10 Things I learned When My Child Was Electrocuted

I know my title is pretty shocking(no pun intended).  I have kept this blog on the lighter and fluffier side for the most part but I felt it was time to share a bit more of myself.  It is one of those parts that is a very painful place for me.  Sometimes we need to share those painful places because there may be someone out there who is in a similar place.  A place that seems dark and hopeless.  A place that I have been to, gone through, and emerged on the other side of.  If you are in a place like that, then, I write this for and to you. (deep breath)  Here goes...

It was not a normal week in our family...it was not normal at all..my husband had recently left myself and 3 children to go to medical school 2 hours away.  We had decided as a family that this was the best way to do things.  We are a close family so this was a heart rending thing that had happened to us but we felt this is what God was leading us to do.  

My dear hubby would be in Midland, Texas during the weekdays and come home for the far too short weekends.  The kids and I would stay in Rotan, Texas so their lives could go on with as little interruption as possible.  We just didn't feel it was right to uproot them for 2 years and then uproot them again to move back.  

Going to medical school was hard financially too.   It required that my husband(the primary earner) quit his job and go to school full time.  My husband had been laid off from his previous job with Enron in the oilfield  that earned a very nice salary and had been working as a paramedic for $10 an hour.  We had our Enron Stock (yes, you read right that is a whole other story) which had just recently escalated in value.  We could live on that and our local hospital was helping out with my hubby's expenses.  I could do several jobs around town to help out too.  

All our kids where in school at that time...Lindsey was a freshman in high school, Ashley was in junior high, and Reed  was in 2nd grade.  It was a very busy time in my life as a mom.  Each child was very active with many activities.  We were also very active in our church which had become like a second family to us when we moved from our beloved hometown and nearest family, 5 hours away to Rotan.  

I tell all of this to set  the scene for you a little bit.  There were of course more things but this gives you the gist of where we were that week.  To make things worse...my son had someone he thought of as a friend get angry and hold a knife to his throat that week too.  This had shocked and scared all of us.  We were feeling very vulnerable, scared, and missing my husband so much.

I have always dealt with stress by painting.  I was staying true to form that day.  I was re doing our bathroom and painting my heart out on those walls when suddenly the phone rang...it was the school asking me to come up because my daughter had been shocked.  

I drove to the school to find my oldest daughter in the principle's office holding her arm.  They told me she was shocked in the girls dressing room.  She had just changed clothes so she was barefoot on a concrete floor, she had just washed her hands so they were still damp, and she was wearing a ring on her thumb that had caught on the corner of the metal faceplate of the light switch in the dressing room.  Someone had called her name and it caught as she turned to answer them.  It made contact somehow with electricity and the lights dimmed twice and she was then thrown off. (weird but true)

When they told me this story I actually laughed it off.  "She was only shocked with 110 volt so she will be fine.  I have been shocked several times with 110 volt so she will be OK."  I looked at her arm and it was slightly red and swollen from where her watch was high on her arm down to the fingers.  There was a bit of a red spot where the ring had been on her thumb.  I decided to run her out to the clinic just so they could check her out and be certain she was fine. We had no health insurance at this time so going to the doctor was not a common thing in our family.  One pretty much had to be very injured or sick in order to go to the doctor.  I was confident she was OK.

The Doctor checked her and was a bit concerned that she might be burned because of the redness on her arm and so he decided to send us on to Lubbock, Texas just to make sure it was OK.  I sighed at this but decided better safe than sorry.  My daughter needed to have a couple tests done before we left (this hospital was like family to us).  While she had her tests I went home to change out of my paint clothes.  I called a pastor friend to go with us and asked his wife to pick up my other children from school.  I made no other calls because I didn't have a clue how to get my husband until he was out of school and all our family was at least 5 hours away. Thankfully, the phone rang as I  headed out the door, it was a friend who upon hearing the news hung up and began the process of getting in contact with my husband.  

When we arrived at our local hospital to pick Lindsey up for our trip to Lubbock we found the EMS crew loading her onto the ambulance.  When I enquired about this I was told they had discovered secondary heart block while I was gone. (heart sunk)

2 nail biting hours later we arrived at the E.R. in Lubbock.  The doctors checked her out and thankfully the heart block had already started to resolve itself.  They kept her overnight to make sure everything was OK. We left her that evening after seeing the doctor one last time looking well and feeling fine.  When we arrived the next morning to check her out the doctor met us with a worried look.  Apparently one of the night nurses had overdosed her with a pain medicine that she was not even supposed to have.  Our daughter looked horrible.  She was very pale, shaky and nauseated.  She was sick all the way home.  We also realized at this point that her hand was clenched into 1 position and would not open.  They had said nothing about this only gave us a card with an appointment for the next week on it. 

We went for the appointment the next week with her hand still in a clench.  It was a horrible experience where we were herded into curtained stalls to see the doctors who tended to be on the rude side.  They acted as if her hand being in a clench was no problem and gave us another appointment card.  When a physical therapist friend saw it later, he was shocked they had prescribed no therapy.  I thought up until that point that doctors knew best.  I was beginning to wonder.

She went back to school but I received a phone call later because she had collapsed and stopped breathing.  I rushed up to the school just in time to see her loaded onto an ambulance. She was shuttled off to the E.R. (my son was watching all this from his classroom).  When I arrived at the E.R. They had given her medicine and she was doing fine again.  They thought maybe it was Grand Mal seizures so they prescribed anti seizure medicine and sent her home.  

This day then began many days, nights, and weeks of this same thing being repeated over and over...ambulance rides...she stops breathing...she collapses...she looks like she is having terrible seizures...I do mouth to mouth...and then she is fine...they give her a new medicine to try...they do more tests...heart tests...brain tests...muscle tests...nerve tests...nightmares from the medicines.  We began a whirlwind of doctors appointments in Lubbock and at our home hospital.  Every single time we would see a different doctor who would ask me what did I mean by not breathing and then they would be rude to me and  try a new medicine or lecture me about how I needed to give the medicine time to work even after a couple weeks of using it.  Understand, that I try to never be rude so I just listened to their instructions and tried to not lose hope.  Lindsey was bird thin already and all this had caused her to lose down to skin and bone.   She was pale as death and I began to realize that my daughter was slowly dying and that no one seemed to know what to do for her so they were experimenting.  

I began to document every single thing from the beginning to the present that had happened thinking maybe that would help the doctors figure it out.  The doctor glanced at it and rudely threw it back to me and handed me another appointment card.  I began to do research on medical websites where the doctors go (remember my hubby was in medical school so this gave me access)  I found only 1 paper written about her condition and the paper was about how there was nothing known about how to treat it.   I was becoming desperate.  I remember hoping and praying God would just heal her.  I knew that every time she couldn't breathe that it was killing brain cells.  I couldn't stand  watching her die slowly and painfully like this so I prayed the unspeakable.   I told God that if there was a way to heal her then He had to help me find it or if he was going to take her anyway that it was better that he take her now, quickly and not torture her. (no I don't believe in taking that decision into my hands).  I was just at the end of myself watching her go through all this.

The next day in church, she collapsed again, They carried her out, I gave her mouth to mouth, she recovered and went back into church.  I stood in the lobby weeping, wondering if life would ever be normal again.  Worrying about her and about my other children who had faded into the background with all the focus on her.  I wondered why this had happened while my husband who was trained to handle this was away.   A man I knew walked up beside me and quietly told me he knew who could help me and gave me the name of a doctor.  

Before we got a chance to look into that doctor, my daughter had to go by ambulance again.  I sat by her bedside in the hospital without sleep for a couple of days and nights; (because I had a trust issue with nurses after her first night of being overdosed).  I broke down even more.  

I had just been given the news that she was going to have to undergo  another EMG (a very costly and painful test) because the hospital in Lubbock had lost the results from the first test.  A dear doctor friend just happened to be the one present when it happened.  He came in with a cheerful smile and asked me how I was.  That was the wrong thing to ask at the wrong time (or maybe it was the right time).  

I let loose on him all my frustration, fear, rage, and everything else that had been building up since it all started so many weeks ago. I told him about all the doctors, the medicines, the experimenting, all of it.   He then told me he would be back later and left.  I was horrified by my behavior towards such a kind wonderful man.

It was later that night that he came back.  Mind you he is an older doctor at a very small hospital.  He had spent the day getting every record, every test (there were many) and every report from every doctor.  He demanded that they find the lost test.  He told every other doctor to consider this case hands off.  He spoke to the doctor who's name I had been given...  He then proceeded to figure out the problem and how to fix it.  

He came to me with a diagnosis.  He said that this was a case of too many people involved in the case so it delayed the diagnosis.  Her nerves had been burned and damaged.  They would heal at a rate of 1 inch per month so he estimated that she would be better in about 6 or 7 months.  He said that every time those nerves were stimulated by anything that they would send weird signals and cause her muscles to clamp down in her back and neck which would then cut off her breathing which would last until she began to pass out which would relax them just enough to give her just enough air that it would keep her from passing out completely but not enough to function which is why she looked like she was having seizures (even to the hospital personnel) He adjusted her medicine, he put her into physical therapy, he had an appointment with the other doctor who turned out to be a Neuropsychologist.  

They did many tests and made sure there was no brain damage.  They also diagnosed her with post traumatic stress.  They worked with her several months and she is now healthy with the exception of no feeling in her fingers.  The old small town doctor was right.

Although I would not want to go through such an experience again there were several things that I learned with this experience:

  1. I learned that I don't know everything, she was not shocked by 110 volts as I first thought but it was 277 volts. The school hired many companies to come figure out why it happened and after many failed they just rewired it completely so that it could not happen again.
  2. I learned that doctors and nurses are humans.  They mess up sometimes and they do not always have the answers.  I also learned that there is tremendous pressure on them to have the answers so when they do not it is hard sometimes for them to admit that.  I learned to have mercy and forgive them.
  3. I learned that you find out who your true friends are when something like this happens.  I couldn't have gone through all this without them.  What do people do without a church family to lean on?
  4. I learned how to lean on God completely.  How to go to him when I need to make a decision.  I learned that he gives me strength to get through any situation.  How many nights I would go into my bedroom and weep in God's arms but come out with strength for the day and a smile on my face  for my children.
  5. I learned that a sense of humor can help much in this kind of situation.  As much as we cried through this time, we also laughed about silly things and made fun of ourselves.  It broke the tension and helped relieve the stress.  Lindsey's nickname became "sparky".
  6. I learned that it is wonderful to live in a small town where you know everyone and your neighbors help you.  A place where a small town doctor lived who would help my daughter.
  7. I learned that God is good and faithful.  He helped me in so many ways that it is hard to even name them all.  He put me in a small town where that country doctor was who would figure it all out.  There are many who would try to accuse God of letting this happen.  That isn't his will.  His will is "on Earth as it is in Heaven."  We live in a fallen world where the enemy comes into our lives and kills, steals and destroys.  The blame lies with the enemy.  It is God who helped us overcome that situation and sent help and resources when it was needed.  
  8. I learned that God takes care of us financially too.  We had people angry with us because we refused the temptation to try and sue the school.  We felt that it was a weird accident and  We don't try to gain from something like that.  God is our source.(later it was found out that we couldn't have sued anyway)  Do you know that after all that we ended up only having to pay about $1000.00 in medical bills?  How did that happen when we had no health insurance?  Unknown to us the school had taken accidental and medical policies out on all the kids in school and it took care of nearly everything.  
  9. I learned that our small town school was a wonderful place for my children.  The teachers and principles and secretary at school helped us in so many ways.  They helped Lindsey when she would stop breathing, They were with my other two children calming them down, giving them rides, tutoring Lindsey when she had to be home schooled because of the illness.  
  10. I learned how to receive mercy and grace myself.  The people who caught it from me when I would break were so kind and gracious to forgive me when I asked as was my Heavenly Father.

There you have 10 things I learned.  These aren't all the things that happened (it would take a book) and they aren't even all the lessons learned.  but they are part of my testimony...a testimony that says,"God is good and faithful all the time."  A testimony that has continued even to today.  I will say it again, "God is good and faithful all the time."  Even when the circumstances say otherwise, I choose to command those circumstances to bow to the Truth.  "God is good and faithful all the time!"

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Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Amazing testimony, Debra. You and your family are an inspiration. May God continue to bless and keep you in the palm of His hand. tanna

ps I went to high school (junior and sr. years) at Loraine... we played Rotan in football. ;)

Anonymous said...

An amazing story of God and his goodness. We went through something similar when my son was sick with Chrons and I had two Doctors tell me I was a nutty Mom there was nothing wrong with my son. God finally put the right Doctors in our path and he is healthy now. I don't know how people that don't know God get through these kind of things. It is never easy when your child is sick and you can't get the answers you need. I thank God for bringing you through this a stronger person. Many times over the year you can see that you come through these things to help other people come through them too. My God truly bless your family with good health.