Friday, January 18, 2013

Miracle of Being Different: Jackson's Story

My 11 year old son is camping outside right now in a tent at a frigid temperature of 36 degrees and dropping.  His birthday was last week, and he found out on Wednesday that he was old enough to go this campout with the older boys.  I couldn't believe how excited he was to go!!  It's freezing!!!!!!  I'm cold in my house right now with a sweatshirt on writing this. He didn't show one bit of worry, doubt, or concern to camp in the dark woods in the dead of winter.

Jackson is a special boy.  His birth story is quite miraculous.  I had been planning on doing a natural birth, but because we happened to have a nurse there that was someone I trusted, I decided to follow her advice and start the procedures to get an epidural.  Right after we started the procedures, Jackson's heart rate dropped dangerously low, and they couldn't raise it again.  Emergency c-section was the only option.  

I remember they wheeled me down the hall for surgery while the resident doctor ran beside me marking my stomach for the c-section-I found out later that this was his first c-section he'd ever done by himself!  I thought, "Oh my gosh, I can feel that!"  They paused for literally half a second while the anesthesiologist put the long, dangerous needle in my back, and then they were off again!! 

Upon entering the emergency room, the chaos begin!!  The anesthesiologist took charge.  He yelled at everyone, "Grab this!!  You don't have time to put on your gloves!  Just go!!"  Then, stroking my forehead, he turned to me and gently said, "It's ok; everything is going to be just fine."  He did this back and forth several times; I remember praying for all the angels to guide these doctor's hands because the tension was high in the room.   

The head doctor didn't show up until they were already pulling Jackson out!  The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck 4 times!!  With tears in their eyes, the doctors and anesthesiologist, turned to me and said, "Angels were here helping us today."

Jackson was born with his heart on the right (wrong) side of his body; it's called Dextro-cardia.  He also had holes in his heart (ASD, VSD).  At the time, the doctors believed that was the extent of the problem and that we should just pray for the holes to close on their own.  We were in and out of the emergency room and ambulances for all kinds of illnesses his first month of life, but the doctors still didn't know how severe his heart condition was.  They continued to attribute his condition to other problems.  

When they were about to send him home again after yet another emergency room visit, I had so much anxiety and felt so emotional that I knew something else needed to be done.  My husband gave Jackson a priesthood blessing, and then I told the doctor that I was not leaving that hospital until they checked his heart again.  They saw how serious I was and did yet another echocardiogram.  

This time the surgeon returned and said, "In my 20 years and thousands of hearts, I have never seen a heart like this."  Along with ASD, VSD, and Dextro-cardia, he also had transposition of the greater vessels and his heart was flipped over too!  The surgeon said there were also many other difficult conditions present that he couldn't even explain to other medical doctors.  Upon identifying the problem,  peace settled in my heart.  I knew we were on the road to fixing his problem.

At 14 months, Jackson had major open-heart surgery. He had been crawling around with oxygen tubes on and off up until that time and spent a lot of time with blue lips because his oxygen levels were not rising above 66% as he neared his time for surgery. 

Throughout all of this, Jackson had this beautiful little fighting spirit.  There were hundreds of people praying for him all over the country.  I knew that I could trust that God's will would be done because it wasn't just my faith; it was everyone's faith joined together for his miracle.   

I asked his surgeon if we could have a prayer with him.  He kindly agreed; and after the surgery, this amazing surgeon said, "I still don't understand exactly how his heart works, but it is fixed."  

"Just hours after Jackson's surgery, with wires and tubes hanging out of his chest and every drug imaginable to keep him sedated, he rolled over on all fours and tried to crawl off the bed in the ICU!!  His poor nurse, she practically dove across the room to catch him!

After the trauma of his surgery, he began to behave a little bit more reserved... a little different than other children.  As I watched him play, I prayed harder than ever to know if there was another condition he was facing, and these are the words that I felt God speak to my heart.  "There a lots of things unique about Jackson that others would want to label, but those pieces of him are uniquely put together so that he may do great things.  Just as his heart has never been seen before, Jackson's unique type of personality has never been seen before either."  

Continually worried for him, Abe and I of course gave him all the attention in the world!!  We have a beautiful relationship.  I homeschool him and send him to school for 2 classes each day. The teachers, coaches, principle, and school counselor have all told me how kind and well-manered he is.  His wrestling coach said he has never in his entire life met anyone so thankful and kind.  

Jackson was born with a beautiful spirit.  The way he responds to the worlds is very different.  He is beautiful for his differences.  He truly touches many hearts for his differences and his kindness.   

Miracle #1:  Jackson is alive!  He is strong and confident enough to have participated in 4 plays this year, danced in a recital, literally traveled the country, competed in 2 triathlons, ran cross country, played tackle football, did Karate, went snow skiing, RAN A HALF MARATHON (13.1 MILES), and joined a band playing percussion and piano with kids 2-3 years older than him after never having been to school since kindergarten, and now he's wrestling too! 

Miracle #2:  I can be different too!!  God made me unique to do something special because of my differences.  Watching Jackson walk out into the woods in the frigid air standing about 2 feet shorter than all the other kids made me realize that if this little guy can be brave in who he is, SO CAN WE ALL!!  Others have expectations for who they would like us to be, but God makes us more beautiful than we ever could have imagined only when we give in to who He created us to be.  I'm going to start praying more to find out who
God wants me to become.