The days have all run together. It’s been a week since Roger was hospitalized and I don’t know where the time has gone. So many things have happened. So many ups and downs. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster ride for sure!
The official diagnosis is Tularemia, or more commonly “rabbit fever”. It was transmitted to him through a tick bite he received on the 4th of July weekend. While Tularemia is rare, only 200 cases per year, it is highly dangerous, it takes only one organism to cause the disease. If he had gone in within a few days of feeling symptoms, he would have been on antibiotics for a couple of weeks and probably would have been fine.
They have given him antibiotics for the Tularemia and have been able to contain it; however it is all the after effects that he is dealing with now. As a result of it running unchecked in his body he contracted sepsis, which is essentially blood poisoning. He has gone into respitory failure and his kidneys have stopped functioning. The Tularemia has also caused ischemia to occur in some of his fingertips, but the real danger lies in it spreading to his heart; in order to keep that from happening he may have to have the affected ones amputated. They have drawn marks on his fingers to check the progress. He also has some internal bleeding which they are not sure of the cause. He is under sedation right now and on a ventilator and is also receiving dialysis.
It all sounds very dire, but the doctors feel that since he is young (43) and relatively healthy that his chances are good for recovering. The main thing that needs to happen is for his lungs to begin working on their own. The ventilator is taking every breath for him and it is also keeping pressure in his lungs in order to keep them from collapsing. When he was first admitted they had him on 100% oxygen and the pressure level (PEEP) was 20. He is now down to 35% oxygen and the PEEP level is 16. It is the PEEP level that needs to go down to below a 6-8 before they will be able to take him off the ventilator. Most of his recovery depends upon him being able to breathe on his own. His body cannot get the oxygen he needs to his blood and certain organs until he starts to be in control of his breathing.
While his kidneys are still not functioning, there is an 85-90% chance that they will reverse themselves and he will be fine. Years down the road he may have some problems with them, but the doctors say that most of the time, in cases like this, people fully recover their kidney function. He will be kept on dialysis until he is able to begin breathing on his own and his kidneys begin to function again.
He is very bloated as they have to keep a certain amount of fluid in his body in order for his organs to receive the oxygen they need. While it is very uncomfortable, it is not dangerous to him. We were worried that it was what had caused the ischemia, but the doctor reassured us that was not the case. We are hopeful that because the Tularemia has been contained that the ischemia will stop progressing.
That is the medical side of things. On a spiritual note, the Lord has been in our midst throughout this ordeal. Yesterday as I was contemplating the events of the past few days this scripture came to mind:
But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith. (1 Nephi 1:20)
On Monday our family decided to do another fast for Roger. We gathered together at the hospital so that we could talk to the doctor and get a more detailed analysis of his condition. Since both waiting rooms were full the nurse took us back to the family meeting room in the ICU. The doctor met us there and answered our questions and gave us the information we needed. He then left the room and we were able to discuss what we needed to focus on in our fasting and prayer. We then knelt in a family prayer in his behalf. After the prayer we discussed who would give him a priesthood blessing and made that decision. We were just getting ready to leave when the nurse came back and was very surprised to find us still there. The doctor was supposed to escort us out after he was done, but he had not. I was grateful for that little tender mercy that the Lord showed to us in giving us a private place to gather and plead for the life of our brother. The nurse also allowed us all to go into the room while he was given the blessing, another tender mercy, because only two people are allowed into his room at one time.
Another tender mercy is the fact that I was able to be here at this time. I have felt that the Lord wanted me here to be with my family during this time. Usually in the summer we take our annual trip to British Columbia to go fishing. This year I wanted to visit my family and also go visit the church history sites. A couple of weeks before our trip we decided to cancel the church history tour because of expenses and decided instead to just stay in Oklahoma the whole time. I had been planning on going to Indiana for a week to visit a friend and also my father who lives in Wisconsin, but I got sick so I had put off the trip for a few days. I was sick for two days. On the day that Roger went to the hospital I was feeling better so that I was able to go into his room during those first very frightening hours. Funny little circumstances that kept me here where I needed to be. There have been other, more personal experiences that I have had wherein I know that the Lord is working in this family to bring us closer and to have the opportunity to exercise our faith together on behalf of our brother.
There’s so much that I wish to express, but feel that I need to keep in my heart. My prayer is that my brother will be able to recover and to have the capacity left in his body to fulfill the mission that I know he has still on this earth. I know that the Lord is near and Roger is receiving the spiritual strength that he needs. I pray that I will be able to see him awake before I leave. Please keep him in your prayers, and thank you again for your kind and supportive words.