It was a Sunday afternoon, on our way home from church. James was not yet a Christian and was asking me questions I could not answer about faith and God, again. Once again, I got frustrated and said to him words that, little did I know, I would be eating exactly one week later. “James, one day, something is just going to happen and it is going to slap you in the face and you will just know!”
The next Sunday morning October 24, 2004, I was awoken by my then 5 year old, Catie at 4 AM. She was sobbing uncontrollably, crying for me. I ran to her as fast as I could and saw that she had wet her panties while trying to go to the bathroom. She was shaking in waves, like she was being electrocuted. I tried to calm her down, but could not. I got James and after taking turns trying to calm her down for about 40 minutes, things just progressively got worse. James told me to take her to the ER.
By the time I arrived at Hughley, she could not walk. I got to the window to check in and I was crying too. The lady behind the counter asked me to sign in and I asked her to do it because I could not put Catie down. I started to panic because by this time, Catie couldn’t use her tongue anymore and she couldn’t talk to me. I guess the lady did not want me to lose it in front of the entire waiting room because she took me right back. When the doctor came in, he stood at the end of her bed, completely calm and started barking medications to put in her. As panic grew into fear, I asked him what was going on. He was at the end of the bed with his hands behind his back and said, “Mam, your daughter is having seizures, we are putting medicine in her to get them to stop.” I think I went into shock. My healthy as a horse 5 year old is having seizures? I remember going to the phone outside the room and calling James, but I don't remember what I said. Shortly thereafter, they were taking her back to do a Cat scan and they told me it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to go in there, in case something happens, they didn’t want me in the way. I remember them taking her through the doors thinking that I was watching a bad episode of ER, with doctors and nurses running in and out right by me not saying a word. It was horrible.
Less than an hour later, I was on my way to Cooks Children’s in Fort Worth in an ambulance with my husband in our truck behind us. They could not get the seizures to stop. They didn’t know why it was happening; they didn’t know how to get it to stop. At one point, James asked the neurologist what all the side effects of the medicine were. They were giving her a lot and we were worried what could happen. The doctor told us that right now, if they didn’t give her the medicine, she would die. They would worry about all that after they got them stopped. That was when we knew, for sure how dire the situation was.
That afternoon, our church family came up to the hospital to pray with us. It had been almost 10 hours since this all started. They had taken Catie down for another Cat scan. We were out on the balcony off the ICU waiting area and everyone encircled us and prayed over us and for Catie. It was strength we could not have had alone. When we went back to the room, we asked them about the seizures and he said they stopped. He said that during the Cat scan, she started another seizure and it just stopped. That was it. They couldn’t figure out what happened, but I knew. God put His hand in and stopped them. At that point, I knew everything would be okay. I tried to tell James, but he wouldn’t hear me. Since the seizures stopped, they were going to wean her off the medication and see what kind of damage the large doses could have done. Of course they list off all the things that could happen, but I knew that it would be fine. The next morning at the doctor switch off, when they got to Caties room, we sat down for the meeting. They spoke about everything that happened and where they were blah, blah, blah, “Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, do you have any questions?”
I don’t remember if James had any or not, but I told them that my daughter was going to be fine and there was no other option, she was going home with me and they were going to help her.
I never left Catie’s side while she was in a coma, maybe for a few minutes here or there, potty breaks or food. I kept looking at her thinking about how much she would have hated the Band-Aids and the gooey stuff on her head when they did the brain testing. They told me not to rub her hand or touch her because it would cause her brain to work trying to process the movement on her skin. All the tape and tubes on my beautiful baby girl. I remember telling God to make sure and take care of her. I told everyone who came to visit that she was with Jesus in the Garden of Eden having a picnic, but she would be back. I couldn’t even comprehend life without her, nor was it an option.
On Wednesday, 3 days later, she opened her eyes. I remember her blue eyes being so dark, but they were the awesomest thing I had ever seen. I smiled and told her how much we loved her and was glad she was back. I told her everything would be okay and all she wanted was that tube out of her mouth. She had a single tear roll down the side of her face and started to cry and it was all I could do not to start too.
Later that day, I asked her if I could go to the bathroom and she stopped me. She said, “Mommy, don’t you see it?”
I said,” See what baby?”
“The Angel, in the corner?”
I did start to cry that time. I knew that what I was saying and believing was true. God had his hand on her the whole time and everything was going to be okay, there was a reason for this terrible story.
By Thursday late afternoon, we were out of ICU. The doctors had told us that we would have several months of therapy to teach her how to walk again. They explained that while she did not exhibit any symptoms of side effects from the medicine, her brain had been scrambled and would have to rewire itself. Saturday evening, we were all ready to go home. We talked the doctor and explained how ready to go we were and since there was no therapy folks working the weekend, we were taking up space in a hospital we did not need to be at anymore. The doctor agreed with us, provided we did not leave her alone and got her into therapy, beginning on Monday.
On the way home from the hospital, I told Catie that I was telling everyone that she was in the Garden with Jesus. She laughed and rolled her eyes and said she wasn’t with Jesus. She said that Angels came and got her and she was talking with God. I asked what He had to say and she scoffed at me and told me she couldn’t tell me that! Who was I to argue with that?!
Sunday morning Catie wanted to go to church. She was still weak and couldn’t walk very well. When we arrived at church, her best friend Sarah came out to help her walk in. Sarah escorted her best friend to the chairs that we like to sit in. Tears were everywhere, including me. It was a real miracle! I knew it and so did everyone else. That was Halloween of 2004. That evening we came back up to Arlington to take Catie trick or treating with her friend. We knew it wouldn’t last very long, but she wanted to do it anyway. After we got done, James was driving and we went the opposite direction of home. I questioned him where we were going and he said to our Pastors house. I asked him why and he told me that while Catie was in her coma, he asked God that if He was really there, to make Catie better and that when He did, he would believe and get baptized and follow Him. He said that God kept his part of the bargain, now he was keeping his. We spent 2 or 3 hours at Craig’s house and James was baptized in a garden bathtub.
They say everything happens for a reason. God needed James and He needed to strengthen my Faith. He used the only thing He could to get us both at the same time.
On April 1, 2005, we took in our 3 nieces from CPS. We ended up adopting one of them. God knew the road we were going to be walking down and He needed us both to be a united front for Him. It worked and still works today. God has made us stronger and both of us know that if we have Him, we can do anything He needs us to do. While life may look dark at times out of the darkness can rise the greatest blessings.
A side note, which I know you were wondering. Catie had Cat Scratch Fever and it caused Encephalitis. It was worse case Cats Scratch Fever and best case Encephalitis. They had told us she would probably be in 6-9 months of physical therapy, she went to only 3 physical therapy appointments and was released. She also played in her last soccer game that next weekend. Today, she is in perfect health!
Praise God for his tremendous blessings!