Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Bruised Reed

Tuesday, April 29, 8:00 a.m.

I spent over an hour yesterday writing of how Katherine is affecting the doctors and other staff at the hospital...but, technophobe that I am, I let the cyberspace monster eat it. Maybe Kat’s smart friend Lauren will be able to help me retrieve it later. So this will be a short one.

Yesterday, the neurology squad came through and I talked to Dr. S. No warm and fuzzies there. He told me very clearly that Katherine will be in ICU for WEEKS. Her life is not out of danger. She remains critically ill. There are things that can still go wrong at this point, but I don’t know how to spell them. It doesn’t matter. God knows what they are.

For some reason, I need to tell you how she looks. (Don’t read this if you’re might be too real.) My beautiful girl was fairly unrecognizable until she opened her eyes and a shot of that unique aqua blue flashed out. She had a huge ventilator tube twisting her swollen, torn lips to one side and a feeding tube distorting her nose. Since we’ve switched to a tracheotomy and feeding tube in the stomach, she looks more like Katherine, although her face and neck are still swollen. Her head has been shaved in patches. It looks like an unlovely patchwork quilt. There is a square on the right front part of her head with several angry-looking holes, one of which has a tube coming out of it. There is a large shaved area across the back, where the main vertical incision was. But she still wears the matted ponytail of what’s left on top, darkened by crusty dried blood. Clear tape covers much of the whole mess. There are ‘boo-boos’ all over her body from one ghastly life-saving procedure after another. Tiny machines are attached to tubes entering her arms, hands, abdomen, thighs...which are hooked up to big scary-looking machines crowded around the bed. Her calves are in soft Velcro casts, and one foot (at a time) is in a harder contraption meant to strengthen a particular muscle that will enable her to walk again one day. But it is her eyes that make me want to wail like those women whose “weeping was heard in Ramah.” Those big beautiful aqua eyes, clear as a pristine sea, are out of Katherine’s control. Eyes that could pierce straight through you, eyes that focused in on you as if you’re the only one that matters, now roll around the sockets like big blue-green glass marbles. The right one is infected, red, and suppurating. The pupil hides in the inner corner for the most part, like it’s afraid of what it will see if it comes out. The left is constantly jumping around, but I know she can see out of it. A tear rolled down her cheek when I showed her a picture of James. (But, tough chick that she is, she let me know she wanted to see more.) Most of the time a black patch covers one eye (alternating sides), so she looks like a battered little pirate.

Seeing her like this just got to me last night. Conversation flagged. I decided to play Bible Roulette. Here are some excerpts from the page to which it opened:

...He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle...
God, the Lord, created the heavens and stretched them out....
He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth
And it is he who says, “I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness...
And you will be a light to guide the nations.
You will open the eyes of the blind.
You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons...

(from Isaiah 42 (NLT))

The “you” referred to to here is the 'suffering servant,' whom we believe was revealed as Jesus the Christ.

Precious Katherine, I pray that the Lord God Himself will give you breath and life. I pray that His son Jesus will guide you through this dark place with his light, and will lay his pierced hands on your troubled eyes and heal them completely. I pray that He will release you from this prison of pain, this dark dungeon of despair.

After I finished praying and said “Nite nite, sleep tight...,” I looked at her face one last time. She looked strangely beautiful to me. Somewhere in the background of my mind I could hear Eric Clapton singing, “Darlin’, you look wonderful tonight.”


(Guess I lied about this being a short one.)


Alisa said...

Oh, Kim. Your beautiful daughter has never been more beautiful, as you said with the Clapton quote. She is the perfect picture of faith and prayer. Her illness and struggle has strengthened mine and brought healing to my broken heart. One teeny, weeny reason your precious daughter lives is to give my heart hope. Thank you, Katherine and thank you Lord Jesus.

MJ said...

Hello from an Ashford! Thanks so much for writing this blog. I've only met Katherine once (while she and Jay were up here in San Francisco), but it was a meeting that left a radiant impact. I just heard about Katherine's predicament today, and had my Smith Barney broker--who works in the SAME OFFICE as the broker who handles Katherine's fund (which is amazing to me)--put a little something into Katherine's medical funds account. I feel like that's all I can do, besides keep your family in my thoughts. I'll be reading your updates.

Faithful said...

I stumbled across this in an email sent out to Mount Paran Christian School staff(my husband is a teacher). Just wanted you to know that we are sending up prayers for your precious daughter and her family.

astackhouse said...

Thank you for sharing your inmost thoughts. I feel as if I am there with you. I have been somewhat where you are and learning more medical info than I ever wanted and longing to take the place of my child. Please take care of your back and neck and I pray the Lord will let you go full force for Katherine.
I am listening to her teach her Sunday morning lesson on the podcast. She is so amazing. She said that she has been spending time getting real before the Lord and specific in her confessions. It makes me smile because that gives me the picture that the Lord is so familiar with her and her showing up in prayers of petition last week didn't require an introduction. That gives peace to a mother. Thank you. Amy Stackhouse (FBC Montgomery)

sam said...


Thank you so much for sharing so honestly the thoughts that are on your heart. It means so much to us. Everyday, I check back to see if you have written something new. You are the mother who created and raised Katherine, a woman who is a shining light in our world and who means so much to us. It is hard to not see her or truly know how she is. Thoughts of her color every minute of my day wondering, reminiscing and I hang on to every moment with a hope that she will be ok, healed, and that we will have Katherine back. Sometimes behind the cloud of not knowing, it doesn't feel real, I lose faith in a way and I go back to just missing her. Your words make this real. Your words help us to understand. Your words make me know the reality of what to expect and exactly what to pray for.
Katherine is the most beautiful girl I know. What makes her stand out from all the rest of the beautiful people in this world is her heart. It is her faith, her joy for life and the love she brings to all our lives that always makes me look at her in awe. I am still in awe to this very day when I think of her and wish that I could be more like her. The parts of her that have nothing to do with her outside appearance, but who she is, where she came from and how she loves God, life and all of us.

She is always with us beautiful on our hearts.

Sending you love.

sam said...

Sending you love.

Samia Doumit Contreras

Michelle Nicholas said...

Dear Kim,
I continue to pray each day and night. I believe with all my heart that Katherine's spiritual eyes are on the Lord Jesus. Psalm 25:14-15 "The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare....20-22 Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you. Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles!"

You are all loved and on our hearts and minds constantly. Love from a sister in Christ in California. Michelle

SCB said...

Mrs. Arnold,
Of all the places I can go on the internet to update myself with Katherine's condition this is the most inspiring place I can find. It is real. I love the magic Katherine has, in the sense that she comes back just as strong and inspiring as the first time I met her. I keep telling friends that if there is one person who can experience this and come away with a story that will change the world...Katherine is certainly that person. I am praying daily...and very often...for all of you! I spent the day observing the children in my class thinking about Katherine and what an impact she has had this week on 19 little kids she has never met. All they know is that she is very sick and needs our thought and prayers. But, the first question I have gotten each morning is:
"How is your friend Katherine?"
In my heart of hearts I know she has touched thousands, including me. I cannot even begin to express how much she has helped me to realize and come to terms with these last several days. She is truly a gift from God.

Kim Arnold said...

These beautiful, eloquent responses to the post have made me cry and rejoice at the same time. He really does "work ALL things together for good." Thank you, thank you, thank you for your loving support. It is the light at the end of another grueling day.

Carrie Engle said...

I am one of those that you never imagined would be reading your blog but I do check on you daily. I do not know your family directly but I am friends with people who do and I find myself praying for you continuously throughout the day. My husband and I are Samford graduates but several years older that Katherine and Jay. I pray that you will find comfort in knowing that when you are tired and emotionally weak that people that you haven't even met are praying for you and asking God to give you whatever you need at that time. God's love is so great that we can pray for you even when we don't know exactly what you need and Jesus steps in to make sure you are fully covered. As a mother of three, I can't imagine all you are going through. I am just so thankful that God promises us He will carry us through when we think we can't do it. I wish I could do or say something to make it all better but I can't. So please consider yourself hugged and prayed for from Birmingham, AL.

Jessica Billings said...

I heard about Katherine from a friend at Samford the day after everything happened... I went to Samford for a year after Katherine graduated, so I never got to meet her...but from reading about her I feel like I know her and I find myself, like many others, thinking constantly about her. I feel that through these very unfortunate events, my faith has been strengthened and I am praying like I have never prayed before. I know that God is working miracles and not only in Katherine's life, but in many others. Your daughter is absolutely beautiful, and though she may not look like the same as she did a couple weeks ago, she's still the same person - a child of God - and I know that He is carrying her through this...and He will carry you through this. I hope you don't mind me posting on here since I don't personally know you, but I felt led to tell you these things. I am in constant prayer for you and your family and I am asking everyone I know to be praying for you...

Allison said...

Mrs. Arnold,
Someone just came in my office and asked me what I was doing and I immediately responded that I was checking the updates for a friend of mine.
I do not know Katherine personally but I feel as though she is a friend. Your families are an inspiration to my ever-growing relationship with God. I pray for y'all each day.
With love from Montgomery, Alabama.

Stephanie said...

Mrs. Arnold,

I have enjoyed reading your posts. I, too, am a writer and greatly appreciate someone who is so eloquent with words. I went to Samford and was in ZTA with Katherine. She is a beautiful, caring, Godly woman, and she is someone I will never forget encountering in my life. Thank you for your updates, and may God continue to be glorified in this situation.

Stephanie (Smith) Weathers

Matthew Downs said...

I don't beleive I have ever had the pleasure of meeting you but I have had the honor of knowing and going to school with your daughter and son in Law. Jay and I lived on the same hall together freshman year and I was blessed by having several opportunities to be around Katherine from my time at Samford. As you are well aware Katherine was a fixture on Campus at Samford.

Katherine has a presence about her which you have spoken of often that is truly amazing. She is so full of life of which her zeal for people and life spilled over to all around her. The images and memories I have of both Jay and Katherine make it difficult at times to read and imagine the state of where they are in this valley of suffering. My wife Ashley and I just had our 1st born baby girl, Avery, in January which makes it even more surreal what they are going through as a family with sweet baby James (who by the way is a stud!).

All that to say my wife was so impacted by your depiction of Katherine state of being in the "A Bruised Reed" post that she was overcome with emotion and sobbed as she read. Until today I haven't personally read it but only knew of the vivid detail you used which my wife recounted to me. As I read it today (realizing she has made some great strides since this post:)) my heart too ached for this wonderful person, for Jay and for James. As I was reading the last paragraph.....

"After I finished praying and said “Nite nite, sleep tight...,” I looked at her face one last time. She looked strangely beautiful to me. Somewhere in the background of my mind I could hear Eric Clapton singing, “Darlin’, you look wonderful tonight.” the background on my itunes as I am sitting at work Eric Clapton was singing word for word," Darlin, you look wonderful tonight."

I wasn't sure what this meant and what the Lord was trying to tell me but I did have chills ran over me and I felt compelled to write you and tell you that God is doing an amazing work on Katherine as we have all begun to see and the "wonderful" Katherine and her steadfast Jay is going make such an impact on so many lives through the testimony of their valley of suffering and through her restoration!! I am so excited to be a part of it. Thank you so much for allowing others you don't even know to be a part of this journey. We will continue to pray for her healing and Jay, James and Families.

in Him,
Matthew Downs

Matthew Downs said...
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