In my mind it was the biggest moment in Chaia's story.
The PET Scan.
The nurses didn't even know how to get to the area of the hospital to have the PET Scan done because it is uncommon for kiddos to have done.
The damage to Chaia's heart was significant and the doctors needed to know if areas of the heart that were damaged were scarred and dead or if they were in a state of dormancy. They've found that the human heart, when under significant distress can actually pull in all the reserves and try to heal itself through a phase of dormancy. The PET Scan was the only way to determine if there was scarring or dormancy.
I remember that morning, the doctors rounded and they came to our room and there was a palpable tension as everyone knew it was a big day. They asked how we were. I told them we were ready to crush a PET Scan. They laughed. I smiled while nauseous.
They came back hours later and told us it was scarring which was worst case scenario. We had a nurse that day who had been at the Cleveland Clinic for decades and was a good nurse that kind of reminded me of a bull dog. You didn't mess with her or her patients. She closed the curtain and gave us a box of kleenex and let us weep. (I think inside she was a big softie).
One of the pediatric intensive care unit doctors came in and said that he was a man of faith like I was and prayed for his patients, but that we needed to understand clearly that Chaia's heart would not get better. The damage was done.
We already understood all that and this just seemed to twist the knife a bit, but I'd rather people shoot straight with us than tell us half truths...I think.
25% of her heart was scarred. It would not get better. The damage was done.
But we are 4 years past that now.
This past October we went back to the Cleveland Clinic for two days of imaging, check ups, tests and scans to see where we stand. We got a lengthy report mailed to us afterward summarizing the results and indicating that Chaia is stable. Pseudo tumor in head is stable. Bones that were fractured are healing and stable. And there was a brief synopsis of her heart that said "mild distortion of the left ventricle".
Now this is not our first report received. We know which 20 pages are repetitive medical jargon that can be glossed over and where to look for the good concrete indicators of what they are seeing and thinking. And I kid you not, every report we've ever received has said "severe dysfunction of the left ventricle". So Shaina and I thought maybe we caught the cardiologist on a good day. Maybe he'd had a good breakfast something and he was feeling optimistic or gentle or something. So I emailed him a follow up just to see what his read on things was. That was in October. Just got his response last week. Thought I'd share it:
Hey Ben Sorry. Crazy here. Clinically I think Chaia is amazing in every way. She looks great and is more advanced than we had ever hoped. Speaking more directly to your question her echo is nothing short of amazing, not normal mind you, but way closer to normal than expected. I do remember telling you that she had a large part of her heart that scarred… when her heart was smaller as was she. I also said that our hope was that as she grew, the scar would not and that the parts of her heart that were healthy would grow disproportionately and make up for the injury to some degree. I think that is what we are seeing...Merry Christmas.
The healthy part of the heart has grown disproportionately to the scarred part of the heart. Life is taking over death. Vitality is more vibrant than scars.
Ezekiel 36:26 is happening like we have prayed.
He makes dead hearts beat again.
I guess that's what I'm hoping and praying for this Christmas for each of us.
That the scarring and pain and sadness and depression and insecurity and anxiety and fear would give way to new life. That the scarring of your heart that you are convinced will not get better...the places where you sense the damage has already been done would encounter the One who says THE WORST THING IS NEVER THE LAST THING.
So as we approach the thrill of hope and a weary world rejoicing at the celebration of the new life God created in a manger, may you experience the gift of new life. May your scars be swallowed up by healing. May your hope and joy and peace grow disproportionately to what's been written off as dead.
The damage may be done. But God is far from it.
Let every heart, prepare Him room.