Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Most Frightening Night of My Life

This is a paper I wrote last Fall for a class. I don’t think I’ve told this story before.

At about 4:00 one morning our phone rang. It was Curt, one of my son’s friends. Curt also happens to be my boss’ son. He is four years older than my son, Justin and at the time was sort of like a big brother.

Curt told me to get upstairs, Justin needed me. Justin’s girlfriend who was upstairs with him had called Curt on her cell phone because she was scared to come down and wake up me or my husband. Curt then called me to make sure that I knew Justin was in trouble. At this time he was in a suicidal period, that I’m convinced was related to Cushing’s, so I had no idea what to expect.

I raced up the stairs and into Justin’s bedroom. He was lying on his bed and his girlfriend was sitting beside him. His arms were stretched towards me and his hands were curling into claws. It looked like he was trying to move his fingers and couldn’t.

Faith, his girlfriend, said that he was cold and cold to the touch. He had told her that he was going numb. I asked him if he could walk. I saw him open his mouth to answer and his mouth froze. In my mind I can still see the odd O shape of his mouth as he was struggling to answer.

Looking at his frozen hands and face I was reminded of his school counselor who is a quadriplegic. His hands have that frozen, claw-like look. I was scared. I started hollering for my husband as I ran from the bedroom with my heart pounding fast and my legs feeling like they were dead weights.

Bill, my husband ran to Justin and somehow helped him to his feet. I was ready to call for an ambulance but Bill said it was faster to take him ourselves. I still have no idea how they passed behind me and got out to the car without me seeing them. I turned around and saw the car headlights pulling out of the drive.

I told Faith she needed to stay at the house with my twelve year old daughter. I think I was too scared to try driving myself, I really don’t remember why I didn’t go out and get in the van and drive to the hospital. Instead I called my older sister who lives on the other side of town. I knew that the answering machine was down the hall from her bedroom. I remember shouting into the phone that I needed her help and hoping that I was shouting loud enough to wake her up. I was.

While I was waiting for her to arrive I called one of the men from our church to ask him to pray.

My sister picked me up in about five minutes and we arrived at the hospital a few minutes later. A nurse took me back to the ER and let me into the room where Justin, Bill and the doctor were. All three were just sitting there staring into space.

The most important thing to me was that Justin was alive. When Bill left with him for the ER I truly thought he was dying. I was sure if I didn’t get there in time I would not see him alive again.

My heart still races and tears come to my eyes when I relive that night from about five years ago. The only test they ran that came back abnormal showed his potassium was pretty low.

My son had been having a lot of medical problems in the months preceding this incident. I had been researching Cushing’s Disease because he had so many symptoms of the disease. Years later I figured out that he had been in an adrenal crisis. He was diagnosed with Cyclic Cushing’s Disease which means that at times his cortisol, a hormone vital to life and produced by the adrenal glands, would quite often be high causing Cushing’s. But at times the cortisol would be in a low cycle and the adrenals would barely be producing enough to sustain life.

That frightening night spurred me into searching harder to find a doctor that was willing to help us get to the bottom of Justin’s health problems. Since that night Justin has had two surgeries and his sister and dad have also each had two surgeries to rid them of Cushing’s. After our trip to the ER the surgeries barely phased me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


     This is a photo of my dad’s father as a young man. I’ve only seen a couple of photos of my grandpa. Both were after he had a family. I don’t know who gave this photo to Dad. I first saw it on the wall a few months ago among the photo Christmas cards. It looks like one of my sisters wrote on the back, so I don’t know whether it was sent to them or they wrote on it after Dad got the photo.

     When I first saw it, I was pretty sure I knew who it was because it reminds me of one of my cousins. I find it interesting that it’s taken with the “studio” in the background. Dad said this was his dad’s favorite horse. I wish I could remember his name. It seems it started with a D. But that’s all I remember.

     One Saturday after lunch I asked Dad if I could take it to scan and make a copy. Of course he said yes. I work in a photo lab/frame shop. I took it to work the next day and scanned & copied it. Then I laid it beside the scanner & it stayed there several weeks. He asked me about it once & I said I’d make a note to remember to bring it back. Well, I forgot for a couple more weeks. He then asked me if I’d gotten his dad’s photo framed yet.

     At almost 92, Dad’s memory isn’t the best most days. He remembered I had the photo & had had it for awhile. I’m guessing that he thought I’d taken it to frame or I wouldn’t of kept it for so long. So, I knew I should get it in a frame and take it back to him the following Saturday. And I did.

     During this time, he quite often said that he wished he’d gotten to know his dad better. Dad was only 17 when his father got sick and died. I think it was just a matter of days, but I could be wrong about that. I think his dad was a pretty quiet man and he had the burden of raising 10 children on very little money.

     I told Jess that I’d probably give him the framed photo & he’d ask me what it was for. That’s just how his mind goes quite often. So I was a little surprised that he got choked up and had tears in his eyes when I gave it to him. He looked at it for a long time before he handed it back to me & asked me to find a good place for it to sit. I was glad it was framed.

     Here are the other two photos I’ve seen of my grandfather. The one in the covered wagon with my grandmother, I believe was taken during Hoxie’s centennial. The other photo has one of the boys missing. I’m sure my dad is third from the left in the back row.

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