It was shaping up to be a stress-free Christmas. For the first time ever, my wife, Myra, had prepared most of the Christmas dinner and fix-in’s ahead, so it would just be a matter of warming things up on Christmas day. All the shopping was finished and presents were wrapped. My parents were spending the holidays with us (a rare treat). It looked like we were going to have a wonderful Christmas celebration on Wednesday, December 25, 1991.
However, our youngest daughter got sick on the way to her piano recital on the previous Saturday and by that evening, she was showing classic symptoms of appendicitis. I took her to the hospital emergency room and after several tests, she was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. I stopped at the all-night Walgreens on Park and S Highland on the way home and immediately got her started on the antibiotics.
The next morning while I was at church with the other girls, Myra said that Laura had some excruciating pain and then it subsided. She continued to be lethargic, however, and worsened the next day. A call to the nurse at our pediatrician resulted in an encouragement to be patient and let the antibiotics work.
On Tuesday, Christmas Eve, Laura did not move off the couch. She had no appetite and no energy. My brother-in-law, an ER doctor in Little Rock, called that evening to check on her. He insisted that we return immediately to the hospital. Fortunately, my parents were there to care for the older girls while Myra and I bundled up Laura and headed to Baptist East Hospital in Memphis.
A pediatric surgeon was at the hospital that night and informed us that we had a “very sick little girl” whose appendix had likely ruptured (on Sunday morning), and she needed immediate surgery. Of course, we consented and at 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve, she went into surgery. The appendix had ruptured, necessitating a longer than normal surgery. However, by 4 a.m. on Christmas morning she was in a room, and I went home to play “Santa” to the older girls. We opened presents. Then, with homemade sweet rolls already made, we had our traditional Christmas breakfast. My mother was given instructions on all the dishes to warm up for dinner, and the girls and I took Laura’s presents to the hospital for her to open.
It didn’t take us long to realize that in God’s providence, He had helped even this stressful time to be a little less chaotic as the Christmas meals were prepared, presents wrapped, my parents presence to take care of our other daughters and the pediatric surgeon ready to go. Most importantly, my brother-in-law’s phone call on Christmas Eve may have saved our precious little eight year old’s life.