Monday, March 7, 2011

Daddy chimes in...(a guest post)

Hello All!  My wife has asked me to step up to the plate and share my thoughts with you as they relate to our experiences over the past year.  I feel honored to have such an opportunity here on this fantastic blog :)  Heidi has done such an awesome job at telling our story and sharing with all of you bits of encouragement, hope, and raw life.  Thank you all for supporting her and us in this way.  Writing from the heart can be difficult, but knowing that there are those that understand is comforting in ways that cannot be measured.

I thought for a while about what I could write here and truthfully, the possibilities are limitless.  That's code for "I like to talk and share and could ramble on for hours".  But, I thought that I would share a few thoughts and then include a private journal entry that I wrote shortly after Bekah's diagnosis and PICU experience.

On March 8th of last year, we took our precious daughter to see a doctor knowing that something was not right.  The doctor did some routine tests and took her vitals and then left the room.  When he came back in, he said that we needed to take a seat.  That was one of the scariest things I have ever heard.  That is never a good thing to hear from a doctor.  I braced myself and thought for sure that he was going to tell us that she had Leukemia.  Her rapid weight loss and lack of energy seemed to point in that direction.  But he did not say that.  He told us that she had Type 1 Diabetes.  At first I was relieved as even then I knew that people can live long lives with T1D and at least she wasn't being handed a terminal diagnosis.  On the other hand a million things went through my mind as I really had no idea at all what it meant to have T1D.

Unfortunately, the next thing the doctor said is that we needed to go immediately across the street to the hospital and have Bekah admitted to the ER.  She had a blood sugar level of 876 and was suffering from Ketoacidosis.  Not knowing exactly what that meant, we followed the instructions.  As soon as we got there and they assessed the situation, they told us they were going to have her transported to Children's Legacy Emmanuel Hospital in Portland.  Now, when your child goes from a doctor's office to an ER to a PICU at a specialty hospital, you know that something is seriously wrong.  Little did we know at the time that many children who experience the symptoms Bekah had end up in comas and never wake up.  It is probably best that we did not know then what we know now or we would have had an even more difficult time in the PICU.  But, Heidi and I do make a good team and especially when we are fighting for our daughter's life.  In the hours and days that followed, we would experience much, learn much, and go through a range of emotions.

The staff in the PICU was incredible.  They saved my daughter's life and I am eternally grateful for that.  God worked in my daughter and in the hands of her nurses and physicians and as He always does, He kept us and gave us what we needed each moment.  What happened from there was sort of a blur.  We had three other kids to arrange care for, one of which was a one year old that required constant attention and who wanted Heidi's attention whenever he could get it.  Unfortunately, the situation became even more chaotic over the next couple of days.  It turns out that our bank account had been drained of $1000 due to fraud, my son's school called and had to call an ambulance to come attend to him due to chest pains, and
I suddenly fell victim to an acute (and severe) case of vertigo.  For those of you that haven't had that pleasure, vertigo is a sickness that makes you extremely dizzy and nauseous.  Mine was severe enough that I could not walk or stand up and I had to be taken away from the hospital in the middle of it all in a wheelchair.  That sucked - really bad.

Can you imagine the worthlessness I felt?  Here was my family experiencing the biggest blow in our lives and where was I?  Stuck on the couch at home unable to do ANYTHING.  What a loser husband and father I felt like.  I missed out on some of the classes I was supposed to attend for learning how to care for my daughter.  I was not there to provide breaks for my wife or to comfort her or my daughter in this new world we found ourselves in.  In fact, I felt pretty darn bad.

I wanted to share a private journal entry I wrote shortly after all of this occurred.  As you read it, you can see what I was struggling with and where I have found my strength through all of it.  I share it not to solicit sympathy, but to share my raw feelings at the time.  Maybe some of you can identify with them...  There were other things going on in my life at the same time - some disappointments about relationships with my church and some doubt in my ability to lead a business as I was coming off of a business failure not too long ago.  Here it is:


I am feeling loss.  I know that it is good for me, but I feel loss.  Loss of control.  Loss of many things that I just assumed I would always have.

I lost what I thought church was.  I lost what I thought normal was.  I lost the confidence I had that I could build a business that mattered.  I feel beaten down.  And, at the same time, I realize that God has allowed these things for a reason.  His purpose is my desire even if I have to experience loss to discover it.

My natural reaction is to be sad.  To feel lonely or abandoned.  To feel that I have no value.  To feel very broken.

And that is okay.

I also feel scared.  Scared that I do not have what it takes to accomplish what God has in mind for me.  I am scared of insulin.  It keeps my daughter alive, but it is also the thing that killed my best friend.  I am not good with fine details or much of anything that requires precision.  And so it makes me nervous - one small mistake or miscalculation - one time of not noticing a symptom and my daughter's life may be in danger.

I know that the answer is ultimately never going to be about me being able to do anything.  It is God in me.  It is Him that will guide and protect me and my family.  And, I have already experienced His provision in my life.  I do not in any way doubt that He is in control and that He will keep us.  But at the same time, I have fears and stress and anxiety in the face of all of this.  Does that make me a bad person?  I do not lack faith, but for some reason it isn't always enough to chase away the other feelings.

As I sit here typing, I wonder if I have what it takes.  I want so much for God to use me in huge ways.  I want to be a mighty warrior for Him here in this world and in the next.  And I know that the very fact that I intend to be that warrior invites the enemy to attack in every way he can.  I want to be dangerous.  Heidi reminded me that not so long ago, I said that...  I want to be so dangerous that I would be on Satan's top ten list.  Bold, I know.  But I have no doubt that God has called me to it and has been training me for it for a long time.

Being on your enemy's radar is never a good thing though.  It means that there will be battle wounds.  There will be times when it will seem that he is winning.  Satan works that way.  He wants me to feel defeated.  He wants me to experience loss and blame it on God.  He wants me to withdraw.  He wants me to back down.  And I have to admit, I do not have the strength I need to press on at times.  What I need the most is to learn how to let God be my strength, my rock, my shelter.  He says he will be.  And, He will never leave me alone in these or any other battles.

It is so easy to get caught up in misery and self pity.  It is so easy to hide in a corner and give up.  But, now is the time I need to remember what God has already done in my life and in the lives of my family and grab a hold of the promises He has given.  He will not forsake me.  He has a hope and a plan for me - and for my daughter.  He is my shelter.  He is my strength.  Through Him I will get up from this place and move on.  I will find the victory that He has already given.  I will claim it.  Now is the time for me to lead my family.  To demonstrate God's power in and through my life.

God, help me to be the man you want me to be.  I desire to serve you and only you.  I will make it my purpose and intention to follow your leading in my life.  Please be my strength and my deliverer.  Take down my enemies and show me how I can best serve you.  God, if it is your will, heal my daughter.  I believe that you can at any time.  And if that is not what is best for her or us, then give us the strength to teach her, to keep her safe, and to learn to not let Diabetes hold us back or become the center of our lives.  I trust you to keep her.  I trust you to help me lead my family in the paths that you call us to.  Lord, make it clear to me where I am to go.  Grant me clear vision as you have done before.  And I know that this may be a little selfish, so I get it if you pass on this one, but you did tell us to ask for the things that are on our hearts.  God, I want to know that I am on the right path.  I am willing to endure whatever it takes to follow you, but I am weak and human.  I humbly ask for a sign or more than one sign along our path that will confirm for me that i am making good and right decisions for my family.  Thank you for never leaving me.  Thank you for being my daddy that I can always run to in hard times.  I would never make it alone.


So there you have it.  That's where I was at.  Since then, I have learned so much.  I have learned that God does indeed provide what we need each day to get by.  I have learned that my daughter is incredible - she is the bravest little girl I know.  She is tough.  She is smart.  And, she will not let T1D define her.  I have learned that my wife is a superhero.  She has a shirt that declares her true identity - it says that she is half pancreas and half ninja - how true that is!  I have learned that there is no such thing as normal in life - normal means so many things to so many people.  For us, T1D is part of our normal.  For others, cancer is.  Or autism.  Or cerebral palsy.  Or ADD.  Or any number of other things that can happen to our earthly bodies.  And I have learned to see the world through a whole new lens.

I am a better person through it all.  And so is the rest of my family.  I hope that in small and big ways we will go on to encourage others in similar situations.  I hope that we can give courage to those with fears, hope to those that feel they and the ones they love have been dealt a blow, and inspiration to others as we rely on God to take us through each and every day.  And most of all, I see now more than ever that each day is a gift we are given and the value of our lives depend on what we do with that gift.  Cherish every day you have to share with your spouse and your children as it is more valuable than anything else in this life.
I didn't want to mess up his post with my commentary but I just had to add a few words.  Can you see why I love him so much?  He has this beautiful heart that is in love with Jesus and wants to follow Him where ever He may lead.  He is the kindest man I have ever known.  He has taken on the daunting task of 3 AM checks so that I can have a half functioning brain in the morning.  Thanks for this beautiful, awesome post Jason...I love you! 


  1. Jason, It is good to meet you. I am constantly in awe of your family and especially Heidi. Her words, her support, and her perspective have been a comfort to me over the past year as I have gotten to know her. I can see through this weeks-worth of guest posts that your family is loved, admired, and supported. I am inspired by you all.

    Love to you...and thank you for posting.

  2. Thank you for sharing that with all of us, I love the whole post. You are a fantastic father and an amazing husband. This was a lovely way to start my day, and I love having Dads point of view and is very important. xoxox

  3. ...and I have learned to see the world through a whole new lens...
    what great words of wisdom.
    I am thankful that you shared and to just know that one child with diabetes is so amazingly surrounded by love. Keep up the hard work :)

  4. Wow. What a beautiful post. Simply beautiful.

    Heidi, thanks for everything. I've enjoyed reading all your "letters" from family and friends. What a good idea. Bekah will treasure those when she's older.

    Love you!

  5. What a wonderful and heartfelt post... you are both so blessed to have each other!