Excerpt: When Angels Fly

July 31, 1990 – Tuesday

I woke up to a loud bang down the hall from Eli’s room at around 2:30 AM. Then I came to find out Eli had not been given his midnight and 2 AM pre-op IV antibiotics the doctors had ordered. Needless to say, I was pissed.  After giving Eli’s nurse a piece of my mind, she handed the antibiotics to me and then brought me new tubing.  I did the rest as she wanted out of Eli’s room as fast as she could go. Eli had a fever spike at this time of 102 degrees, and he threw up twice later in the morning. Eli had to take his medications twice since he brought up his first doses in his emesis and we could see them in it. With some anti-nausea medicine on board, Eli was able to keep his second set of morning medications down.

So many people at EU had read Joel’s story about Eli.  Joel was the one who worked up the story for The Durango Reporter newspaper

The staff loved Eli’s photo of him riding his red bike with training wheels.  One nurse commented that they didn’t see this side of the children they took care of, and that this reinforced their beliefs that sick children needed to have some time to still be children and not just patients in a hospital. It was true, and my conviction about this belief held even stronger.

Eli and I went down to the surgical holding area at 1 PM. Eli started asking me lots of questions then and was talkative. Only the pre-op nurse and I were with Eli. He said he knew yesterday that the doctors were going to go into his right lung in surgery. Eli also stated he knew he was “going to ICU” (Intensive Care Unit) “after the surgery.”

Then Eli asked me the question I dreaded the most.  He looked into my eyes and said, “Am I going to die?”

My blood froze.  The nurse stopped what she was doing and became as still as I was.

“No!” I said a little too loudly.  I didn’t know how to explain it to him. How would I explain to this little boy that what he asked broke me apart?

Before I could even begin to open my mouth, he asked again, “Am I going to go to Heaven where Joshua was?”

Although my throat was blocked with a huge lump, I somehow managed to tell him, “Only if God really needs you right now.”

“I want to go to Heaven, Mom” he said innocently.  Behind those blue eyes, I didn’t see a speck of fear.  And for a while I wondered where he got the concept of Heaven.

I wanted to cry because I didn’t want him to go just yet.  Not now.  Not in a few months.  Certainly never before me, not if I could help it!  So I told him softly, “We don’t always get what we want in life.  So you might have to stay with Mom for a while.”

I knew not what to say next so we prayed together. I kept praying as Eli was given light sedation before surgery and they finally wheeled him away to the operating room at around 2 PM. I lost my chance to ask Eli what he knew of Heaven. Why didn’t I ask Eli? Why didn’t I ask Eli what he knew of Jesus?

My heart broke as I cried.  Eli wanted to go to Heaven!  How did my five year old little boy know of Heaven when I refused to tell him much of Heaven for had I done so, just talking about it, would make Eli dying too much of a reality?  I wanted Eli to know of God and Jesus, but I was terrified of Eli dying so I said little to him about Heaven.  Somehow Eli knew though, he knew of Heaven and he wanted to go there.  Who was I to tell Eli, “We don’t always get what we want in life and that he might have to come back to me.”  Was I selfish to not want to give Eli back to God?

Dr. Moran came out of the operating room at around 3:45 PM. He told me that they took the entire large mass of tumor (it was Rhabdomyosarcoma) out as well as some surrounding tissues.  Eli was okay and taken to ICU at 4 PM. One hour later, I was in ICU and Eli was in so much pain.  The nurse gave Eli a lot of Morphine and I couldn’t stop crying inside or outside for that matter. Seeing Eli this way, going through hell and horrid pain, I wondered if it would be all right for me to allow Eli go to Heaven like he wanted to.

And yet, I was selfish!

Eli had a drainage tube in his lung and he was on a heart/respiration monitor as well. He wore a pediatric oxygen mist mask and the nurse told me I could only stay thirty minutes with him. Right before the time was up; I went outside for Henry, who had been in the waiting room, so he could see Eli.  He stayed for a couple of minutes, left, and went to the Ronald McDonald House. Henry was never in pre-op holding and never heard the thoughts and wants Eli voiced during that time; only his nurse and I heard them.  Henry and I never spoke while Eli was in surgery.

While Eli was in the operating room today, so was little April, a young girl who had to have her leg amputated as her treatment for Osteosarcoma had not worked.  This was the same thing that happened to young Roni.

Little Chrissy’s mom was told today that Chrissy had only limited days left.

Little Diane (diagnosed two days apart from Chrissy two years ago) coded on 5D today. She was in PICU and was not expected to make it through the night.

Why did so many children have to die?

Why so many in such pain?  I asked the Lord why.  But either He did not speak to me, or my ears were so deaf that I didn’t hear any response from Him.

I was able to go back in Cardio-Thoracic ICU again before 9 PM. I was able to get Eli to swallow some of his medications, but not all; and not all medications were sent to ICU from the pediatric floor.

I stayed with Eli for more than an hour and a half until his nurse said I had to leave for a while.  That was the only time I went back to the waiting room.  Half an hour later, I was back in the ICU with Eli.  He had required a straight catheter and only 180 ml of urine was obtained.

Eli’s extremities were so edematous. His nurse and I helped my son stand up in bed so he could pee – five hours after coming out of surgery!

Sometime after midnight, I finally left ICU and just stayed on the floor in the ICU waiting room the rest of the night.  The ICU staff and Eli’s nurse knew where to find me.

Henry stayed at the Ronald McDonald House all night sleeping in a nice bed with blankets, clean sheets, and pillows.


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