15 seconds before he's going to scream out and make sure I haven't forgotten about him. When he sees that I am making a bottle, he starts kicking his legs about 100 miles per hour, as if it's going to get himself to his food faster. When he's done with his baby food, he communicates that by spitting back in my face what I first put in his. When he's tired he starts pulling his hair. The most soothing thing to him is to suck on the tags to his blankets and lovie (glad I didn't cut those off!) When he's sleepy he takes his pacifier great. When he's not it is more of a chew toy and something to make me play fetch with. He gets real excited about one of his rattle toys and tends to bonk himself in the face with it. His left pointer finger is our middle of the night life saver- if he puts it in his mouth, back to sleep we go! He HATES to have a dirty diaper. I mean, who would? But he is very prompt in letting me know when he has finished his business. 

I know this boy. I love him deeply. But the Lord knows him more. And the Lord loves him even deeper. Scripture tells us that the Lord knows the number of hairs on our head. He knows the number of days we will be on this side of heaven. He created us. He knows everything about us. Making his love for us unfathomable. The more I have gotten to know Daniel, the more I have grown to love him. When I put that into perspective of how much the Lord knows about me, how much he knows about Daniel- it magnifies our Father's love so much more. 

And it's that deep, steadfast love that allowed me to come to Bolivia. It's that love that overflows from our hearts, as believers, that we are called to spill over into the lives of others. And it is that same love that I cling to when moments are hard, when I am exhausted, when I am frustrated with my Spanish, and when I am rejoicing in all that God has done thus far. When our trust is placed in God's love for us, when that is the cornerstone of all we know and do, then no matter the storm that blows- we have peace.

When you look at the big picture of how this all came together, God's love shines through brighter than I have ever seen. It started with a faithful woman who moved her life to Bolivia at 20 years old. Over 10 years later she has an orphanage with 4 houses and tons of kids being loved by those who love the Lord. Now transition over to my life. I grew up going to a Christian summer camp. My last summer, I had a counselor- then she was Kayla Stewart. It was the beginning of a very sweet friendship. Years later, she is married and she and her husband obediently responded to God's call in their life to also move to Bolivia. Around that time, my best friend draws my attention to a medical missions organization. I then go with a team to Cambodia for a few weeks. I return home ready to go somewhere again. Kayla and her husband are in Bolivia- what if I stayed with them and served at a hospital near by? Long shot, but maybe! God paved the way and I got to work at a Bolivian hospital for a week in March. One day while here I am asked if I want to visit a baby orphanage…of course! The baby in my arms this moment was the first baby I held at Casa de Amor, having no idea what was next. His health situation unfolds. I cancel my trip to Haiti for May. I then get put in touch with so and so through so and so through so and so, and all of a sudden I am back in Bolivia, sharing in the joy of caring for this little one. 

Oh, how deep the Father's love for us. So many people working together within the Body of Christ that didn't even know it. And now a child has a shot at life. I love imagining the grand things the Lord is going to do to use this boy to build His kingdom! And what is so incredible is that the Lord is weaving together beautiful stories such as this one, constantly. There's never a moment that our God is not doing miraculous things. Our perspective is simply dependent of how faithfully we are walking with our Father.

As we sit and wait and wait and wait, I have had so much time to just be still with the Lord. In prayer, worship, and in the word. I am learning that it is when we sit in silence is when we hear His voice the loudest. And right now He is teaching me a lot about how deep is love for us truly is. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy." Job 8:21

What a week. Not sure I've seen The Lord move so quickly and so mightily as I have this week. Monday we got home from the hospital. I was struggling to get him to take 2ish ounces every three hours. We saw the pediatrician who was iffy about surgery being next week. We moved into the girls house Monday night and we both crashed. I was so thankful to have him home, but also quite overwhelmed by the insane medication schedule, the amount of weight he needed to gain and the logistics of getting surgery scheduled. I knew to immediately surrender every last detail to The Lord. I was so inadequate for this job. 

Tuesday I was taught how to crush and mix his cardiac medications. Kinds of meds you don't want to give anything but the perfect dose of, and I'm mixing it myself. Fantastic. First time I was actually thankful for all those drug calculation tests in nursing school. 

Wednesday we went back to the pediatrician. We also had another volunteer from the states arrive. She grew up in Cochabamba. I quickly put her Spanish and knowledge of the city to work. She's been a huge blessing to Daniel and I! So Wednesday the pediatrician was still iffy about giving us the green light to go back to the cardiologist. He decided to put us on more meds instead. Great. Because 18 different times that I'm medicating the kid throughout the day already isn't enough. But I really trusted this doc and I trust The Lord so I took the additional prescriptions and went on. At this point I was getting him to take a pretty consistent 4 ounces every few hours so we needed more formula. I passed by some baby food and decided what the heck- I'll try any kind of calories at this point. His weight had not changed since Monday. I had envisioned this moment of me putting him on the scale and him being a half a pound bigger. I would then feel like super mom and we'd get surgery scheduled. But none of that happened. We went back home and continued to wait. 

By Thursday I had this kid in a solid routine. I have learned that if I'm tired then I need to sleep when the baby sleeps. Because he's in control of the sleeping hours and it being dark outside may mean nothing to him in regards to bed time. He had become quite the prince at this point. Always wondering where I am and what I'm doing. If I left the room without him on my hip- the prince was not happy. So I'm potentially turning him into a bratty American baby. But heck, the 7 months of life this child has been to, I'd give him whatever he wants forever and forever. 

So today. Friday. We got up to yet again go see the pediatrician. I listened to his lungs the night before and they sounded clear as a bell to me. I was anxious to get him back to the pedi today. By the time we got there, the pedi had already taken the initiative to call and speak with the surgeon- such a blessing! So the green light was given and we were scheduled to be at the cardiology clinic at 5:00 for an appointment. Yeah, 5:00 on a Friday for an appointment. Bolivia is so weird. So we got there and I noticed we were seeing a cardiologist- not the cardiovascular surgeon that was going to be operating. That made me a little upset, but I took and a deep breath and decided to behave in the waiting room. 

The cardiologist called us into his office. Two white girls in their early 20s and a Bolivian baby. You could tell he was a little bewildered. He immediately asked if we had money to pay for this surgery. First question!! Um, yes we do. How? Because we serve an incredibly faithful God! Anymore questions? He precedes to look at the schedule. "I'm sorry, we cannot do surgery until June 16." GELDIWGWNFJEEQOWYRBSK WHAT!! OH NO! I got so upset. I stood up with the baby and attempted to pace in this office with no pacing room. Lord, why why why!!! Katrina (our other volunteer) calmly explained the situation. While I went nearly ballistic. She told him I was here from the states to care for this baby for the sole purpose of surgery. It had already been cancelled once. He lives in a home with a million other kids. Staying healthy until June 16 would be nearly impossible. I started tearing up, held Daniel tight, and looked the doctor straight in the eye. He reached down and made a phone call. A few moments later, the surgeon walked in. Very charming man with a firm handshake who spoke English! He looked at the schedule, looked at me, and said, "how about Thursday?" Oh I wanted to jump into his arms! GOD IS SO GOOD! ALL THE TIME!

From there I got to talk with the surgeon for a bit. He told me someone will need to donate blood. I told him I was O negative and he asked if I would be the one to donate. I would more than love to donate blood to this baby. He went on to tell me that while he would be in ICU, that no family would be allowed. However, he then said he would be willing to make an exception and let me stay with him the whole time! Wow- thank you Jesus! Then be started telling me some scary stuff. Daniel's heart defect is pretty severe. The surgeon expects him to go into heart failure during the first 12 to 48 hours. We talked in greater detail about this, but it was in these moments when my heart took a really hard hit regarding the roller coaster that's ahead. I asked him straight up what this baby's chances are. He told me without hesitation that they are good. I think he could tell I've got some- okay a lot- of skepticism about Bolivian health care. He did a really great job of reassuring me while also being honest of what's ahead. I like this guy. 

Monday evening he will be admitted. First thing Thursday morning is surgery. I'm scared. Actually I'm terrified. But I'm also so overwhelmed by God's sovereignty throughout this whole situation, that I can't help but rejoice and praise The Lord. 

We went by the grocery store tonight and a white lady was leaving as we were walking in. She knew Katrina. She looked at me, down at the baby, and asked, "Are you the girl from Texas and is that the baby needing heart surgery we have been praying for?!" YES! WE ARE! Random lady in the grocery store in Cochabamba, Bolivia. In that moment I was joyfully able to tell her our great news. 

So there it is again. The power of prayer at work. And with that- I realize we are still days away from actually entering into the OR. So please continue to faithfully pray for his health, for his weight, and just for our time together the next few days. While I hated that surgery was cancelled originally, I've treasured the days I've had with this boy just taking care of him at home. Thank you for continuing to walk this road with me, friends. And thank you for celebrating with us in the great news today! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's a 24/7 job!

So as many of you probably saw, we busted the little guy out of the hospital yesterday! I was thrilled to get him out of the same room with rotavirus. However, rotavirus baby sure was a cutie. Actually, not sure I have come across a Bolivian baby that wasn't absolutely adorable. 

Very similar to the US, when the discharge words are uttered, it's still a few hours before you are actually out the door. The Lord continues to provide opportunities to allow me to practice patience. I used to pray for patience, but now I have realized that the Lord knows I am weak in this area. And He's not going to hand any particular fruit of the spirit to me on a silver platter. No. Instead, He is going to continually put me in situations where I have no choice but to be patient. Then maybe, just maybe, one day when it is a choice- I'll naturally act on it. 

We got home and then almost immediately had to turn around to get him to an appointment back in town. However, with Bolivia being…well…Bolivia, truck drivers had decided they wanted to protest about something and they did a phenomenal job of blockading the road starting right about where we live. It was quite the scene. Very peaceful- but there was no getting by in any sort of vehicle. People were having a great time in the middle of the blockaded road though. At one point I looked outside and kid's had started a soccer game in the middle of the street, using the blockades of rocks and thorns as their goals. That made me smile. This culture is so day-to-day that they can make anything out of any situation. We Americans are so futuristic that we would stomp our feet and whine over a blockaded road that was ruining our oh so important plans. But Bolivians choose to play soccer. It's great. 
After a little bit of walk, a trufi ride, and a taxi ride, we made it to the pediatrician and back. The clinic we went to was really nice. I felt like I was back in the states. It was kinda strange actually. Then the doctor spoke decent english. So then I really wondered if we had teleported home. Another difference in this culture- the doctor sat and talked to me for long time before he even looked at the baby. He wanted to hear everything I had to say, what the plans had been for surgery, what we were hoping for, ect. I now understand why each appointment takes forever, but I loved it. He even said he was going to call and speak with the surgeon personally. He thinks next week may be a good possibility as long as we continue doing well health wise and gain a weeee bit more weight! 

He sent me home with lots of meds. Every few hours I have meds due. I'm feeling right at home when it comes to my nursing world. However, my pyxis is my backpack; and my patient is in my care 24/7. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I am tired- really tired. But it's a good tired. Matt Chandler said something at church one time to the affect of, if you aren't going to bed at night exhausted from serving the Lord- then your priorities are not in line. For me, serving the Lord has never looked quite like this. Being the full time caregiver to a sick child in a third world, is honestly not how I have thought I would spend the month of May in 2014. But I love it! I can already see so many areas that the Lord is doing work in me. And I am a broken person, so He has a lot to do. 

Today, we are relaxing. The baby is sleeping (since he prefers to do that during the day instead of at night), and I am enjoying the quiet day. I am not one to like days like this. Just sitting around. But today I am treasuring this time. Because this is truly a 24/7 job. 

My dad returns to the states tomorrow, so please be praying for his travels. It's been a really neat experience having him here. Never thought I would get to travel the world with each of my parents in a matter of months. Please continue to pray for Daniel's weight, that his lungs stay clear, and that we can bypass logistics to get surgery scheduled soon!