Friday, February 20, 2009

Do you believe in miracles?

What a day today has been. I received a call from my mom. This may not sound extraordinary but there is more to the story.

On Christmas day of 2008, we were gathered in the living room of my folk's house in suburban Chicago getting ready to pass out gifts to my family. I live in suburban Detroit and I really cherish the moments shared with my family, especially when we all gather together for such special occasions.

I have Irish twins, a boy (14) and a girl (13). My sister has four kids. We were all excited about Christmas and the kids were eager to tear into the presents.

Suddenly, my mom began to stagger and she rolled her eyes back, struggling to stay conscious. We called 911 and the paramedics arrived quickly. My mom had suffered from diabetic hypoglycemia. She was taken to the emergency room and was stabilized within several hours.

The doctors made her spend the night since they were worried that she had also suffered from a mini stroke or heart attack. She was put through many tests and sure enough, she had a blockage in her heart. They scheduled a procedure for a few days later so they could also get her kidney numbers lowered.

Two days after Christmas, my mom was still in the hospital. She was so sad to have missed Christmas. She was ready to go home. All seemed well relatively speaking until the next day when she suddenly stopped breathing. It turned out that due to the diabetes as well as sleep apnea that she was not expelling the CO2 sufficiently. She was in effect poisoning herself. The doctors revived her quickly with the aid of a ventilator.

Now in the ICU, my mom was heavily sedated and the doctors were not confident that she could recover from so many unhealthy conditions. They begn a weaning process, but my mom failed to get off the ventilator.

Within two weeks, the doctors performed a tracheostomy to ease the breathing and reduce the need for so much sedation. However, the weaning process was still not progressing.

After a month in the ICU, my mom was transferred to a specialty respiratory hospital. The weaning attempts contunued but without any significant progress.

Mom could not speak due to the trach. She was also incapable of demonstrating any form of vitality. She could not even squeeze my finger. She was able to smile and nod on occasion, but that was about it. At times, she would get upset and cry or kick her feet a bit as if to attempt a tantrum. It was so sad. We all felt helpless.

I was making the trip to Chicago just about every weekend. My sister was having a hard time coping and was completely stressed by the grim prognosis and the demands upon her from her own family. My dad was struggling to stay upbeat. He was fighting the blues at every turn.

The doctors painted a very dire picture and suggested we search out longer-term care facilities. They also made it clear that it would not be bad idea to ease her suffering by ending her struggles now. We were against this option and prayed that somehow things would work out for the best.

That upsetting doctor's conference was two weeks ago. Within days of that meeting, my mom's spirits started to improve. Her gestures picked up a bit. She began to remember conversations. She clearly started to show us hope.

For me, her newfound improvement was more noticeable since I was seeing her each weekend. My dad and sister could not as easily see the changes day to day.

Last weekend, my mom really surprised us in that she was more cognizant and full of good cheer. Despite the doctors' still grim prognosis, our family was encouraged by mom's new energy.

Our spirits were lifted even more when for the first time, she started to show some real progress in the weaning off the ventilator. It was almost overnight. The repiratory technicians lowered the settings on the machine day by day as my mom became more able to endure these settings for longer periods of time.

Then on Monday of this week, the doctor removed the ventilator! My mom had "earned" her improved breathing capabilities and this convinced the doctors to try seeing how she would do with just oxygen support alone. Sure enough, she has improved all week.

Then, today, February 19th, my dad called me at work and said someone wants to speak with me. It was my mom. They had tempoarily put a cap on her trach so she could attempt speech. It was a stunning turnaround. For her to talk again was such a miracle. It had been since right after Christmas. The doctors had run out of hope. Within the last two weeks and especially in the last several days, my mom had started to breathe on her own again and started to speak.

I can't descibe how happy I am right now. It's overwhelming. My sister is crying tears of joy. My dad is so relieved. The kids are elated. To hear my mom say she loves us was the sweetest moment.

I know we are not out of the woods, but this is a moment to cherish and be thankful.

I wanted to share this. Previously, I was not sure which part of my life I would share first with this new adventure into blogging. Now with this good news, it was clear that this was a story worth telling.

I'm sure those of you reading this may have similar situations now or have had some in the past. Although the outcomes can be different, I do believe that these events all occur for a purpose. Despite the tough times, it has been a time of togetherness and love. I am so thankful for my family. I am so grateful that prayers have been answered.

I do believe in miracles.


  1. Awesome, what a great story and thanks for sharing!

    Welcome to the blogosphere.

  2. Wow, great story that things may not always be as bad as the doctors tell us and to keep believing that recovery is possible. Thanks