When their son Chris Dekker, a college student, called home complaining of a cough and fever, Doug and Cheryl gave the typical parental advice – take some Tylenol and get some rest. How could they know that his flu–like symptoms would render Chris in critical condition in just days?
Chris tested positive for H1N1 and was given a pass to stay out of class for a week. Rather than have him laid up in his dorm room, his mom made the three hour drive to pick him up so he could recuperate at home. But he didn’t get better.
During a visit to the emergency room Chris was diagnosed with pneumonia and sent home with antibiotics. Two days later Chris was still getting worse and was admitted to the local hospital and moved to the intensive care unit.
His condition continued to worsen so Chris was transferred from the local hospital to Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha. He had a temperature of 105 degrees upon arrival. Once there the family set up camp at the motel across the street.
Not Enough Hours in the Day
“We knew right away that we were going to be at the hospital for an extended length of time,” said Doug. Doug and Cheryl switched off between staying with Chris and getting some sleep at the motel. “Instead of sleeping though, I spent hours on the phone calling people to tell them what the doctor had to say. It was time I couldn’t really afford to use. I needed my sleep,” said Doug.
So they started a CaringBridge website. “Now instead of taking hours on the phone to let people know what was going on, it took minutes,” said Doug.
At one point the doctor gave the family devastating news that Chris was the sickest person in the hospital. Chris had now developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and had to be sedated and paralyzed. “I truly expected him to die,” said Doug.
Writing in the journal allowed Doug to vent his feelings and thoughts in a safe way. “I know I said things in the journal I would not have said out loud because I don’t think I would have been able to say them in front of people without totally losing it,” said Doug. Using CaringBridge to share news allowed him to take breaks and compose himself when he became emotionally overwhelmed.
Prayer and Recovery
Over the next few weeks Chris continued to have breakthroughs and setbacks, and then a miraculous recovery. Doug gives much credit to CaringBridge for his son’s recovery. “I feel that the biggest benefit was the prayer support and words of encouragement we received,” said Doug. “On more than one occasion the doctor told us there was nothing else we could do. In a matter of minutes we’d have thousands of prayers by putting out the word on a CaringBridge journal entry that Chris needed prayers.”
Those prayers and guestbook messages were constantly shared with Chris. “We would sit in our son’s room, even though he was paralyzed and sedated, and read every guestbook post to him,” said Doug.
Chris has no memory for over three weeks of his illness. Now that he has recovered and returned to normal college life, he’s able to look back at his CaringBridge website for the details.