One of the daily routines over the past five weeks has been watching the medical professionals suction out Sister McKee’s trach 4-6 times a day. A nurse will come in a set up a sterile environment , open up a suction kit, put on their sterile gloves and then send a tube much like an aquarium tube down her trach and into her lungs. They would suction out liquid, clots and other excess which would often clog the airway making it very difficult to breath. This process not only helped to keep the airway open but also was designed to keep her from getting pneumonia. At first when she was comatose I would notice that it often caused her to cough and then when she began to feel again and come out of that comatose state, I began to see how painful it was for her and would often hold her hand while they went down with the suction tube. When the airway seemed obstructed to her and when she could communicate in some way she would motion for me to make sure that someone would suction her so that she could breath better.
A few days ago I began to believe that I would avoid in any way being suctioned down into my lungs and wondered how she could endure the pain and yet she would request for them to come once again, each time grimacing. I watched as she would wait until the last minute to request this painful process only because she knew that the alternative would mean her loss of air and life itself. I would hold her hand as they would say,”ready, OK we are going down. This is going to cause you to cough a lot.” I wondered how painful it is to try to cough through that trach and clear your lungs not to mention the pressure that would press against the skull where her recent surgery was, with a headache often ranging between 8-10. And yet somehow she had the courage each time to request that pain knowing that it was her survival.
I thought about the Savior as He offered the “Living Water” at the well , the gift that is so important for you and me and how each of us in a sense must pay a price to drink from that “Living Water”. I have noticed that even though there is a price to pay the joy of the “Living Water” just like Sister McKee’s “Living Breath” is worth that pain. If somehow we can each keep our minds focused on the eternal picture our ability to endure or grimace through the pain will increase. As I watch Sister McKee increase in her ability to face or deal with that pain, knowing that she will breath at a stronger pace for several hours to come it all becomes worth it for the larger picture. The vision of knowing that she will be with our family again becomes worth that price once again. II Nephi “For it must needs be that there is opposition in all things”.
Eternal families are worth it. They are worth the grimacing pain that it sometimes takes to work things out so that someday we will experience that “Fresh Breath” , the “Saviors Love and presence”. They are so very worth gathering together each day, praying together, eating together, reading together, playing together. One of our sweet daughters put her head in my lap this week bursting into tears and saying, “I just miss my mom.” We all need each other.
It is so very difficult for us to keep that eternal picture in store some days. When relationships don’t always fit our expectations or when the Lord seems to have abandoned us in our dark hours it is easy to lose sight of that eternal view. This is a grand time to forgive someone. This is a grand time to cleanse our vessel on a regular basis just as Sister McKee cleanses with suctioning out any debris or blockage from helping her have a clear breath. It is a time to “repent with rejoicing” even though it becomes a bit painful in our immediate hour. Long term it will be such an eternal blessing.
We have a very dear friend that reminded me during a crisis that the only real concern in this life is unrepentant sin. Everything else will be made whole through the atonement. If you are carrying sludge or debris of not forgiving or holding a grudge, it only takes a minute to forgive and move on in your life. It will clear the passage way . It will keep us progressing to the eternal realm on high. It will help us “become more like the Savior”.
Sister McKee had a couple of set backs on Monday with some head swelling, projectile vomiting and extreme pain. This is to be expected along that path of healing so it is very important not to be discouraged. She received another CT scan, a chest exray, and a stomach exray and more medication . On Tuesday things began to look a bit better and by Wednesday, the pain was still there but the projectile vomiting had stopped. She is keeping her food down today and they actually switched her trach to a smaller size with a plan to hopefully remove it over the weekend. This will be another miracle as they told her that she would have the trach around 6 weeks and it will only be four. She continues to walk assisted with a walker down the hall and can turn herself in bed now. We still watch for the little things. Our wonderful Zone leaders came and sang for her today. What a blessing to have their faith and love. The spirit was remarkable.
Thank you all again for your continual love and prayers. Each day we continue to experience miracles as we continue in the hospital for 40 days. How we love and appreciate you and our wonderful missionaries for serving so diligently and for their obedience and dedicated service.
The William McKee Family.