Giving Up My Samantha, Part 4






Once again, we sat in that dreaded exam room and received bad news about our little Samantha's platelet count.  I had come to genuinely hate Sammy's doctor.  He was an expert in his field.  His hands were gentle whenever they touched her.  He spoke in a soft matter-of-fact sort of way...the only way you can speak when saying the kinds of terrible words that always seemed to spill from his lips.  It was those words - those words that seemed to suck the life and hope right out of me - those damned words...they were the reason I'd come to hate this man sitting before me.

I was in the room with the doctor and Luke (my husband).  I can't remember where Samantha was.  Was she even in the room?  If she was, Luke must have been holding her.  Maybe she was in the waiting room with my parents.  I don't know.  All I really remember during that meeting was a rage that seemed to make me literally see red.  I paced my little corner of that confining room, and mustered up all of my strength to keep my hands from wrapping around that doctor's throat.  If I could just squeeze the life out of him...maybe it would keep him from saying those horrible things about my baby.

"Cancer"
"Blood"
"Treatment"
"Risks with this test"
"Uncertainty"
"Bone marrow"
"Drill into the bone"
"Course of action"

Bastard.  Shut your mouth.

"The only way to know the cause of Samantha's ITP is to do a bone marrow biopsy.  If she had responded more dramatically to the treatments we've already given her, then we could be fairly certain that we're not dealing with a cancer of the bone marrow.  But since she didn't, we need to test her.  Of course, if it is cancer, then we'll need to start her on an appropriate treatment.", He said.

Luke sat on the chair by the window and asked, "What's involved with this bone marrow test?"

"Well, with her being so little, we'll put her in a conscious-sedated state.  It's not a full anesthesia, so she'll be able to breathe on her own.  It will be like she's in a very deep sleep, and she will not remember a thing.

Once she's under, we'll drill a hole into the back of her hip bone and remove some of her bone marrow.  We'll be able to tell very quickly if there's cancer.  It's just a matter of looking at the cells under a microscope.  We'll know the results before Samantha even wakes up.

There are risks, of course.  Risks of infection, risks of complications with the anesthesia, risks..."

I paced and sobbed and closed my eyes.  "I can't hear this.  I CAN'T LISTEN TO THIS.  Just do it.  Get it done with.  Get it over!", I spat at him through clenched teeth.

"I know that this is difficult, but I need to know that you understand all of this so that you can give me informed consent.  I need you to sign these papers to give me permission to do this procedure."

"Understand?  You want me to UNDERSTAND?  I understand.  I hear you loud and clear.  You want to knock out my baby with drugs, then you want to DRILL A $#@% HOLE  in her back, then you want to be able to tell me if she has cancer or not.  I get it okay?  Just stop, give me the damned papers, and get it scheduled.  I have to get OUT of here.  NOW."

He gave an exasperated sigh.  I felt like I was an irritation to him.  He dealt with death and dying all the time.  He saw kids far more sick that my Sammy.  But I didn't care.  I didn't care what he thought of me anymore.  I didn't care if my suffering didn't rank in his top 10 worst cases...I just wanted our lives back from a couple of months earlier.  I wanted to worry about things like diaper rashes and teething pain.  I wanted to be irritated by having to empty the dishwasher 3 times in one day.  I wanted to feel overwhelmed by piles of laundry...not overwhelmed by the prospect of losing my precious baby girl.

He calmly continued with his list of risks - looking at my husband and seeming to have just abandoned rational conversation with me.  It was fine with me.  I didn't want to talk to him either.  He finished his little speech and gave us papers to sign.  I scribbled something on the line, and stormed out of the room.

Now that I'm to this point in the story, I remember that Sammy was in the waiting room with my Mom and Dad.  I remember walking out into the waiting room, gathering everyone up, and making arrangements for Samantha's bone marrow biopsy.  Was it that very day?  I'm not sure.  I think so.

The next part of this journey that I can remember clearly is walking into the procedure room at the hospital with my baby.  She was wide awake, but getting irritable because it was almost time for her nap.

We had the choice to either leave Sammy in the hands of the experts and wait in the waiting room for the results, or we could stay in the room with them while they did the procedure.  I was not leaving my baby.  I didn't care how horrible it would be to witness. I didn't care if she would be asleep an unaware of my presence.  I was not leaving her to go through this by her little self.  

Oh.  As I write this my stomach is in knots.  I can FEEL what I felt as I held by little girl and glanced over at the table that contained that horrible cork-screw type tool.  

Oh Lord, I can't do this.  Please hold me up.  I can't do this.

I stood there holding my baby with the tubes sticking out of her arm.  They had started the IV at the doctor's office (thankfully they didn't have to put it in her head this time), so it was just a matter of injecting some medicine into the tube for her to be knocked out.

Mom and Dad and Luke sat on the bench by the window.

I used the table to undress Samantha down to her diaper.  

Then I picked her up and cradled her in my arms while someone injected her IV line with the anesthesia.  Sammy lay cradled in my arms just as she always had at nap time.  I whispered quietly to her as I always did when I put her to sleep,

"Now I lay me down to sleep."
          Oh Lord, help.
"I pray the Lord my soul keep."
          I know you're watching over her Lord.  Please save her.
"If I should die before I wake,"
          Please, no.  Please don't let her die.  Please heal her.
"I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen"

Samantha's eyes were locked on mine as I prayed over her.  As the medicine took effect, her beautiful blue eyes fluttered closed, and her body went limp.  I paused for a moment to feel her rhythmic breathing.  I knew I was supposed to turn around and place her little body on that table, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.            

Lord, are you there?  I can't do this.  Please.  She's yours.  I can't save her.  I can't heal her.  I can't protect her.  Please Lord.  We need you.  She needs you.  I need you.

You have to give her up, Daiquiri.  Lay her on the table now.  Lay her in my arms.  Trust me.

Oh Lord, I don't know what else to do.  Here.  She's yours I know she is.  I know she always was yours.  Please.  Help her.

As I turned to place her limp little body on that table, I felt how Abraham must have felt when he prepared Isaac for the impossible sacrifice that God had asked of him.  

Please, Lord.  Please let there be a ram in the thicket for us.

I closed my eyes, and lay her soft little body tummy down on the paper covered table.  Snapshots of her life flashed through my mind's eye.

Her beautiful joyful smile.


How she loved to splash in the bathtub.


Snuggling her and singing endless rounds of "Skinny-ma-rinky Dinky-dink, Skinny-ma-rinky Doo, I love you" while she smiled and giggled at me.


Her first swimsuit and how beautiful she always was.


Her incredible smile and contagious joy.  Strangers were always stopping us on the street and chatting with my chubby little Sammy.  She left a smile on everyone's face who came across her path.



With my eyes still closed, and my hand resting on her little back, I gave her up in that moment.  She was never mine in the first place, I knew that.  But I had never really trusted the Lord with her either.

I sat on the bench next to my husband and I watched the doctor perform that brutal procedure on my baby girl.  They cleaned her skin with orange antiseptic, and then the doctor picked up that cork-screw type tool.  And yes, I sat there while he twisted it into my baby girl's back.  I was horrified and scared.  My Dad spoke calmly and lovingly while he reassured me that Sammy couldn't feel a thing....that she wasn't scared...that she wasn't in pain.  I remember him saying that this is "much harder on you than it is on her".  You can say that again!  

Yes, I was terrified and it pained me to see what they were doing to her body.  But that's not why I was crying.

I was crying at the pain and the fear...not of cancer...but of giving my Samantha fully and totally to the Lord.  Is He trustworthy?  Yes.  Is He capable?  Of course.  But did I like having my crazy little "I'm in control of everything" bubble popped with the painful prick of reality that is the powerfulness of my God?  No.  It hurt, and it was scary. 

The doctor took the "sample", sent it off to the lab, and proceeded to stitch and bandage Samantha.  The lab called and the doctor reported the good news: "The sample looks clean.  It does not appear to have cancer.  We'll run some more extensive tests, but you can rest a whole lot easier now."

Oh Lord.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Samantha's platelet count was curiously low for months...and then it started to rise all by itself.  Whatever had been going on in her body that made her count low was ending.  The last time we had her tested, her numbers were well in the 200-300 range.  

I sometimes wonder what caused Sammy's ITP.  Was it just a viral reaction gone bad?  Or was it cancer?  Did Samantha have cancer, and was her body healed as our church elders prayed over her and anointed her with oil?  Did Samantha have cancer, and was she healed in that moment that I placed her in God's arms?  Did God provide us with that ram in the thicket after all?

We'll never know (this side of Heaven, anyway).  Honestly, I don't really care.  God provided, that's all I know. 

I wish I could say that from that day on I've trusted the Lord with my whole life and most precious blessings.  But my nature is what it is.  I'm a sinner.  I tend to try and do things on my own and fool myself into thinking that I'm in control, that I'm taking care of us, and that I can do things to keep everyone safe and healthy.  It's a daily struggle for me to "give up my Samantha"...and my Ben, and my Clara, and my Thomas, and my Luke...and myself for that matter.

It will be a battle I fight until the day I die.

And when I finally do die and come face to face with my Lord who provided for my daughter that day?  I'll know.  I'll finally know how silly it was to try and control anything...to even want to control anything.  I'll feel his embrace and I'll know that in his arms is the best place to be, and that he's perfectly trustworthy...perfectly able to provide in ways that I certainly can't.

In the mean time, I'll do my best to live with hope and by faith in the only one capable of holding me together.  The only one capable of being my Prince of Peace.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
 for he who promised is faithful." 
Hebrews 10:23

Sammy ~ 1 year and all better ~ Praise God!


Meredith@MerchantShips  – (3/01/2009 09:48:00 AM)  

Thank you for sharing this story. We are just home from church and the tears are rolling down my cheeks as our lunch warms in the oven.

It is so hard to admit that we can't carry our children all on our own.

Mel  – (3/01/2009 11:54:00 AM)  

What an amazingly powerful, heart gripping story. You have blessed me by sharing it, right down to the rawness of the emotion.

Beth in NC  – (3/01/2009 12:18:00 PM)  

My mouth is open. I have wept through each of your posts about your precious daughter ... just assuming the worst! I am grateful, more than grateful, that your beautiful daughter is healthy and whole!

Jennifer  – (3/01/2009 02:22:00 PM)  

Okay, you got me. Not just a cry, but whimpering with snot running down my lips! LOL!

Praise God that your baby girl was healed! And I am grateful to you for sharing your story. Control? *sigh* The Lord is dealing with me, but reading this post encourages me on my walk. Thank you!

Daiquiri  – (3/01/2009 02:37:00 PM)  

Thanks for your wonderful comments, friends. I went through LOTS of kleenexes and prayer time to get this series written. It's been healing for me to write it. I'm so thankful that someone besides me was blessed :)

Daiquiri

Vanessa  – (3/01/2009 07:11:00 PM)  

Thank you so much for sharing your story! As a nurse, I know what it is like to have to tell someone something that will change their life forever. It never gets easier. In those moments, I just have to make myself remember that God is totally in control. It's amazing the peace God gives just at that moment when you think everything is going to fly out of control.

Devita  – (3/01/2009 08:34:00 PM)  

Oh....I can't say anything. I just cried and cried. I haven't married and haven't had any children yet, but having that experience like yours must be very hard. I adore you so much for your faith. I know that I must give up everything for God, but somehow, it is difficult for me to do it. I love my parents and I love my siblings. I just can't imagine if I live alone. But I want to learn to depend on God for everything and just look to Him.

Thank you very much for sharing.

Craig and Bethany  – (3/01/2009 11:15:00 PM)  

The richness and shared burden of knowing your struggle, release, and continuing tangle with the great hands of God is a gift I can't quantify - thank-you. I sometimes think surely God can't ask me to do the next hard things before me. Then I share in the mercies of others like you, like your story, and little pieces of faith transfer like embers to me. {Sigh} Thank-you.

Tracy  – (3/02/2009 07:06:00 AM)  

I've been waiting not-so-patiently for the conclusion of your story. You have blessed me so! Thanks for sharing your beautiful Samantha with us!

Dana  – (3/02/2009 09:07:00 PM)  

I've been following your story, Sammy's story, and I've cried while reading every post. And while this has a happy ending, I'm in awe of your strength -- as difficult as it was -- wow. I'm not sure I could have been as brave.

God truly works miracles. Thanks be to God.

chickadee@afamiliarpath  – (3/03/2009 10:03:00 PM)  

you've just put into words one of my biggest fears. and you point out something that i know but at the same time can't always bear to do is trust god with my children. why do i think i can do it better? what a pitiful substitute are my arms and my worry compared to his awesome power.

Renae  – (3/04/2009 12:12:00 AM)  

Thank you for sharing such a powerful story. My son was a preemie and so many of your emotions mirror mine.

We didn't think he would live, and yet it was easier to let go before I knew him. And easier isn't the right word. It was dreadful and terrifying and all that you described, but I hadn't seen his precious face or held him yet.

When he stopped breathing after he was home, it was a different terror. I had cared for him, loved him, rejoiced over him. But yes, even then he belonged to the Lord. He still does healthy body and all.

Ann –   – (3/05/2009 12:33:00 PM)  

Your story is interesting and will be helpful to parents but you have made a mistake about the causes of ITP. ITP is a definite disorder in its own right and is not caused by cancer. Anyone who has a definite diagnosis of ITP need not worry that they have cancer. They do now. Cancer can cause low platelets but it is not ITP.

Regards, Ann (chronic ITP sufferer)

Daiquiri  – (3/05/2009 01:36:00 PM)  

Ann,

I appreciate your clarification. I suppose by definition (Ideopathic meaning "of unknown cause"), ITP is not caused by cancer...otherwise it's cause would not be unknown.

In my experience, the doctors said that Sammy had ITP - in other words, she had a low platelet count and we didn't know why.

A low platelet count CAN be caused by cancer, that's why we had to rule it out.

If she had been diagnosed with cancer, then her diagnosis would have been changed to "cancer" instead of "ITP".

You're right - if someone has a definite diagnosis of ITP, then they need not worry that they have cancer...but they would be wise to rule out cancer at a cause of their low platelet count since cancer can (as you point out) cause a low platelet count.

Lori  – (4/02/2009 04:03:00 PM)  

As a fellow mom, this series was a very difficult thing for me to read. Ever since I knew that there was a child inside me I've had the fear that one day we'd encounter such a crisis and I didn't know if my faith was strong enough to give my child over to God. I'm sure that you treasure each day with her after this ordeal. Thank you for your honesty, and praise God for her health!

Deb  – (4/10/2009 05:38:00 AM)  

How strange - I just left a post elsewhere on your blog asking about anti-depressants and then found this series about your Sammy. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who cried as I read it. It was especially real to me because I was diagnosed with ITP when I went into labor with my second baby. My count was 14,000, so not deadly low, but enough to cause a stir with the delivery team. I ended up having a c-section because it would be easier to control the bleeding and less trauma for the baby in case she had ITP as well (she didn't, praise God). They tried treating the ITP with steroids unsuccessfully, did the cancer screening (there was none), and finally removed my spleen which did the trick. I've had occasions in the past 24 years when my platelets dropped (never to the scary level, and only identified because of blood work for something else), but have never had to be treated. I was surprised to discover a few years ago, though, that at least the Red Cross considers ITP to be a "permanent" condition - they wouldn't accept a blood donation from me because I had been diagnosed with ITP even though it had been many years ago. Thank you again for your candor in sharing your life and your faith. God bless you and your family!

Deb

Amy Hook  – (8/14/2009 05:45:00 PM)  

I came across your blog looking at how to make a bulletin board. When I saw these posts I thought it was about giving up a TV series. I thought there was some show with Samantha in the title and I thought I would read to find out what was wrong with the show. I've never even watched it myself.
Anyhow, when I realized that wasn't at all what the post were about I was on the verge of tears reading your story. I thought it was going to have a tragic end. Thank the Lord that it did not! Thank you for putting my life into perspective again. God does that for me every so often and I realize how blessed I am and then I forget. Thank you for sharing your story. Your daughter is gorgeous and I am more blessed my reading her story. I can only pray that I would have your courage facing such extreme circumstances.

sharon  – (9/16/2009 07:50:00 AM)  

This took my breath away.

Rabia –   – (10/02/2009 06:27:00 PM)  

I have been shedding tears like a baby while reading your story. Thank you for sharing it. Just don't forget to thank God every night, every morning, and whenever you realize how great God is.

Toni –   – (11/15/2009 11:52:00 AM)  

I found your blog while looking for a pattern for a crocheted washcloth and not only did I find that but I found your inspirational story about Sammy. When I started to read the story I knew it was going to be about ITP because I felt I was living this all over again with my daughter who was diagnosed with ITP when she was 18 months old. Like Sammy, Gabrielle's ITP occurred only once and she is now a healthy, happy 19 year old university student. Last year around this same time my 18 year old niece was diagnosed with ITP and had her spleen removed two weeks ago to try and control it.
It was at the time of Gabrielle's diagnosis that I was searching for God and became a Christian. Thank you for sharing your story and for this wonderful blog.

lisa  – (1/05/2010 07:52:00 PM)  

Thank you for sharing your story as I am sure it must have been hard to write...I'm so thankful to the Lord that it all ended this way! Our family goes to a UPC church here where we live, and annointing with oil is part of our usual service with many miracles taking place. I'm so glad that you searched the scriptures for your sweet faced little angel...she is just precious looking. You are So right though about it being hard to give up control and leave things to the Lord...not easy at all!
Have a wonderful day!
Lisa H...from Kennard Tx.

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