Dear family and friends,
We stand all amazed at the Love Jesus offers us as we embark on another week in the Intensive Care Unit. It is really concerning when our new social group is quickly becoming those of the medical profession. We are so grateful for their expertise and the loving way that they care for Sister McKee and now our family. We are so grateful for all of your prayers. Today is our 19th day in ICU which seems unreal. My office has been for the past two weeks on a little round table in the corner all set with a fold out make shift bed. It works and allows me to be with Sister McKee through this ordeal and keep the mission running. My assistants come up to the ICU and we hold our planning meetings there. They have taken on so many assignments and are truly blessings to this mission. Elder Payne and Elder Andrew never thought they would have this experience either but I tell them often , “We will all learn and grow and watch out because the Lord is molding you to become more than we could ever do on our own.” The challenge is to find sleep somewhere in there along the way as nurses come in all hours of the night with tests, CT scans, baths, blood work, meds and turning Sister McKee in bed. I have learned to really appreciate those 2-3 hours blocks of time.
This week all of our children have been here which is also quite a blessing. They have rotated in on the nights which gave me some time to do transfers and to get home to a shower and a different bed. I will always be grateful to each of them for that support this week. Steven flew back home on Sunday. Scott is flying home this morning. Michelle and Mike will also fly home this week. Jared had to fly to California for a training but will be back for a few days this week. I know that they all need to get back to their families and work but it has been a huge blessing to have them here. Kylie flew home last week to finish finals and flew back on Friday. She will be here through the holidays. Steven and Rachel had planned on being here for Christmas as well this year so they will be coming back. Angie , Aubrey, Kiara and Destini are so strong during this time. They have enjoyed their adult siblings here and somehow have kept up with school. I have not spent enough time with them. I love and appreciate their consistency and determination to do what is right.
Monday night Kiara sang in her school choir. She sang a solo in the performance. She has become quite the singer. On Tuesday morning Sister McKee started a very severe fever and by noon many doctors were working over her again. Her blood pressure went way down. They knew that she had an infection but did not know where. Her surgeon came in and took samples from the brain to ensure that it was not there. Those checked out well thankfully , so they pulled out all of IVs in the neck , upper arm and lower arm believing that the infection was but after the fever was gone we started to see the hand and feet movement again.
Aubrey sang in her school choir concert on Thursday at the huge United Methodist Church. It was wonderful this week for Kiara and Aubrey to have all of their brothers and sisters come to their concert in Tennessee. Jared flew out on Friday to California for a training that he had previously paid for with his physical therapy. On Saturday Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke to all of our missionaries in a missionary conference in Nashville. He had previously planned to stay with us but had to make another arrangement because of the situation. I asked a ward member to come and sit with Sister McKee (Heather Rollap) . She read to her and gave her a hand a foot rub again. It was wonderful to be with all of the missionaries again and teach them how the Lord would want us to deal with adversity. I love to look them in the eye and give them a hug. The Sisters have to get their hugs from Sister McKee so they missed her even more. Elder Nelson gave a powerful talk along with Elder Hymas our area authority Seventy. It is such a blessing to have a living Apostle here to teach us. He told the missionaries that he set me apart and that his mother was a sister to Sister McKee’s grandmother. The missionaries were all touched by the experience with him. We all went outside after and took a mission picture.
Saturday night I sent all of the children to Stake Conference and I stayed in the hospital. President Johnson (one of my counselors) spoke for me in the session. I had mentioned to Elder Nelson that I would not be there for the conference and had a counselor speaking for me. At 11:30 Saturday night President Watson texted me to see if I would be speaking on Sunday. I called him back and harassed him for being up so late and told him that I had already arranged for President Johnson to speak for me. He said that Elder Nelson had left me on to speak on Sunday and he was just checking. He told me that I could come in for just my talk and then leave to go to the hospital. When I realized Elder Nelsons expectations, I called Kylie to see if she would stay with mom and I went over and attended the morning session of the conference. About 3:00 am Sunday morning I woke up and the Lord told me what to say at the conference that day. I knew that I was to be there and that someone needed to hear the message on adversity because the McKee family does not have the corner market on tragedy and challenges in life. I also shared with the Stake that if Sister McKee could do missionary work in a comatose state that the rest of us could do our part as well. (We have two of our nurses who are listening to the missionaries now) and another that is activated. The spirit was strong in the conference and I know that there were many testimonies strengthened by having an Apostle there. The focus was strong on missionary work.
After the conference Elder Hymas and Elder Nelson came to the hospital to see Sister McKee. What a blessing to have them both here. Elder Nelson spoke to all of our children and said, “Some people teach about the gospel. This is a family living the gospel by the way that you are handling this situation.” He complimented them on how they trusted the Lord with their mom’s situation. All on the 6th floor knew that someone very special was there. I went out and found the charge nurse (Michelle) and said you must come and shake hands with Elder Russell M. Nelson. She has been less active for 25 years and did not know who he was but as she shook his hand tears came to her eyes and she hugged me and thanked me afterward. She told me that she made a commitment last week to come back to church. I told her to call her parents and let them know who she shook hands with today and they would not believe it. I introduced her to Elder Nelson as my Charge Nurse Relief Society President of the 6th floor ICU. She just laughs because she wanted to make sure that I did not send her hometeachers. Elder Nelson’s visit will be a powerful memory of love and compassion in our minds.
Today they took out Sister McKee’s drainage tube from the top of her skull. Dr. Li removed it and then stapled the hole shut. He let Mike and I watch the procedure and then he removed all of the stitches from the back of her head. He tells me that her CT scan looks good and that the bleeding has stopped. He is very positive about her healing and progression today and also reminds me that it will take a very long time. It’s a good thing that we have an eternity.
Today they will also remove her respirator and will put a trach I for her to breath through. She has had the respirator for 15 days now and they tell me that if we do not do this it will start creating damage to her. They will also insert her feeding tube directly into her stomach and not through her nose which should feel a little bit better. This morning she is raising her hand a bit and moving her feet. She has also tried to mouth a few words which also gives us so much hope for the future. I have always said that once she sees what needs to happen that she will shock all of the doctors. IT seems like if she tries a movement for five minutes however minute, she must them rest for several hours as it takes everything out of her.
Today we have 14 new missionaries coming in and 12 going home on Wednesday. I am going to meet them at the airport and interview all of them while the kids are her at the hospital but my assistants will do most of the normal training so I can return. I will be taking some time for the exiting missionaries as well and we will bring them to the hospital to say goodbye to Sister McKee. I know that they all love her very much and I want them to be able to tell her goodbye as I know that she can hear them.
Again we thank you for your love and prayers. The Lord has blessed us and I know that HE loves each one of us. I am going to send a copy of missionary miracles that I send out to the missionaries on a separate email. Sure love all of you.
Mom and DAD , President and Sister McKee, Grandma and Grandpa,
Kylie , Angie, Aubrey, Kiara, Destini
Michelle and Travis, Mike and Kirsten, Jared and Brittany, Scott and Seren, Steven and Rachel