Monday, June 19, 2006

Cole family heart story. This story was posted in our Fall 2003 newsletter. You can view the complete newsletter and many more at

In Mark 5:21-43, we read that a synagogue leader named Jairus begged Jesus to come and heal his daughter, who was sick and dying. As always, when Jesus Christ steps on the scene, you can get ready for a real, “before and after”, story! On the way to Jairus’ house, they received word that the girl had died. Jesus told Jairus, “Do not be afraid; only believe”. They arrived at the house to find people weeping and wailing. Jesus told them, “the child is not dead, but sleeping”. They just laughed at Him. Jesus put the skeptics outside. He then took the girl by the hand and spoke to her. She stood up and began walking around, much to everyone’s astonishment.

Today, we are seeing God work in astonishing ways. My youngest daughter Anna Wren Cole was born on May 6th 2002. It was an exciting and difficult day. I had lost my father the week before after a two-year struggle with cancer. Anna’s birth was a planned c-section, performed at UT hospital. I was so anxious to meet my daughter. When Anna was born she was so beautiful. My wife Nancy and I marveled at her as I held her in the operating room. Tests were performed there and her APGAR scores were nine and nine. She was healthy and nursed vigorously and we were happy. We were taken back to our room to wait for Anna to be cleaned up and brought to us. As we waited, I thanked God for this beautiful child and prayed for her. A little while later, a nurse came in and told us that Anna had a small heart murmur and that she was going to be taken to the NICU to have it checked on. I was not worried because I know about heart murmurs I have one myself. At 4 a.m., a social worker came into the room with news that made my blood run cold. The staff had called a pediatric cardiologist and he was on his way in to see about Anna. At 6 a.m., we met Dr. Liske for the first time.

Dr Michael Liske came into the room and introduced himself. I will never forget the next words he said. “I want to first tell you that you have a beautiful daughter and I have already prayed for her today.” I knew that we were safely in God’s hands whatever came next. Dr Liske informed us that Anna had double outlet right ventricle (DORV). A condition where both the pulmonary artery and the aorta are on the right side of the heart. There were several other complicating factors as well. Anna would need surgery. In my ignorance I said, “Oh can we do that here?” No, Children’s, No, Vanderbilt, No, we were headed to either Boston or Michigan.

Dr Ed Bove at Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor Michigan performed Anna’s surgery when she was three weeks old. There have been several rocky and even devastating trials along the way. Mother’s day was devastating as we thought that the surgery would not be performed and we were facing losing our precious child. Nancy and I cried together and prayed together throughout these difficult times. I could not have ever done it without her and our many friends who were lifting us up. Ultimately, it was our faith that got us through. It gave us strength, courage, and peace for whatever might lie ahead. Sometimes it was so hard that we just didn’t know if we could keep going, but with God’s help, we made it through.

Anna’s surgery was successful. She started crawling at 8 months and walking at 11 months. She started talking at an early age and has not stopped since. Today Anna is sixteen months old and she is the light of our household. She greets us with this smile that radiates from her soul and touches our hearts. She loves everyone and lives to torment her two and a half year old sister Sarah. We are waiting for her second surgery and hope it will further improve her quality of life.

We certainly would love for Anna to be healthy but through her illness, we have met some people who will remain friends forever and found a faith that we had never known. I am thankful for having met the Coulters and so many in the support group who experienced much of the same things we did with their own children. Through the support group, we find commonalities that tie us together and strengthen us when we are weak. All the doctors and health care professionals who have looked after Anna at one time or another are dear to our hearts. Dr. Liske and Dr Bove will always hold a special place in our hearts and we are so thankful for them. My wife Nancy has been an unbelievable strength and has pulled me through many difficult times. Finally, I have to thank God for giving us this little miracle. I tell the congregation that I pastor that I have been given the most awesome gift. I wake up every morning to see a true living, breathing, thriving miracle of God. That is something that I know that I can never take for granted anymore.

When you have a sick child, you focus your entire self to them and sometimes unwillingly forget that your other children need you too. I thank Sarah for never letting me forget her! Her antics keep me on my toes! Our families and friends have been endless supporters. Anna’s heart condition will always be a concern but I think that I have finally accepted that life will never be what I expected and that I shouldn't waste another minute thinking about when Anna might die but how well she can LIVE!! Despite all the heartache, stress and feelings of helplessness she is still here in my arms for another day and that brings me great joy!

1 comment:

Julie Whyte said...

I wanted to say thank you for sharing what's in your heart. You have said exactly how I try to look at life with Rachel (daughter #3, Transposition of the Great Arteries-TGA, 10 1/2 months old now). I constantly try to remember that her two older sisters are just as much in need of my affection, love and undivided attention. And I truly do look at how she LIVES, not focusing on how she may not. Thanks for reminding me.

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