Have you ever watched one of those disaster movies where a dam breaks? The water is way up to the top of the dam. You know the movie, the bad guys create an explosion and it blows a small hole in the wall. Water begins trickling through the opening. As more and more water forces it’s way through the hole gets bigger and bigger until finally the entire dam gives way and the water floods the entire city. Today I felt a little bit like that dam. I’ve been working hard to hold back the enormous amounts of emotion that go along with something like this. There have been little cracks in the wall, but each time I’ve been able to repair the cracks and maintain the structure. Every once in a while a hole would develop and some water would leak through, but again I was able to quickly repair the wall. Most of the emotion piling up behind the wall has been around whether Justus would survive this ordeal. No one, including me, wanted to consider the possibility but it always loomed in the back of our minds. Today as we began hearing optimistic reports from the doctors the emotions of him one day walking out of the hospital punched a small hole in the foundation of this wall. As the day wore on the news seemed to get better and better and the hole got bigger and bigger until finally the dam burst and all the emotion we’d been keeping corralled flooded out. We shed a lot of tears today, but these were different. They were tears of joy. There still are no guarantees but what the doctors were calling unlikely just 3 days ago now seems more probable than not.
Let me explain what I believe was one of the key factors which led to all that happened today and what it’s taught me about life. Dr. Bob, the brilliant doctor I mentioned in my earlier post, sat down with the family last night to discuss the situation. If you remember, Justus’ eyes were responding ok, but his blood pressure was up and his heart rate was down. They said normally that combination of blood pressure and heart rate would indicate some pressure on his brain. We asked if there could be any other cause for that combination. They gave us their honest answer – not that they could think of! So we anxiously watched those two numbers all day. Remember, I told you the eyes were the only way to see into what was happening with a patient so far under in a coma. That insight came days before from Dr. Bob. But do you listen to the numbers or do you listen to the eyes. Well that’s why last night Dr. Bob made a strong case for risking an MRI this morning. His rationale was, he wanted to find out if there was indeed swelling in the brain. Because if there wasn’t swelling then he felt it was time to begin bringing Justus out of the coma. But here was his important line – don’t miss this. He said, “I need to begin treating your son, not a bunch of numbers.”
Here’s what he meant. As long as Justus was deep in a coma, he couldn’t do any type of neuro exam, other than maybe the eyes. Which left him basically evaluating numbers that can be affected by a multitude of factors. Well that makes perfect sense. The two numbers we were anxious about were possibly an indication of swelling, but as it turns out that wasn’t the case at all. Dr. Bob wanted Justus to wake up so he could do an exam on Justus and not just use a bunch of numbers that represented parts of Justus. Those numbers were connected to Justus but they weren’t telling the full picture of who he is.
I think God feels the same way about us. The world wants us to be evaluated by things like degrees and titles. God sees us as a whole person. Weeks ago, if I were honest I had visions of Justus playing football for the Pac12 and becoming a famous singer or a successful doctor. But if I’ve learned anything these past 17 days… those things aren’t Justus. All I’ve thought about for 17 days is walking out of the hospital with my grandson – not a football player, or a doctor, or any other title you can think of. I’ve always believed that God is no respecter of persons. I’ve always known I should love people no matter what they did or who they were. But this is the first time I can truly say I understand what that means. I love the essence of who Justus is. Like Dr. Bob wanting to treat Justus, not a bunch of numbers or titles.
As you heard earlier, they did the MRI successfully. It gave us exactly what we needed; confirmation that the swelling wasn’t causing any concerns – the eyes were right! It also meant they could begin trying to bring him out of his coma. Today they reduced the amount of pentobarbital from 4.5 to 4.0. At 11:15 pm the plan is to reduce it from 4.0 to 3.5. Justus is already beginning to twitch a little which is early-signs he is waking up! Now our prayer is for his brain to be restored to its full capability – a complete healing. And while we aren’t out of the woods completely, the emotional dam that was being held in check exploded as we realized that for all intents and purposes our little boy was going to live. And our little boy taught me an important lesson about loving people regardless of what the they do or who they are.
Today’s image is a further look into Justus stay at the hospital. Our little team rotates throughout the night to make sure we always have someone with Justus. While one stands watch the other will make little posters of verses or other encouraging quotes, or folds paper cranes or decorates the room. So many people have sent turtles and pictures and posters and cranes. He has a pretty fun room now!