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Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Elder D. Todd Christofferson explained what he learned from a personal trial: “Though I suffered then, as I look back now, I am grateful that there was not a quick solution to my problem. The fact that I was forced to turn to God for help almost daily over an extended period of years taught me truly how to pray and get answers to prayer and taught me in a very practical way to have faith in God. I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father in a way and to a degree that might not have happened otherwise or that might have taken me much longer to achieve. … I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I learned to walk with Him day by day.”  --October 2012, General Conference, "Trial of Your Faith", D. Todd Christofferson as quoted by Neil L. Anderson


Wow.  The last few weeks have been so very hard.  Three weeks ago, Katie mentioned that she had a sore throat and when I took her temperature, it was a little high, so I tried to get into her doctor.  His office was so busy that day that they didn't answer my call or even return my message, so I called into an after hours clinic to see another doctor.  Upon examination, he said that Katie had one of the worst cases of strep throat he had ever seen.  Knowing that she is allergic to penicillin, he prescribed her Cefalexin/Keflex.  She started her dose and after a few days of rest she began to improve.  After completing the seven-day course, we figured all was well.  All was not well.  On Friday, the 16th, the school called and asked us to come pick Katie up because she had an itchy rash.  We picked her up, but honestly thought they were overreacting.  I told them that it was probably just an allergic reaction to the antibiotics.  We ran some errands in Logan and Katie and Macey played at the park while we waited for Tyler to get out of class.

By the time we got home, Katie's rash was a little more noticeable and we were positive that it was an allergy to the medication.  I gave her some Benadryl.  By 8:30 that evening, she was covered with hot pink spots.  By 10:30, they were raised, swollen, blistered and very bright.  Tyler and I talked on the phone (he was at work) and tried to decide whether to take her to the ER or whether to wait until morning to see the doctor.  Tyler got home from work at 11:15.  By 11:30, Katie's lips were swollen and starting to turn blue.  I grabbed that kid and rushed to the ER.

By the time we got to the ER, she was in anaphylactic shock.  By 11:40 they had given her a shot of epinepherine.  It was terrifying to see this shot administered.  Katie's body, which is so tiny and frail for her age, trembled and shock and jolted around and her heart beat out of her chest with a rapid and irregular beat.  Her breathing was so labored, raspy, and shallow.  It was almost like she was having a seizure.  It was the scariest moment I have had as a mother.

After the epinephrine had been administered and she stabilized somewhat, the nurse gave her an IV of a cortisone steroid to start bringing down the inflammation.  We were in the ER for a few hours, then sent home with a prescription for prednisone and instructions to continue administering Benadryl every six hours and to follow up with Katie's doctor on Monday.

Over the next few days, Katie's spots only lightened slightly.  On Saturday night, I prayed for specific guidance.  The prednisone's side effects were driving me crazy and I was one exhausted mama.  It made her angry, hateful, violent, mean, and hyper.  The other kids, following her lead were also behaving very badly.  Tyler was working that night and I was at the end of my rope.  I had a specific prompting to give Katie a cool bath with apple cider vinegar.  It was amazing how well and quickly that heavenly prescription worked!  The spots literally faded right before my eyes and Katie was instantly calmed.  The spots still lasted for several days, but we relied heavily on the apple cider vinegar baths in the interim.

On Sunday, of course, we stayed home from church.  Good, kind, wonderful neighbors brought in meals for a few days.  One good friend came to see me a brought some essential oils to help the children sleep better.  The lavender oil was a gift from above and helped calm down my itchy, hyper daughter enough at night for all of us to finally get some sleep!

On Monday, we went to see Katie's regular doctor, Dr. Lloyd.  He examined her and told me that he was very concerned that we were dealing with a potentially dangerous situation.  Her hives weren't going away, he said, because they weren't actually hives.  The rash is called erythema multiforme and was developing into a Stevens Johnsons rash in her mouth.  If the SJ rash is allowed to spread into her throat and esophagus, it can be life-threatening at worst, or disfiguring at best.  It basically kills cells everywhere it is allowed to roam.  (When I got home, I made the mistake of looking up Stevens Johnsons photos on webmd.com...not what I needed to see!)  He doubled the dose of prednisone and added a few days to the course.  He also put Katie on Zyrtec once a day in addition to keeping her on Benadryl ever six hours.  Her difficult little personality got worse, but slowly, the spots began to fade and turn into brownish/purpleish bruise looking things.  It's now been a week and a half and they are nearly gone, but when she gets cold or active, they creep back out a little.

On the 23rd (Friday), Katie began complaining about pain in her "private parts", then had several accidents.  She also began passing blood in her urine.  Again (of course), it was after-hours, so I had Dr. Lloyd paged.  He called me back and told me to take her to the ER to rule out an inflamed kidney, which could have been another symptom from the anaphylactic reaction, or post-strep urinary stress.  His hope was that it would be a simple UTI.  So off we went to the ER again and had some lab work done.  They sent us home to await the results.  Dr. Lloyd called back with good news and bad news:  Katie had a simple UTI, but this meant she needed another antibiotic...NOW.  He sent us back to the hospital to get a sulfa pill that would last us until we could fill a prescription in the morning.  Now she's on day four of a new antibiotic and we're praying HARD that she won't be allergic to it as well!

On Tuesday, I got an email from a family member who informed me that we were going to receive a special service project.  They asked me to fill out a survey and make note of anything that I felt needed to be done around the house.  It was so hard for me to accept this kind of help!  I was so humbled by the offer and truly felt that there were many, many others who needed assistance more than my family.  But truthfully, we did need the help.  Matthew's room downstairs has been unusable for several weeks because of some mold we found in that room, so he has been sleeping on the floor upstairs.  My house hasn't had a good, deep cleaning in forever.  And Tyler and I have been so exhausted with medical bills (did I mention that he was assaulted at work several weeks ago?), school, work, etc.  The offer to help with our home and yard was manna from heaven for our family.  On Friday, the 23rd, we cleaned, hauled, raked, painted, etc. all day.  And by we, I mean WE!  My brother, his wife, their kids, my parents, my SIL's dad and brothers, my other brother, his wife, my nephews and nieces, my own kids.  There were like a million people at our house, working hard.  I'll never forget the humility and gratitude I felt, looking out the kitchen window and seeing men everywhere, loading a trailer to take to the dump, hauling away branches from the tree that fell in our backyard, stacking wood, fixing the broken fence, raking.  That night, my sweet brother tucked the kids in for me while I took Katie to the ER for her UTI.

On Saturday, my brother and his wife, kicked me out of the house.  I took my kids and their kids to my mom's house for the day.  They worked from sun-up until way after sun-down on the house.  When we came home that night, the living room, hallway, and kitchen had been repainted.  The house was spotless!  Macey had a new bed and new curtains.  The bathroom had new, fluffy rugs and a new toilet seat and towel bar.  The carpets were shampooed.  I learned that new carpet has been ordered for our living room and hallway and will be installed later this week!  Downstairs, Matthew's ceiling had been repaired, textured and his room had also received a fresh coat of paint.  My mom bought new sheets for Macey's bed as well.  During the renovation, I felt every feeling known to man:  joy, gratitude, appreciation, humility, awe, embarrassment, bitterness, etc.  I am so amazed at the goodness of my family.  My brother asked for help and received it in the form of donations for our family:  time, money, energy, supplies, and expertise.  I am so amazed at that!  I hate to admit it, but truly I did feel bitterness at times during the process:  I am a good person!  I want to be the one giving and helping others!  I am tired of always being on the receiving end!  My pride tells me that it's embarrassing to need help.  It's embarrassing to have to have someone come haul away loads and loads of laundry, to scrub my toilets, to clean the grout in my tiles.  It's mortifying to have someone else walk right into my mess and ask if I need help.

But, as I watched my sweet sister-in-law, on her knees, scrubbing the floors in my home, I was reminded of Christ, gently washing the dusty, tired feet of his disciples.  He didn't do it because they needed to be cleaned because they were disgusting.  He didn't do it because they weren't capable of doing it for themselves.  He did it because He could.  He did it to demonstrate pure, selfless love and compassion for them.  I felt that love in a powerful, humbling, life-changing way this past weekend.  It was a lesson on service that I will always remember.  I know that by passing through trials, I am allowed to come closer to God, in a way that would not have been possible otherwise.  I also know that when I allow others to help me, even in intimate, embarrassing ways, I am allowing them to lay claim on blessings that come from keeping their covenants with God.  And maybe, after having passed through the hard times and having been served in such a way, I will be able to succor someone else someday, just as the Lord's suffering for my sake has made it possible for Him to offer compassion to me during the hard times.  I am so grateful.  So very, very grateful.