The drive to Flagstaff was a blur. I had driven that canyon road thousands of times, but this time I don’t remember the scenery or the cars I passed. I only remember praying that Steve would survive the 10 minute helicopter ride. I didn’t know what I would encounter when I got to the hospital. As I was driving into Flagstaff, a call came from the hospital. My heart jumped through my throat. I was afraid to answer, but knew I had to. It was the ICU nurse at the Flagstaff hospital. Steve had arrived and he was alive, she quickly told me. She needed me to give permission to begin treatment. I did so, as my tears and shaking hands made it difficult to drive.
Within minutes I was at the hospital navigating the long, winding halls that lead to the ICU. I was told to wait in the small waiting room right outside ICU. I waited, alone, scared, trying hard to compose myself. I was later told by the man who filled out Steve’s admission papers with me that I was one of the calmest persons he had ever encountered in such a traumatic situation. I don’t know how that was possible, maybe it was the hope I was clinging to and my desire to be strong for Steve.
After the admissions’ man left, a very kind doctor, a kidney specialist, found me and calmed me with his words of encouragement. I will never forget his kind face. I clung to each word as he told me about the treatment plan and how people get well once they’ve had their blood rejuvenated through this special machine. I was finally beginning to feel that Steve was exactly where he needed to be and I was so thankful for that miracle.
Within the hour, the rest of the family arrived. They had waited to see the helicopter lift off with Steve in it. We now gathered in Steve’s new ICU room. He was heavily sedated, but I know he knew we were there. This was our new home, our new place of hope, a place for life to transform.
The ICU doctor on duty, a stern German man who didn’t smile, came in to meet us. We all clung to his every word. There wasn’t much to say since Steve had just arrived, but we felt we were at least moving forward, somehow, someway…..
That night as we left his room, the kind kidney specialist came in to run the blood machine that would run all night with Steve’s blood being transformed. He told us, once again, that this could make Steve well. We celebrated that vision. Steve’s dad, mom, sister, and I went out to eat feeling more hopeful and very, very tired.
After our dinner, we found the house across the street from the hospital where families stayed whose relatives were in the hospital. The Taylor House became our new home with all four of us sharing a large hotel style room. We all needed to conserve our money. We didn’t know how long our stay would be, but it was looking like it would be a while. The women that ran the house made us feel comforted and welcome. It would become our new haven, a place where we could escape the trauma of the hospital. We finally fell into our beds and relaxed for the first time in a week, filled with hope that the blood machine would work its magic, unaware that our journey was about to take another frightening turn.