Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Jackson's Heart Scare

I want to take a moment to write about an experience that happened last fall:

Jackson was just beginning a training regimen to run a marathon with me. In addition, he was biking 18 1/2 miles every day to get to school and back. He was also spending lots of hours every week practicing with the high school drum line. (He LOVES the drum line!) He had several classes he was taking, but his hardest was a rigorous online algebra II course. He had an A in the class, but it was keeping my little 12-year old up until late at night almost every night.

One night he had already biked 18 1/2 miles for the day. After that, he and I ran 5 miles together. When we had just about a quarter mile left, he started to throw up. I was running behind him trying to keep up, but he didn't even stop!  He threw up WHILE he ran and STILL beat me. When we arrived home, he got right on his math. I stayed up late with him for several hours. We were both frustrated at the late hour, and he was feeling quite stressed.

I sent him to bed, and he came back down a few minutes later complaining of pain in his heart when he lay on his side.

(Jackson had major open-heart surgery as a baby. His heart is on the wrong side of his body, dextro-cardia, and it's flipped over. His veins and arteries are transposed and he has patched up holes in his heart as well. The surgeon and cardiologists have never seen a heart like his, but Jackson is still doing AMAZING things with his life. They have always told me to let him do whatever he wants to do!)

Jackson had never complained of heart pain before; but he was due for a check-up.

I immediately placed my hand on his chest over his sweatshirt and could feel a heavy, very fast pounding from his heart- almost as if his heart was jumping through his chest! I didn't say a word, but Jackson said, "My heart is pounding really fast!" I could feel it, and I was scared. You don't mess with heart problems! I wrapped my arms around him and prayed with the power and strength of a mother. I could feel the Spirit of the Lord running through my arms.

I immediately woke up Abe. (Thank goodness he was in town!) My own heart was aching… my whole soul was sorrowful. I had every fear imaginable in my mind.

We only had one vehicle. All the other children were in bed, and we wanted to get Jackson to the hospital immediately. I asked Jackson who he wanted to go with him to the hospital, and he ever-so-calmly said he wanted Dad to take him in case something serious happened and he would need a priesthood blessing. What faith!!!  He truly did have remarkable faith.

I took a picture of him before he left. That may sound silly or heartless to do, but I had no idea why my son's heart was acting so erratic and causing him so much pain, and I wanted every last moment that I could document.


In my desperation, I poured my heart out to him and told him how much I loved him and how I would be a better mother. He just gave me the calmest, sweetest smile. He had pure faith. He knew the dangers of heart problems, but he was calm because he had the power of the priesthood by his side.

Abe and Jackson drove away, and I spent the remainder of the night watching spiritual videos and sobbing. When they arrived at the hospital, our bishop met them and helped Abe give Jackson a priesthood blessing of health. Then the bishop and his wife drove our van back to our house so that I could go to the hospital with the rest of the children in the morning.

The hospital soon transported Jackson by ambulance to a bigger hospital in Orlando, almost 2 hours from our house to give him better care.

We were low on money, and I wondered how we were even going to make it to the hospital on our gas tank… but when I started the van up, I saw it had been "mysteriously" filled to the brim. I thanked the Lord for inspiring our bishop to help us in that way.

Jackson stayed the following day at the hospital getting his echocardiogram and EKG.

He was released that evening with a halter monitor that would record all irregularities in his rhythms. That following day he did all his normal activities with his halter monitor and all seemed right and normal. We have no idea what happened… why he had the pain… why his heart was pounding so hard and fast that I could feel it through his thick sweatshirt…. but we are so grateful that he is strong and well.

Jackson said:

"I was hoping it wasn't a heart-attack. I felt a little scared at first, but then I said a prayer to calm myself; then I didn't feel scared anymore.  I had faith because I knew that the power of God was with me."

Jackson is now running track and getting faster every day, and he's still riding his bike all over town. :-) This experience made me look at all of our children in a clearer light. I have a stronger resolve to be more patient and to focus on the things of an eternal nature. Each hug is more important... each moment holds more value.

Years ago I told Jackson that sometimes teenagers stop hugging their mothers. He turned 13 in January, and I think he has been hugging me more than any 13-year old in the world. I'm grateful every time I have to say, "Ok Jackson, no more hugs!!" :-) 

The reason I share this story is because I never want to forget the simple faith that Jackson displayed. The miracle? I am continually amazed at Jackson's heart… in its physical and spiritual strength. It is a miracle that it is functioning. It is a miracle to see the faith of a young man.