Thanks be to God for Houston’s healing

Our sweet Houston continues to improve by leaps and bounds. He can now brush and floss, put on and take off a shirt, tie his shoes, and cut food with a knife and fork all by himself. His fevers have disappeared and his appetite has come back with a vengeance!

I’ve had Houston doing a little schoolwork, too, now that he can write legibly and comfortably, and type at the keyboard. He’s also been lucking out of chores up till now, obviously, but we just keep testing out his abilities. So far, he’s straightened up the living room, loaded the dryer, and even helped Gabriel sweep the kitchen, albeit a bit slowly and crooked-armed.

Houston did fantastic at piano yesterday. He was able to play for about 30 minutes before his shoulder started to hurt. He read his newest Jack London book with me while his brothers had their lessons with Miss Julie and then crashed on her couch for the duration of our time there. Poor kid was pooped just from tickling the ivories.

Saint Panteleimon

We met with Dr. Xu again today. Just to be on the safe side, I mentioned some medical history from my side of the family (rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, and Scleroderma) that I thought may be related to Houston’s current sickness. The doc allayed our concerns, stressing that what Houston is experiencing – although autoimmune in nature – isn’t one of those serious chronic-pain conditions. What Houston has is temporary and is curable. Whew!

And in fact, Houston is right on track for his recovery. Xu said that he should be back to 100% in about two weeks and that physical therapy will not be necessary. The doc gave him the thumbs-up for spring baseball and told us to just keep encouraging use of his right arm as much as possible.

Our kind priest, Father Christopher, met us in the parking lot prior to the appointment to anoint Houston with Holy oil and cover him in prayers of healing and good health. Father also spoke of Saint Panteleimon, the Great Martyr and Healer.

My friend Maggie, who brought the family a huge home-cooked meal yesterday, had mentioned this saint, as well. His baptismal name means “all-merciful,” which was apt since Panteleimon dedicated his entire life to healing the sick and suffering in the name of Christ.

Interesting, too, that the saint’s birth name, Pantoleon, means “a lion in everything.” Both descriptors seem to fit Houston’s character to a tee – bold and strong, yet compassionate and tender. How cool is that?!

“Of Three Hands”

Maggie also told me about Saint John Damascene’s icon, “Of Three Hands,” which she thought spoke to Houston’s current health predicament. It represents the fascinating story of the saint’s miraculously healed hand and his thankfulness to the Mother of God for interceding on his behalf.

Well, we too are very thankful for Houston’s healing and all the prayers and love y’all have showered upon our family during this trying time. A special shout-out goes to our cherished and tough-as-nails Granny, who came to stay with us during this whole medical scare. We’d be a lot worse for the wear without her undying patience, care, and hard work!

And of course, we are most grateful to our amazing God for answering our prayers for our son’s recovery and good health and for our wisdom. So I’ll close in prayer.

“Lord Jesus Christ our God, the God of boundless mercies and compassion, Whose love for mankind is indescribable and immeasurable: I fall before Your glory with fear and trembling as I offer You thanks for all the good things You have granted me, Your unworthy servant. I glorify You, praise You and sing to You, the only Lord, the Master, and Benefactor.

“Again, falling before You, I offer thanks for Your unspeakable compassion and pray that from this day forth, as before, You continue to work Your wonders for me, that thus I may grow in love for You and to cry out and sing to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

It’s like Houston … on steroids!

Yesterday, Houston had his appointment with Dr. Xu, the orthopedic specialist. We were still highly concerned about all of his persisting symptoms: minimal right-arm mobility, lethargy, recurring pain and sensitivity that would sometimes bring my non-cryer to tears, and little to no appetite. Pretty much all his old complaints remained, only the fevers had gone.

Houston’s complexion had also become shockingly pale. When I say he looked white as a sheet, I’m serious. He didn’t have any rosiness to his cheeks and his usual olive tone was completely wiped clean by his sickness. Throw on top of that my already-skinny kid has lost probably close to 10 pounds since all this madness began less than two weeks ago, and needless to say, we were all highly concerned about his lack of improved health.

Houston cheerfully hugs his favorite bud, Snoop Joon (short for Snoopy Jr.), after snacking on peanuts and laughing with Mom, and then devouring an entire hotdog!

The doc – who was the specialist on call in the ER during both our hospital visits and made the original diagnosis – said Houston doesn’t have toxic synovitis. Once he gave Houston a physical, he said that this wasn’t an infection caused by a virus, but rather tendon inflammation most likely caused by … you guessed it … a virus.

See what simply laying your eyes and hands upon a patient can do. Xu knew immediately that the previous determination was wrong once he was actually present with the patient. Wouldn’t that have made things much easier for all of us – Houston, his family, the ER nurses and doctors and other staff, the radiation and blood techs, the pharmacies, the specialist and his practice and their other patients, the data-entry and medical coders, and all the insurance and billing folks who will eventually have to sift through and theorize price tags for all of Houston’s mistaken care – if the orthopedic simply would have made a visit to see my child on his first night in the hospital?

Oh no, they say. Specialists only look at breaks. They never make an in-person visit for any other ortho issues. Well, smarty britches, they should. And I may even challenge our bills once they ALL arrive in the never-ending dribs and drabs that healthcare providers and insurance companies love to mail. But I digress.

I’m not so much mad about the money; what I’m seething about is that my child could have avoided useless and harsh meds, a second sad trip to the ER (which was certainly the clincher to my now being sick), loss of vital calories and needed energy, sleepless nights, bouts of extreme pain, limited to crippled arm movement, days without schooling and time with friends, and of course, Houston just today beginning to be himself again.

I’m angry about a system that doesn’t care two hoots about humans, limiting suffering, and improving efficiency. A system that is bursting at the seams and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere but to hell in a hand-basket. I’m sad that all that ibuprofen and hydrocodone to treat a misdiagnosis masked some of Houston’s pain, but wasn’t making him well.

What he’s on now is burst steroid therapy: 3 teaspoons of Prednisone a day for five days, 2 teaspoons for two days, and then 1 teaspoon a day to finish it out. The dosage was so intense for his rail-thin frame that the pharmacist asked me what the heck the poor kid had and why he was needing such heavy stuff.

But the meds are working, slowly but surely. In fact, it was just this evening where we started to see glimmers of our old Houston lively Houston. He’s eating, laughing, wanting to go outside and see friends, being snarky, and making all those sweet sounds of unapologetic wonderment that only a child can create. He’s regaining his spark.

He was able to hold and write with a pencil and even played a little piano. And as of his last “physical” with Mom before bed, he could move his arm (although a bit hesitantly) in most directions, with the only real challenge coming from trying to raise his hand straight above his head. I’m telling you, his improvement was a blessed sight to behold!

Please keep praying for Houston, for I doubt he’s quite out of the woods yet. I’m actually taking him to his piano lesson tomorrow. I figure it’d be good therapy for him to try to play with his teacher, although I’m sure he won’t be able to make it the whole 45-minute lesson. I guess Gabe and Zeke will just get some extra time with Miss Julie if he can’t last.

And then we go back to see Xu on Friday. I’ll be sure to update everyone after that follow-up. Thanks so much for your continued prayers, calls, texts, and thoughts for our biggest Amigo. And thank you God for answering our supplications.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

Erring on the side of caution

Just got back from round 2 at the ER, but this time we were only there 7 hours. Stephen, Granny, and I had gotten really concerned about Houston. His ibuprofen regiments hadn’t been managing his pain very well.

He was still eating like a bird and getting intermittent fevers, as well, and not improving in arm mobility, which was dramatically limited to begin with. In fact, it seemed to be getting worse!

We were told that he should start showing improvement after 48 hours, and even though we hadn’t quite reached that mark, we had grown extremely concerned. We called Kim, the amazingly compassionate MA at the Urgent Care we saw on Friday, to get her medical opinion, and she agreed with us: err on the side of caution and take poor Houston back to the ER.

We took two cars, since Stephen is sick himself and we knew he may need to leave early. Houston rode with him, so during my whole trek downtown, I kept having these visions of Houston never again being able to throw a baseball. Or write normally. Or give bear hugs. Or have full use of his right arm.

I was certain we had waited too long to get him to the doc in the first place, and that his little tendons and muscles were getting eaten away by the viral infection – or even sepsis. Thankfully, none of that was happening. (He did have to get another x-ray, but no blood work, which made him happy. Turns out, he hates having his blood drawn and has super-tiny veins just like Mommy.)

We got the exact same diagnosis: toxic synovitis caused by a viral infection. We also obtained an Rx for some heavy pain meds, which he needed by the time we got home from the hospital.

But more than anything, I guess what we really got was peace of mind. Knowing that Houston’s going to be okay – eventually. They say it’ll take a week to two to get him him back to the vivacious, funny, and smart kid we all know and love.

He’ll be seeing his pediatrician and orthopedic doc this week, and from there, it’s just baby steps and unceasing prayers on the road to good health. But God is good. So very good.