Patiently waiting on test results is a nerve-racking venture. One, you are attempting to be respectful of the care-providers, trying to remember that overseeing your case is not their only responsibility. Two, you are fighting against your own inflated imagination, battling the pessimistic voices that only promise doom and gloom. Three, you are a concerned parent, so not knowing what is going on with your child torments the mind, body, and spirit. Four, you are paralyzed by concern, not able to turn your attention towards any other task or duty until your tension is resolved. Five, we are naturally impatient beings; therefore, waiting becomes a character-building activity that exercises an often-neglected, spiritual muscle group.
We had been waiting for a couple more hours than we had anticipated; so of course, we were starting to prepare ourselves for the worst. Jesher’s abdomen had become noticeably extended. His waist-line had grown over 1.5 centimeters in just a day. The doctors had stopped his feeds and prophylactically prescribed two types of antibiotics. Jesher was showing some symptoms of NEC [Necrotizing enterocolitis], and a somber atmosphere had taken over pod #34.
The test we awaited would confirm whether or not Jesher did in fact contract this intestinal infection. NEC is a bacterial infection that inflames, and can even rupture, the ileum (or any other part of the intestinal track). Jesher’s new beer-belly was either caused by over-eating or caused by NEC. No one knew which way the decision would go, but we all prayed for the former. NEC is nicknamed “the baby killer.” We had only seen its devastating exploits in pictures, but we never imagined our son being a victim of NEC’s insatiable appetite. We needed those test results! We needed them immediately.
Finally, the result came back. Lhorraine and I remained seated as the doctor read the lab results with a furrowed brow. She was thorough, and she was silent. Although I wished she would break the silence, I preferred the quiet. As the adage says, there is always a quiet before the storm. And if Jesher had NEC, the storm would be of hurricane-like proportions.
“Well it looks like we gave your little guy too much to eat over the past few days…Jesher’s cultures came back negative.” A very pronounced exhale simultaneously left our lungs. The doctor turned to enter the data into the computer, “We’ll leave him on the antibiotics for precautionary measures, and, in 24 hours, begin his feeds again at a decreased level.” And just like that, the ordeal was over. We couldn’t hold back our thanksgiving! We began praising God for the negative He had sent our way.
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
BRAIN–Jesher’s head circumference increased by one centimeter this week. Since he lost a half centimeter last week, it brings Jesher to a total increase-rate of .5 centimeters per week. This is right on par for a child his age. This report is very important considering the ventricular swelling Jesher has in his brain. If his head circumference was increasing at a higher rate, it would be a sign that his ventricles are probably filling up with more CSF [Cerebrospinal fluid]–meaning, the blood clots are still obstructing his ability to move this fluid down the spinal column. We are asking Yahweh to resolve the fluid build-up without requiring an invasive brain procedure. One of the ways the doctors watch for this resolution is to monitor head circumference increase-rate. PLEASE ASK YAHWEH TO UNCLOG JESHER’S VENTRICLES SO THAT PRESSURE WOULD NOT BUILD UP IN HIS BRAIN; ASK GOD TO RESTORE ANY BRAIN MATTER THAT HAS SUFFERED DAMAGE THUS FAR.
HEART–Jesher’s PDA [Patent ductus arteriosus] is still open. This makes it difficult for Jesher’s body to properly oxygenate his blood. Also, the doctors are now seeing signs of pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure within the lungs). If Jesher’s PDA closes, while he still has pulmonary hypertension, the pressure build up within the lungs could cause a collapse of a lung. So the doctors are now stepping back to observe Jesher’s heart for the weekend. PLEASE ASK THE LORD TO CLOSE JESHER’S PDA AND RELIEVE THE INCREASED BLOOD PRESSURE IN HIS LUNGS…WE NEED THIS TO HAPPEN OVER THE WEEKEND…ASK YAHWEH TO PERFORM THE MIRACULOUS, SHOWING HIMSELF MIGHTY TO THE DOCTORS AND NURSES WHO ARE STILL UNCLEAR ABOUT THE BEST PATH FOR TREATING JESHER’S PDA.
BELLY–Jesher’s belly is going down bit-by-bit. They have lowered his feeds and will increase them at a slower pace moving forward. We need him to eat (so that he can gain weight), but we also need him to properly process the food he digests (to fend off any infections). PLEASE ASK GOD TO TOUCH JESHER’S DIGESTIVE SYSTEM, PROTECTING JESHER FROM ALL DISEASES, DISORDERS, OR DEFICITS.
Isn’t it interesting how hospitals teach you to find blessings in negatives? There is no other area in my life where I receive so much joy from a negative. Honestly, I only rejoice over negatives when engaging medical practitioners. And maybe that’s what I need to start implementing in every setting, regardless of the industry. Maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to hold onto “the peace that passes all understanding.” Maybe I need to learn the art of rejoicing in the midst of negatives.
But seeing negatives as positives is so hard! It is especially hard when you have to visit your child in a NICU ward every day. How can this negative ever be a positive? How can this brutal routine ever work out for our good? How will I ever learn to rejoice over this negative season? Well, I don’t know the answers to these questions; I’m still searching for them. However, I can concede that I have experienced a real-time example of what celebrating a negative looks like. Before Jesher’s NEC test, I always shirked at the thought of being joyful when facing painful situations. After Jesher’s NEC test, I am quite intrigued by the possibility revealed on a page of lab results: Sometimes negatives are positives in disguise.
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalms 27:14