I thought I'd post what's happened so far with Nathan so your prayers can be as specific as possible, and also to spread information (as opposed to misinformation).
On Monday (I think), Nathan texted my mom in the middle of the night saying that he needed someone to come help him. He had the flu and was unable to care for himself. Living in a house with three other bachelors meant there was no food of sick-person quality, and so Mom went down to help him. (Isn't she sweet?) She got his fever down with some OTC meds, made sure there was appropriate food at the house, etc. At this point, all it meant to us was that Nate had the flu and needed Mom's help, so Stephen stayed home with the kids. That was especially nice since he had been gone the week before.
He (Nate) talked about going in to work at Target the next day, but he was not really feeling any better. Dad encouraged him to try to move around, take a shower, etc. as he was able, because sometimes a little moving is all it takes to start feeling better. Unfortunately, this flu bug was pretty bad and was still hanging around when Mom and Dad went to Muncie for their usual Wednesday visit.
I was a little nervous about having Katy and Caleb go down there with Nate having the flu. Katy's had it a few times, and she gets so sick and dehydrated... But I trust my parents and knew they would keep the kids away from the "germy" parts of the house. When I saw them Wednesday after school, they told me that Nate was still sick and that they had started looking into what his insurance required to see a doctor. (Nathan, not being overly fond of anything medical/dental, had not seen anyone in ages, and he didn't even have a primary care dr.)
When he was still sick Thursday evening, a few things needed to be discussed. First of all, and most important to Nathan, were the planned festivities of the weekend. Since our birthdays are only five days apart --something I appreciate more now than I did earlier in life-- we celebrate together. The party was scheduled for Friday night, so Nathan called to talk about having it at a different time. He also wanted to talk about his girlfriend, Erin, and her graduation party, which was scheduled for Saturday night. After letting him know that, of course, his health came first and that we could celebrate birthdays anytime, he asked two questions that have become a birthday tradition over the last few years. For four whole days, I am four years older than he. So he asked, "Sissy, how old are you?" "28," I replied with a grin. "And how old am I?" "24." That was the last lucid conversation I have had with him.
Friday morning started out normally. Mom came to take the kids back to Wabash for Friday's Pizza "Cut" lunch, and I went to work. About 10 minutes into my first class, however, the office asked me to call my mom. I knew something was odd. When I called her, she told me that they were taking Nate to the hospital in an ambulance and that she needed to leave. I had her bring the kids to school and had the office start working on getting my classes covered somehow. (By the way, THANK YOU to all the teachers who covered for and/or helped me. You were all the hands of Jesus to me.) Dad called at some point and let me know that the reason they had used the ambulance that morning was that Nate was found on the ground in the middle of a seizure, frothing at the mouth. He also asked me to get in touch with Erin to let her know what was going on. I could only leave her a voicemail. When everything was taken care of, Stephen quickly visited his grandpa in the hospital, and we left for Muncie.
He dropped me off at the ER and took the kids to Papaw's house, still a little leery of putting them in a potentially dangerous environment. When I found my family in the ER waiting room, I could tell that they were slightly overwhelmed. Then I saw how Nathan was. He was in his hospital bed, arms and legs in restraints because he was pulling at his tubes and IVs. (I later found out that it took several people to get him into those restraints in the first place.)
He was moaning and writhing in pain, begging for us to take off the restraints. His lips were cracked and bleeding, and he only seemed to recognize Mom and Dad. In a slightly irreverent (and calm) moment, I snapped a picture with my cell phone. After a bit, the resident on staff came in to tell us that, more than likely, we were dealing with some kind of meningitis. That made me even more worried about the kids. Stephen and I decided that we should take the kids home, and I would return alone. While I was out, I went to Wabash to pack a suitcase for Mom and Dad, because we now knew this would not be an in-and-out hospital stay.
While I was gone Nate got a room in the ICU. Since being up there, he's had an MRI, EKGs, spinal tap, blood draws, and oodles of other tests. He's had another seizure, uncooperative kidneys, and has had to be put on a respirator. He is heavily sedated to keep him from fighting (thank goodness!) and to keep him resting (double thank goodness!). He is only on 50% oxygen and is doing the rest himself. The official label/working diagnosis is viral encephalitis.
Mom and Dad are tired, but steady. I am scared, but hopefully steady too. Erin is doing the best she can. It's hard to see someone we love in pain and struggling. I would give up lots of things to talk to Nate right now. I want him to be lucid on his birthday so we can do the other half of the "How old am I?/How old are you?" tradition.
I miss my Buddy.
I trust my God.