The drive back to Orange County on the third was uneventful, but it only took a few hours being home for the Fourth of July to become one my family would never, ever forget. It would become so etched into our brains, that every year, we cannot help but marvel at how God moves and how He saves.
I was home and feeling horrible. My back was in pain, more pain then I had ever experienced before in my life. I went upstairs to my room, to sleep in a real bed, my bed, for the first time in a month. I took my medicine and hoped sleep would help. I was too tired to think about the prospects of leaving my community for the rest of the week. I just wanted to get healthy. I needed to get healthy.
At approximately 1 in the morning on July 4, 2006, I woke up screaming.
My parents came running.
My temperature was at or around 106 (I was dying, pardon me for not remembering exactly).
The bathtub was filled with ice and my temperature did not go down at all. At this point, my father went into super hero mode. He helped me down the steps, placed me in the car and him and my mom drove me to the Emergency Room at Kaiser Lakeview. My father, broke every traffic law known to man (now looking back on it, we all laugh and admit we probably should have called an ambulance).
I had no idea what was going on. I was hurting. I just wanted to sleep. The worst thing in my life had just happened, I had to leave my community in San Diego. I was already under some immense spiritual confusion and attack. My parents knew more then they told me.
My dad, in his super hero mode, told me his plan of breaking my nose (to make me bleed), in case the ER would not receive me immediately. It made me laugh. I had no idea what the big deal was, it was just a temperature of 106…
I couldn’t even walk into the ER. My dad had to grab a wheel chair. Needless to say, they took me right away and I wouldn’t leave until 13 days later.
There are many stories I don’t remember from this day.
What I know, is by the end of the day, I was in the Direct Observation Unit (DOU). The major difference between this and ICU - is how nurses have two patients instead of one. I was “tricked” into signing my overnight papers, by my parents, saying: "Don’t worry. They just want to watch you. You’ll be out tomorrow morning." So I reluctantly signed them.
That was the most important signature I’ve ever written.
What they told my parents was, something along the lines of: “If he doesn’t stay overnight, he’s not making it through the night. We have no idea what is wrong with your son. His body is shutting down. He doesn’t have much time left.”
On this ominous Fourth of July, my definition and reason for celebrating, would forever change. I saw no fireworks. I ate no hot dogs. Barbecue’s were not on my mind.
God had other plans; plans I could never have imagined.
July 4, 2006, was the beginning of the almost end.
The end of my adolescence had begun.
It was the entrance to a journey my soul, my faith, my life, my family, needed to see and feel God in ways we could only dream of.