Alex’s Fish Story [Memory Lane]

This week we’re going to take a trip down Memory Lane! Each day this week I’ll be posting one of five of my favorite stories ever published here. Some are taken from books (like today’s) and others have only been published online thus far. These are some funny, some sad, some heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. I invite you to enjoy them with me, too.

Alex's Fish Story

Alex’s Fish Story

July 3rd, 2005

“I was waiting for Dad to come get me,” Alex calmly explained to his mother. Stifling back a laugh at first, she finally came to realize the amazing depth of trust in that statement.

You see, there’s a bit more to the story.

On a hot, muggy Virginia morning, the three Campbell boys headed out to a small private pond to do some fishing. One day prior, the eldest and his father had enjoyed a leisurely hour or two catching a dozen or more little fishies with the owner of the pond. It was so great, we wanted to do it again, and this time with younger brother, Alex.

We drove down in the golf cart, which was a bit of an adventure of its own, and got ready to do some fishin! We had even brought some fish food to entice the big catfish up to the surface. It worked! They were amazing! Really big fish with big mouths that they opened up wide and swished across the top of the water from side to side, catching as much of the floating food as they could with one gulp.

Once we had gotten a bunch of fish around the dock, we loaded up the hooks with worms and tossed in a couple lines. One for Ian, and one that Alex & Dad shared. I was thinking as we did, “What if we actually catch one of those catfish?!” I didn’t really want to try and take them off the pole! And, I was warily watching Ian, as I was not sure he could reel one of those suckers in!

We had a few nibbles, even a few times the bobber went completely under the water… but no luck for a while. Alex was having enough fun just feeding the fish the food we had brought, so he did that and Ian and Dad fished.

We were on a little twelve-foot by eight-foot dock at the edge of the pond, so we had a nice spot to fish from, but a bit dangerous as the boys like to get close to the edge to see the fishies, which Dad was none too comfortable with! So, with the occasional warning, we had no problem.

Not long into the hot afternoon, there was finally some action! After all those nibbles, we finally had something! I started reeling in something larger than a little brim and told the boys to come look! Ian was getting excited too, but had to pay attention to his own bobber out on the water. I finally caught a glimpse of it. It was a bass! About twelve inches long or so. Nice!!!

As I reeled it in and brought it up on the dock I called to the boys to get them to come see it up close. I was reaching for the fish to pull it off the hook when it happened.

SPLASH!

I couldn’t really believe I had just heard it. I thought for a second that I hadn’t. But, I had. I turned toward the sound to find Alex was gone! Just… gone! So as Ian continued fishing, not really knowing what was happening, I hurried over to the edge of the dock, and I don’t remember if I put my pole down first or after I got there, but it still had the bass on it when I did! As I reached the edge, I looked over the side and there was Alex’s orange hat… UNDER the water! The water was quite murky, so that’s mostly all I could see—his hat and his slightly raised arms floating under the water, appearing to be heading down.

I just froze. I looked down, incredulous, and I was sort of waiting for him to at least try to come back up. Then I would reach down and get him. It was only about two and a half or three feet to the water surface, so I could probably do it. But… nothing. Not any movement at all!

So I jumped.

I couldn’t see the bottom, but it sure did look like he was sinking, and he wasn’t moving! So, I jumped in with visions of other frantic parents you see in the movies searching to no avail through murky, child-stealing waters. I was not sure what I would find, or what I would do, but love for my son just made me jump!

(I hate even the idea of swimming in ponds, by the way.)

Thankfully, I hit the bottom not long after the surface. The water level was about half-way up my chest. I immediately grabbed Alex and pulled him out of the water. He gasped quickly, and I set him up on the bench on the dock to catch his breath. He coughed a bit, and I asked repeatedly—but calmly—“Alex, are you OK?” His first response was a very shaky, “No…” But, I could tell he was breathing mostly normally, and all was going to get better soon.

It was at this point, Alex being out of danger, that I noticed that the bass was still on my line. Not only that, he was swimming right next to me! For some reason, he had not tried to escape, and drag the pole with him. He ended up in the water, and just stayed there during my rescue efforts. So I removed him from the hook, and let him go.

I got out of the water, and tried to reflect on what had just happened in that five to seven seconds that felt so much longer. I sat next to Alex, who was still shaking, and put my hand on his back. We just sat there in silence for a few moments. Perhaps he was soaking it in as well. (No pun intended…)

Ian broke the silence with a classic Ianism. “This is a day I will never, EVER forget.” (You have to actually say it out loud the way Ian would for it to be an Ianism.) Ian continued to make sense of it in his own way by saying a few more things, but I don’t remember exactly what they were.

Within a few short seconds or minutes, I am not sure, I noticed Ian’s pole dip way down. He had something!!! And as Ian struggled to hold on and reel in the beast, I thought, “Oh no! Ian’s going to get dragged in too!!!” So I jumped to my feet and grabbed on to his pole too! Even with me helping, that fish was putting up quite a fight! We figured we had caught one of those giant catfish, or maybe a whale. That was my second guess. We shall never know as the fish broke the line just as I was trying to figure out what in the world to do with a 2-foot catfish caught by a not quite 4-foot little boy.

Lucky break.

“I think it’s time to go back inside, boys,” I said in my fatherly wisdom. They concurred.

We packed everything up and went for a therapeutic ride through the woods on the golf cart. We approached the house, and found that Mom and sister had just headed down to the pond to visit with the boys, unaware of all that had transpired. We met up with the girls and began to explain the whole sequence of events, finally heading inside to clean up.

Still processing everything by recounting the story to Mom, Alex came up with a line that just stunned me upon hearing it. I actually heard it through Jen’s retelling.

“I was waiting for Dad to come get me.”

He was submerged under water quickly and unexpectedly, and he does not usually find himself in such a predicament anyway! No struggle. No attempt to swim. Nothing. He was just “waiting for Dad to come get him.”

What kind of trust does it take to do that? Perhaps a bit of ignorance of the danger he was in? Perhaps. But just the fact that he would say that was so incredible. How many times do we fight and struggle and kick and flail—and it gets us no where—because we aren’t waiting for our Dad to come get us?

He can, and He will.

It was quite a day. I will not ever forget that image of my son floating to the bottom of a pond, looking already quite dead and lost. I am sure Alex will not forget the experience either, as Ian has already declared for himself.

But I hope I never forget the lesson in trust either.

“I was waiting for Dad to come get me.”

Life in the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on Life Lived by Greg CampbellThis post is a chapter in the book Life In The Rearview Mirror: Reflections on Life Lived by Greg Campbell, available through Amazon.com. If you’d like to purchase the book, please click the book title in the previous sentence. Thanks for reading, sharing, and feel free to add to the discussion in the comments below, or wherever else you can reach me.

“Who Does Dad Love?” [Memory Lane]

This week we’re going to take a trip down Memory Lane! Each day this week I’ll be posting one of five of my favorite stories ever published here. Some are taken from books and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. These are some funny, some sad, some heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. I invite you to enjoy them with me, too.

Today is Cameron’s birthday! So this day’s Memory Lane will feature two Cam-centric posts! One this morning, and one later today. Enjoy! (And happy birthday to our littlest boy!)

Who Does Dad Love?”

February 29th, 2012

Putting Cam in bed is usually a job for Dad. It’s great fun, actually. Cam and I definitely “bond” at these regular meetings. We’ve come up with plenty of fun regular rituals: which blanket goes where, which book is read first, and so many more entertaining—and important!—routines that perhaps I’ll elaborate in a future post.

As we were wrapping up another fun bed time, I asked him, “Cam, who does Dad love?”

I expected a big smile and a jocund, “Caaaam!” but instead Cam’s first thought was, “Warrmart.”

Walmart?? 🙂

I asked, “Walmart?”

“Yeah… Warrmart.”

Pause. Gathering thoughts. “OK, but, who else does Dad love?” (It was hard to stifle my laughter at this point.)

“Mommmmm!” Cam offered with a smile.

“Yes! Who else does Dad love??” I was determined to get to the supposedly easy answer I initially sought. Apparently, Cam thinks I’m pretty good at loving lots of people!

And Warrmart.

“Adex,” was Cam’s next suggestion.

“Yep! And who else does Dad love???”

“CAM!” At this point both our faces lit up and we enjoyed a big “squeeze hug” and, actually, continued the game. 🙂 Cam came up a few more times, as did Mom, and then the rest of the kids.

Jen suggested that Walmart probably came up because it had been mentioned as part of the plans for the day, but that activity never materialized. The kids have $10 gift cards to spend at Walmart … from Christmas! Guess we should get to that some day…

So I may not love “Warrmart”, but I unabashedly love that beautiful little boy you see above: Cameron James Campbell!

Detective Dad [Memory Lane]

This week we’re going to take a trip down Memory Lane! Each day this week I’ll be posting one of five of my favorite stories ever published here. Some are taken from books and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. These are some funny, some sad, some heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. I invite you to enjoy them with me, too.

Today is Cameron’s birthday! So this day’s Memory Lane will feature two Cam-centric posts! This is the second post for July 30th. Enjoy! (And happy birthday, again, to our littlest boy!)

Detective Dad

February 13th, 2012

Sometimes as a Dad, you find yourself in the role of detective. The cases are often thrust upon you quite circumstantially. There may not necessarily be a victim, who comes to you asking for the mystery to be solved. Often, the clues lie before you and it’s up to you, Detective Dad, to solve the unexpected puzzle.

Today was such a day.

This time I found myself sorting through the various clues in reverse order. I had dismissed them previously, as just a normal part of the managed chaos of a home with a two- and a three-year-old. With such folk around it is not uncommon to find a toy here, a puzzle piece there, an article of clothing pretty much anywhere. Very easy to think nothing of such “clues”—missing the fact that they point to a great, unsolved mystery.

The final piece of the puzzle today was the sugar bowl spoon.

As I began to prepare some yerba mate this morning, I opened the sugar bowl to discover that the spoon was coated in sugar. This happens, of course, when the spoon has gotten wet and then is placed once again into the sugar bowl. Being quite fastidiously against this action, I knew instantly that my sugar had been “disturbed”.

A quick recall of (many) past events allowed me to quickly piece together the evidence and reach a(n easy) conclusion. Pieces of evidence like the cars discovered in the hallway… the sugar bowl on the floor, rather than in its proper place—which I had overlooked before, since on occasion in my haste I have left it there, not properly replaced to its comfortable home amongst my various beverage supplies. Everything was pointing convincingly to the obvious culprit.

You see, a while ago Cameron discovered that there was a quite readily available supply of the white stuff just a staircase away. And often, it was completely unguarded! What more could a two-year-old sweet tooth as for???

Now it seems he has gotten a little better at covering his tracks, though. Previously I would find the sugar bowl, lid off, sugary spoon on the carpet, surrounded by piles of white crystalline evidence everywhere. (Plus, stray crystals in and around the various mugs that surround its normal resting place.)

Once—and only once—I found the lidless bowl ON my comfy reading chair, much of the contents all over the cushion, the footsool, and the surrounding floor are.

As I said, that only happened once. 🙂

Another time, the sugar bowl evidence—coated with dampened sugar—hidden around the corner in a narrow storage alcove, well out of view of any who might stumble upon his enjoyment of the “forbidden” treasure.

He’s no dummy. And he sure loves his sugar!

So today, thankfully (I think?) there was only the mess of a wet spoon returned to my sugar bowl. Otherwise all is well. Not sure how much he ate, but the bowl is only half-full now … could he have eaten half?? Hopefully not, for his sake!

When I next speak to Cam, I’ll remind him again that this delight is off limits. Again. Not sure what effect it will have. I’ll just have to keep a vigilant eye towards all those small evidences of crimes against my beverage stand.

And for now… remember to lock the door. 😉

Will You Let Me Love You? [Memory Lane]

This week we’ve been taking a trip down Memory Lane! Each day this week I’m posting one of five of my favorite stories ever published here. Some are taken from books I’ve published and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. These are some funny, some sad, some heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post. I invite you to enjoy them with me, too.

Today’s story belongs to our lovely little Emma. She is the youngest girl and both a beauty (inside and out) and a genuine spitfire! Vibrant, full of life, vivacious, alluring… that all sums up Emma.

In this story, however, Emma’s softer side is revealed. In fact, I think you’re going to need to go get some tissues before reading any further.

Got ’em? OK, here we go.

Will You Let Me Love You?

February 12th, 2011

Sometimes babies do dumb things. OK, a lot of the time. But usually (really almost always) they are really cute doing them, so, you tend to pretty easily forgive. (That and, they’re all fairly new on the job, so, you cut them some slack.)

Well, today, Emma (who is 2, almost 3) decided she would live up to that.

After her baby brother’s nap (he is 1), she joined him in his crib for a little bouncy fun. Well, the bouncing turned stale I guess, and she thought it would be fun to involve the curtains in the play. It might have been fun at first, but then she jumped a little too high, and pulled a little too hard… and…

The curtain rod is no more.

I came down from my office to get them and noticed that the window did not look right. A quick glance downward revealed the nature of the change in appearance, and I just shook my head in frustration. I surveyed their faces and surmised that Emma was the culprit. (She admitted as much within a few seconds of my assessment.) I scolded her, and removed them from the crib and examined the damage to see if it was reparable. It was not.

So I left the room frustrated and, was also frustrated with Jen that they had somehow escaped her custody. I was just frustrated.

Skip ahead through dinner (steaks!), and bath (fun!), to Emma’s bedtime. She is once again in her brother’s crib (how else can you say good night to him??) and that brings back to her mind the events of the early evening.

“The curtain is broken,” says a sad-voiced Emma.

“Yeah, it is,” says Dad, matching her tone. “But it’s OK, I can fix it.” I even began sort of propping it up to hopefully block some of the morning sunlight.

“Will you let me love you, Dad?” came the sheepish, sullen request.

It took a few seconds to register. I am not sure I’ve ever heard those words strung together, or spoken like that. In our family, we learned that when we wrong each other, rather than saying, “I’m sorry,” which is nice, but leaves the offender still very much “in control”, we feel it’s more appropriate and meaningful to approach the offended, and humbly ask their forgiveness: “Will you please forgive me (for [insert offense here])?”

That is what Emma was asking. She may have been mimicking the tone and phrasing (her own interpretation) of what she’s seen, but I think it was also coming from her heart. And her two-year-old brain actually revealed something amazing to me.

“Will you let me love you” is, in effect, what we’re asking when we ask for forgiveness. Yes, that we’d be forgiven, and receive love from the offended, but also that we’d be allowed to freely give love, too! How could Emma know that? But that’s the great thing! She does!. Jesus said we should be like little children… and that is why. To Emma, life is very simple. Very relational.

(It’s also about candy. And rubber chickens. And frequent screaming. But that’s for another blog post…)

Tonight, Emma got it right. And she got a great big hug and kiss.

And I definitely let her love me. 🙂

Misdiagnoses [Memory Lane]

This week we’ve been taking a trip down Memory Lane! Each day this week I’ve been posting one of five of my favorite stories ever published here. Some are taken from books I’ve published and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. These are some funny, some sad, some heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post. I invite you to enjoy them with me, too.

Today’s adventure was one that little Julia would just as soon forget! What started as a routine, Sunday night visit to the Emergency Room at our nearest hospital, unfolded into a full-blown medical catastrophe! Rather than give away too much here in the introduction, I’ll simply give way to the story as originally told, Misdiagnoses.

Misdiagnoses

August 14th, 2012

It’s been an interesting few days here in the Campbell home.

(I know… when isn’t it, right?)

You see, it all began with a phone call from Grandma. (Well, sort of.)

Last Wednesday, Julia and Dad (that’s me) went out for an OK Night. Just Julia and Dad out on the town. McDonald’s for french fries, games, and play place. Then we hit a couple more places before the night was through. It was a blast!

And the best was still to come!

The next afternoon, Mom drove Julia, her two sisters, and their baby brother, Cam, over to meet Grandma who would take all four youngest kiddos back home with her for three days! They were so excited!

The first night was just wonderful. They love being at Grandma and Grandpa’s house! They even enjoyed a big buffet for dinner. Nice!

(We four back home were having good fun of our own, too!)

But then came Friday.

Now, whether it was the food she ate at the buffet… or the PlayPlace the day before that… or just something else entirely, we still don’t know. What we do know is that that afternoon Julia began throwing up.

(Yes, I said “began”.)

It was probably only a few times, but it was quite unexpected (and messy, according to Julia) so it just caught everyone off guard. Grandma even called us asking, “What do I do??”

“Keep her hydrated and plenty of rest,” was our best advice, not ones to jump to the medicine route. So sad, but Julia wanted to stick it out, and Grandma did, too.

Well, a day of rest on Friday seemed to do the trick. Fever had subsided, throwing up had ceased (though she was still battling the “other end”…) and she even perked up a bit, becoming her regular chatty self.

Whew! Glad that’s over…

NOPE! 🙂

Saturday morning they went to a park. Julia played. And played. When they got back, she was completely spent, hurting, tired, and “out for the count”. She slept on the ride over, and looked pretty bad when she got out to come inside our house. Still had a fever, too.

She went right to the couch and laid down.

We ate dinner (she ate something else… I think?) and made it through the rest of the evening till bedtime.

At this point, as I’m getting everyone ready for bed, Jen comes and tells me that she thinks it might be something more serious than just a little bug, so she wanted to call the doctor and see what they thought. I figured they’d probably just tell us to call them Monday, but it couldn’t hurt. Well, to my surprise (maybe Jen’s, too?) they suggested we bring her to the nearest emergency room to have her checked out, based on what Jen had described to them over the phone.

Interesting. But, they were just thinking it might be some sort of infection thing that could need antibiotics. They just wanted to be sure.

Sure would have been a welcome thing in the hours that followed.

(Yes, hours.)

I’m sure that you, the reader, are aware that late at night on weekends, hospital emergency rooms can have long wait times. Well, as Jen tells it, they actually got in pretty quickly. But, once they did a quick once-over of Julia, they decided (thanks to her not having been “immunized”) that they needed to run every possible blood test. Fun!

No. Not fun.

Jen and Julia left our house at around nine o’clock pm. The hospital is 10-15 minutes drive from our home. They got in rather quickly… but then waited HOURS for the follow up tests.

(Meanwhile, back at home… I have put the other five to bed, enjoyed some quiet reading time, and at this point, started to wonder why I hadn’t heard from the hospital-bound duo. It was 11:45pm and I still hadn’t heard anything! I decided to call and get an update… voicemail! By about 12:10, still having heard nothing, I tried the phone again… and again, voicemail! Worried something had gone wrong, I remembered that I can “Find My Phone” thanks to Apple’s clever technology! I just hoped they weren’t in a ditch somewhere, or worse!! I was relieved to see the phone located in the parking lot of the hospital. 🙂 Jen had left the phone in the van … so a quick call to the hospital and the nurse filled me in.)

BUT THEN…

(I know… how does it always go like this? Can’t it ever just be simple, and go exactly according to plan??? Guess not…)

Around 2:00am, they are still waiting for blood tests, filling Julia with an IV, and now there is some concern that perhaps what she has is appendicitis! In fact, it was such a concern that they ordered a CAT scan for her. That meant, in her very tired, very sick condition, she had to down a large cup of bad-tasting liquid, then wait two hours… and then they would scan her to see if the appendix was inflamed/infected, or whatever it might be.

Two HOURS!? That’s 4am, folks. For my poor, sweet, sick, tired six-year-old Julia!!

At this point, I finally grabbed a few fitful naps… only half-sleeping in case I received a call from Jen, updating me on their progress. I awoke every thirty minutes or so, praying each time I did that Julia could rest, and that God would help the doctors find whatever might be causing this.

At seven o’clock, I awoke again, and found no van, no call.

Time to check in, I thought. So I called our cell phone and talked with Jen, who informed me that they were pretty sure it is appendicitis, and they have scheduled an operation for about an hour from now when the surgeon was to arrive.

!!?

SO, we went from a stomach bug, to a possible minor infection requiring anti-biotics to… emergency surgery???!

It seemed that was the consensus, so I jumped to action.

I definitely wanted to be there—before the surgery—but our van was already at the hospital. And, well, I had the other five kids here! They were all sleeping still, of course, but I couldn’t just leave them, even if I did have a ride!

The wheels were quickly turning in my head. I called Grandma & Grandpa to let them know how the adventure that had begun at their place had escalated. Then I talked with our neighbor about getting a ride to the hospital. Then, deciding to leave the kids in the care of our oldest, Ian, I woke up Alex so that he could stay with Mom while I came back to get everyone else (once Julia was in surgery).

All was going mostly according to plan. We were getting pretty close to eight o’clock. I was hoping that they were running later rather than early.

Alex and I got out and thanked our neighbor for her kindness, bringing us to the hospital so early on a Sunday morning. We rushed inside and asked where to find Julia and her Mom. They said she wasn’t on their list, so that probably meant she was already in the operating room. (No!!) But, they weren’t certain of that, and pointed us in the direction we needed to go.

A brief elevator ride later, we were at the Operating Room area. But… where was everyone? The OR was dark, and there was literally no one in sight?

Weird…

We went down a hall that we knew was not the correct direction or location, but we finally found someone who could perhaps get us to where we needed to go. She tried. She really did. But we kept coming up empty. No Julia anywhere!!

I was really sad that I didn’t get to see Julia before they operated on her! But I just wanted to find Jen at this point, and find out what was going on.

Finally we were sent back downstairs to the ER, where another nurse recognized Julia’s name and took us to the room she had been in that night.

To our surprise—good, happy surprise—there sat Mom, with Julia beside her on a hospital bed. (Looking really, really tired, weak, and sick!)

“Well, hi!” said I. “What is the meaning of all this!?”

I didn’t really say that. But it sounded more fun that way, didn’t it?

Jen explained that the surgeon took a look at the CAT scan results, did his own examination, and he said he was pretty sure it wasn’t appendicitis!

While quite confused, I was certainly relieved. No one wants their six year old daughter to go “under the knife” … do they?

As Jen was explaining, the surgeon returned and explained a bit more that, from everything he observed, and after consulting with another pediatrician that morning, he was fairly certain it was not appendicitis, and that Julia would be able to go home, take a little Tylenol for her fever, and just stay hydrated. “She should be fine.”

Stomach bug… infection… appendicitis/emergency surgery… she’ll be fine.

Hmm. 🙂

And so, we went home. Julia (and Mom!) slept nearly all of the day. As the day went on, she perked up more and more. We finished the day with a movie, and all went to bed feeling very, VERY relieved.

This morning, Julia went back to the doctor to make sure things were progressing as the surgeon had hoped. After her Sunday night experience, Julia was very apprehensive. She really didn’t want to go through all that again!! We assured her (as far as we could tell) it wouldn’t be like that again, and thankfully… it wasn’t. The current diagnosis is some sort of bacterial thing in her intestines.

What will it be tomorrow?!

For now, our little girl had a much better day, was smiling and playing through much of it, and is now peacefully sleeping.

Which is where I plan to be soon…

What a wild, crazy series of events! And all thanks to a handful of well-intentioned misdiagnoses.

Stopped On A Dime [Memory Lane]

This week we’ve been taking a trip down Memory Lane! Each day this week I’ve posted one of five of my favorite stories ever published here. Some were taken from books (like today’s) and others have only been published online thus far. These are some funny, some sad, some heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post. I invite you to enjoy them with me, too.

This last post is one of our favorite stories ever! It features our oldest son and one of his first visits to the emergency room.

But I don’t want to give too much away, so…

Stopped On A Dime

May 3rd, 2005

DimeSaturday had gone pretty much as planned. We were just finishing up a long day of serving at our church. With sound checks and two complete run-throughs of the service, coupled with a half-hour commute each way, those Saturdays are long and tiresome. Especially for small children.

On our way home, Ian (our six-year old) complained of pain in his nose. We were curious, as it was not a normal complaint, but chalked it up to a strange case of sinus pressure and continued on our drive home.

I was putting away some things that had been left out in our rush to leave the house that afternoon, and getting ready for a bed-time snack and perhaps a little Star Trek with my wife, when I heard a commotion in the boys room. Jen was putting the boys in bed and Ian was loudly complaining about his nose. When the situation had my attention, I heard him say frantically, “There’s something in there!“

This piqued my curiosity of course, and I peered around the corner to see what in the world he was talking about. He was standing on his bed holding the left side of his nose with a very concerned look on his face. Still asserting that there was something in his nose. Then a look of resolution washed over his face. The light went on, and everything was ok. That’s when Ian revealed to us what had happened.

“Ohhh…. It’s probably the coin.”

Those were NOT the words I wanted to hear. Just by the way he said them, and the look on his face, his previously hidden childish mistake had been quickly and very certainly brought into the light. I left the room as my blood pressure went through the roof. The next morning was coming early enough… a hospital visit was NOT in my agenda for the evening!!

Ian continued to explain a bit to Jen what had happened. Those moments, truthfully, were a blur, as I was trying to just get a handle on my anger. Once I had a bit of control back, I picked Ian up out of bed, and laid him on the floor of the bathroom. I looked for the tweezers Jen had recently gotten from a garage sale, and began to perform exploratory surgery. Ian was crying, and blood started to appear at the base of his nose. I had not felt anything like a coin, and was not willing to pursue any farther this on my own.

“Get your shoes on, Ian, we’re going to the hospital!”

I was not happy.

On the ride to the hospital (which we made in record time… adrenaline is a marvelous thing…) I was trying to process everything, and scolding Ian for his insanity. What is it that makes kids stick things up their noses?!? In utter disbelief, and still quite fiery anger due to the late night visit to the ER, I continued my steaming. Finally, God got a thought in there I believe. I realized that it was really a great thing that Ian felt the coin before he laid down to sleep. Who knows what might have happened if he had gone to sleep with a coin in his nose? So, I quietly thanked God for that, while still making a few incredulous comments in Ian’s direction.

We arrived at the somewhat desolate hospital roughly 10 minutes after leaving home, and proceeded through what looked like the most obvious entrance. We found ourselves in the treatment rooms hallway, with a few nurses looking on. I figured that was not the right place, so we continued to look for a registration area. Finally made our way through some automatic doors and into a lobby/lounge area. There was an older gentlemen sitting with a teenage boy across from a tough-looking lady with glasses who appeared to be in charge. There was no sign saying “Registration” or “Sign In Here”, just a sign saying “Do Not Disturb”. Not being one to always follow signs, I peeked around the corner and quietly asked, “Is this where we register?” The lady at the desk fired the quick retort, “I’m with a patient, have a seat!” I sheepishly admitted I had not been to this hospital before, and was just looking to sign in. She reminded me to have a seat.

So we sat. And we waited. The bespectacled woman was lecturing the young man about his sexual practices as we waited quietly for our turn to face the tongue lashing. It was quite sometime, and perhaps a good chance for Ian to think about what he had done. He was growing visibly concerned. I tried to assure him, and we did pray together that God would make good out of this bad situation.

After 15 minutes or more, a much nicer looking lady came out from the back. She spoke with the two men in the registration room, and the other lady behind the desk, and offered advice and information in a decidedly softer tone. They seemed to resolve something after a couple minutes, and the gentler, taller woman with the stethoscope retreated from the office and seeming to almost debate in her head whether or not to approach us, she stepped our way.

“So how can we help you, young man?” she asked, directing her words to Ian.

“I stuck a dime in my nose.” he said matter-of-factly.

“You did? That’s not the best place to keep your money…” she said with a smile. She continued to figure out the situation a bit, and kept the mood light and reassuring for a now scared little boy. After a brief moment, she had a plan, and we were taken into another room.

We waited, and then were greeted by another nurse. She took down some information, quizzing Ian for any details he could recall. We laughed with her about the things she had seen other kids put in their noses. It was quite a list! After about 10 minutes there, we were directed to the office where the previously rough-looking lady greeted us with a smile.

I knew that she was not going to be as gruff as we were now supposed to be there. At least, I hoped she wasn’t! I was right. She laughed a bit – just to lighten the mood – at Ian’s predicament, shared some similar stories, and reminded him that it’s better to keep your money in the bank instead of in your nose. Ian agreed.

By the end of our little information interrogation, she plopped a little stuffed Fozzie Bear down in front of Ian. A little treat for a tired and still slightly concerned boy… with a dime in his nose.

We were ushered to the last room on the right – room number 8 – past several nurses and other hospital staff, and the occasional occupied room. There is no shortage of hurting people in the world. Not even in Wayne County. When we got to our room, we were told the doctor would see us shortly. I looked at the clock, it was 11:15 already! This was not good. I was just hoping that they would be able to dig out the dime fast so we could go home and get a little sleep!

The clock continued to approach midnight, and we were not getting any help. I kept wanting to call Jen to give her a progress report, but signs continued to warn me that cell phones were a no-no in the emergency room. So, we waited, and we talked. I kept trying to reassure Ian that they probably wouldn’t have to cut off his head this time. Not this time.

Finally, a tall, dark-skinned man came into our room, and began asking Ian about the dime that had found its way into his nose. After a few questions, the doc dove right in! He had a nurse bring him what he called the “nose tray” and once she had, he grabbed the tools and started diggin’!

First, he took a look with that lighted pointy thing they always stick in your facial orifices. He looked up, moved it around, looked down. Ian looked a bit uncomfortable, and the doc looked perplexed.

“I don’t see it in there yet. Did you feel it fall down in your throat?” he asked Ian.

“Nope. I felt it in my nose,” Ian stated matter-of-factly. He’s good at that.

“Oh.” To the point, but not reassuring words from the kind doctor.

He began digging in Ian’s nose with some interesting looking forceps. They could stretch open the nostril whilst the light continued to illuminate the nasal cavity. He dug for a while, then repositioned the light, the dug for a while more. All making Ian squirm a bit. Still, no luck.

“I think it may have fallen back down into his throat and he may have swallowed it.” The doctor was fairly certain that this was our explanation. At this point, I believed him, but had a nagging and really annoying feeling that perhaps Ian had made this whole thing UP!?!? I didn’t really think so, but that was certainly creeping into my mind…

“I am going to send him over for some x-rays to see if he swallowed it. Stay here, and someone will come to get him for the x-rays.” And with that, he was gone. I checked the clock, and we were right at about midnight. Two hours… no coin.

After a bit more waiting (there seems to be a lot of that in a hospital) an x-ray dude came and took us to the room where they would take a look inside my son. A rather strange phenomenon, but I hoped it would get our heads to our pillows a bit more quickly.

We followed him into the room, and he began to set up the machine to take its photos. I found it curious that he appeared to be setting it up to capture Ian’s chest. That was what the doctor had relayed to him – check to see if he swallowed it – but still, I thought surely they would have to check in his nose, since that’s where he put it. The technician flawlessly captured two images of Ian’s innards. He and another x-ray dudette took a gander at them on that little LightBrite thing they use and surprise! No dime! It was then that the other tech offered the brilliant idea (with a hint of sarcasm) that we scan Ian’s head, to see if it’s still in there!

So, we did.

Ian stood by the face x-ray machine. They prepared him for the photo, and snapped a shot from the back of his head. After processing the film, and placing it on the LightBrite panel… THERE IT WAS!!!!! We have first contact! There was very clearly a white slash in the middle of Ian’s head that was not supposed to be there! The second tech said we should take a profile shot to verify where it was located. They proceeded to set Ian up one more time, and after processing the film, this is what we saw…

A dime in a boy's headRight in the very middle of my 6-yr-old’s bony little head was stashed exactly 10 cents. Not the first place you might look for loose change. Perhaps under the couch cushions, or in his pockets – or even better, in the washer after forgetting to check his pockets. But usually not the CENTER OF HIS HEAD.

At this point, after the hour of 12:00am, we are all a bit amused by the whole thing, and happy to have located the wandering currency. We return to room number eight, and await the official removal procedure from the doctor.

It was at this point, about 12:15am that I was able to finally call Mom and let her know that we found the coin. Unfortunately, Mom had long since fallen asleep. But, the message was left, and with great anticipation of returning home shortly following the call. Little did I know what was about to happen next!

The doctor told me that the coin was lodged at the back of the nose, just above the throat. He could approach the coin through the nostril, or from underneath through the mouth. He preferred the nostril, and looked at me as though asking, “Do you concur?” To which, if it had not been 12:15am following a painfully long day, I might have responded without a verbal cue, “I concur.” Alas, I was only able to mutter, “Uh, yeah. Sounds good.” Leaving me mumbling to myself afterward, “I should’ve said concur! I should have said, “I CONCUR!!!”

(See Catch Me If You Can to fully appreciate the above paragraph.)

So we found ourselves back where we started, in room number eight in Newark-Wayne Hospital, with Dr. Nwokonko sticking very long metal instruments down Ian’s left nostril. This was not a pleasant experience for Ian. He was definitely learning the cost of putting a ten cent piece up your nose. It was clearly a painful experience, so the doctor used some numbing gel on the end of a 10″ swab and after what seemed like a token swab of Ian’s nostril to numb the pain, he proceeded down, and down further, and then even further down inside Ian’s nose. He was attempting to dislodge the coin, and hoping it would fall into Ian’s mouth, and we could get it from there. No luck. That coin would not budge. He couldn’t see it, he couldn’t grab it, and he couldn’t push it out.

A bit stumped, he said, “I think we should go back to x-ray.”

I thought, “Oh boy! Are we going to keep taking pictures after every attempt? Just to see where it is now?” Thankfully, Dr. Nwokonko let me in on his plan, by explaining it to the x-ray technician.

“I’d like to do a [insert big fancy medical word here] on him so we can see where the coin is and be able to reach it that way.”

Cool! An x-ray video!!! Awesome, Ian!!! They’re going to shoot a video of your skull!!!

(Sorry… I was tired. And easily amused.)

So, as they prepped that machine we got to talk a bit with Dr. Nwokonko. (By the way, exactly how much do all of these fancy procedures cost, anyway? I know in Star Trek they are free… but this ain’t no Star Trek…) We found out his name, Dr. Nwokonko. Found out that he is from Nigeria. And that he occasionally works the night shift, but does not prefer it. He is a gentle, kind man. I am glad he was on that night.

After a few moments, we were ready to proceed. We went into the room, and got suited up with lead aprons. I thought it was amusing that the doctors and technicians wear full body armor while they shoot laser beam x-rays through Ian’s naked head. Doesn’t that seem a bit strange to you? Oh well…

They turned it on, and there was Ian’s head, and the dime. The procedure began. Having his target in visual range, Dr. N probed deeper than before, and Ian could feel it. My poor little boy was definitely tired by now, shortly after 12:30am, and had less tolerance for this much more aggressive treatment. My previous anger had definitely subsided, and though I may appear at times to be tough-skinned, that was a moment I would rather not relive. There was some pain in his cry, but perhaps more fear, and just desperation. It was definitely hard to remain behind the screen. I just wanted to come hug him, hold him. I offered words of encouragement best I could.

Despite what seemed like endless probing, and screaming, and Dr. Nwokonko repeatedly saying in his thick accent, “Sorry…” we were unsuccessful. The coin was just out of reach. He stopped his attempts to reach it, and just started talking with the tech about what they might try next.

This is my favorite part of the night…

Ian's self portrait of the dime in his head

Ian’s self portrait of the dime in his skull. 🙂

It was at this point that my amazing 6-yr-old son began offering his expert medical opinions. The doctor was saying that perhaps he would try the smaller forceps (thinking that perhaps the larger ones were too wide to reach far enough in.) To that Ian quipped, “I was thinking that bigger ones would work better…” It was sooo funny! The tech looked at him and she said, “You are quite a character!” He is too cool.

Well, despite Ian’s advice, Dr. N left to get the smaller forceps. Ian continued to offer some opinions and a little color analysis of the previous attempts to remove his nasal-stashed coinage. It was late, but the mood was still a bit light. We all hoped that this would be our last attempt.

Dr. Nwokonko returned, with the smaller forceps, and we turned the machine back on for one more try. Not appearing to be as patient this time, the doc dove straight in and Ian screamed again. In between cries, he did manage to get out, “Can you reach it fast, pleeease???” Even in extreme discomfort, Ian is polite to his elders. The idea seemed to be working, and Dr. N was very close to grabbing the coin. He reached and Ian squirmed, and he reached some more.

Then with one quick motion, the coin in the image moved, and was pulled completely out of Ian’s tired little head!

We were all quite relieved, and happy – especially the little boy who started us on this adventure in the first place. As he would later explain, he was “just trying to get a booger.”

We went back to room eight, awaiting discharge. Ian talking most of the time about his experience that night, and how he would never, ever stick anything in his nose again! I bet not! The female x-ray tech got us a copy of the x-ray they had taken with the clearly visible Eisenhower lodged in the center of Ian’s head. Ian also got a little care package from the hospital folk. And, lots of smiles as we walked out.

We drove home quickly, and at nearly 1:00am, Ian hit his pillow, ten cents lighter.

What a night! What a day! One we will not soon forget.

And all for only a dime.

Life in the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on Life Lived by Greg CampbellThis post is a chapter in the book Life In The Rearview Mirror: Reflections on Life Lived by Greg Campbell, available through Amazon.com. If you’d like to purchase the book, please click the book title in the previous sentence. Thanks for reading, sharing, and feel free to add to the discussion in the comments below, or wherever else you can reach me.

The Water Shoe [Memory Lane]

Continuing the series from the last week of July, we’ll been taking a trip down Memory Lane each Thursday in August! I will be posting some of my favorite stories ever published here. Some were taken from books (like today’s) and others have only been published online thus far. There are some funny, some sad, and some heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post to read more. I invite you to enjoy them (all) with me, too.

This was one of the most fun lessons in trusting God that we’ve ever seen actually worked out before our own eyes. It was truly incredible to be part of, and, all for only a tiny shoe.

The Water Shoe

October 29th & 30th, 2003

This collection of articles was written “real-time”, not after the fact (until the fact had actually happened) and so we wanted to present them that way, but we have put them together in one chapter calling it The Water Shoe. We still have the water shoe. It only cost us a few dollars at a Wal-Mart somewhere along the way, but it is now priceless for what—for Who—it represents. So, sit back and read the story of the day we found The Water Shoe…

Flowery Prayers

October 29th, 2003

I was humbled again. By my son Ian. I love it when he does that. Really.

We were praying, and sometimes Ian is a bit embarrassed to talk with God in front of people, even Mom and Dad. Tonight he was again, but He decided to.

A bit of background…

We went to the beach tonight after sunset (yes, the water was still quite warm!) and Ian and I were having a bunch of fun jumping waves. On one jump, over a large wave, Ian returned to the ground quite upset, and finally got out of him that he lost his water shoe!!! I spent 10 minutes feeling around for it, and looking around in the moonlit water. No luck. And all I could think about was the trust of Ian for his Dad to find his shoe (that seemed to me to be quite precious to him) and how I could not do it. So I kept thinking that God is in control of oceans. And I kept asking him to help me find it, wash it up on shore, or put it in my hand. Whatever he wanted to do for my son Ian who completely trusts both of his Dads. Well, no shoe, but I kept thinking that we should just come back tomorrow morning… so, I went back to Ian and told him that. And we are going to go back and look for it tomorrow morning.

So, fast forward to tonight, praying before Ian goes to bed. And Ian decides he can pray without getting embarrassed. He simply asked God to “please put the shoe on the beach so we can find it tomorrow. Thanks.” That was so cool.

The part that humbled me was not that. We continued to pray, and this time I was praying for our friend Kayla who is sick in the hospital with pneumonia. I thanked God for being big and powerful and asked him to help in many ways to heal Kayla, and to help Kayla’s Mom have peace as she trusts Him.

Simple. Plain English. That’s how I would talk to my dad, so that’s how I talk to my Dad.

But Ian wanted to pray for Kayla, too. So he did.

“God, we know that you are mighty, and powerful… and we ask you to… get the… to… uh…. (many words) … help the doctors get medicine to help Kayla’s body to get better. So she doesn’t die.”

Notice a difference? I did. Ian was getting all flowery (in his best four-year-old way… because I guess I do. I try hard to just be real with God. Guess I can try even more. I don’t want Ian thinking God is a distant, unapproachable God who only listens if we use the right words.

Thanks Ian for a fresh perspective.

Thanks Dad for Ian.

You are both awesome. (In different ways of course…)

Ian’s Shoe

October 30th, 2003

The Water ShoeJust a quick update on Ian’s shoe…

We got up this morning at 7am, which is like 3 hours before Ian usually gets up! We walked right out the door (Dad and Ian) and headed to the beach. We asked God as we walked to show us where He put the shoe… and we started looking. We probably looked for 30 min or so, up and down the beach where we had lost it. No luck. I finally told Ian, “Why don’t we go home and we’ll come back and see if God wants to give it to us later. Sometimes God likes us to learn to trust Him by waiting.”

So we did. We made it back to the beach around 1:30pm or so with the whole family, and started to look again. We were just having fun, too… but Ian really wanted to find his shoe. He said, “Ask God again, Dad!” I told him, “Yeah, I can’t do anything about this Ian. If God wants to give you your shoe, He will, if not, then we’ll just have to get another one.”

Within one minute I think, Ian had gone up to be with Mom (out of the water) and they started walking down the beach, and there were shouts of excitement… THEY FOUND IT!!! It was just sitting right in the beach wash (which Ian and I had checked at least 4 times earlier today).

Wow. Thanks God. You are the Wave Maker. The Oceans (and the Gulfs) obey your commands. And you love your children so much. We are amazed at God’s abilities and his love for us.

Hope you know that too.

From My Perspective

October 30th, 2003

I just wanted to add some more on the fantastic faith story of Ian’s water shoe. Just some thoughts from my head throughout the whole thing.

Can God Really Do It?

That thought obviously kept going through my head. In a way. You know, I really had no problem believing that God could bring Ian’s shoe out of the water and neatly onto the shore for us… but where my mind betrays me or gets me into trouble is on the “does he want to” side of things. I mean, what does God care about a shoe?

But He Cares About Ian…

But I kept coming back to the fact that it’s not about the shoe. It’s about how much God loves Ian—and even me—in this. He loves it when we come to him believing that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith Like A Child.

You know, I actually saw Ian’s simple faith waiver a bit. But it wasn’t as insecure as my wavering. I wonder if God would ever do something big and God-like for me… but Ian didn’t worry about that. He just wondered when it would happen. He knew God would do it. That was so cool. I did too actually. It was honestly some of the most confident I have been in a while, and I just smiled every time I was talking to God cause I really knew He was going to do it.

Moments of Doubt.

There were plenty of moments when I had looked and asked and found nothing where I wanted to just give up. And I would talk to God again and ask Him what should I do… lead me to the shoe. (That rhymed…) I knew that even if God did not come through with the shoe, there would be some awesome story of His provision. I was confident in that.

Celebration!

You know, I honestly thought I would celebrate more. But all I wanted to do was smile and worship God. We sang some, we shouted out “GOD IS AWESOME!” and just had fun. But in the end, we were really expecting Him to do it! We knew he could, and we thought he would. Amazing.

I think that is how God wants us to live. Completely trusting Him, even when it doesn’t make sense, or seem possible. There are so many chances we have in life to trust that God is bigger. Sickness being one of them. Our friend’s daughter is really, really sick. And they love Jesus. A lot. They are in a crisis of belief. Can God fix this? Will he? Does he love us? They know all the answers, but now they have to trust him.

God gave Ian his shoe back today so he will have a reason to trust Him in the future with bigger stuff. Our friends are dealing with a very tough situation right now, where they have to trust God. God has given them plenty of shoes. That is what they are holding on to, and taking comfort in right now—the shoes God has given them.

What are your shoes? Can you think of one? Or several? God gives us little markers along the way where we see Him very clearly working or leading in our lives. And it’s when we look back at those that we can look forward in trust. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Words of wisdom from the book of Hebrews.

Faith requires action. God gives us reasons to trust him (shoes) and then something happens where we have to trust him. That’s when we remember the shoes, and trust that He has another one for us.

Tonight, celebrate Ian’s shoe, and remember yours. And thank God for his amazing love and faithfulness. And trust him. Really trust him.

Life in the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on Life Lived by Greg CampbellThis post is a chapter in the book A Journey Shared: Selected Thoughts on Life from Greg’s Head from GregsHead.net by Greg Campbell, available through Amazon.com. If you’d like to purchase the book, please click the book title in the previous sentence. Thanks for reading, sharing, and feel free to add to the discussion in the comments below, or wherever else you can reach me.