Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Houston, We Have a Problem

The shuttle never launched and our trip did not end quite the way we expected. After four days of fun at the beach, breathtaking views, and beautiful weather, we found ourselves in the familiar halls of the hospital facing tests and medications.

As I sat there waiting for the doctor, the past four days began to slip away. They were growing more distant by the moment as the memories of them were forcibly replaced by unwanted ones. The unfamiliar was being replaced with the all too familiar. I wanted the unfamiliar back! The unfamiliar hallways of the hotel instead of the familiar hallways of the hospital. The unfamiliar surroundings of our hotel room instead of the familiar surroundings of a hospital room. The unfamiliar sound of the ocean as the waves lapped the shore instead of the familiar sound of a beeping monitor of an IV machine. The unfamiliar faces of strangers in bathing suits instead of the familiar faces of nurses and doctors in white coats. The unfamiliar smells of salt and sand instead of the familiar smells of sterile disinfectants. I earnestly tried to force the memories of the past four days to the front of my mind. As CJ was laying in the hospital bed, he commented to me that he could not believe this was the same day he was swimming in the ocean and playing in the sand, so I suppose he was experiencing similar thoughts and feelings.

It all began when we were getting ready for dinner that evening. It was to be our last night in Ft. Pierce and we planned to head home sometime late the next day. CJ was tired and a little run down but we assumed it was most likely from four continuous and active days spent in the sun. He was resting before dinner. When it was time to get ready he looked a little flushed so I placed my hand on his head and instantly felt how hot he was. And here it was....the moment we have feared and yet somehow kept at bay for the past 9 months. The dreaded fever!

I immediately tried to convince myself it was not a fever and that he was just warm from the afternoon spent in the sun and the afternoon nap he took wrapped in the warm blankets. I told Chris he was hot and as he got out the thermometer I held out the slightest bit of hope that I was wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn't. It read 101.5. CJ's protocol is to immediately be taken to the hospital at a fever of 100.4. We were well past that already! His protocol also called for an admission and minimum 3 day stay when he has a fever. I couldn't imagine this beautiful 4 day vacation ending in a 3 day hospital admission and I did not have the slightest idea how we were going to prepare CJ for it.

Chris called the doctor who said we needed to bring him in. There were no hospitals in the area we felt comfortable taking him to. We knew we were about an hour and a half away from Joe DiMaggio so we made the decision to head home immediately. CJ's spirit was crushed and he was visibly upset. Not so much because we had to leave a day early, but because he knew where we were leaving to.

I got busy packing the bags. While I was packing, I noticed Chris seemed tense and at one point he began saying, "I knew I shouldn't have let him have this or that, I should have made him wash his hands more, I should have been more careful." I felt terrible for the responsibility he always seems to carry on his shoulders and reminded him that this was not in his control. CJ was also very upset and did not want to go to the Emergency Room. As much as I hated for the trip to end this way, I began to feel that we were just meant to go home for some reason and that maybe CJ's fever was God's way of getting us home quickly. I began to believe there was some reason we needed to be home tonight instead of tomorrow. I shared this feeling with CJ and it seemed to help calm him considerably.

After praying over CJ and the drive home, we loaded the car and set out. This was the difficult part because CJ immediately started to worry about what would happen when we got there. I wanted to promise him he wouldn't have to have his port accessed, but I couldn't. I wanted to promise him that if the fever was gone by the time we got there he would not have to stay overnight, but I couldn't. As he asked more and more questions, I wanted to make promises that I knew I had no power to keep. I did not have answers for him. I could not call my family and notify them what was happening because talking in front of CJ would make him more anxious.

Instead, I did what any thinking mother would do...I pulled out the military war book we are reading and began reading the unbelievable details and training of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell during Operation Redwing in Afghanistan. The book worked and provided a much needed distraction for all us as well as allowed for the time to pass quickly. It was probably a good thing my face was buried in a book and I could not see the road or how fast Chris was driving. Let's just say that was the first time I ever remember seeing Chris driving with both hands gripping the steering wheel sitting up perfectly straight focusing intently on the road.

We arrived to the ER around 9:30. Thankfully, due to CJ's situation, they immediately took him in. CJ did had to have his port accessed and this proved to be difficult for him as well as for the nurse since she had trouble getting the needle situated in the proper position. This is when my struggle with God begins. It's during the unnecessary things like the missed vein when a child who is already panicking needs to get an IV, the clogged port when a child is already struggling with anxiety over being accessed, or the lost blood work after a child has to be held down screaming for blood to be drawn.

On this night, we experienced the clogged port. As I stood there staring at it and begging God to let it work, I began to think this was too much. I remember feeling like this was not happening. It felt sort of like a dream or like I was somehow not really standing there watching this happen. Wasn't I on the beach watching him ride his boogie board on the waves over and over? How did I get from there to here where I am watching a nurse try to shove a needle in a hole she can't manage to find? I began to ask God if this was really necessary. We are here after all! CJ is doing everything he can to stay calm and get through it and now this! What good can possible come from him having to sit there and go through this? I started to think about the book we are reading to CJ about the Navy Seal and how even the seemingly insignificant parts of his training became vital later on. I hoped that would be true of all the seemingly unnecessary parts of CJ's treatments such as these. After much dialogue between the nurses as well as between me and the Lord, the port finally gave way and allowed for the fluid to flow freely. Personally, I think it was my dialogue that finally prevailed!

Following the port being accessed, CJ's blood was tested and he showed no signs of infection. They injected him with some high dose antibiotics and ran some more tests. We waited to be admitted. Then a little after midnight they realized they had no rooms available upstairs to move him to and announced he would be able to go home under our supervision. You can only imagine our surprise and delight. This was great news for all of us! Our vacation was not going to end with 3 days in the hospital. CJ's spirits were visibly lifted.

As for God using CJ to get us home a full day and night sooner than originally planned..... here is some food for thought......the baby threw up within a few hours of being home and then came down with a high fever that night. Brett became very ill by the next day with high fevers and endless vomiting. Chris also got sick with a painful throat infection. CJ, however, never showed signs of a fever or illness again. But thanks to him, we were able to effectively care for the rest of the family in the comfort of our own home. You decide!

A few Thank You's are in order to some people who we could never have gotten through this week without:
Thank you to our family that were with us on vacation who made it easy for us to leave in a moments notice when CJ got sick. We love you and are so grateful for the time we got to spend together. Thank you Uncle Shawn for praying with us before we left. It really helped calm us before we set off. Thank you Aunt Heather for handling all the little details I left behind. I love you. Thank you grandma and poppa for the awesome weekend and for "forcing" us to go. They are memories we will treasure forever! Thank you Aunt Cara for your love to our family and for covering us in prayer. As CJ said, "you are the best with kids of anyone he has ever met." I thought that was so sweet.
Thank you Melinda for rescuing us again and again even at a moments notice. We are blessed to have you in our lives. You are a Godsend...literally!
Most importantly, thank you God for blessing us with a wonderful vacation after a long, hard nine months. I will cherish the memories of the kids riding the waves with huge smiles on their faces forever. I will always remember our first sunrise together as a family. Thank you for bringing us home safe, in Your time and for protecting CJ from further infection. Continue to heal our family and restore us to health. In the name of your son, our Savior, Amen


Heather said...

Hi guys! I had so much fun with you all. I am grateful for the time we had together, even though it was cut short. It was such a blessing to see you all enjoy the beach. I will cherish the memories forever. I love & miss you guys so much!


Unknown said...

anytime! I gotta take care of my nephew

~tia mindy ;)

ps i hope brett and Corey are feeling better! I was praying for them a lot this week!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a week you had! Who knows why things happen the way they do, but I definitely see God's protective hand over you all. I am so glad for you that you were able to have some treasured memories at the beach together. I hope you all are feeling well by now.
Thank God He is in control.

Lonny Unverzagt said...

Hi Everyone! Wow the Ocean looks so fun i sure miss it. I hope you all had a great time Our Prayers keep coming God Bless! Lonny

Anonymous said...

Wow that is a lot to take in, it is really great that you look to the good, like getting back to your home to take care of the rest of the family. You got some really nice pictures! It looked like you guys had a good time, i know how much you love light houses! :)
thanks for updating so faithfully.

Mitch said...

CJ and family,
Just wanted to let you know I'm still here, reading your blogs every time they come through, praying for you each night, and thinking about you every Sat. when our Team in Training group gets together for a long run. I'm meeting a whole new group of participants these next few weeks....people who have signed up to raise money for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society in hopes of finding a cure. I think of you often as I meet new participants, hear the reason they have signed up (usually a friend or family member who has had leukemia or lymphoma), and then listen to some very familiar stories. Thank you for sharing yours like you do. It allows me to pass it on to others who may be struggling or just to provide a mission moment in our run group so we remember why we have all gotten together for another Sat. God bless, hope you enjoyed a couple of days in the sun and sand....those are some happy faces in those pictures!!
Mitch Barnhart

Anonymous said...

Dawn & Chris,
I am so relieved that CJ is fine and it wasn't his port or anything else majorly infected!! And, I thank God, Dawn, that YOU didn't get sick and were able to care for everyone else!! I'm sorry your beach trip got cut short, but I'm also grateful that if it had to end early, it happened your last night and not sooner. So even tho' a trial, God was in the details! Thank you, God, for taking care of the George family! We love you and are praying for all of you! Love, Aunt Karen

Anonymous said...


I am so happy to hear that everything turned out o.k. God always knows what He is doing. I love you. See you later. I am glad to hear the kids are feeling better. Your writing today reminded me alot of where CJ gets his talent from!


SIS, Jacks

Anonymous said...


Happy FaTHERS DAY! yOU ARE doing an outstanding job. I am so grateful that my niece and nephews have such a protective, devoted father that puts nothing before his family! You are an awesome role model and Christian. I love when you wear the Christian shirts! Real men are not ashamed to show their faith, be it a shirt or prayer or just talk of our heavenly Father.

Love you lots,

Your favorite sister in law,
"just kidding Tammi"


shawn said...

Hope you all are feeling better. We miss you so much already but are very thankful for the time we had together. Hopefully we will be able to make it down again in August.
Happy fathers day Chris. You are doing a great job.

We love you all.
Shawn and Cara

Wendy Whitlow said...

Hey Dawn and Company...I'm glad you all were able to get away and enjoy the waves. I hope and pray everyone's health is fully restored. Hey Dawn...I'm looking forward to another visit with you all very soon. CJ and you are such a blessing to many...
God bless you all...

David Bush said...

Sorry the Shuttle didn't launch for you guys, but I hope you all got really nice tans!

Get well soon!

Tammi said...

Dear Dawn & Chris & CJ, Randi, Brett & Corey,

Thank God you had such a wonderful vacation and that He used CJ to get you all home in time to see that CJ was okay and so you could take care of each other in the comfort of your home. I really don't know how you do it. The Lord really strengthens you all. I am amazed at how you manage through all this. I love you guys. Alot
You are always in my prayers,
Aunt Tammi
P.S. Chris already told me Jackie was his favorite sister-in-law and I'm okay with that! :-)

Anonymous said...

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so thay you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.>>>>>>>> your faith and perseverance in your walk with the Lord continues to get stronger and stronger, and I believe that God is truly using your family as a witness to his love, grace, mercy and his timing in all things. God DID have his reason and it WAS for your own good to come home early, only we don't see it, but we know.You are all lifted in prayer to our Fathers throne.

Anonymous said...

God is so amazing..we only see pieces of the puzzle, but He sees the completed puzzle. Why are we so amazed? We should expect amazing things from our Lord. He is always watching over us. I am thrilled to hear that C.J. is doing good. And now you can look back and rejoice on how kind our God is to take care of the rest of the family too! Love you guys..the Cooke family

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the good and the bad times. We are so blessed. I cannot believe how much the baby has grown. I know you are so proud of all your family as you all have dealt with things that are thrown at you. God bless you all and keep you all. God is good, all the time. He uses things the devil throws at us for evil to turn them around and use them for our good and His glory. Thanks again for sharing. Love and Prayers,
Mary B. and family

Janet said...

What a loving Father we have. It was so good of Him to get you all home one day early so you could be in the comfort of your home while the family is sick. I hope the boys are on the road to recovery and that no one else gets sick.

Martha said...

Dear George Family,

Happy Father’s day! Hope everyone is recovering from the virus you catch. It is good to know CJ is fine, and that you got to recover at home. I am always praying for CJ and the family. Thank you very much for the update and awesome post.

With love,


Anonymous said...

Wow the pictures are gorgeous!!! What a beautiful family, I am glad you got to get away even though it ended a little rough! But I don't think that there is anything the George family can't handle. Glad to hear everything turned out ok in the end!! Always thinking and praying for all of you Always Pam xoxoxo

Sonia said...

Thanks God it was only an scary moment. Keep de good times in your memory, you all deserved a few days enjoing yourself.
Sonia, Antonio, Ale and Andrea

Anonymous said...

Hi, So grateful that everyone got better. I love the picture of the four together. We are always thinking and praying for all of you. Love, Nicole Ana Alberto