Everything that is good….. is also hard
After our disappointing trip with Gael to Guadalajara last month, we are back on track! But none of it has been easy and I realize that good stuff is sometimes just hard to pull off. You must believe deep down that it’s worth it or you might be tempted to cry or scream or quit.
You’ll remember that last month Gael absolutely refused to allow the audiologist to do the essential brain stem test at the hospital in Guadalajara. He wouldn’t put the headphones on, he wouldn’t let her look in his ears, he just wouldn’t cooperate. She told us he should have come sleepy or asleep, but no one had told us that. She did suggest we try to convince him to wear a hearing aid for a few months to get used to the idea of a device and miraculously he loves his blue hearing aid and wears it all the time.
We were pleased when we found another audiologist who could do the test in Tepic. That’s 2 ½ hours from here, as opposed to the 5-hour drive to Guadalajara. It’s an ugly, windy, curvy, narrow single lane road through the mountains, but a couple hours shorter, so we set an appointment with Dr. Veronica and set off.
The appointment was at 5:00 in the afternoon – which meant we had to figure out how to be sure Gael was ready for sleep at exactly 4:45. On Wednesday night the orphanage director Veronica took Gael home and kept him busy playing and dancing until 12:30 am. She then woke him up at 4:00 and took him back to the orphanage at 6:00 to get ready for school. After lunch he had his mandated shower with no fragrances or gels and at 1:30 we hit the road for Tepic. He was tired…. really tired…. and we kept him busy with tablet games and sandwiches and bananas and juice and anything to keep him from falling asleep.
We also took a set of headphones like the ones the audiologist would use. In case he wasn’t asleep, we wanted to make sure he would be cooperative, and our German friend Manuela looked hilarious wearing the headphones that were connected to nothing. He liked them and was happy to put them on during the drive. Unfortunately, that led to our first challenge of the day. To wear those headphones, he had to take off his hearing aid and his mom, who wasn’t carrying a purse, wrapped the device in her shirt. And then we stopped at a Pemex gas station to use the bathroom and buy some drinks and an hour or so down the road when Gael decided to put his hearing aid on it was nowhere to be found. We searched every inch of our van, but the hearing aid was definitely not there. We knew the gas station was a possibility, but it was too late to turn back – and who could even remember which of the one million Pemex stations we had passed might the be one we had stopped at.
After arriving in Tepic, we got on Google maps and Google Earth and narrowed down where we thought we had stopped. I remembered the nearby grocery store, we knew it was on the edge of a town (but was in Las Varas or Zapulcan?) and we remembered the general shape of the building. Once we felt confident where it was, how could we contact it? The internet only had a 1-800 number for Pemex in Mexico, no local numbers, and I am not kidding when I say there are millions of them. Every couple of miles. They’re everywhere. And then I remembered that our church has a sister church in Las Varas. I only knew that because our team from Canada had done some work there a few years ago. I messaged my friend Pastor Fredy and his wife Michele and begged them to contact the pastor in Las Varas and ask if someone would go on a hunt for us. Which of course they did and within a ½ hour they messaged – they had found the hearing aid. They had it. We could stop on the way home and pick it up. Disaster narrowly averted. That was Miracle #1.
By that time, it was about time for our appointment and just at the right moment, at exactly 4:45, Gael snuggled into his mom’s arms and fell asleep. Deeply asleep for the next 7 hours. Miracle #2. The test was done. The findings confirming once again that an implant will work for him – his brain function is good. The audiologist told us we are working with one of the best surgeons. We had the green light we needed to move on to the final step, the MRI which we can get done in Puerto Vallarta next week.
With the test complete, the hearing aid found and Gael asleep, we headed for home. It was already 7:30 in Bucerias and we weren’t thrilled about driving the curvy roads in the dark, so we decided not to stop for supper. We would stop at a gas station or taco stand along the way for a quick bite. We should be home by 10:30ish. Except we totally weren’t.
About a ½ hour into our drive it started to rain. Not good news for already dangerous single lane roads. At first it wasn’t a hard rain, so Grant calmly flipped on the windshield wipers – only to find that the wipers on the van we had borrowed from Manos de Amor were completely worn out. No rubber whatsoever on the wiper. Just a metal noise scraping on the very wet window. I panicked as the rain distorted our visibility. And then Miracle #3. The road widened with room for us to pull over. We were not in or near a town, basically in the middle of nowhere, but there was a tiny shop right there. Right there. And it sold car oil, and belts and windshield wipers. Within 5 minutes we were back on the road. And then we weren’t. We were standing still. For the next 3 ½ hours we stood totally still. And watched as 9 ambulances and a fire truck passed us. We knew it was bad.
We were starving by then and when Manuela saw a light far in the distance she decided to walk down the highway to investigate. Sure enough, it was a Pemex (I told you … they’re everywhere!) and she returned with sandwiches for all. And a cockroach. Whatever.
Eventually we were able to move ahead slowly, and we saw the devastating accident that had stopped us. Today we heard the details. A semi’s trailer had shifted as he rounded a curve and the truck tipped on to a passing Tour Bus which flipped on its side. 32 people were badly injured. It was sobering and scary and sad and the rest of our ride was quiet. Today I read that shortly after we had finally passed through, a crane that had come to help move the overturned vehicles had lost its brakes on the hilly road and tipped over on its way back to Las Varas – the same place we were heading – and the highway was closed for 4 more hours. Perhaps Miracle #4 is that we had moved through in the small window of time before this next disaster and we had not been nearby when it happened.
We arrived home at 3:00 am instead of 10:30 pm. A one-hour test had turned into a 14-hour adventure. But the lost hearing aid was found, the windshield wipers were intact, we were safe, and Gael was cleared to move ahead with Miracle #5 – receiving his gift of hearing.
I like to think I’m stubborn. That I can persevere. But I am so grateful that I don’t know the details of each step of my life before I walk them. That I don’t know the frustrations and the mistakes and the pain that will be there. That I just trust that it is worth it. That life is worth it. That loving others is worth it. And that on the tough days, there will always be Miracles.
UPDATE: Today we drove the hour back to Las Varas to meet the kind people from La Fuente church who had found Gael’s hearing aid. Turns out the aid was found in the parking lot but wasn’t run over or damaged at all. That’s Miracle #6!
Thank you Karen and Grant for not giving up. The fruit of your patience is coming. Little Gael must be wondering why he is having so many late night parties. How will you manage a MRI? You are getting to be pros and now know some tricks that work.
For the MRI he will be sedated – crossing our fingers for this last test to provide the info the surgeons need to know just where to place the implant. Thanks for cheering us on!