Monday, August 11, 2008

Into the Void

Last week was exceptionally stressful, as we realized our days at UCLA were numbered. It is time for the next phase of treatment, but we had no clear direction until the last minute. I prayed for a sign on Thursday morning, and by Thursday evening several had been given. The two Jays toured a wonderful rehab facility in Pomona, Casa Colina, and every green light was on. So Katherine will be transferred there by ambulance on Tuesday or Wednesday. More on that later...

In the process of trying to arrive at a decision, the Jays, Katherine, and I had a conversation with the new head neurologist. At the end of that discussion, he took Jay, Sr. and me back to his office to pull up Katherine’s records on his computer. Finally, almost four months after the surgery, I was able to see for myself the black and white of what has happened to my child.                                                                  
Dr. A. showed us CT scans (or maybe it was MRIs) of Katherine’s brain. First, there was the huge abstract art form of the AVM. Then he showed us the brain stem, which was completely engulfed in blood. Finally, he showed us the “after” picture. There is a large black hole where the left side of Katherine’s cerebellum used to be. Gone. Empty. Blank. Just a big black Void of Nothingness.

He also elucidated the cranial nerve impact. Seven of them are damaged, not four.

So. There we are. In vivid black and white.

Dr. A. told us that in 25 years of practicing neurology, he had never seen anything like this. (Now remember, this is UCLA, not Podunk General Hospital.) When I went into her room yesterday, Katherine was anxious to tell me about her conversation with her RN, Richard. He told her that in 30 years of nursing, he’d only seen four neurology patients in her age bracket with the kind of AVM damage she has sustained. She is the only one who ever spoke again. (One remains in a persistent vegetative; the other two died.) He likened her survival to winning the Califoria Lottery. I guess now that we're leaving it’s time to play Truth or Consequences...and say the things that were best left unsaid before. I am grateful that I didn’t fully comprehend the situation until recently. And I am especially grateful that Katherine didn’t. “As a man (woman) thinketh, so (s)he is...” But it is good to know these things at this point in order to fully appreciate the Lazarus-like miracle of Katherine’s life.

Now we really understand why Dr. Gonzalez cried.

I am intensely, profoundly grateful for the gift of more time with Katherine. I am glad the world has more time with her. But I find myself in some tricky prayer territory now. (Please bear with me here...I am no theologian. Reread the “About Me” section if you ever have any questions or objections to something I write. I am trying to retain something of the spirit originally intended for this...just an average sinner thinking outloud with my friends.) Here’s the dilemma. Based on the medical “facts,” is praying for complete restoration like asking God to re-grow an amputated limb???

I believe that miracles did not cease with the end of the Apostolic Age, that “Greater things than these you will do...” was not addressed only to the Eleven. I have seen before-and-after x-rays of an inoperable brain tumor that disappeared completely after prayer, leaving behind no scar tissue or residue of any kind. (Medically “impossible,” according to a Neurosurgeon friend of mine who believes that “with God all things are possible,” and that the case in question was a supernatural healing.) There are many, many more verifiable contemporary accounts of God apparently intervening in the Laws of Nature. After all, they’re His laws.

Katherine is missing part of her brain. There is a void where brain tissue used to be. But it is interesting to note what the Book says about God and voids. It all begins with a Void. “The earth was formless and void, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Gen. 1:2-3) Somewhere in the NT it says something like “He calls into being from that which is not.” (Internet access was a much-appreciated but unfortunately temporary blessing, so I no longer have access to a concordance...maybe someone could look it up for me.)

God fills empty places. It is just what He does. If you have a hole in your heart, He longs to come in and fill it with the love and light of His presence. If your soul is cold and hollow and empty, He delights in pouring the rich warmth of His Spirit into those lonely places. > Newsflash: I just grabbed my Bible to try to look up something else, and it ‘happened’ to open to Eph. 5:18: “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, BE FILLED with the Holy Spirit...” (NLT) Thanks, Lord, I needed that reminder. I told you He has a sense of humor. Note that the verse is stated in the imperative case. (Didn’t my daughter miss that one on “Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?”) It is a command. We are told to allow ourselves to be filled to overflowing with real LIFE...abundant, vital, electrifying LIFE. Oh Father, please fill up all our empty places with more of you!

About a year and a half ago, someone sent me a message from Elijah House Ministries which was prophetic in nature. Almost every sentence of that message ricocheted through me like a white-hot BB, leaving an icy chill of unearthly apprehension (first definition) in its wake. One phrase buzzes through my brain now. “The prognostications of the doctors will be turned into lies.” Now I want you to know that I have a very deep-rooted respect for the medical profession. My father, whom I adored, was a wonderful man who devoted his life to helping people through his calling as a doctor. He was a brilliant person...Phi Beta Kappa at Emory, Mensa, and all that...but even he was not God, as much as I frequently expected him to be. He couldn’t fix everything. I think that most of the best physicians will tell you that they don’t know it all. It’s not humanly possible to know every every everything. Even doctors and nurses are shocked at the way things sometimes happen against all odds.

I am praying that this will continue to be one of those times. I am choosing to believe and hope that God will not stop at half a miracle. I am putting myself out on a (phantom) limb and praying for complete restoration, in spite of that black hole on the screen.

One of the first things Jay saw at the new facility was a large banner reading, “Where Miracles Continue...”

I invite you to join me (with my tiny little mustard seed of faith) in radical prayer.


ellenpaige said...

I am praying with trust and with confidence that God will give Katherine a WHOLE miracle.

Anonymous said...

I am also praying for a complete, healing miracle. I truly believe that it will happen. Waiting is hard, but she is truly special and she will be healed.

Anonymous said...

Restoration is ALWAYS the heart of the Father. the bible states over and over that when Messiah comes again, it will be to restore ALL things. To bring everything on earth back to the way it was at the beginning of His creation. That always starts with the separation of the holy from the profane. When Katherine collapsed, it was God's time to separate the portion of her brain that was outside of His created order (profane) from that which was in His created order (holy). Now that this has been accomplished, He can restore her completely and He will! It is always right to pray for such things...

JourneytoFamily said...

I'm anxious to hear more about this rehab facility. I'm still praying for full restoration for Katherine. He's already worked miracles in her and I believe He can restore her.

Brenda See said...

Our hearts and our spirits are joining with you in prayer.
"Since ancient times, no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways." Isaiah 64:4-5.

Julie Powell Caldwell said...

You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them."
Psalm 139:13-16

Jordan Tree said...

I was praying for Katherine this morning and wondering why such a good person had to suffer so much. Things like the pain in her hip and the asperating. I was asking God why she can't get through the day without pain and get on with the healing that we are all waiting for. I went back and read some of the entries in the journals and remembered where she was and how far she has come.
As I was reading your Post this morning it reminded me of something that happened to my Dad a few months ago. Daddy had been very ill for about four years and had lost both of his legs to diabetes and was on dialysis three times a week. He was in the hospital and had contracted an infection in his blood. The doctors had called the family in and told us that there was no way he could survive. We had made arrangements with hospice to take him home to die. I didn't know how to pray. I had watched him deteriorate for the past year. His quality of life wasn't very good, but I still wasn't ready to let him go. I prayed for God to heal him of this infection, but if he did to please heal him of everything! I don't ask for much, huh? Well over the next couple of days he was well enough to go home. Not to die but to live. What the doctors and nurses said was impossible was happening. He no longer had to have insulin and
his blood work was better than ever. My point in all of this is to tell you that I couldn't believe that God had answered my prayer and that he not only healed the infection, but that his other problems were getting better. I actually peeked under the covers to see if his legs had grown back!
Of course they hadn't and Daddy has since gone home to glory, but I had my miracle and it gave us a while longer with him.
I believe that God will heal Katherine completly. The MRI's may tell one thing, but don't hesitate to "peek under the covers"! Believe in miracles!

Anna said...

thank you for sharing your heart with us!!!

michelle said...

Dear Katherine's Mom,
I am praying for Katherine for perseverance, swallowing and her right cranial nerves to begin regeneration. James 1:12 saids: "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. Continue reaching forward. Love, Michelle

Greer said...

i am astounded daily by your ability to let us all in kim. it is truly remarkable how real life is and how you are feeling every single emotion placed in front of you. you aren't turning your back on them, you are embracing them. my heart to you darling.

Anonymous said...

I remember the president of my college saying: "Life can tend to throw us shocking moments from time to time but be glad for the mountains - if they weren't there, you wouldn't know you could climb them. In the same way be glad for the valleys, if they weren't there you wouldn't realize that you could leap over them." I also remember President Rutland preaching on the word 'SHALOM'...

The Hebrew word 'Shalom'is commonly known to mean peace, but peace is only a small portion of it's meaning. Strong's concordance describes the Hebrew meaning as such: completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absense of agitation or discord.
Shalom comes from the root verb Shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. In modern Hebrew the sister word, Shelem, means to pay for, and Shulam means to be fully paid.
Sar SHALOM (Prince of Peace) is one of the descriptive names the Bible uses to indicate the ministry and personality of the Messiah: Isaiah 9:6 - The Son of God is completely perfect in ALL things.

I pray the blessing of 'SHALOM' to cover Katherine. He that began the good work, is faithful to complete it - in fullness, abundance and in new beginnings.

Numbers 6:24-26: The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His face upon you and give you SHALOM. In the name of SAR SHALOM -the Prince of Peace.

AthensPregnancyCenter said...

I am the director of Athens Pregnancy Center, I pray for all of you daily. I know God is still a God of miracles, I see them daily. Thanks for allowing us to be a part of your journey and praising God with you for your miracles. You are such a gifted writer and your blogs bring me to tears on a regular basis. We will continue to pray with you and for you.

Ginny Evans said...

Total and complete restoration and healing in the Name of Jesus is what this world is praying and believing for. At the age of 14, I had Insephelitis, inflamation of the brain and my family was told I would not live. I had fever 106 and they claimed that even if I lived I would be a vegetable, that no one could survive what I had been through without lasting effects. A chain of prayer was started in Kentucky and came down to Louisiana and three days (wow) later, I woke up and when I was asked questions by the doctor and answered them correctly, they were amazed and said "No way we can take credit for this. Thank the Higher Physician...He is the only One who could have healed her" That was in 1954 and I have to tell you I know I am a miracle. Told I would not be able to finish the school year with my friends, within a month I was back in school and finished with my friends. We serve a God who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever imagine!!! Katherine's miracle will continue........God is no where near finished with her. Kim, you are a rock and I just love your heart!!!

Karen Barber said...

Dear Kim,

I only learned a few weeks ago about Katherine and have been praying for her daily since then.

I have a favorite Bible verse for what sometimes seem like impossible situations. When Mary questioned the medical impossibility of having a child while still a virgin, Gabriel said,

"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

I love the simplicity of this verse. I pray that "the power of the Most High will overshadow you" and your whole family today. (Luke 1:35)

Nissa said...

Sweet Kim and family -

I continue to pray and believe fully that Katherine will be completely restored. Thank you for sharing what the doctor showed you. I will focus my prayers on God filling that void. We can look forward to the day when you see another scan with that part of Katherine's brain restored and functioning. I also pray for the nerves to be re-connected and in perfect order. After my mom's car accident she had nerve regeneration 3 and 4 years afterward. So look to Jesus for patience... Katherine will "rise up" and be completely healed!!

Much Love,

nancy said...

Never cease praying for complete restoration, but allow God his time-table and recognize that what is complete in God's eye may escape our understanding. He crafted every intricate pathway of her brain, and only he can fully understand the progress. The Holy Spirit that fills her black hole will not image on an MRI.

Her survival of the first 24hours is miraculous; mortality under those circumstances is essentially 100%. Her progress to this point is miraculous. Stay on your limb and know that God supports you.

Love and daily prayer,
A Mom