Thursday, September 28, 2006
On August 15th 2005, Chad and my world was rocked. A week after we had moved to Savannah, Shepherd woke up on a Monday morning and after I changed his diaper, I placed him on the floor so that he could run to the living room...but as soon as his feet touched the floor, his knees buckled and he fell. He instantly started crying and his eyes told me he was experiencing pain. Call it "mother's intuition" but I knew instantly that something was seriousely wrong. This went on for 2 days, and on the second day he woke up with a fever. At this point, I was very scared. I called probably 8 different pediatricians, and nobody was willing to see him due to the fact that in Savannah, there's a rule about medical care - your first visit has to be a "well visit"...and since Shepherd was already sick, nobody would treat him. On the third day, I drove to a pediatricians office and demanded they see my son - one doctor out of a practice of 10 doctors was willing to see him - and this doctor told me Shepherd had a virus and that it would run it's course in a few days...he claimed Shepherd wasn't walking due to the achiness he was feeling. By the grace of God, Chad and I are beginning to forgive this doctor. I went home frustrated, worried and scared for my son, but felt there was nothing else I could do. The next day, Shepherd's fever spiked to 104 and he was now unable to crawl (he did not walk again after this day for nearly 2 months)...I rushed him to the E.R. and the doctors took him back immediately when they saw the condition he was in. After a series of tests (x-rays, an M.R.I. a series of blood work and a catheter), Shepherd was so weak that they admitted him in to the hospital to wait for the results of the test. I slept in the hospital crib with him that night - I wanted so desperately to take his pain away and I thought that somehow if I was close enough to him, I could relieve his burdens. We had several scares that night due to his fever continuing to elevate and at that point, I felt it couldn't get any worse. The morning came and the doctor that was making the rounds came in and said we could go home - at this point, Chad and I were both furious. Our son we felt was battling life, and they wanted to send us home?!! But, how can you argue with a medical professional? He told us to come to his office the next day because the results of all the bloodwork would be in by then. We went home, nursed our sick child and prayed that God would give us answers...the next day we got them. The bloodwork showed Shepherd had developed a Staph infection (which was caused by the eczema behind his left knee getting infected)- and based on the fact that Shepherd wasn't walking, our new pediatrician was very concerned he had developed a very rare bone disease called Osteomyelitis. They immediately admitted him back in to the hospital, and you would think at this point Chad and I would have realized the seriousness of our situation, but it wasn't until a pediatric orthopedic doctor along with an infectious disease specialist was waiting for us in our room that we both realized our son was facing possible lifelong problems.
I want to stop here and just say thank you to everyone who prayed for us, called us and sent letters of encouragement during this time. Chad and I felt so alone, scared and powerless and the encouragement we received from our friends and family truly carried us through that awful time.
Shepherd was in the hospital for nearly 2 weeks - he couldn't go anywhere without an i.v. pole and was daily having tests that required him to be put to sleep - which any parent who has experienced this knows is terrifying. We learned SO much about his character, strength and attitude during this time of his life. He was the happiest child throughout it all, hardly ever crying and he truly made the best out of his situation! The day they told us he was going to require a Broviac (an i.v. that goes in to a valve next to his heart) was a day I will never forget. They performed the surgery and then the nurses came in to show me how to medicate my son by myself - because we were going home in a few days. The nurses were very clear about the fact that if this was done wrong, Shepherd could be injured - and since the vein was right next to his heart, it had to be done correctly. The nurses also said he could not fall, or be hit on his chest or it could damage his heart. He also could not take a bath until the Broviac was removed (this was really rough!).
Since we came home from the hospital a year ago, Shepherd has received numerous x-rays and 2 M.R.I.'s to determine the severity of the hole in his knee...as well as any progress that his leg is having. There was one x-ray a while back that gave us a huge scare and we were told Shepherd may face a life of deformity. Because his hole is in his growth plate, the doctor told us that we needed to be prepared for his left leg to either stop growing, or for it to continue to grow but in a bizarre angle/direction. The last M.R.I. showed that his knee is building new bone inside the hole and that his chances of having a normal life are very likely. Because of the positive news, we now only have to have x-rays every 6 months and this will continue till he is in his mid-teens (as long as nothing goes wrong).
I know this was really long, but I wanted to give you the details so that none of you will forget the seriousness of his situation and that you all will continue to pray for his continued improvement. Although he looks perfectly healthy and whole (which we praise God for!), he still has eczema behind his knee, which is a daily reminder to us of his condition. He has another series of x-rays coming up next month - please pray specifically that new bone is filling in the hole! Thanks again for your prayers and for taking the time to read about our son!