Chapter Sixteen: Hawaiian Magic and a Miracle
A nice young woman from the hospital walked into Steve’s room on our third day in Three West. She said she needed to talk to me about after care. She was a liaison between the Flagstaff hospital and various rehabilitation facilities in Arizona. She asked me what kind of insurance we had and I told her none. She then began to tell me that Steve was going to have to go to either a nursing home or a rehab facility before he could go home because he needed extensive rehabilitation on his weak, immobile body. He wouldn’t be released from the hospital until one of those facilities had accepted him.
She left the room with me wondering how in the world I would pay for such a place. We had no income any more. Our world had come to a complete financial stand still during the past month. Our bills were being paid by family members, but that wouldn’t last long. I felt completely overwhelmed with my new dilemma. I really had no idea where to turn, My overwhelmed brain couldn’t handle this new information. I did the only thing I knew how to do, I said a little prayer for a miracle and then went back to helping Steve.
My in laws and I began to find our rhythm with the nurses, doctors, and therapists in Three West. Each day we became more aware of how things worked in this environment. The nurses began to relax a little more with us and with Steve, and Steve began to interact more with the nurses as his head cleared and his healing throat allowed him to be more talkative.
One of the side effects of the extreme dose of prednisone Steve was on was an overactive brain. He had a lot of trouble sleeping because his thoughts were racing and he couldn’t calm down. Activity with the physical therapists helped, but only for a short period of time. His sister and I began to take Steve outside to a little courtyard that was located just across the skywalk on the third floor. He really loved his time outside. It relaxed him, as much as he could be relaxed on that amount of prednisone.
His mom, sister, and I were taking turns staying in Steve’s room every night. He still needed constant care, so we would sit by his bed rubbing his feet and legs or holding his hand and talking to him when his mind was racing with uncontrollable thoughts. The nights were always long and difficult. None of us looked forward to our assigned night to stay with Steve because we never got any sleep. Steve’s overactive brain and frequent stomach aches would keep him awake. He also needed to be moved often. He still could not move his body on his own and he would become uncomfortable quickly and need to change positions. His arms were still too weak to reach the button to call the nurse, so one of us had to push the call button. When it was my turn to relieve either his sister or his mother after they had stayed the night in his room, I would get to the hospital as soon as I could that next morning. I would always find a very tired mom or sister who had not slept and was desperate to flee the room after a very difficult night with a restless and very uncomfortable patient who was still having on and off hallucinations. This condition remained this way the entire time we were in Three West.
Right after one of these difficult nights our friend Ed offered to give us a break by spending the night with Steve. Ed showed up on his agreed upon night ready for his Steve time, eager to help us in any way he could. The next morning as I relieved Ed from his long and tiring night, he told me about a nurse he had met in the small visitors lounge down the hall from Steve’s room. Her name was Mahana. She was Hawaiian and had been practicing Reiki for many years. Ed told her Steve’s story and she said she would love to be his nurse one night. All I had to do was request her. She wasn’t in Three West very often, but we could request her and see what happened. Ed told me to be sure to request her because he felt she would be very good for Steve’s healing. I never did request her. I didn’t feel I needed to. If she was supposed to be a part of Steve’s healing, then she would be assigned as his nurse when the time was right.
Steve’s body was responding well to the chemotherapy. The doctors were very encouraged with his progress. The chemo infusions were planned for once a month. After five days in his new room, it was time for his second chemotherapy infusion. The process of giving it was easy enough. The nausea afterwards was not. The after effects set off a chain of events that set us back a few days, making peace for anyone a complete impossibility.
The nausea had become so severe that I asked his night nurse to give him something for it. We had been staying away from as many medications as possible because the doctors felt Steve needed to clear his system in preparation to leave the hospital. The nausea shot, however, seemed right, so he got one right away. That night the severe hallucinations returned. We had worked so hard to get him to a place of peace and calm and now the terrifying hallucinations were back. We were baffled and very disappointed.
The next day he received another shot for nausea. That night the hallucinations were back with a vengeance. I began to suspect the nausea medication. I googled the side effects of that particular drug and found out that in rare cases it can cause hallucinations. I told the nurse and the medication was immediately stopped. There would now be more sleepless nights as we held Steve’s terrified hand and tried to comfort him. The healing journey is a complex one and it takes being vigilant every single moment.
The third night after Steve’s hallucinations began I discovered that Mahana was scheduled to be Steve’s nurse. This beautiful, serene, soft spoken Hawaiian woman walked into his room and said her name was Mahana. She was going to be his night nurse and she was going to help him heal. She told us she did energy work and she had heard from our friend Ed that Steve would like it. She was thrilled to be sharing her healing work with us. Most patients weren’t as open as we were to what she had to offer. She did her usual vitals check on Steve and left the room saying she would return around midnight after she got her other patients calm for the night. It was my night to spend the night in Steve’s room. I was so glad it was.
Steve had previously had our son Josh bring his favorite flashlight case to the hospital. Steve loves to collect lights of all kinds, so in his case were various forms of LED lights of all colors. He asked his sister to help him decorate the room with as many colorful lights as he could find in his bag. He wanted the room to feel magical when Mahana returned. His sister found the lights along with a few glow sticks he had stashed away in the bag. She placed each light where he told her to until the darkened room glowed with only the colorful lights from his bag. After her job was done, she left to get some sleep while Steve and I waited in this prism of color for Mahana to return.
Mahana walked into a now glowing room and giggled as she took our hands and formed a little circle as she and I stood by Steve’s bed. She said a beautiful Hawaiian prayer and then began her energy work as she continued to hold our hands, pushing healing energy through our entwined fingers and into our hearts. I felt like I could levitate, it felt so powerful. We then talked softly about what healing feels like in our bodies. After that, she spent another hour in his room giving him reiki and talking quietly with him. She ended her session and left sometime around 1:30 in the morning. Steve slept peacefully for the first time in a very long time. I also slept on my small bed near the window as the full moon filled the room with its own soothing glow and stars twinkled brightly in the early summer sky. Peace had finally visited room 3708 on the third floor wing of Three West.
The nice, young woman who talked to me about a rehab facility returned the next day. She had great news. A rehabilitation hospital that was a two hour drive from Flagstaff had accepted Steve when he was ready to leave Flagstaff Medical. He would be there for ten days and it wasn’t going to cost us anything. The rehab hospital was going to pay his bill for the entire time he would be there.
I cried a cry of deep relief. My small prayer for a miracle had been answered.