The Breath of Life (happy birthday, Sara!)

Today is our daughter's birthday.


Every birthday, we are amazed and grateful for the fact that she is alive and well. 
When she was 16 months old, she had a seizure that lasted 90 minutes.  90 minutes.

Because she was a chubby, seizing toddler, the medics in the military clinic could not steady a vein to solidly secure a Valium IV to calm the brain.  She eventually stopped breathing.

The doctor began to breathe for her through a table straw inserted into her throat.  He continued this while they took her by ambulance to the nearest hospital, twenty minutes away.  The medics would not allow me to ride in the ambulance.

They told me later, they had not expected her to live.

The situation was doubly frightening because we were stationed in Italy at the time, and she was going to an Italian hospital.  We were just beginning to learn the language.

After an unbearable few hours, an Italian doctor appeared in the waiting room and told us, though a translator, that our baby was stable.

However, she was heavily sedated and would probably not wake until the next day.  He explained that, due to the length of the seizure and their ardent attempt to stop it, they were unsure of the amount of Valium she ultimately received.

They would not know the consequences of this until - and if - she woke up.  They would also not know how her brain had weathered this trauma until some of the medicine wore off and they were able to get an EEG. 

We agonized in the waiting room the rest of the night.

The following morning, our baby woke up, very groggy.   I scooped her close to murmur soothing endearments.  She opened and closed her little hand, her version of a wave, and slurred "Ciao."  Then she fell back to sleep.

To see her eyes focus, her hand work...to hear her sleepy toddler voice...from what her brain had suffered, these were miraculous events.

She was in the hospital for eight days, during which time it was discovered she had an ear infection.  To everyone's surprise, her EEG was normal. 

The doctor who kept her alive by way of the straw said he'd never seen such a severe seizure, and in one so young, in his twenty years of medicine.  He did not think her prognosis would be positive.

When she graduated from college with a degree in chemistry, he sent her a personal letter and a Mont Blanc pen. Today, she is a chemistry teacher.

It has been beyond delightful to watch her grow up and discover the world.

As a kid, she loved soccer and climbing trees and wrapping string around her fingers until they turned purple (the early scientist in her.)

As a teen, she loved youth group and dinner theater and thought she might be a doctor.

She has always loved pickle juice and hated tomatoes.

She has been wounded by aspects of life, as we all have been, but is not bitter or cynical.  She is loving and generous.  Her heart is open.

As our only daughter, she must endure the love and silliness we heap on her because of that fact.  Bless her intuitive heart.  She is a beautiful, wonderful young woman.

Happy, blessed birthday, beloved daughter.  A limerick just didn't cut it today.

All our love...

Mom and Dad

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