My grandfather introduced me to the sport of boxing in 1988. At the age of five, grandpa, also known as Command Sergeant Major Edward L. Polite, allowed me to snuggle up to him as he took in a week-day telecast of World Championship Boxing. Hearns vs Leonard 1 was playing on television, and I made sure that only inches separated me from the decorated war-hero.
For twelve rounds, both fighters sacrificed the best of themselves to become the victor, but by round 13, it was clear that Thomas “the Hitman” Hearns was too much for “Sugar” Ray Leonard. I remember exclaiming to grandpa, “He can’t win grandpop,” pointing with conviction to Ray Leonard’s corner. Grandpa chuckled while wrapping his strong arm around my shoulder and said, “Keep watching Mikey; the fight is never over until the final bell rings.”
Looking back on this fond memory, I now know that we were watching a replay of the 1981 match-up. The network was playing it to promote the upcoming superfight, Leonard vs Hearns 2 (1989). But I didn’t know that. I thought the fight was happening then and there. I was a five-year-old grandson who was thrilled to be watching his first boxing match with a real-life commander, and, at the fight’s conclusion, I was convinced that grandpa had magical powers. “Sugar” Ray Leonard knocked “the Hitman” out in the 15th and final round. Through my five-year-old perception, it was obvious. Not only was my grandpa an accomplished military veteran, but he could also see the future.
I don’t know why, but watching Jesher has triggered memories of my grandfather. I have heard that traumatic experiences can have this effect. It’s a coping mechanism of the subconscious mind. To compensate for the present negativity, the brain will attempt to motivate positive thinking by unearthing favorable emotions from the past. And as I watch Jesher battle in his 2ft x 2.5ft ring, I will often hear grandpa encourage me with his confident laugh: “Keep watching Mikey; the fight is never over until the final bell rings.”
I have kept my grandfather’s advice close to me during our NICU stay. Like Hearns vs Leonard 1, Jesher’s fight has ebbed and flowed with each round. Sometimes it seems like he is winning, and then other times it seems like he is tiring. I find myself watching my son much like I watched my first boxing match–with novice eyes and fidgety hands. The early rounds were tough, but our son has rallied as we head into the middle rounds. He is still punching. He is still in the fight. He is still the underdog, but he is slowly winning over the crowd. And although I get discouraged at times because it seems like he might be losing, the memory of my grandpa’s chuckle and strength return to uplift my spirits–a fight is never over until it is over.
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
INTESTINES–Jesher has been off of his feeds for the past 48 hours due to precautionary measures being taken for NEC [Necrotizing enterocolitis]. NEC is one of the top killers of premature babies. It develops due to bacteria invading the intestinal wall and creating an infection of the intestine. Jesher’s belly was becoming noticeably extended (another way of saying his belly was beginning to bulge), so the doctors decided to begin antibiotic treatment as a prophylactic measure and stop his feeds. Thus far, all of Jesher’s cultures have come back negative. He is not showing any signs of infection. He started back on his feeds yesterday and is tolerating them wonderfully. PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY AGAINST THE DISEASE CALLED NEC; ASK YAHWEH TO DESTROY ALL DISEASES, DISORDERS, OR DEFICITS THAT WOULD ATTEMPT TO DAMAGE OR DIMINISH JESHER’S QUALITY OF LIFE.
BRAIN–The doctors are still holding off on any invasive head procedures. Jesher will have an ultra-sound on Monday to see how his ventricular swelling is trending. The Cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] in Jesher’s brain has not been draining as it should. The swelling caused by the fluid build-up can be highly detrimental to his brain development. Jesher did experience a slight decrease in ventricular swelling on his left side, but he also suffered a slight increase of ventricular swelling on his right side. PLEASE ASK THE LORD TO RELEASE THE NATURAL FLOW OF CSF IN JESHER’S BRAIN SO THAT HE MIGHT GROW IN WISDOM AND IN STATURE, IN FAVOR WITH GOD AND WITH MAN.
BLOOD–Jesher received a blood and platelet transfusion on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. His blood volume (or hermatocrit levels) have risen, and his platelet levels are now over 100. We’ve noticed that when these numbers are low, Jesher gets really lethargic. This is similar to the fatigue symptom an anemic adult would experience. Jesher is back to his bubbly and active self, and we are thankful for the technology and staff that make these transfusions possible. PLEASE ASK YAHWEH TO STABILIZE JESHER’S BLOOD PRODUCTION AND BLOOD CLOTTING FACTORS IN THE NAME OF JESUS.
I think Grandpa would absolutely love seeing Jesher. Edward L. Polite always loved a great champion–a champion who took on all comers and didn’t shy away from a challenge. You see, great champions know great champions. My grandfather fought in World War II, The Korean War, and Vietnam. He, too, knew the perils of fighting for his life. He understood what it took to survive against the odds. He was a champion. And I have no doubt that Jesher’s great-grandfather would be so proud of him. He would probably stand next to me as I watched Jesher through the walls of his clear incubator, wrap his arms around me, and remind me of the time that “Sugar” Ray Leonard came back to win in the 15th round.
“For the LORD your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!” Deuteronomy 20:4