“And he certainly was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him–and also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.” Philippians 2:27
Eighteen years ago, I woke up from sleeping on a fold-out chair. I’d spent a week at the Children’s Hospital in London and it was finally time to go home. A week before, our son, who was suffering from chicken pox, came downstairs to the kitchen saying he really felt terrible. He was just 5 years old and in kindergarten at the time. We looked him over and his pox marks had turned purple. We bundled him up and I took him to the doctor. Once there, we were sent to Grand River Hospital emergency. We were rushed right into an examination room. By this time Graeme was really feeling weak. After examining him, the doctor informed me that he was sending us to the Children’s Hospital in London by ambulance. The speed with which all of that happened was my first glimpse of God’s hand in this story.
Our other two children were only three and two, so Graeme’s mom had to stay home. It was a long ride in the back of the ambulance, sitting on a bench seat, watching my son sleep while clutching a stuffed dog that the nurses at Grand River had given to Graeme. That toy from the staff was the second view that God was with us. Graeme treasured that stuffed dog for many years.
We arrived at the hospital and were rushed inside. Graeme’s aunt, who is a pediatric nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London arrived, at nearly the same time. Graeme’s mom had called her, and she met us in emergency. Her presence was the third blessing we had from God. She guided us through the process. We were immediately taken to an isolation room. Since Graeme had chicken pox, they didn’t want to spread it other children. It was there that I learned that Graeme was suffering from hemorrhagic chicken pox. As explained to me by Graeme’s aunt, his immune system had started to destroy his white blood cells. The purple chicken pox was blood as Graeme’s ability to heal was compromised. The treatment was to suppress his immune system to allow the while blood cell count to rebuild and then to treat the chicken pox virus. The doctors wanted to be very careful as any cut or bruise suffered by Graeme could lead to a flesh-eating bacterial infection.
Graeme healed remarkably quickly. Yet another example of God’s goodness. The nurses set up a “cot” for me to sleep on beside Graeme’s bed. In the next two days, as Graeme started to feel better, he and I spent a lot of time talking and playing video games that the nurses provided.
Another exciting morning for Graeme was a visit from 12 doctors-in-training from Western University (the hematologist had asked my permission the previous morning). Hemorrhagic varicella is rare. Most doctors-in-training only see it in pictures in text books. Graeme was a living example. He didn’t mind showing his wounds to the circle of doctors that surrounded his bed. There were doctors from every culture I knew! It was quite a global group. Each of them thanked Graeme personally for letting them examine him. This was another blessing as Graeme’s illness was able to help others. We were informed that the pictures he and I agreed to would be used in future training material.
I believe another of example of God’s goodness is the memory that Graeme has of that week. All he really recalls is getting to spend a lot of time with me!
God was so good to us that week. As the doctor explained to me, Graeme’s infection could easily have been fatal. God looked after us, sent us people to look after us, and the week became a memory. God is so Good.