“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD. -Jeremiah 29:11-14b
I usually just post "updates" on our blog and I guess this is an "update" too. If you've followed our family at all, you know that starting in November, the last 6 months or so have been quite a ride for us. It amazes me the amount of highs and lows we have experienced in such a short time!
In November, we found out we were expecting our third child. We are so excited to get to meet and love on baby Paul. (probably sometime in late July) We're planning on having him at home with a midwife surrounded by family and we're praying he comes as fast as Adele did! :)
Right after that, we found out our family would be moving to Turkey for two years! As we began to prepare for that big life change, an even bigger one side-swiped us in March. Our 3 year old, Jenell, began limping. After a few days of it getting worse and a little more swollen, we took her to the doctor and were told it was just a sprain.
A few days later, though, her knee was significantly more swollen and hot to the touch. She was having a lot of difficulty walking and finally just started crawling. It was heartbreaking. We took her to the doctor again (a different one) and she had an elevated white blood cell count and they suspected infection and were going to do surgery on her that same day. They drained a lot of the excess fluid off her knee and said it looked abnormal. After some more labs came back, though, they didn't find any infection and decided not to do the surgery. She was referred to an orthopedic surgeon who took over her care for the next few weeks.
God was so present from the very beginning of this trial. If you've ever tried to make a same-day appointment at our hospital or tried to get a well-meaning doctor to understand how concerned you are for your child, you know what I mean! I know that God orchestrated every detail of every day for us. We always saw the right doctor at the right time who knew the right thing to help her. Absolutely not an accident or coincidence. He comforted us and gave us all peace through things we never could have imagined having to endure.
Jenell was seen at the orthopedic clinic every day for the next couple of weeks. During the first week, Dr. Walker told us that he suspected an inflammatory disease of some kind. We had to rule a lot of other things out first, though. Jenell began to run very high fevers at night, was having difficulty walking and was waking up stiff and in pain. At one point she woke up screaming and in so much pain that she was unable to move her knee enough for us to even get her into the car. We called 911 and an ambulance transported her to the ER. They drained her knee again and her white blood cell count was more elevated than it had been a few days before.
Jesus really carried us through this time. The way our friends and family supported and loved on us was unreal. They brought us meals, lent Jenell a pediatric walker when she couldn't make it down the hallway, cared for Adele when we had to be away, listened to our fears and frustrations, prayed for and with us, sent gifts or cards, called, lent us a FastPass for the tolls during the numerous trips between San Francisco, Oakland and Fairfield, and got educated about what was going on with Jenell right along with us.
What could have been a terrible experience ended up just drawing us closer to the Lord and to our friends and teaching us how to rely on Him and trust HIS plans, NOT our own. I have always really struggled with being controlling of everything in my life and everyone around me and each day when something changed that we "knew" had been set in stone the day before, I was reminded again of my fallenness and my need for a loving Savior who cared for me and had better plans than I had ever laid. Eventually, the daily changes weren't even a surprise anymore. :) We just learned to expect the unexpected and trust in His will.
So, when at a prenatal appointment, we found out baby Paul might have had a heart problem, we leaned into the Lord and trusted Him and His huge love for our little boy. After 2 visits with a Pediatric Cardiologist, we were assured that Paul's heart was perfectly healthy and working beautifully! I wonder if it wasn't just a little "I love you" from God. It was so nice in the middle of the chaos with Jenell to have some GOOD news! :)
Eventually, we got a referral to a Pediatric Rheumatologist at the University of San Francisco. This specialty is rare and there are very few Pediatric Rheumatologists ANYWHERE! And, praise God, we live an hour and a half from one of the best ones. Still think it's coincidence?? :) People drive 7 hours to have these amazing doctors take care of their children.
Jenell was getting sicker by the day and eventually her Orthopedic Surgeon was able to secure her an acute appointment with a Pediatric Rheumatologist instead of having to wait another month. Her fever got to 105.8 one night and even then, the Lord used my husband to walk me through that paralyzing fear and to care for our little girl. Once we met with the doctor at UCSF, they confirmed what Dr. Walker had suspected, that Jenell had JIA. (Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis- VERY different from the kind of arthritis that plagues adults) Her lymph nodes were swollen, her knee was very large, her legs were different lengths (an indicator of JIA), and the muscle tone in her legs was different. Because of the fevers and lymph node involvement, they suspected that Jenell had sJIA or Still's Disease (Systemic Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis)-- a particularly unforgiving form of JIA. They needed some more labs to verify this and also wanted to check her lungs, heart and eyes because sJIA causes inflammation in the whole body- not just joints. Praise God, so far, Jenell's eyes, heart and lungs have not been affected!! :) We made an appointment for a follow-up a month later. We were then going to discuss medication (steroids) and treatment measures to get her inflammation under control.
During the month before we went back, Jenell started to get better! JIA happens in flare-ups, so we weren't too surprised. Usually kids with sJIA require medical intervention to get better and Jenell was only taking Naproxen! 1/3 of the kids who get sJIA will have one flare-up and then never have symptoms ever again. The other 2/3 can have symptoms throughout childhood and possibly into adulthood. Because her symptoms have almost disappeared, her doctors at UCSF are unable to give us a definitive diagnosis as far as what type of JIA she has. We don't care. :) We know that God loves and healed our little girl and right now she's happy, healthy and needs NO medication. We don't know what the future holds for her, but we trust Him and His plan for her.
Because Jenell has SOME form of JIA, she wasn't able to get medical clearance to go to Turkey, so Tim was going to have to go without our family for 15 months right after Paul was born. We found this out when we were right in the thick of Jenell's flare-up and I was honestly concerned about trying to manage a sick little girl, a 2 year old and a newborn without the help of my husband. Dr. Walker wrote a hardship letter to try and help us get Tim's orders cancelled, and it worked!!! God has just absolutely displayed His greatness throughout this whole experience! It's just who He is!!
We just found about about Tim's orders being cancelled a few weeks ago, but everything that led up to that helped us keep some perspective when we got the LATEST "news". :) Tim will be deploying from November 2012- June 2013. We're sad, and of course, we don't want daddy to go but we're very sure of God's love for us and know that He'll walk us through this too. Tim will get to be here when Paul's born, our daughter is healthy and he won't be gone for 15 months! :) Plus, we get to spend more time with our dear friends and family here in California!
I hope I don't have any new reason to blog before Paul is born... but I wouldn't be surprised!
For I am the LORD your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you. -Isaiah 41:13