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Saturday, 14 May 2011

Kitchen Windows, Epipens & Sore Thumbs

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning and the old farm equipment was groaning with protest at being wakened after another season's hibernation.  Duane was pulling out the old grain trucks for cleaning and fixing with the usual hope in his heart that the crops this year would finally see fruition!  Three consecutive years of crop failures has left a looming heaviness on his heart at the increasing debt load on our family.  I do not envy the constant debate in his mind nor the temptation of turning away from his integrity of farming naturally & ethically to using modern day fertilizers on genetically modified crops with supposed "guaranteed" harvests.  It makes one appreciate the challenge EACH farmer faces especially when they have mouths to feed!

Thankfully, Duane's father had always strongly encouraged him to have a steady job to supplement any potential farm income or debt.  So the luxury of choosing to farm according to his heart's desire is more possible than most farmers out there.

So this time of year is always kind of neat for me to see his spirits lifted with the promise of harvesting successful organic crops... of learning new ways of making organic farming work despite our clay soils, abundance of persistent weeds, and all-too-wet conditions... and of helping others make that same transition.

The burden is great on his shoulders and I see it some days more than others.

"Why would anyone be tempted to change their farming ways if I cannot be an example to them of how it can WORK?"

"Let God do that THROUGH you and your genuine desire to help take care of His earth and the people in it.  It cannot be through your efforts alone, but by His Will, His strength and YOUR willingness."

"Sometimes I think He pushes me to the point of giving up to see if I am really committed to this and my TRUST in Him."

"Then I am sorry for the times that I pressure you about the debt load.  You have to do what you believe is right.  And I need to support you in that."

With those words in the back of my mind, it was with pleasure that I looked out my kitchen window this past Tuesday, and smiled as I watched him tend to his father's old farm equipment with our son eagerly hanging around him.  Up into the truck went Ethan as Duane sprayed the engine clean with the pump hose.  I thought to myself, "you know... I am going to MAKE time today and blog about this window and the many times I have felt privileged to look out of it to see the beauty of our world here."

Before I could even finish that thought, I looked up from the sink again to see Duane running towards the house carrying Ethan.

Now hopefully you have figured enough out about Duane from my blogging that nothing excites him terribly much.  An essential trait to have as a firefighter but annoying for this mother who feels that he downplays serious situations!  Duane does not "run" for anything unless it is seeding time or harvest.  Needless to say, this sight caused me to stop dead in my tracks.

As he got closer to the house, he saw me in the window and signalled for the puffer.  Ethan's blue puffer... his rescue puffer.  I ran to the bathroom and grabbed it quick and met him at the door.  But when I saw Ethan, my heart began to pound in fear...

His eyes were so swollen and covered in hives.  But worst yet was his breathing!  He could barely breath properly and was trying to cough.  He was scared and trying to cry which did not help.

"What happened???"

"He was fine in the grain truck one minute and then the next he was screaming and scratching at his eyes and coughing lots."

"Duane, this is not a 'puffer' situation... this requires his Epipen!!"

Would you believe that despite all the mental training for situations like this, my mind literally drew a blank?  We have three epipens in our house but do you think I could remember where any of them were in that moment?  To hesitate in a moment like that feels like you are wasting precious, precious time.

"Where on earth do I keep his epipens again??"  Finally it came back to me... one in my purse, one in his backpack and one in the medicine cabinet... Medicine cabinet... start there!

I grabbed it and pulled off the grey cap as my mind went blank all over again on HOW to administer this thing!  Which end??  Duane was holding Ethan on his lap who continued sputtering and coughing for air while pulling away from the epipen.

"Duane!  How do you do this again??"

"Doesn't it go the other way??  Quick!  Give it to me!"

So I gave it to Duane who is technically trained to deal with these situations as an emergency responder.  But with the heightened stress of watching your own son struggle to breath, even his state of mind was challenged as he jabbed the epipen against Ethan's outer thigh only to have the needle spring out the other end into (and right through) his own thumb!

"OH MY GOODNESS, Duane!!!"  But the situation at hand needed my full attention on Ethan.  So I turned away from Duane whose finger was now bleeding quite a bit to searching like mad to find the second epipen.

Thankfully, logic began to set in again and I remembered what I had practiced so many times with our trainer epipen (which you can order online at  I got it into Ethan's leg, counted to ten, and placed a bandaid on the sore spot on his leg afterwards.

His gasping stopped almost instantly.  He stopped crying within seconds and our son was breathing... but now was the mad rush to pack things up quickly and get him to Children's Emergency before the epipen wore off!  They would want to keep him under observation over the next four to six hours.

Duane's thumb was now white and a little piece of his nail was embedded in the tip of the epipen needle.    Given the time sensitivity of the matter, Duane would take him as I needed to stay back for Sivana's nursings.

I looked into my son's swollen eyes and held him so tight.  "I love you, my boy.  You be good for Daddy, okay?  And mommy will pray and ask God to help heal your body fast, fast, fast, okay?  Thanks for being such a brave boy."

I watched them drive away and felt a sudden shiver of intensity over what had just occurred in the past five minutes... it felt like enough to last a lifetime.  And the tears began to flow for the helplessness of my son's lot in life... of feeling like an error on our part could cost him his life... for the fragility of life and for the gift of every breath... literally!

I called my mom right away and asked her to come and be with the little ones.  I would cook Ethan's lunch, nurse Sivana once she awoke and would head down to join my boys at Emergency.  I sent an email out to immediate family asking for prayers which finally allowed my heart to settle into peace in trusting that those very prayers would find my son and keep him in the palm of God's hand.

Looking at my daily chores list, I numbly turned towards the dryer to pull out the latest load of kids' clothes.  My hands were a bit shaky as I pulled out Ethan's little jeans and the tears started flowing amply again.  I do not ever want to pull out my children's laundry and not have his little clothes to fold.  I don't ever want to lose him!  The times he drives me nuts or I lose my patience with him seem so trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Every moment with my kids is a gift and I don't want to waste ANY of that time in anger, frustration or disappointment.  It sucks that too many times, it is wasted.

My mom arrived and we waited to hear from Duane who called an hour later to say that Ethan's heart & lungs sounded good and we seemed to be in the clear.  I had not realized that I had been holding my breath because suddenly I finally felt like I could breathe!  They would be home not long after lunch so I did not need to bring them special Ethan-food.

When Duane got back, he told me about refilling the two epipen prescriptions with poor Ethan sitting in the shopping cart, big puffy eyes, saying to the pharmacist "Our Tractor is brooooken.  It doesn't make noise anymore.  But the good guys are going to fix it!"

Apparently the pharmacist did not know what to do with that info and at first I was disappointed that she didn't go along with it (ie: oh really?  What colour is your tractor?  What noises did it used to make?).  But thinking about it, I had to chuckle at what it must have looked like for that pharmacist: two year old boy with swollen eyes filling out TWO prescriptions for epipens and talking about a broken tractor...

I suppose even the best of us would hesitate at that one!

Duane professed that he is batting 0-1000 where administering Ethan's epipens are concerned and has crowned me "official epipen-giver" from now on.  We did have to chuckle together at that one.  (First time, he put it through Ethan's INNER thigh just missing a major artery!).

"It sure is different when it's your own kid."  Is all he needed to say.

Bottom line, Ethan is doing good.  His eyes were swollen for a couple of days but he's right back to his old self.  We are so appreciative of family's support (even Duane's mom had called to say there were collaborative efforts in place to watch the kids so I could go to the hospital, too).  It's a huge relief to know we have a network of loved ones ready and willing to help us in a moment's notice.

My heart aches for the families out there who face these challenges alone.  I could only imagine...

So may this find you all doing well and enjoying the very breaths you have taken unknowingly as you have read this entire outpour!  May you give thanks for the miracle of the intricate details God looked after in creating such incredible bodily functions.  And may you be blessed with the support of loved ones in your life... or BE a support to others.  We are all in this "life" thing together... and thank God for that!

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Oigh! That's a nerve racker for sure. Is he allergic to grain dust?

Hope he is feeling better soon!
Your cousin,