May 2, 2012 by Stacy McDonald
It was the second day of April, way past time to transfer our winter clothes into storage; but, that’s what I was doing the day a few terror-charged words rang through our house and rocked my world. “Virginia Grace, what have you done?” I would hear those words echo through my brain for days.
It was Melissa’s voice, our 24-year-old daughter. When I was a child, my Navy-hardened grandfather had an automatic response when any of us had hurt ourselves: “Show me the blood.” I’m not sure he ever considered the fact that broken bones don’t always involve blood, but I get his point. Melissa maintains a similar perspective. She is very much a “show me the blood” type of big sister.
It’s not that she isn’t sympathetic to little ones with scraped knees or banged elbows; but, being the third oldest daughter in a household of ten, Melissa has learned the wisdom of not overacting (especially in front of children) to the bumps and bruises of life. So, when I heard the fear in Melissa’s voice, my heart stopped.
Melissa described to me later how she saw Virginia Grace fly through the front door leaving a trail of blood behind her. “Mommy, help,” was all she said as she came up the stairs. Later, we found a small, perfectly shaped, bloody hand print on the front door—a sobering reminder of her startling entry into the house that day.
Before I made it to the bathroom where they were all gathered, I heard a second gasp, “Grace, what in the world…?” I was terrified of what I was going to find when I made it around that corner.
What I found was our precious eleven-year-old daughter, battered and bloodied, holding a handful of washcloths to her face. There was red smeared across the bathroom walls, tub, and floor. It looked like a homicide scene. “What in the world.” Blood was streaming from Grace’s nose and steadily gushing out of her mouth. “Help us, Jesus.” I prayed.
Later, the girls would describe to me how, in addition to the bloodied bathroom, they cleaned up blood up and down the stairs, on the carpet, and on the walls. Bloody hand and footprints were everywhere.
The whole bathroom scene is a bit of a blur. But I remember the blood and the urgency of wanting it to stop. But, there was so much that I couldn’t tell exactly where it was coming from. I just knew we had to stop the bleeding. “I’m okay, Mom.” Grace said in a calm voice.
“I know you are, Honey.” I tried to sound convincing.
I started yelling for the kids to get Daddy. “What did you do, Grace? What happened” I asked, as I tried to apply pressure to some mysterious place in her mouth. I still couldn’t tell where the blood was coming from. Everything was happening so fast.
“I fell out of the tree and landed on a rock.”
I couldn’t fathom how a rock could cause this much damage…or this much blood! I later discovered that she had fallen from about six feet, face first, onto what could better be described as a boulder.
As the blood continued to gush from her mouth, James ran into the bathroom.
I was holding her head, “We have to get her to the ER; the blood isn’t stopping,” I said.
“Grab my keys!” James shouted to the kids.
“Grab my Geranium oil and gauze,” I added.
I don’t remember how we got to the car, but there I was in the backseat with Grace, surrounded by bloodied towels, some gauze, and a bottle of geranium. She was so calm. “I’m okay, Mom.”
“I know.” I said, shaking.
I put some gauze in her mouth. We determined the blood was coming mostly from the top of her mouth somewhere. She couldn’t breathe through her nose, as blood was streaming from there too, and her face was continuing to swell. I warned her not to blow her nose. The whole right side of her face was also beginning to swell, and I started to worry about her breathing. I was sure that her right cheekbone must be crushed. Could all that swelling block her airway completely?
I started applying the Geranium oil around her mouth, nose, cheeks, and hairline. I cupped my hand lightly over her face and told her to inhale. She reminded me she couldn’t breathe through her nose. “Inhale anyway; breath through your mouth,” I said. Since my oils are pure and therapeutic grade, I put a drop on her tongue as well (the pure, therapeutic grade essential oil that I use are GRAS and may be used internally). The bleeding stopped within a minute. Thank you, Lord, for giving us Geranium oil!
I relaxed a bit when I saw that the bleeding was under control. Then she told me she was feeling “funny.” Her eyes looked dazed and she told me she was tired. I told her not to close her eyes. I needed to keep her attention. I prayed for her. I wanted to keep her engaged, so we said the Lord’s Prayer together. I asked her to repeat memorized Scripture for me. She repeated some of 1 Corinthians 13.
For the first time in my life I found myself telling James to run red lights (as if I needed to tell him!). She still looked like she was going to pass out. I continued to try to keep her attention. I prayed for her some more and told her how much I loved her and how brave she was.
The emergency room staff took one look at her and rushed her into a room. They immediately started an IV, put her in a neck collar, and began checking her for injuries. When they felt sure she was stable, they cleaned her up and began ordering X-rays and a CAT scan. James and I sat with her and waited.
A nurse asked Grace if she was in any pain. Um…yes; how could anyone not feel pain after slamming their face against a rock? They immediately began to administer pain meds in her IV. A doctor reminded the nurse, “Don’t forget to have the anti-nausea medications ready, just in case.” Oh great. As soon as they administered the pain meds, she began to complain that she felt “weird.” It was the last time she accepted any pain medication. What a trooper.
Thankfully, she didn’t wind up needing the anti-nausea medication, since it may have interfered with the fact that, several hours later, her body needed to vomit the huge amounts of blood she had swallowed over the hours since the accident.
And she never cried—not once. The only “pain” she complained about was the neck brace they insisted on keeping her in for hours, as it didn’t fit properly and was extremely uncomfortable.
I held her hand and couldn’t help but lean down to kiss her every few minutes. I kept thinking how thankful I was for her and how much worse it could have been. I’ll never forget the way her eyes looked. Several times, she looked up at me, tears filling her eyes—deep emotion in her voice. Oddly, they weren’t tears of pain. “It’s okay, Mommy; I love you.” she would whisper.
“I love you too, Honey.”
Oh, sweet sadness! Here was my darling baby, covered in blood, hurting, scared, and expressing love for me. I recalled how, when she was a toddler, I would pick her up and sooth her when she was crying. When I would pat her back, she would throw her arms around me and pat my back too as she cried! It always made me wonder who was doing the soothing! I so wanted to scoop her up in my arms and make it all better and, it seemed, she wanted to do the same for me too.
“I’m going to be alright, Mommy.”
“I know, Sweetie.”
Every doctor who looked in her mouth told us she was probably going to need reconstructive work on her upper gums—probably some skin grafts. Her gums were completely pushed back, exposing too much of her upper, front teeth and some of her roots. I could hardly look in her mouth without getting dizzy. Coagulated blood covered all of her teeth and much of her swollen lips. I wondered how in the world we could clean her up without hurting her.
Our good friends, the Evanses arrived at the hospital bearing dinner (gluten free!) and some of my favorite essential oils (they knew what I would be looking for)! Grace’s face lit up when she saw them! I remember when I was in the hospital as a child; there is just something about being visited when you are ill that makes you feel really loved. I filed that note-to-self moment in my memory bank.
After the X-rays and CT scan were done they decided to send her by ambulance to the Trauma Center at a larger hospital in Peoria. They wouldn’t let me ride with her in the back, but they did let me ride along beside the driver. I could overhear Grace’s conversation with the paramedic in the back as they talked about Joni Erikson Tada. It sounded like he was a Christian, and I thanked God again for His provision. The paramedic said he used to be involved in dental trauma in the military. He also guessed she would need some reconstructive work.
When we arrived at the Trauma Center, they were waiting for us. The room was charged with energy and the urgent atmosphere of rushing around began all over again. The neck brace, which had been removed, was put on again. Grace was not happy. She was also examined all over again. Most of the staff was very kind and gentle. Yeah, I said most.
Around 11:00 p.m., while we waited for the X-ray and CT scan results from the first hospital to arrive at the second hospital, Grace had to use the bathroom for the first time since the accident. I went in with her alone and she told me she felt nauseous.
Suddenly, she threw up a large amount of blood. I flushed the toilet, so that she wouldn’t have to have her face in it; then she vomited a second time. The trauma center doctor wasn’t happy that I had flushed the blood because he wanted to know how much she had vomited. I told him it was a lot, which wasn’t surprising, since they had her lying on her back for hours. Surely she had been swallowing all the blood from the wounds in her mouth and nose that were still draining.
A very nice nurse came in and told us they were moving us to the Children’s Hospital and that Grace would have a nice, big room – like a “fancy hotel room.” However, at the last minute, it was discovered that the children’s floor was full, and that we would be moved to a “short stay” room. This room had no bathroom, only a portable toilet; and our only privacy was a huge glass wall covered by a curtain (no lock on the door). And it was noisy!
But, we were together. And, as always, God was faithful. It may sound odd, but we had a very precious time together those three days. I slept with Grace in her bed, keeping her on her side so that the blood could drain out of her mouth and nose, rather than down her throat (the trauma doctor had threatened some sort of a gastric tube if she threw up blood again).
Even though we didn’t lie down until around 2:00 a.m., I didn’t sleep at all that first night. I held Grace in my arms, carefully avoiding the IV tube, and considering all the bad things that “could” have happened. Each time something came to mind, instead of allowing the Enemy to torment me, I immediately thanked God for sparing our Grace.
She had been alone when she fell; she could have been knocked unconscious and bled to death in our front yard. “Thank you Jesus, for keeping her conscious.”
She could have broken her neck, or been paralyzed. She wouldn’t have been able to get to the house for help. “Thank you, Lord, for protecting her, and for helping her to the house.”
Her mouth was so shredded inside; yet, she didn’t lose any adult teeth! And praise the Lord it wasn’t her eyes that took the force of that fall! “Thank you, Jesus, for your mercy and protection.”
We might not have been able to stop the bleeding. “Thank you, Lord, for your gift of geranium, and for helping her veins to constrict and her blood to coagulate.”
James could have been away from home when this happened. “Thank you, Lord, for your perfect timing, and that we didn’t have to go through this without him with us.”
She could have died. “Thank you, Lord, for giving us to her in the first place; but, thank you also for not taking her yet.”
Ironically, this video footage was taken just hours before Grace’s fall. What a sobering reminder that our days are numbered, and that one day soon, either we or any one of our loved ones could be called home to glory.
Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away.
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away…
But, thank you, Jesus – not yet!
I applied Lavender, Geranium, and Frankincense to the skin around her mouth, nose, cheeks, and forehead. I rubbed her feet with Peace and Calming and we diffused Frankincense in the hospital room. To clean the continual build-up of blood and pus from her teeth, I used a small sponge on a stick dipped in a glass of water mixed with my essential oil-based Thieves mouthwash.
Grace received several visitors that week and, each time, she talked their ears off! She also made sure to inform each visitor (and attending nurse) that she “didn’t cry once!” I read to Grace all the emails and Facebook comments she was receiving online. She marveled that so many brothers and sisters in the Lord, some that she didn’t even know, were praying for her. This really seemed to build her faith, and she liked listening to the comments of care and concern.
Since the CT scan revealed what could be a small brain bleed, an MRI was ordered. While we waited, we were given permission to use a shower upstairs, so that Grace could finally bathe. Even her feet were still stained with blood. While she was showering, the nurses came to escort us to the MRI.
I explained to them, that I really needed to go back to our room to get my essential oils, as they would help calm Grace while in the MRI machine. I was so pleased by their positive reaction. The MRI technicians were also very positive about the oils. Not only did they allow me to apply Peace and Calming to her feet, they marveled at how wonderful and soothing they smelled! Grace was completely at peace during the procedure and nearly fell asleep!
Early Wednesday morning, a doctor came into the room to tell me that the MRI did indeed show what appeared to be a brain bleed. She told me that the neurological team would come by later to tell me exactly what that meant.
In the meantime, the hospital dentist came by to look at Grace’s injured gums, the most obvious and serious “looking” injury she sustained. We had already been told by several emergency staff members that she would need reconstructive work, so we were prepared when the hospital dentist’s assessment matched their estimations.
An appointment was made for the day after we were released from the hospital to see a pediatric periodontist. Interestingly, the periodontist we visited said that Grace was healing amazingly well, and she didn’t think Grace would need any reconstructive work at all! To God be the glory! She did say she may eventually lose her front teeth, so we are still using oils that will help the blood circulation around her gums…and, most importantly, we are praying!
When the neurologists came to the room, they explained that Grace either had a small brain bleed from the injury or she had what is called a Cavernoma. If it was a brain bleed, he was fairly certain it would reabsorb with no problem. If it was a Cavernoma, and she remained asymptomatic, then we would just keep an eye on it. Either way, she could go home!
Needless to say, she had a very eager audience awaiting her at home. William (6) and Emma (9) had struggled quite a bit with worry about their sister. All the children worried and prayed, but I’m sure the bloody scene we left behind that day was especially startling to our youngest children. Though they had kept in touch via video Skype while she was in the hospital, being able to give and receive real hugs did everyone a world of good!
After getting home on Wednesday, we continued to regularly apply Frankincense and Lavender to the scrapes and swollen areas of her face. I also gave her daily doses of Ninxia Red, an immune-boosting Wolfberry juice that is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and a few essential oils.
Grace commented on how weird it felt when I touched the skin on her face, since some spots on the right side were slightly numb. She still had a lot of swelling, so this made sense, but it also made me wonder if there was some nerve damage, especially based on the amount of trauma she received to that side of her face.
I thought of helichrysum oil, which is good for nerve damage, and considered using it after her scrapes were healed. As you can see by the photo taken below, just five day days after the accident, Grace was healing amazingly fast! Thank you, Lord, for your healing power! And thank you for using the prayers of the Saints, as well as Your good gift of essential oils, to accomplish Your will! I would also like to add that we are thankful for God’s providence in all of it and for His provision of good hospitals and compassionate, competent doctors and nurses. All of God’s gifts are good!
The following video footage was taken during our Good Friday service at church, just four days after the accident. Though she still had trouble closing her mouth completely, she was determined to sing with her brother and sister in the children’s choir.
Thank you to all who prayed for our daughter. It has been a great comfort to us, and a wonderful faith-builder for Grace to see the Church pleading to our Father on her behalf. Though Grace has come a long way in her healing, she still has a ways to go.
If you are inclined, please pray that God continues to heal her gums and that she would not lose her front teeth (apparently this will be a danger, even in the years to come). Also, she has another MRI scheduled in May. Please pray that, if it be God’s will, the brain bleed will have disappeared. A knowledge of God’s sovereignty has helped us to trust in the One who is eternally faithful and the fact that His plans are perfect. We are thankful to God for His grace, mercy, love, provision, and healing. May His name be glorified in our midst!