Eddie died in the summer of 2007, almost eight months after our trip to the PICU when he had RSV and I had Boudin. If you had told me on that cold December morning when we were rushing him to the hospital, begging him to breathe for me and watching him turn a dusky grey, that we would have that much longer together I would have wept with joy. As it was, no one really thought he was going to make it. No one except me and Phillip, that is, and we were running on blind faith.
After ten days or so on the respirator, we had a physician's conference one morning. The topic was whether or not it was time to pull the plug. It was put much more delicately than that, of course, but that was the bottom line. Ed was not responding to the breathing treatments and they were out of options from a practical medical point of view.
Eddie was on a breathing machine called an oscillator. It's like a respirator, but it shakes it's victim like a leaf. It serves a good purpose, I know. Something about opening up the lungs. But you have to know my baby Eddie. He had a temper that would put Yosemite Sam to shame and a tolerance for sedatives and pain killers that rivaled Sid Vicious. He was neither as out of it as everybody thought he was nor as relaxed as they assumed. And he was really, really pissed. Phillip and I knew this with the kind of deep down knowledge that comes only from God.
Armed with this knowledge and a conviction from the Holy Spirit that it was correct, I pled Eddie's case. I told them he was mad about the oscillator and holding his breath against it. I begged the doctor to put him on a normal respirator and promised he would breathe on his own soon after. I looked like a desperate parent, grasping at straws. My argument finally boiled down to "what would it hurt to try?" The doctor was very sweet and tactful, but her bottom line was that it was a waste of time and resources. I finally won out, though. All those years of law school did not go to waste, I guess, or I was just pathetic enough for her to have pity on me.
The atmosphere among the respiratory therapists and nurses was like the two minute warning of the final quarter of the big game when your team is down by a touchdown and they have first and ten on the fifty yard line. Over the past week and a half, the PICU staff had really become our biggest fans. They had never heard Eddie utter a word or seen his amazing smile, but they loved him and they were rooting for us. He was switched to a normal respirator and soon they started doing what they call "sprints," changing the settings so he was doing more and more on his own for longer and longer periods. Eddie was a champ. Halfway through the day, the RT that had brought me my Boudin sausage earlier in the week put a post-it note on our glass wall facing the nurses' station that said "Eddie da sprinter." I still have it.
Eddie was breathing on his own by the end of the day, sitting up in his bed smiling at everyone and drinking popsicles melted into Pedialyte. His gastroenterologist came to see him, stared at him for a moment before saying just one word and leaving: "Amazing." The next day there was another physician's conference, this time with a very different tone. The doctor was gracious, happy that we were right. We made plans for Eddie to have a central venous line replacement surgery the next day with discharge soon to follow if all went well.
Before we left, the social worker in attendance asked us simply, "How did you know?" I smiled and gave the only answer I had. "God told me," I said. It's the kind of thing I never could have imagined myself saying before Eddie. The kind of thing crazy people and cult leaders said, if you'll excuse the redundancy. It was the truth, though, and it was backed up with some good, solid evidence. I wish I could always have that kind of boldness now. Now that life is less dramatic and more normal. It's harder to be a Jesus freak when you are talking about finances or your kid's latest chest cold than it is when God just brought your baby back from the dead. It's easier to talk hope when people say there is none than when everything is just kind of lukewarm and neutral. It's harder when you are running the marathon instead of the sprint. I learned a lot from Eddie da Sprinter, though, and so it is with boldness that "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phillipians 3:14)