Surely, we "do not know what a day may bring forth," (Proverbs 27:1), yet we can rejoice regardless in the hope that God's grace is always sufficient. The sun rose over Jerusalem as our faithful VW van headed towards Sheba Medical Center this morning. Inside was precious cargo: a sleepy three-year-old girl named Payman and her faithful grandmother from a war-torn city in Northern Iraq. Payman's journey to Israel was prompted by a life-threatening heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot. There are four malfunctions in her heart that need critical intervention – intervention that couldn't be found in her home country. Jeff (fellow Shevet nurse) and I have been closely monitoring her this week due to low oxygen levels. Despite having bursts of energy, she quickly fatigues and struggles to catch her breath.
I've also observed Payman to be strong-willed at times, which may reflect in her a resolution to live. With parents unable to escort her to Israel, Payman's grandmother considered the cost and came to her side. The sacrifice was leaving behind her paraplegic husband who is wheelchair-bound and fully dependent on his wife's care. Fearful for her husband's well being, this woman has shed tears from the moment I met her until now. She longs for her granddaughter to be made whole, while aching to be home with her husband.
As we waited for Payman's first evaluation and echocardiogram, her grandmother began sharing the tragedies her family has endured in Iraq. She shuddered upon mention of Saddam's name as she recounted the battle that left her husband paralyzed over twenty years ago. The heavy burden she carries, however, was lifted for a moment when Gaddy (fellow Shevet member) invited her to a game of billiards during the wait. She smiled delightedly, cue in hand, as Gaddy looked on amused. Shevet certainly provides grounds for reconciliation and friendship on many levels. Only God could bring people together from such different backgrounds!
When the time came for Payman's electrocardiograph (EKG), she was as calm as could be. The EKG is a noninvasive procedure that reads the electrical activity of her heart, giving doctors a way to measure abnormal heart rhythms.
This was followed by an echocardiogram, which sent Payman into a tizzy. Perhaps the unfamiliar setting and the ultrasound probe moving across her chest instilled fear. Nonetheless, after her grandmother climbed onto the exam table and Payman cried herself to sleep, the test was completed.
Dr. David decided that the echo's 2-D imaging was not sufficient and that a 3-D CT scan on Sunday would further confirm her diagnosis. If all went well, surgery would be scheduled as soon as Monday, June 6th. We proceeded to leave Sheba rejoicing in how quickly things were advancing.
Then suddenly, Gaddy and I noticed Payman began losing her balance and turned a frightening shade of blue in her arms and face. We immediately returned to the cardiology department, where doctors agreed it was best to monitor her for the next twenty-four hours. Soon after being admitted, Payman's oxygen saturation plummeted from the eightieth percentile to the thirtieth percentile. Screaming from fear made breathing even more difficult as she fought to remove the nasal canula from her nose. This created the need for a sedative in order to calm her. Nurses and doctors swarmed at her bedside trying to assess and stabilize her.
In the end, a central venous line was placed in her neck after multiple IV sticks in her arms and feet failed. A second sedative was given, bringing Payman into blissful slumber and increasing her oxgyen level. Her grandmother wept over her but seemed relieved to see Payman peaceful at last. I marveled at the grace and timing of God in today's turn of events, thanking Him for preserving this little girl's life. A recent quote I read summarizes my thoughts on this tumultuous yet grace-filled day: "Since this little world first swung in space, there never has come a day of which you could not sing, 'This is the day the Lord hath made, we will be glad and rejoice in it.' Nobody but God would dare to make a day...He dares because He knows that He is mighty enough to control it." – from the book Watchman on the Walls, by Hannah Hurnard.