Be Careful What You Pray For

Did you ever pray for something and then, after receiving what you asked for, wish you hadn’t?

Here’s the story of my prayer and my regret.

The week of Christmas, Tarica had only a few seizures, and in the two weeks following, she did equally well. I rejoiced.

But I also worried.

Next month, she will be admitted to Children’s Hospital for testing to discover if she qualifies for brain surgery. We had chosen to do this because the drugs were not controlling her seizures. But what if we were moving too fast? What if she could eventually gain seizure control through medication? Was her decrease in seizures a sign of growing control, or was it simply the unexplainable ebb and flow we had seen before?

Last week, this weighed on me, and so I prayed about it. Lord, show us if we are doing the right thing for Tari. I’m not exactly asking for a sign, but give us a little direction, please.

No thunder rolled. No Voice spoke. Life went on, and I went on praying daily: Reassure us we are doing the right thing; stop us if we aren’t.

I knew with this prayer I risked an increase in seizures, for that would be the surest confirmation, but we had seen many seizures. What were a few more?

And then I worried that I was, in essence, praying for my daughter to seize. But maybe she wouldn’t. Maybe nothing would happen, and we could reevaluate our decision. But maybe she would seize more frequently, and I would tell myself, I prayed for this. I shuddered at the thought.

The circles I took last week—it was dreadful. At least—I tell myself now—I was pacing those circles around the will of God.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday came and went. No seizures. Friday, Tarica complained her belly hurt.

Soon after, she trotted urgently to the bathroom. A short time later, she yelled, “Mom!”

When I opened the door, she said, “I have diarrhea.”

And she did. Numerous times that day. It was bad.

Other than frequent bathroom breaks and some tears over her achy belly, she was fine. She worked at her preschool book for some time that afternoon. At supper, she consumed a whole hamburger, methodically. I remember looking at her across the table, and she grinned at me as she chewed.

After supper, I was cleaning up the kitchen while the children romped with a big appliance box. They shrieked and giggled and hollered. All the toys they have in the playroom, and they have the most fun with a cardboard box.

The fun subsided to a dull roar, and then I heard a thump. I waited for a wail, and when none came, I froze. A thump followed by silence could mean only one thing. Seconds later, Jenica hollered, “Mom, Tari’s having a seizure!”

She was on the floor by the sofa, Linford beside her. She was seizing…and she seized and seized.

My mouth went dry. “This is too long. Shall I get the emergency drug?”

“Get it ready,” Linford said. “Maybe we won’t need it.”

I don’t want to tell you the rest. I failed my daughter. I got the bag of drug paraphernalia with shaking hands, and I opened packages—a sterile syringe, a vial, a needle, and other components that suddenly looked as comprehensible as engine parts and pieces to me. Ten months ago, I had been told how to fill the syringe and give it to her as a nasal spray, and now, under pressure, I couldn’t remember the instructions.

A clock ticked in my head. God, please help me do this! Still she seized, body convulsing, eyes staring, mouth drooling.

Five minutes passed. She should have the drug by now, but I was still trying assemble the engine. Six. I tried to give it to her. Nothing happened when I depressed the plunger. Seven. Dear God, please.

“It’s not working,” I said. Wailed. Moaned. “I can’t remember how to do it.” If she were permanently damaged from this, it would be my fault.

Linford said, “Jenica, go get a paper towel.” He put it under her cheek to mop up the drool. When he looked at the pieces that were supposed to rescue our daughter, they were not any clearer to him.

And still she seized. Eight minutes. Nine. Ten? Eleven? I wasn’t watching the clock.

I tried again. Maybe she got a little this time. I tried again and again. But I couldn’t get the syringe to fill properly, and so it wasn’t enough. I prayed incoherently.

Finally, the convulsions stopped. We wiped her face, moved her to the sofa. I knelt beside her and studied her eyes.

“I think she’s still seizing,” I said. “Her eyes aren’t focused. Her body is stiff. And she’s still drooling.” The sofa was growing wet beneath the steady flow from her working mouth. I shone a flashlight into her eyes; her pupils were huge pools of black, and she didn’t even flinch.

“Tarica, squeeze my hand,” I said. No response. Linford smoothed the hair back from her face. She moved nothing but her mouth.

I tried the rescue medication again. No change. She was at the mercy of the haywire electricity in her brain.

Not only had I prayed for this, but I had failed to administer the drug effectively. Oh God oh God oh Father God.

When you serve the Almighty, you should be careful what you pray for.

* * *

I must stop the story for a moment and speak to those who might find themselves in our shoes. Do not do this at home. If your child’s seizure won’t stop, call an ambulance. We live thirty minutes from the hospital, the roads were snowy, and we thought we had a drug that would stop it. It didn’t work out like it should have, but let this mistake be ours alone and not yours.

* * *

I hate to leave you hanging, but this post is long enough. I will be back in a day or two with the rest of the story.

8 thoughts on “Be Careful What You Pray For

  1. This brings back memories with tears. When you are under pressure, it’s so hard to remember & yes, the ambulance had to transport our daughter to Hershey several times. Praying for you!
    Our dau. Kara will be praying too – she knows what it’s like to wake up, laying in a hospital bed, having no clue how she got there.

  2. I really hate to hang 🙂 I’m sorry you had this traumatic experience. It sounds awful. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Panic is no joke. And, while I can understand your regret, I don’t believe God allowed this just because you prayed. He is sovereign and totally in control and He has a Divine Reason and Plan. You can learn the lessons you need to but don’t beat yourself up because we aren’t and God isn’t either. Love you!

    • Sorry to let you hang. It wasn’t my intention to do so, but I was running out of time and was already over 1,000 words. I guess I could trim my stories down to the bare facts, but I prefer to put a little more life into them.

      I’m always hard on myself. 🙂 But you are right. God wasn’t scaring the living daylights out of me just to make a point.

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