Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tales from the ICU

Battling to recover

The words to describe the past few days of our life are nonexistent. How do I explain the emotions one feels while waiting 12 hours for your child, who is in an extremely high risk surgery that could save their life? Anguish. And at the same time hope. Fear. And at the same time peace. It is the ever present battle between good and evil and yesterday Christian won.
Night before surgery
October 12, 2011
5:25am – After a night of not much sleep I awake to the sounds of Ryan crying, “mommee, mommee…..” Not that he woke me from too much. I slept with Evelyn, who decided to sleep horizontal. So Evy’s toes and my constant fears kept me awake most of the night. Leaving Christian at the hospital the night before was torture but I left him happy and playing with his toys.
6:45am – Mom, Norman (chris’ dad) and I arrive at the hospital. Everybody is asleep but I can tell by the color of Chris’ eyes that he has not slept much either. I quickly jump into bed with Christian knowing full well this is the last cuddle for a while
7:30 – We are wheeled up to the operating room floor and wait to speak to our Anesthesiologist, surgeon and nurses.
7:50 – I don my cute blue hat and yellow scrub for the walk with Christian down to his operating room. He is sedated but looks at me and says with a big smile on his face, “I have never ever done this before”. If only he knew. A quick kiss and I had my little life over to Dr. Brindle and the team of six surgeons.
10:25 – we receive our first update that things are gong extremely well and he was ready for surgery a lot sooner than the anesthesiologist originally thought. It only took her less than an hour to get him ready as opposed to the 1.5 hrs that was planned. So the first incision was made at 9:10am. And they begin freeing his tumor almost immediately. 
First hours after surgery

Bandages to cover his incision
The day went on and we waited anxiously with many friends and family. Eagerly awaiting our reports that came every two hours or so. I am so thankful for the people who came to sit with us and divert our minds for a while. Laughing at ridiculous things just so I wouldn’t break down in tears. The most difficult part of the day was waiting to hear them say that the ‘dangerous’ part of the surgery was complete. Reconstructing his vessels was complicated and a vascular surgeon from the Foothills hospital was able to put humpty dumpty back together again, thanks to a few donor grafts. The wierdest part of the day was Chris and I going for a random walk and running into our anesthesiologist whom we assumed was still in the OR with Christian. It was late in the afternoon and she had been working for many hours so it was the next anesthesiologist’s turn to take over. Thankfully, she was able to give us a lot of incite about how well the surgery was going and how amazing Christian was responding. We just about jumped for joy when she told us that the tumor had being removed and they were just trying to get him back together. The whole day long everybody just kept saying that he was doing so much better than anybody could have expected. PRAYER. This is the word that I know made a difference for Christian. God was in that room holding him in his big, strong, warm arms while they were removing his tumor. He was listening to the cries of the people and protecting Christian like He promised He would. 

At 6:50 our amazing nurse Courtney checked in with the surgical unit and let us know that Christian was officially being closed up. We had been sitting in our room with Pastor Doug, Loralie, my mom and Chris’ dad. Laughing as much as we could and keeping our brain’s busy. Our favorite child life specialist, Cindy, brought us a game of Twister to try and pass the time. I didn’t feel right playing while he was in surgery so we said as soon as he was done we were going to play a celebratory game. And play we did! I think it ended up with Loralie and I in a tie but I was just happy to have the chance to play.
Dr. Brindle showed up about an hour or so later and was able to give us a debriefing of how the surgery had gone – the tumor was out. It came out fairly easily except for a small portion that was in his Aorta. He lost a lot of blood, which of course they replaced, and his right kidney, which we were anticipating.

He is now in the ICU where he has been for the past 26 hours. I feel like it has been 26 days – but he has made so many strides and has overcome so much. He has multiple tubes, lines, dressings (from a massive incision), a ventilator and pressure monitors – all to try and get his body back to a new homeostatic state. He needs to be able to pee with just one kidney, profuse and drain both legs with different vessels and control the swelling in his abdomen after being substantially invaded. They are keeping him in a 'drug coma' and on a ventilator so his little body can heal without havin to worry about pain or discomfort. And even though the whole scenario looks horrible to me –the nurses say he is doing so much better than everybody expected. Right now we are very focused on getting his one remaining kidney to function properly and create urine. It is not working great tonight so we need lots of prayers. 
I have to admit when I was told about the size of the tumor and the likely hood of their being malignant cancer cells I felt very deflated, depressed, sad, exhausted. This battle between good and evil in my brain has been ongoing for the past 26 hours. I am continually amazed at how God is speaking to me even though He knows I have a problem sitting down and listening. Chris was speaking to his mom on the phone and she made the statement, “God didn’t bring him this far to take him away now”. Then an hour or so later Chris was talking to a  colleague on the phone who made the same statement, “God has brought you this far – he will not abandon Christian now”, and I am simultaneous reading a Facebook message sent to me by Freda Steeves, (whom thankfully started Christian’s “one voice” Facebook prayer page) and she stated, “the Lord has not brought you this far to leave you. He finishes what he starts”.
So I am listening. I have faith that God will see Christian through. There will be a day soon when Christian will have hair, he will smile and laugh, he will touch his chest and not feel plastic tubes, he will shower without first applying 10 dressings, we won’t visit the children’s hospital every week and he will tee off with his dad on the most amazing golf course overlooking a blue ocean with a breeze on his face, he will chase Evan down a beach and tickle Ryan’s tummy. A day soon when he will feel peace in his body. Until this day arrives we will have peace in our hearts and KNOW that God will lead us to the warm ocean water when He is ready – when we are ready. Please continue to pray for healing for Christian and strength for Chris and I. Thanks for praying.
The face of peace and joy

Today I am thankful for:
1.ICU nurses
2. Good friends and family who come to the rescue
Yes, i am soooooo cute

Cutest bug ever!


  1. Hey Meg! That's so right - God is not going to stop now!! My prayer has been that God would knit Christian back together - and I now understand better the enormity of what that means - but God is the best! He knit Christian together the first time and knows where all needs to go now!!

  2. The same God who created Christian ... who made every fiber of his being ... is at work putting everything back the way it should be. He knows exactly what needs to be done and He is so good at it. : )
    Keep looking at our Father. Keep relying on His strength and the encouragement of each other. And keep focusing on the prize ... your vibrant, bright and loveable Christian.

  3. Thank you again for sharing your lives with us, Megan. I LOVE that face of peace and joy photograph! I'm reminded of Psalm 139 - here's part of it from The Message. Love and Blessings, Patricia (Antigonish)
    13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother's womb.
    I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
    You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
    You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
    Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
    The days of my life all prepared
    before I'd even lived one day.

  4. Thank you for posting these updates even though you and your family are going through dark times.

    I have been keeping up with your story and I have been praying for your tiny little man. I send you love and I send you hope and if I can, I send you strength.

    I am so pleased and relieved that he is doing great. Keep hanging on. Keep faith.

    I agree with what you've been told, that God didn't bring you this far to leave you now.

    Peace and love.

  5. We don't know you or Christian, but we have been praying for his recovery and a long life of happiness. God is righteous and just.


  6. Hi Megan,
    I haven't had the chance to meet you at church yet, but I wanted to let you know that our whole family pray daily for Christian and your family. Thank you for sharing so many details about the last couple of days. It really moves us to pray specifically. We will pray that his kidney begins to function quickly, and for his remarkable recovery to continue to be a testimony of what prayer can do. God bless you all, and I look forward to meeting you soon.

  7. Hi Crowell Family!
    We don't know you personally but have been praying for Christian every night since we found out about the cancer. Keep your eyes on GOD! HE has a perfect plan for you and your family. We will continue to hold you up in prayer.
    Thank you for sharing your lives with us.