The Worst Minutes of My Life, Part 5

Monday, May 24, 2010

Signing "night-night"

*The Worst Minutes of My Life, Part 1
*The Worst Minutes of My Life, Part 2
*The Worst Minutes of My Life, Part 3
*The Worst Minutes of My Life, Part 4

"I'm going to go to the gift shop." I said to Mike while looking at the clock realizing we still had plenty of time on our expectant wait during Cayman's emergency surgery.

The Gift Shop was just a short trip, part way down the hallway from the Big Bird waiting room. There's something fanciful about those little shops that always draw me in. I love to look at the displays and all the beautiful novelty items.

On that moment it seemed to be a great way to help pass the time while I waited.

Within the gift shop I found a tall spinning tower displaying some children's books. Fanning through the pages and reading a few of the stories I found that it helped entertain me over the next little while. I searched through the books determined that if I came across one that Cayman would particularly enjoy I would buy it, giving no extra thoughts regarding the over-priced ticket.

I searched specifically for a book with a pig.

Cayman has a book at home with several pictures of animals in it and on the page with the pig it reads, "Can you touch your nose to the pig's nose?". She has that memorized and so now before I even get the chance to read that line she puts her hands on both sides of the book and draws it in toward her until her nose has bumped the pig's nose.

That single sentence has seemed to develop a special relationship for Cayman among stuffed animal pigs and photographs of pigs. She always has to touch her nose to them.

I smiled as I thought of her sweet little nose, that little independent mind of hers, the little fingers that reach out to poke the pig's nose.

For the first I grew worried that maybe she wouldn't be the same Cayman that we know. The reality of the condition Cayman's brain was in began to sink into my understanding.

It felt like this day's events became a two-part battle we were fighting and praying for.

The first being for Cayman's life. I prayed hard that God would let me bring her home again.

And then there was the second grief that she might not be the same even if she does live. Cayman's brain could be damaged.

Milestones gone.

Personality changed.

Would we end up losing our little Cayman anyways, leaving us to get to know someone new in her same familiar body?

I prepared my mind for that possibility as I placed a book back into the rack with a picture of a pig on its cover. I traced my fingers over that little pig feeling my heart tugging at the hope that she would still be our same little Cayman. But if not, I didn't want that book laying around boughten with the old Cayman in mind.

I didn't know what to plan for and suddenly the gift shop did not feel so charming anymore.

Taking my cell phone out of my back pocket while exiting the store, I began to dial a phone number of a dear friend that has more than once helped me through the hard places of life. I was not even sure what to say or what could be said, I just knew I was finding myself feeling overwhelmed and sometimes the best medicine for that is a listening ear.

I heard someone call out my name in a loud shout across the waiting room. I looked up and saw Mike standing, motioning for me to come. Dr. Maher was with him. I shut my phone and ran toward them immediately. My heart pounded with fright realizing that the doctor's presence could only mean the surgery was over. It was quicker than we had anticipated and I wondered, "Why?".

Did Cayman not make it?

But the news was good! Cayman had survived the surgery. "Thank You Jesus!"

Her vitals stable.

Her shunt externalized and working perfectly now.

It was a bit of a mystery why her shunt had failed. Possibly there was a blood clot capping off the draining end of the shunt.

But that was later ruled out.

The mystery was never solved.

The next few days were of great anticipation as we waited to see how Cayman would recover. We were watchful, hopeful for any familiar signs that would point us in the belief that she was still our same little Cayman.


Waiting with patience - these things just don't seem to come naturally.

We continued to pray and watch, as we wondered what God had in store next.

When Cayman finally woke up many, many hours after her surgery, we felt great excitement to see her alert again. She had not been given any sedation since surgery and her body was resting on its own for the past seven hours.

It was a tough balance between our hearts fighting to stay calm as we realized her body had been through a lot and it would take time for her to rest; all the while our minds raced with anxiety that maybe her long hours of slumbering were a bad sign.

Smiles filled the room as we gazed upon Cayman's slowly blinking eyes.

I leaned over the side of her bed greeting the beautiful site of life within her as it made its presence. My heart sank into fear though as I peered into her puffy wall-eyed, unfocusing eyes.

She looked so different. Not the same at all. Her eyes tracked quite differently.

The sting we felt in our hearts must have been obvious as the doctor responded with an urge to encourage us, "Try to not get worried yet. I'm sure that's useless to say but let me just remind you that she's been through a lot. She's not going to wake up and be the same right now anyways with all that her body has been through. Just give her some time to rest. She'll get there."

I wanted to ask, "How much time?". It was the battle of 'waiting with patience', but only I was feeling very impatient. It just was not happening easily for me. I wanted to believe the doctor's words so badly but I wanted to know right now what life would be like for us again.

I closed my eyes for a moment and lifted my heavy thoughts to the Father that had promised He would watch over us, "Lord, I want permission to hope - to hope that she's still our same little Cayman. Please help my heart rest in Your timing and in Your plans."

We had many visitors come to the hospital that first evening. Their presence and support in person was a sweet distraction from the wayward direction my mind was wanting to go.

A single thought continued to roll through my mind that sustained my weary heart as I stood by Cayman's bedside watching her sleep, "I feel so lucky."

Every time I would think about the alternative ending, the one where 'what if Cayman would not have survived', I realized we would be at home without her. Not in the hospital with her. We would be at home without hope of ever having our family together again on this side of Heaven.

It could have been so much worse.

"I feel so lucky."

"I feel so lucky."

"I feel so lucky."

The gloominess of our circumstance just seemed to melt away. God had brought us this far, I knew that well. He had protected Cayman. There were too many variables that took place that morning that led to the impeccable timing of our arrival at the E.R. just as Cayman lost consciousness. If we would have been anywhere else, the ending to this story might have been so different.

God was watching.

Just as He promised. (Genesis 28:15)

Into the night of that first day, we saw a little glimpse, a tiny moment that braced our hearts and gave us that permission to hope like we were searching for. Cayman was restless in bed. She seemed irritable and uncomfortable. Groaning and moving around while still not appearing to be able to fixate her eyes on anything, we touched her, we talked, we sang, trying to bring comfort to her. Nothing seemed to ease her disturbance. Laying a hand upon her shoulder Mike asked, "Do you want to go night-night?"

Cayman moved her hands slightly toward her face, one stopping near her cheek briefly while the other became tangled within her blanket. She did not put up much of a fight to free her hand and soon returned her arms back to her sides.

We fought for our breath as we exclaimed in excitement, "Did you see that?!"

Cayman's movements, they were familiar to us even if they were not quite carried out thoroughly. She was signing "sleepy". There was no doubt that's what we saw!

I am so grateful for that tiny little glimpse of our old Cayman. As we continued to 'wait' as she recovered, that memory of her trying to sign "night-night" held our minds steadfast in our hope.

The magnificent gift of permission to hope. That's what we had been given.

God was there watching over us.

Just as He had promised.

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go..." (Genesis 28:15)


To all of our prayer warriors who helped hold us up while we walked through the shadow. To those who felt proud along with us when we brought our little Cayman home again. To those who stood by us as we processed the crazy emotions. To those that did not believe for one minute that God couldn't bring Cayman to a full recovery...

To you we want to say Thank you!

And to stay tuned this week as I'll be sharing pictures of the amazing, fully recovered beautiful Cayman Cindy.

She is full of life!

Ornery and silly as ever.

Happy and spoiled.

Exactly how we like her.

In case you missed it, here's a reposting of the montage of the week Cayman was in the hospital...

8 Showin' Comment Love:

Grandma S said...

Ornery, silly, happy, and SPOILED...I can attest to that. Even Grandpa didn't scold her with the harsh "NO" like he did CeCe when she wanted to go near the fan.

Beth said...

LOVE IT!!! And tears again AT WORK!!!! So glad Cayman is doing so well - I hope you and Mike have recovered as well (although I'm not sure one can recover from such a thing)!!!! Hugs to you all!

Lisa said...

What a journey you have been on! And what a wonderful job you have done sharing that journey with us. Thank you.

I can't wait to see pictures this week of Cayman!

The Soldatke family said...

What a beautiful ending to this story! Now...did you go and get her that pig book?? Because she needs it :)...I am so thankful for your wonderful writing, because I feel like I was able to "be there". Being so far away, it killed me to not just jump in the car and come to you. But I knew you were well taken care of and I could pray and cheer Cayman on from afar!! Thanks for letting us all see what God has done for Cayman and your family...I love you my friend!

Tiffany said...

That had to be the best moment ever!!!

Gabriella said...

This time, this post made my heart burst with joy. I knew the ending all along, of course, but to experience it right along with you in your words... just amazing. You're right.

Kristen said...


No, I didn't go back and buy the pig book. I should have though. It would have made for a memorable storybook for her to always have.

Hannon! said...

I love it!

I also love that she is drawn to pigs. The pig is one of my favorite animals and I've sort of pushed that love onto Audrey. Her Piggy Sue helps her fall asleep every night, it's a little piggy lovey blanket I bought her when she was a month old. Audrey's drawn to the pig too and she will pop that hand under her chin to sign it every time she hears the word pig.
You have a true gift at capturing the special moments through your camera and expressing them beautifully through your words... but you have one amazing little girl that I'm sure keeps you inspired.