I don't remember much about that first night. After visiting Judah in the PICU I remember making my way back up to our room where I must have fallen asleep. I don't think I fully understood what was happening until the following day. After our scheduled visit with Judah in the PICU that morning at 10, the neurosurgeon had arrived and pulled us into a side room to discuss the imaging results. By the grace of God he spoke English. He told us that Judah had a large cyst with some small tumour that was most likely benign. He suggested that we do the surgery right away and when we asked about flying Judah out he told us that he could not guarantee that it would be safe considering all the pressure that was being put on Judah's brain and recommended that we do the surgery there.
He told us that the large white part of the image on the right was the cyst and that the little white spot under it was the benign tumour. He said that Judah would most likely need some chemotherapy but that it wouldn't be too serious.
Now we knew that Judah had a cyst and a tumour, we had a surgeon telling us that flying Judah would not be safe, that we would have to do the surgery right away. Telling us that to do anything different than what he suggested was to place our baby's life in danger.
It was Aug 15th at 11:25 am when we found this out , the next 48 hours were the longest days of my life. We learned that OHIP ( our provincial medical coverage) had changed and would no longer cover any of the medical care Judah had received or any future treatment and that should we decide to travel to Canada for care, the flight also may not be covered. I remember calling our parents and elders letting them know the news. How in less then 12 hours things had gotten worse again.
I remember sitting there as Cameron explained what was going on to his parents, I could hear them on the other end of the line urging us to bring Judah back to Canada. Telling us that we must not let him have the surgery in the DR. What I remember most however is feeling angry. So angry at Cameron’s parents and then at Cameron as he considered what they had told him. The neurosurgeon told us we would be putting Judahs life in danger by delaying surgery and flying, we had no other information, I wasn’t about to trust anyones advice that so clearly contradicted what the doctor said. This was my baby, I was trusting that God had placed us here and trust that the surgeon knew what he was doing.
Those were tense hours. I remember crying, yelling as Cameron and I debated on what to do. Between visiting Judah whenever we could, and calling Canada trying to get some advice, speaking to the doctors in the DR trying to make sure they were certain on what was going on and being forced to visit the hospitals administration office to figure out payment. Those two days felt like forever.
And then God moved.
Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. Proverbs 25:25
A call came from Karen, a member of our Church in Canada. She was a family physician and by the Grace of God had managed to get in contact with Dr. Taylor, the chief fellow of neurosurgery at sickkids - I don’t think I could ever thank God enough for her- she told him about Judah and all that was happening and he offered to speak to us and help. I can not stress how amazing it was that she was able to reach him, she was amazed herself as she passed on the information. She told us to try calling the hospital, and that she would start looking at some way to get us home should we decide that it was the best thing to do. My heart lifted, God was moving. Maybe my husband was right, maybe we should come home.
We tried for hours to get through to him in order to speak to him to no avail. The Sickkids hospital system wouldn’t allow us through, we were patients, we weren’t even in the country and we didn’t know the Doctors full name. Like a yo-yo, I remember my heart lifting and sinking as every time we received good news it was followed by struggle and defeat. Through these hours the Dominican doctors were starting to become impatient with us, we felt the stress of trying not to offend them considering that they very well might have to operate on our son.
We were exasperating the Dominican doctors. They all wanted us to let them do the surgery. One however (the doctor from the ER that first admitted Judah, and could only speak Spanish) shared with me that she thought we should go to the states and do the surgery there. And so Cameron and I continued to battle back and forth agonizing over what to do.
And then God moved.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
Cameron received this Facebook message.
A small miracle! Not only did he reach out to us but he happened to be meeting with the other surgeons and neurologists at Sickkids, we sent him photos of the MRI and waited. He didn’t get back to us until the next day on Aug 16 2017. Feeling more optimistic I decided to trust Cameron and to go with whatever decision he made. Never in my life had my vows to submit to husband been so sorely tested. I told myself that my job was to trust him as the God appointed leader of our family and know that one day he would be accountable for the decision made and that as long as I went with it I would be covered under his headship. It was not fun. My baby was sick and God told me to not do anything but trust in the husband he gave me.
Once again we waited to hear back from Dr. Taylor, and as we waited God moved.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Karen called us again, somehow (God) she had managed to reach the President of Medivac Canada and explain our situation to them. Not only was he able to speak with us directly but he had trained in the Domincan Republic and was able to speak Spanish and coordinate with the local doctors. Then Dr. Taylor contacted us again:
That phone call was discouraging we learned that OHIP would not cover our flight back and that considering all the circumstances we would need to take an air ambulance as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the fact that Judah was still stable. You would think that by this time I would have realized that God is in control. Thankfully my God is faithful even when I am faithless, with every obstacle my faith and hope sank when it should have held strong in the knowledge of who my God is. And although I wavered, my Lord provided.
And God Moved
“And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly.”
2 Chronicles 29:36 ESV
The president of Medivac Canada called us, although he would only be available the following week he reached out to his American counterpart and managed to schedule an air ambulance with a paediatric team to come to us as soon as we secured payment. He had called in some favours and managed to get the price down to $40000, which if you know anything about private air ambulance is very low.
Even with the price being as low as it was we did not have that kind of money. After reaching out to our sending agency and Church we learned that our agency would put up the money for us to pay back at a later time. Our Church also put out a newsletter asking members if they would be willing to give as well. We learned later that within 10 days our Church had enough to fully cover the cost of the flight and our hospital charges from the DR.
So on August 17th 2018 we sent this message to Dr Taylor.
We spoke to the Dominican doctors and told them our decision. It was like we flipped a switch, they removed Judah from the PICU and allowed him to stay with us as we waited for the air ambulance to arrive the following day. It was so wonderful having Judah back with us, those carefree hours feeling like everything was going to be ok led to this little video .
As much as those first hours were lovely. That night was truly horrible. The nurses no longer came by to check on Judah, the pressure in his head was so great he started to seize during the night and was impossible to soothe. They stopped giving him the anti seizure medication and checking his IV. His IV became interstitial meaning it was no longer connected to his vein but allowing the fluid to accumulate under the skin which is very painful. I spent the night weeping with him, walking around the room and trying to provide him some comfort by nursing. That night this verse carried me:
... Weeping may last through the night but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5
The morning of August 18 2017 Cameron and I religiously checked the flight tracking app watching the air ambulance as it approached.
I can’t describe the feeling I had when the nurse and paediatrician walked into our hospital room. As they checked Judah and gave him some anti seizure meds and changed his IV I finally (a little late really) rested in the Lord, he was in control, it was ok. That day we rode on a private jet back to Canada. They let Judah sit on my lap the entire flight as they continuously checked his vitals. And although the flight itself was risky because of the pressure buildup in Judah‘s brain, it was the most peaceful my heart had felt since that morning of August 14th when everything had started.
On August 18 2017 at 4:41 pm we landed at Toronto Pearson. We were met by the president of Medivac Canada who personally rode in the ambulance with us as we headed to SickKids Hospital.
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”
Psalm 146:1-2 ESV