My son will be turning 19 in the hospital tomorrow. He’s been sick for years with a god-forsaken disease known as ulcerative colitis. All around us are kids sicker than he is, but that’s little comfort when it’s your son who wonders: “Why me?” There are no good answers for that.
Three weeks ago he had his final surgery that was supposed to only include a week stay in the hospital. We never dreamed he would be here for his birthday, but here we are. He hasn’t been able to keep any food or drink down and has been violently throwing up every day. He’s just exhausted and frustrated. They finally figured out the intestine right after his stomach is being obstructed by his arteries in something they call SMA Syndrome. POWs also suffered from this from being malnourished by their cruel captors. The only solution was to stick a feeding tube down his throat, into his stomach, and past the constriction so they can feed him enough nourishment so that the constricted intestine inflates again.
The people here in this hospital are so kind and caring. They let me come into the operating room where the tube was to be inserted. They had to watch via live x-ray so they could see where to feed the tube. My son has a ton of anxiety over tubes getting shoved down his throat, and it was very, very difficult for him. They let me suit up in a bunny suit, shoe coverings, hat, and lead protection over my abdomen and throat. I sat next to him and held his hand. He squeezed it very tightly to try to steel himself for what was coming.
As we squeezed each other’s hands, I said a silent blessing. I didn’t address Heavenly Father because I don’t believe in an anthropomorphic god. I didn’t close it in the name of Jesus Christ because although I like the symbolism of Jesus, I don’t think he was literally deity. I didn’t do it by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood because I don’t believe in that either. I said a blessing as his father, and I asked that the surgeon would be able to place the tube quickly and easily, so that my son wouldn’t have to suffer as long.
Watching the surgeon and two nurses work with him, with the awesome technology at their disposal, was awe-inspiring. I wish I could have taken a video of the whole setup. To see the surgeon thread that tube through his nose, throat, stomach and intestine, with a live x-ray view of the whole thing, was incredible and humbling. One nurse squeezed my son’s other hand, and they all gave encouraging words to him. It wasn’t easy, but soon it was done.
They all told me it was about 30 minutes faster than it normally goes. They weren’t sure they had ever seen a faster one. I totally admit my blessing may have had nothing to do with it. On the other hand, maybe it did. But I do know I don’t need anyone’s permission or authority to bless my family. Being a father, and even just being a human, is enough for me.