It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Kassadi finally had the surgical procedure I had been dreading for months now.
Back in January, we received a miraculous MRI report that Kennedi’s posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) had re-attached without surgical intervention, after being completely torn while competing in a track and field event (read that AMAZING story here).
Meanwhile, Kassadi had been experiencing some growing pains and completed physical therapy to bring her some relief. The girls had been attending a female sports clinic at Shriner’s Hospital in Philadelphia for a few months, complete with testing and evaluations to monitor their overall health. Preparing for their follow-up visit, I fully anticipated that both girls would be discharged with clean bills of health.
Over the past 18 months we had been in and out of doctors’ and physical therapists’ offices. I was expecting 2020 to be the year for us to get back on track with amazing sports’ performances and experiences. I reasoned that God had just brought me through one of the toughest experiences I’d ever faced as a parent. Surely, He would now give me a reprieve with a period of calm and rest without complications.
But as I would soon find out, the year would bring major challenges in more ways than any of us could have ever imagined.
At our follow-up appointment, Kassadi indicated that she was having sporadic pain in her knee. After her examination, the doctor ordered an x-ray to determine if the source of pain could be identified. After viewing the images, an MRI was ordered to confirm her suspected diagnosis. I still remember being frustrated about having to go through the process of getting an additional MRI approved by our insurance, as I figured this was only another minor issue from her growing so fast.
But considering the doctor wouldn’t have ordered the MRI if there wasn’t a major concern, I still proceeded with my usual response of praying, gathering my faith scriptures, and speaking words of healing over Kassadi’s knee. Still, I was confident that the report would show nothing serious.
I began to reason with myself, how could there be anything wrong with Kass? She hadn’t experienced any injuries and was just kicking off what promised to be an exciting volleyball season. We had just traveled to Hofstra University for her tournament, and she played amazingly.
After a delay in receiving the approval, the day for the scheduled MRI had arrived. Calmness enveloped me as I sat in the waiting room, waiting for her name to be called. I shared that experience here if you missed the post.
At our MRI follow-up appointment, we received the confirmation for her diagnosis – Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD). We were informed that her knee would need to be surgically repaired.
WAIT – could that be? I had prayed for a positive report! This couldn’t be God’s answer.
I did everything I was supposed to do in response to an unfavorable diagnosis. I followed all the strategies I had been writing about every week, for encouragement overcoming life’s challenges. What about my victorious story that I was planning to share on Destined 4 the Dub? What happened to OUR Dub?
Still in disbelief from the diagnosis, I made an appointment with the orthopedic doctor who treated Kennedi during her injury, and we drove to Delaware for a 2nd opinion. He also confirmed the diagnosis, though wasn’t comfortable treating a growing adolescent. We were referred to a highly distinguished pediatric orthopedic doctor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) who specialized in treating OCD in young athletes.
We scheduled the earliest appointment available and a few days later headed over to Philadelphia. Our doctor was running an hour behind schedule due to an emergency injury that had just come in. I reminisced about Kennedi and how frantic we were at the onset of her injury emergency and said a quick prayer for the unknown patient. Then we saw a tall young man walk through the waiting room with his mother. His leg had been amputated just below the hip. Kass and I glanced up but didn’t say much to each other as we tried not to stare. I couldn’t imagine what he or his mother was going through at that moment, so I prayed for them as well.
Finally it was our time to be seen. Dr. Lawrence was amazing and took his time with us to complete the exam, explain the condition, and walk us through the entire process ahead of us. He assured us that he had completed the procedure hundreds of times and that we were in good hands, so we proceeded with scheduling the surgery.
I still struggled with my prayers not being answered, nevertheless mentally began to prepare myself and my daughter for the procedure. Kassadi made bracelets to count down the days until her surgery. She gave one away each day as a reminder for her friends and family pray to for her. I stayed busy and tried not to think about what was to come.
One morning I was reading one of my favorite stories in the Bible – the story of Lazarus’ resurrection. I’ve read this story many times and have referenced it in past blogs on D4TD. But I had never paid much attention to the words of Jesus’ response to Martha’s dispute that Lazarus had been dead for 4 days – as if there was nothing that Jesus could do at this point.
Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?
Whoa! I certainly believed, but that’s why I was having such a tough time with the diagnosis and required surgery. I had ignorantly defined the glory of God as Kassadi being miraculously healed. God did it for Kennedi, so I knew He was absolutely able to do it again. Yet I convinced myself to release my expectations and go through the process, confident that God’s glory would be revealed in His own special way.
Then COVID-19 hit our region, and I received a call that the surgery was being postponed indefinitely. I was immediately relieved and reasoned this was all part of God’s plan – yes! He would heal her just like I had originally believed, it was just a test of my faith. We would get our miracle after all.
But even with the reduced physical activity as a result of sheltering at home, Kassadi’s pain got worse, not better. Fighting off discouragement, I had to continuously remind myself to Just Trust God. A few months later the medical facilities opened for elective surgeries. We needed to move forward with getting Kassadi back on the doctor’s surgical calendar.
But what about the COVID-19 concerns? We had hardly left the house since mid-March, and I was extra cautious about being exposed to anyone after the virus had claimed my brother’s life. And what if there was an issue during the surgery? There had just been too much devastation already this year. I can’t lose my baby!
I couldn’t be held hostage to fear. I knew there were tough situations that I needed to face, especially if my constant prayer was to help and encourage others experiencing similar ordeals. Because of this, I now know the fear and anxiety a parent feels when their child is being taken away from them for surgery. Empathetic prayers are very different than sympathetic prayers.
While the medical team prepared to take Kass back to the operating room, I asked them to join us in prayer. I prayed for Kassadi, for each of them, and every other child that was in the surgical center that day. I asked for their continued covering and protection as they cared for all those children in the coming days.
And I still pray for them.
Maybe one of them really needed the prayer that day.
Maybe God has changed something in their lives as a result of my petition.
Maybe one small reason for this experience was so I could pray for someone who I may have never had the opportunity to pray for otherwise.
One thing I know for sure – every trial I face is to strengthen my faith even more, so I’m that much stronger when I face my next Goliath. Which I hope is no time soon (Please God!!)
This week, Kennedi sent me an inspirational video from Inky Johnson, whose arm was permanently paralyzed after an injury during a University of Tennessee college football game, months before he was expected to be drafted into the NFL.
This was a yet another reminder to be thankful in all things, because the situation could always be worse.
I captured a lesson he shared that I wished I had before walking into that MRI office: Accept God’s plan even when you don’t understand, and trust God’s plan even when it looks so different than yours.
We all face challenging situations in our life. Our response will heavily influence how we respond, and if we’ll live with the burden of our difficulties, or find a way to walk through them.
I challenge you today to believe God, no matter how bad it looks, and no matter the worst possible outcome you can anticipate. And once you can believe, Just Trust God and wait for his glory to be revealed.
Feel free to respond in the comments section… and share this story with someone in your life that could use the encouragement.
Follow Destined 4 the Dub for the Inspiration you need each week as we journey through the highs and lows of life!