Last Saturday morning, Kristi went to some garage sales with her mom and the boys and I went out to test our skateboard ramp. When Kristi came home, Eli’s (our youngest of four boys) eyes and mouth had become a bit red and swollen, almost like he had gotten a bad sun-burn only in those areas, or like he was having an allergic reaction to something. We watched him all day Saturday, gave him some Benadryl and it didn’t get better or worse. By Sunday afternoon, it had begun to spread on his body and it began to look like he had a bad sunburn.
We took him to a pediatric urgent care Sunday evening and they said that it looked like an allergic reaction to something, they prescribed some Prednisone and referred us to an allergist. But, over the course of Monday, it became worse. We phoned our pediatrician’s triage nurse who referred us to Phoenix Children’s Hospital urgent care facility. Their initial concern was that it might be “Toxic Shock” or something related so they sent us to Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s emergency room for testing. Phoenix Children’s Hospital immediately admitted us, diagnosing Eli with “SSSS,” or”Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome.”
SSSS is a somewhat rare form of a staph infection involved naturally occurring staph cells that we all carry. In a certain number of children, usually 5 or under, something triggers these staph cells to release a toxin, which burns the skin. The mild cases (which Eli had) results in what seems to be a sunburn and minor blistering, but the severe cases can result in third degree burns. We were quarantined in the “infectious disease” section of the hospital. We were in the hospital beginning late Monday night and we were released Wednesday afternoon. Since it is somewhat rare, we had a parade of doctors and medical students coming by to look and ask questions.
I don’t know if you have ever had to admit a child to the hospital, but it’s not easy. In fact, it’s quite difficult. It downright sucks. Granted, Eli did not have anything life-threatening, but watching your tw0-year old son get an IV in his wrist and then having to hold him while he screams “DADDY, I SCARED!” is enough to break any Daddy’s heart. And it did.
The whole time we were in the hospital, I kept thinking about the song “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us (I was going to put a link to a video of this song here, but trust me, it’s very hard to find a good version).” There are times when I feel distant from God, but, thinking about how much I love my sons, what I would do for them, reminds me of how much the Father has loved us and how much He has done for us. If I can love my son this much and lay with him all night, how much has the Father loved us that Jesus died for us? It’s not that I didn’t already know these things, but when you’re in the hospital with one of your children, there’s a weight to these truths that penetrates your heart and reminds you afresh of grace.
I was reminded that opportunities to demonstrate and talk about God’s love and grace are always before us, we’re just not always aware of them. The first night we were there, I had the chance to talk with a nurse for about an hour-and-a-half. He was supposed to be asking me intake questions, but he kept asking about our family life. He wanted to know how Kristi and I have made it through 13 years of marriage, how I try to be a Daddy to four boys, how do we not treat them all the same. He had lots of questions about why our family seemed a bit different than many of the families that he encounters. I’ll be honest; I was dead-tired. It was 1:30 in the morning, my fourth son was being quarantined in the hospital and we had just traveled to and from Sierra Vista to do a funeral for some dear friends that day. I was a bit irritable. But I was reminded that, this was a perfect opportunity to tell this man that my wife and I have made it this far, we love our boys the way we do, because of Jesus. I was also convicted about how many similar opportunities I miss or ignore.
Recently at the Acts 29 pastor’s retreat, I remember Matt Chandler and some others talking about how there are certain times when you can actually feel the prayers of the saints on your behalf. This was one of those times for us. We have felt lifted up with strength and peace in the midst of a trial. We have felt loved and supported by people all across the country and it is humbling. It is one thing to offer prayer and help to others in need and it’s another to accept it. It is a healthy reminder that following Jesus is not an individual sport. We are all in this together. I hope that we can show to others the love and support that was shown to us. The world will know that we are belong to Jesus because of our love for one another (John 13:35). What a powerful apologetic.
We were released yesterday afternoon and have been home since. Eli is doing much better and it’s been amazing how quickly his skin has healed. He is on a very strong, very nasty oral antibiotic for ten days and eye drops, but he is not contagious. In fact, he’s playing with his brothers now. We’ve never been so happy to be back to the chaos. Thank you all for walking through this with us, for your prayers, service and support.