“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; but I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10
On Wednesday, May 22nd, my husband Paul and I had gone to see the movie ‘Breakthrough.’ It is a movie of a mother’s faith in God as her child fights for his life after a life-threatening accident. I never dreamed that a few short days later, Monday, May 27th, I would personally be able to relate to what I was watching.
Our 4-year-old daughter, Anna, and her friend were playing in our new treehouse while I was a few feet away putting up lights around our fire pit area. As I turned to check on them, I watched in horror as Anna fell off the ladder and landed on a rock, hearing a crack when she landed. I ran to her, sure that her arm was broken. I called my husband at work and told him to meet me at the ER so he could take our other kids while I was with Anna getting her arm checked out.
When we got to the ER, around 2:30pm, the nurses behind the desk asked what happened. When I told them, a woman who was getting her boy checked in stood up and said, “You go ahead.” As I gave Anna’s information, I could hear the woman behind me telling her kids to pray with her for the little girl who fell. (God bless you mamma and thank you for teaching your children about prayer). Little did I know at that point that each minute would count.
The time in the hospital seems like a blur. The doctor didn’t pay much attention to Anna’s arm, which I thought was the issue. There was a growing concern over her head. Anna had no visible signs of a head injury – no blood, no bump, and no bruise, but would go from sleeping to screaming to puking and then back asleep.
After two hours of no improvements, and things getting worse, the doctor sent us to Children’s Hospital to get a better assessment. If it was just a concussion, she should have been coming around instead of becoming harder to rouse. I went in the ambulance with Anna and our nurse. Paul followed behind us in our van. Anna was hardly conscious the whole way.
We arrived at the hospital just after 6:00pm. They immediately brought Anna into the resuscitation room, which was filled with eight nurses and doctors. They tried time and time again to get an IV into her but failed each time. The only good thing about this was that the pain brought Anna back to consciousness.
I stepped out to the washroom and begged God to please help them to get at least one IV in. As I walked back into the room, they tried again and this time they got it. (This would be only one of many miracles that God would do on our journey.)
Once the IV was in, they sent Anna for a CT scan to see if there was any internal bleeding that they were unable to see. When we got back to the room after the scan, another doctor came in and told us that Anna had multiple fractures to her skull (the real source of the crack I had heard) and an epidural hematoma. Blood was accumulating between the membrane of Anna’s brain and the skull. This blood was creating pressure and pushing on her brain.
They ordered emergency surgery to get the blood out.
I have never felt such a surreal feeling before. The room was spinning, and I began gasping for breath. I thought back to being in the Steinbach hospital and praying that she wouldn’t have a broken arm for the summer. Now a broken arm seemed like nothing.
It felt like an eternity until the operating room was prepped and ready for her. In reality, it took less than an hour as everyone was rushing to get her in as soon as possible. But at this point, she was unresponsive to anything, which hampered our judgment of time.
While we were waiting, they told us that brain damage to some degree was likely as it had been hours that the blood had been putting pressure on her brain and that she was unresponsive. It was now 9:00pm, almost seven hours since the fall.
We were told the operation would be 2-3 hours. As we sat in that waiting room I could hardly comprehend what had all just happened. I hardly even had words to pray but knew that the Holy Spirit was interceding. We prayed as a couple for our daughter and that God would take care of her. At this point, it was the only thing and best thing we could do.
Soon after, Paul started to update our families and small group leaders with what little he knew. The response was humbling as Anna was lifted up in hundreds, if not thousands, of prayers.
After 2½ hours, the neurosurgeon came out to talk to us. He said the surgery went as well as they could have hoped and that they had removed 300ml of blood. Paul would later describe this to his students at school as having a Coke can full of blood taken out of her skull.
When we saw her, she had a hemovac (a tube running into her head to let any remaining blood to come out), a breathing tube, 84 stitches from the top of her head to the back down and around back up to her ear, and a neck brace as one of the fractures was close to her neck so they were treating it as a possible broken neck until an MRI showed anything different.
Once she was moved to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, we were able to go in and see her. They were keeping her in an induced coma until after the MRI in the morning, but she was on around the clock watch. The doctor told us she would be in the ICU for 3 days and then moved down to the ward into a general room for a week.
It was a very sleepless night, to say the least. Yet I was not fearful, an explainable sense of peace came over me. By then we had received countless messages of people praying for us and it felt as though a physical weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
The next day, the doctors and nurses were hurrying to get her in for an MRI. To go into the MRI, she needed to be disconnected from some of the IVs, and as she came out of the MRI they told us how she was already starting to come to. They could see she was a fighter. This would be more evident as the week went on. She was hooked back up and brought back to PICU.
The results showed her neck was clear of any fractures and there was no missed blood around her brain apart from what the drain was removing. Such good news! It was now time to take her off the medication and wake her up.
I was so happy for the good news and yet filled with so much anxiousness not knowing if she would even know who we were. I couldn’t imagine my sweet little girl having brain damage and not knowing who I was. As excited as I was just as scared of the unknown. I begged God to give her a clear mind. To restore it to 100% He had done so much for us already that I hardly wanted to ask Him for more but He was the only one that could give me this request.
Her arms were restrained to prevent her from ripping out any tubes as they took her off the medication. Slowly she started moving and fluttering her eyes. We talked to her so she would hear our voices first and as she looked from one of us to the other she smiled (as well as one can with a breathing tube in) I don’t know if I have ever felt such relief in all my life.
In the past 12 hours our daughter had gone from unresponsive, fighting for her life, likely brain damage, possible broken neck, to our smiling 4-year-old girl. There are no words to describe it apart from God’s presence.
They removed the breathing tube and within a couple of hours. We were told that we would be moving down to a general room that day even though we had been told 3 days in the ICU. Everyone was amazed at how far she had come in such a short time.
The remainder of the week would be several doctors, nurses, residents, students there for Anna. It was a lot of check-ins and questions, but Anna was a trooper through it all.
That Saturday, only 5 days after the fall, Anna was discharged and allowed to come home.
As we pulled away from the hospital, I broke down and wept. I had not cried the entire time in the hospital. This had bothered me while in the hospital. What mother doesn’t cry when her child’s life and mental state is in the balance? God graciously revealed to me that I was being strong for Anna. By HIS strength I was normal and consistent in her life at a very crazy time. The tears, as we drove away, was the release of what had been held in.
While at the hospital, we had talked with her about the amount of people that were praying for her, how Jesus had answered everyone’s prayers, and as we mentioned that the next day was Sunday, she adamantly told us how she wanted to go to church to “be with the people who had been praying for her.” What sweet words to hear your daughter say. I felt the same way.
In addition to the miracles God did in protecting and healing Anna, the most impacting part of this whole time was the support and prayers we received. Never in my life have I experienced anything like it. Galatians 6:2 became real to us in a very powerful way - ‘carry each other’s burdens and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.’ Some examples include:
Our nurse in Steinbach goes to the same church as us and was not supposed to be working that day but picked up the shift last minute. On top of that, she also worked part-time in ER at the Children’s Hospital, so she was familiar with the staff and procedures. This was a huge support!
Our small group leaders and another friend showed up at the hospital to be with us that first night. They stayed until late into the night. They brought us a bag of snacks, spare clothes, and toiletries, which seems simple, but was great to know we had people there for us.
People brought meals to our house for our parents & kids, gift cards & gift baskets for us, cards & flowers, gifts for Anna, and most importantly prayers.
People from all over the world were in prayer for Anna the night it all happened. Prayers starting with our families, the church prayer chain, small groups, and even a middle school morning group of 100+ students prayed for us! Prayers expanded to BC across to Nova Scotia and eventually we heard from people in the US, Australia, Brazil, Fiji, Japan, and Germany. I was so grateful that Paul took over the mass updates because it was beyond anything I could handle at the time.
God was doing something very amazing through the life of a 4-year-old. The amount of lives that He has touched through this is something only our Heavenly Father can orchestrate. I know that He will use this down the road in her life as a testament to his mercy and greatness.
Since the fall, Anna has been told to keep her feet on the ground. Our days are a little slower than normal, but we like it that way. Apart from the shaving of some hair and a row of stitches, no one would really know what took place only weeks ago. She is proud of her hair and stitches and says, “it shows the miracle Jesus did on me.” She is our sweet, happy Anna. There are many times when I just pause and watch her doing a regular everyday thing and marvel at what God has done and continues to do.
We often don’t see the reason why God allows things to happen. But He sees the whole picture and knows exactly what piece fits where and how it will all come together one day.
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