My son Matthew, who is now one year old, has experienced life as well as death… The life of Matthew has been typical. He starting sitting up on his own when he was only a few months old, crawling around six months, and walking shortly after his first birthday. Matthew has lived in a loving household with a father, mother, and older sister. His grandparents adore him and people who meet him are often taken by his uplifting smile. An abundance of toys was often found scattered about from playing with his two-year-old sister. Matthew is mommy’s little angel, daddy’s only son, and Gods little miracle.
The purpose of this writing is to demonstrate how the life of an individual can be changed in an instant. If you have experienced much of life you likely know how quickly it can change. Many situations in my life have changed in a matter of a day, an hour, or even a minute however we can make the most of the new situation or the worst. Life is a gift that’s wonderful and there is always a way to make the best of a seemingly bad situation. It is important to give thanks and glory where it’s due. My son is alive today and that is truly a miracle, and one that I can never fully show my gratitude. While I write many would consider my situation one where joy would be a difficult emotion to obtain but I choose to have joy and peace. My son Matthew clinically died on February 19th but didn’t remain in that state, as CPR was used to restart his little heart. I can’t begin to thank the doctors and nurses enough for their part in giving Matthew his life. That day in February was a blur and remains to be a blur. Matthew my only son, the boy that is a spitting image of myself and who was completely healthy all of his life had a cardiac arrest and stopped breathing.
Matthew’s mother found him unresponsive and not breathing in his car seat after returning home from a shopping trip. Terrified she screamed for help and thankfully a nurse lived nearby who heard the frantic yells and came to assist with CPR. I can only imagine the emotions of the first responders trying to help my one-year-old son as he lay there not breathing and the fear his mother must have felt. While I very much appreciate the nurse who restarted my son’s heart, I also have gratitude for the others that played a part and are playing a part in his recovery. After having his heart restarted by the courageous nurse, the ambulance and EMS crew arrive from a local hospital and transport Matthew, who at this point has a faint pulse, to a local hospital.
When Matthew arrived at the first hospital the goal was stabilizing his condition and running tests to assess his medical condition. The first hospital provided initial stabilizing however a higher level of care was needed so an ambulance from another hospital was required for transport to the higher-level facility. After arriving at the next hospital and ensuring Matthew was stable more tests were performed to determine the cause of his sudden cardiac arrest but the main goal was keeping him alive which required life support devices such as a ventilator and many medications. Matthew had several viruses that would require IV antibiotics however that would be a minor concern compared to what was ahead. I was told that Matthew would be okay and was stable however it would take some time in the hospital for recovery from the viruses that the blood tests showed, in addition to recovery time from the cardiac arrest.
I believe it was day two at the second hospital when I arrived and discussed Matthew’s condition with the doctor and he informed me that Matt had extremely high liver enzymes, in fact, I was actually told by one experienced nurse that it was the highest levels she had ever seen. I was concerned for my son and the condition of his liver. The nurses mentioned they considered sending him to another hospital that offered an even higher level of care and that the hospital actually had a liver specialist. The plan at this point was to watch his enzyme levels to see if they would stay elevated or if they would start dropping. I had a feeling that if these were the highest levels an experienced nurse had ever seen that I might rather have him transferred, my thought was better safe than sorry. I insisted that he be transferred to the hospital with the liver specialist but the doctor tried to offer comfort and suggested the levels might have been caused by trauma from his cardiac arrest and lack of oxygen to the liver. While I considered the advise of the doctor I still wasn’t satisfied so I asked the nurses to call and consult with the hospital that had the liver specialist. I am thankful for that feeling and for the phone call. After the phone consultation the other hospital thought he could benefit from their care and Matthew was scheduled for transfer later that night.
It was somewhere around 10 p.m. and it seemed that we had a long night ahead because the next hospital was about three hours away, but due to the inclement winter weather the drive would take even longer. An ambulance would again transport my son. My mother and I would drive in my vehicle and meet the EMS crew at third hospital. Matthew was scheduled to depart the second hospital and set out on the journey to the third at 11 p.m. but at this point I was all too familiar with the time that is set and the time that events actually take place. It was around midnight when the ambulance left the second hospital and it took four hours to reach the third hospital. As I made my own way to the hospital many thoughts overtook my conscious as I considered the different decisions that I made and the decisions that would be required of me in the upcoming days. I thought about whether or not I was making the right choice by sending my son to yet another hospital. The hospital staff at the facility we just left seemed to think that I was being overly cautious, many of which had more education than I, especially in the area of medicine. I couldn’t let negative thinking get me down and had to stay positive. I made a decision and was going to stick with it, after all this is my son and it couldn’t be a bad thing to seek the highest level care possible even if I was being overly circumspect.
Upon arrival at the third and hopefully final hospital at the hour of 4 a.m. everyone was exhausted both mentally and physically. The family arrived before Matthew and greeted him at the door as medics rolled him in. We kissed him and gave him our love because it would take some time before the hospital staff could get him settled and do their initial assessment. My mother and I got a hotel room a half mile away and was able to get a few hours sleep before going back to see Matthew in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). The hour was roughly 9 a.m. when, after a few hours of much needed sleep, we arrived in the room with Matthew and was greeting by a team of doctors and nurses from the many units within the hospital. Matthew had been at this hospital a total of five hours and already our family knew more about his condition than we did the whole time he was at two other facilities, and it was at this point I knew we had made the right decision.
The transitions Matthew would make at the third hospital would involve three departments. The first department was the PICU and after that he was transferred to the neurological floor and the last was the therapy floor where he would try and regain function from the anoxic brain injury. I do not recall how long Matthew was in each department however the time spent in the PICU was definitely the most intense. An Intensive Care Unit is certainly not somewhere you want to see your child. My son was helpless, and I wanted to help more than anything, however I felt helpless as well because I didn’t know what to do. I recall constantly asking questions when I would see medical staff. Reading medical journals regarding anoxic brain injuries occupied any free time.
Matthew slowly made his way from the PICU to the neurological floor and finally the therapy floor. After leaving intensive care, life support started coming off, and Matthew was then able to support himself. I remember when I heard him cry after the ventilator was removed from his throat, and until that moment I had never appreciated his little cry so much. His cry was a gift from God in which I am eternally grateful! Hospital life started to get a bit easier after Matthew started regaining autonomic functions. Soon he would be completely removed from all life support, including the precautionary feeding tube. A discharge date had been set for Matthew upon arrival in the rehabilitation department, which was a blessing, but at the same time scary. Thinking about the continued therapy, which would be required, seemed somewhat overwhelming and better left to medical staff. I wanted what was best for my son and after many discussions with the rehab staff we agreed upon March 30th as the discharge date. Matthew was making progress with his therapy at the hospital however it was the collective opinion of his family and the medical staff, that at this point, his recovery would be more effective in a familiar environment.
I was thankful that a discharge date was set and that Matthew was making progress. He had made it so far in his recovery, yet many milestones that he had reached such as sitting up and being able to walk, was lost. As a father, I wondered what I could do besides read and ask questions. I certainly wanted to be there to love my son and hold him. Helping with the little needs was all I could do. The help I could offer Matthew was not enough. The doctors, nurses, and other medical staff played a critical role in Matthew’s recovery, however even their help was not enough. We needed something more, something that modern medicine could not accomplish. We needed the help of our heavenly savior. We needed God to intervene and help Matthew continue to recover.
Many situations in my life have been out of my control. Some periods of life can be very discouraging, and during these vulnerable times it seems that one bad situation leads to another, and on to another. What happened to my son is by far, one of the hardest things that I have gone through in my life, if not the hardest. I had no control of the situation. I tried to make good decisions involving Matthew’s health however I couldn’t do much more than oversee his care, and even then I was unqualified for such a role. I was in desperate need of someone or something that would help my little boy. I am a Christian and have been since I was very young. I most definitely prayed to our heavenly Father many times throughout our ordeal, and my prayers continue. It seems that in our most desperate and needy time, that God performs some of His greatest miracles. My son desperately needed help, and it was no doubt that God had already begun working. His life had already been saved before we could utter the first prayer for his little life.
It seems many times we forget that our God is still performing miracles. We often attribute healing to modern medicine and skilled doctors, however we need to remember that our Lord is behind the healing. Modern advancements in medicine, as well as, the talent of medical staff has been given to us by our Father and Savior! We need to rely more on God. I had to rely on him in the situation with Matthew, because I couldn’t do anymore, and the medical staff done all they could. It was a waiting game to see how Matthew would recover. I was in a state of constant prayer, along with many others that care for my son.
Jesus died for our sins, so that we might be able to dwell with him for eternity and for that we are forever indebted. He does so much for us everyday without us asking. Unfortunately, many times in our fast pace life we forget to thank our God for the little things. I thank God for my son and the many other miracles he performs on a daily basis. I ask that whoever might read this article would pray for my son. The purpose of this writing is for the reader to understand who is responsible for my son being alive. I hope it is completely clear that ultimately God is responsible for him being alive today, and that medical staff is merely a tool. God allowed some of the best doctors and nurses to work with my son. I want people to know what God did for my son Matthew and for his family by keeping him here. Matthew is here for a purpose; we are all here for a purpose! I pray that we all find our purpose. While the future is uncertain we can be sure that God will be there to see us through and He is still in the miracle business. I am so thankful for God’s Little Miracle!