(courtesy of Sister Nordstrom)
I often told the doctors that if Sister McKee would be able to pass over the bridge of life verses death that no one would stop her. She is very determined once she knows where the Lord wants her to be. As a young boy my mother used to always say to me, “ I sure hope you head the right direction in life because whatever direction you head, nothing will ever turn you around.” I am not sure if that is stubbornness or determination but in this situation with Sister McKee I can tell you it is working well. She is so determined even though each day is filled with intense pain. I ask her each day what her headache pain level is and she usually tells me it is between a 7-8. Today she told me it was at an 11 so she is learning to deal with intense pain. The good news is that she will have breaks from time to time where it will go to a 5-6 but she seldom complains. The nurses always say to me, ”She is so sweet even through her pain”. She even keeps her physical therapy going of walking with her walker each day around the nurses’ station even through the pain. One of the challenges that she will continually experience from this part of the brain being damaged is the inability to balance. With that the room often feels like it is spinning and then the nausea begins. If we move her up or down to quickly the nausea sets in again. She is learning a balance and a new breathing style that will hopefully help to slow down some of this nausea. Her hard work paid off yesterday though when the pulmonary Doctor came into the room and said,” I understand that you are walking all around the nurses’ station twice a day”. She acknowledged that she had. He then responded,” Anyone that can do that does not need a trach any more so let’s take that thing out. He laid her on the bed and proceeded to remove her trach in her neck.
It was remarkable , when he then put a piece of gauze over the opening where the trach is in her neck and said this will take a couple of weeks to heal and then put a piece of tape over it. She is breathing now through her mouth and nose with the trach completely gone. This is another miracle as the trach has been in for 3 and ½ weeks. She was told that the trach would probably be with her at least 6 weeks and possibly a lifetime. You can only imagine our joy when she began breathing through her nose and mouth and now only breathes room air. The oxygen was taken off of her and Dr. Webber also came in and removed all of her heart monitoring equipment. We now call her tubeless as the only invasion in her body is an IV in her left arm. The nurses and doctors are all in shock as she continually moves toward healing each day. She is still very weak and needs to rest long hours but in between she gets her strong moments of physical therapy. I admire her determination to become stronger every day.
Tomorrow they tell us that she will be transported to another hospital where they do rehab therapy 3 hours out of each day. This will be very taxing for Sister McKee but all of us know that she will do it. She is so determined to be well. We thank the medical professionals everywhere who have cared for her and again thank you for prayers and faith.
Today was Kiara’s birthday. She turned 14. We brought her and the family up to the hospital to celebrate it with Sister McKee. We got special permission to put Sister McKee in a wheel chair and take her to the 2nd floor where the cafeteria is and bought everyone a Subway sandwich then went back to the room on the 6th floor to share a few gifts and eat a rice crispy treat cake. Sister McKee even had a bite or two. After the field trip which is the first time for her to be off the 6th floor in over 6 weeks we wheeled over to the ICU and talked to some of the nurses working there. Of course they could not believe their eyes when they saw her without a trach and speaking to them in person as they had all cared for her comatose for so long. Tears streamed down their faces as they visited with her and she thanked the personally for care they had offered that she had no memory of. There are many who were not there tonight, but to each one we thank you for your unconditional care and love. There is no doubt that these wonderful people love their work and their patients. We will always count them as family and pray for their success and happiness as well. There are so many that have embraced the gospel and acknowledge the Lord in so many ways. To the ICU nurses on the 6th floor and several on the 4th and 5th floors, we love you and will always be grateful to you.
So today we have been in Centennial Hospital for 46 days. It still seems like a dream in many ways but tomorrow they will move us to a new hospital. It will be challenging to move the Mission Office to a new hospital and all that has gathered over the last month and a half. Like all of life it is important to graduate and move on so that we can progress the way that the Lord has in mind for us to do.
I thought as they removed the stomach feeding tube and the trach today how valuable those two tubes had become and how important they were as we worked each day to save Sister McKee’s life. They were both so essential and yet today they were slowing down the growth process and actually inhibiting her progression. In so many ways they had become a safety net and just life very good friends we had learned to count on them in so many ways. The sound of the oxygen flowing through the tubes was a sound that had lulled us to sleep many nights and if rhythm changed at all we would immediately jump up and locate a nurse. All of these sounds are gone tonight and the silence has a new meaning . I am reflecting back on another favorite scripture in D&C 101. “Be still and know that I am God”. Tonight is a very still night and tonight I acknowledge Him with all of His power knowing that He is absolutely in charge and that we are still adjusting our lives to His will, whatever that may be.
I am wondering what in my life have I hung onto that seemed so valuable like a breathing tube or stomach feeding tube that actually has no value to me today and would inhibit my spiritual growth or my eternal progression . Am I rationalizing to hang on to it because of fear in my life or because I am sure that I will need it once again or can I take that leap of faith and start breathing through my mouth and nose again like Sister McKee just did. Am I hanging on to the past or am I ready to move forward with a leap of faith and trust in my Heavenly Father. Are there things in my life that He has called or commanded me to do that I have not done yet. So many of our missionaries have taught wonderful people who are afraid to take that leap of faith and “Follow the Savior” by being baptized as He has commanded and the leap of faith that it takes to read the Book of Mormon and pray and ask the Lord if it is true. We sometimes hang onto some very good and important things but miss eternal growth by understanding our true potential by doing what the Lord has called us to do and preparing ourselves to be sealed in the Temple for time and all eternity.
Sometimes we hold back from the temple by hanging on to something that we really like that is sometimes good or feels like a life line much like a trach or feeding tube. Even addictions can feel like that at times. Smoking a cigarette , drinking alcohol, or not paying tithing can feel so very important and life saving at times when in fact it will stop us from entering into the house of the Lord and partaking of all the eternal blessings that the Lord has in store for us. Is it time to let some things go. Today was the day for us to let trachs go and breathing machines, and feeding tubes and heart monitors and ……so that Sister McKee can obtain her true potential. Doing this prematurely would have been life threatening but waiting too long would also stop her from achieving her true potential.
LEARN FROM THE PAST. It is full of “should’ve , could’ve, wish I would’ve”.
PLAN FOR THE FUTURE. It is full of “What if” and needs to be planned for.
LIVE IN THE PRESENT. It is full of happiness and joy. Experiencing the moment with each relationship and being “at one” with the Lord.
In reality that is really all that each of us have is the present and the choices that we make each day. We thank the Lord for the present and thank the Lord that He has allowed us to keep Sister McKee with us for one more day and one more day. It truly has been a miracle in these latter days.
We are also mindful of so many heroes that this wonderful miracle has not been offered to . We have several of our missionaries that close family members have passed on while serving on a mission. One of our Elders had a father that passed away while serving here. Two of our Sister missionaries have had brothers that have passed on while serving full time missions. They are our heroes and steadily served the Lord through this unforeseen test in their lives. We are so mindful of their pain and want each of you to know that our faith would be identical if Sister McKee had not been able to remain with us at this time. We know that the Lord is in charge and that we are all functioning under His plan. We also know of the great the blessings that come through faith and prayers. We will always pray with “Thy will be done” and again are so grateful that the Lord has walked with us through this growth experience.
We love all of you and again thank you for your faith and prayers. We are so blessed by knowing each of you and acknowledge the Lord in all things.
The William McKee Family