The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place

Next week will be the six month anniversary of Leah’s death and I don’t want it to be. Sometimes I just want to take a rubber and erase the past 18 months of my life.
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I forgot to look at one of my Bible reading notes yesterday so I read it today instead and this is what I read: –

Extraordinarily it is often the people who have gone through the greatest suffering who have the strongest faith. They testify to the presence of God with them, strengthening and comforting them in the midst of their pain. Betsie ten Boom, as she lay dying in Ravensbruck concentration camp, turned to her sister Corrie and said: ‘We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.’

Leah was admitted to an isolation room on the bone marrow transplant unit in Bristol Children’s Hospital on the 21st July 2013. Most of the time there it was just her and me. There was no Irish nurses and the staff were mostly too busy to talk to us anyway. Within hours of arrival Leah became life threateningly ill. As soon as her condition stabilised her chemotherapy started – bag after bag of poison. 1 x Mephalan, 2 Cyclophosphamide and 8 x Busulfan.
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As the chemotherapy took it’s toll on Leah’s body she became sicker and sicker. She kept vomiting, she had frequent diarrhoea and her mouth was so ulcerated that she couldn’t speak, eat or swallow her own saliva. The nurses and doctors knew how to handle this so Leah was connected to a morphine pump. A doctor from the pain team visited her twice a day to ensure that she was getting enough pain relief.

Leah was on so much intravenous medication that there was barely enough hours in the day to get it all into her system. A nasogastric tube had to be put down her nose into her stomach as there are some medications that can’t be given intravenously and Leah’s mouth and throat were too painful for her to take anything orally.

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Leah was on four different medications to control the vomiting, including nozinan and ondansetron, which are quite strong, but she still had some episodes of vomiting. Sometimes she vomited up her nasogastric tube, then a new one had to be put back down again. Sometimes when Leah vomited, it triggered a nosebleed which lasted approximately 10-15 minutes – this really scared me.

At this stage Leah had no functional bone marrow so her body could not manufacture blood products and she was totally reliant on blood transfusions. Knowing this, I found it very frightening to see her blood just dripping out of her body, although of course I hid my fear and anxiety from Leah.

On one particularly stressful day of vomiting and nose bleeds I was too scared to leave Leah’s room long enough to get lunch or tea and I had to make do with cereal bars that I always kept for emergencies. The transplant unit provided a simple breakfast for parents/carers so I was very glad that I’d had my coco pops that morning!
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In the midst of it all we watched a DVD that we had brought with us – The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom – an amazing true story.

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Leah and I were inspired and encouraged on our journey by hearing in the film the very words that I read today.

There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.

By God’s strength I will go on.

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Papa – What Is It Like To Die?

Papa – What Is It Like To Die?

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A true story that I have always found incredibly inspiring is The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. I have read the book and watched the film several times.

One of the now well known sayings that Betsie said to Corrie while in Ravensbruck was “There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.” This saying and the truth of it has been very meaningful to me throughout Leah’s illness and death.

Before Leah and I went to Bristol we bought the DVD of Hiding Place and took it with us. We sat and watched it together while in isolation in the transplant unit in Bristol Children’s Hospital. Corrie’s story seemed more meaningful than ever. Here’s another excerpt that has blessed me:

Papa – What Is It Like To Die?

When given the news of her father’s death, Corrie pictured in her mind one of the times where her father’s faith and wisdom gave her great peace.
When he was tucking her into bed one night, Corrie asked: “Papa, what is it like to die?”
Papa Ten Boom did not look away from her, but held his gaze into her eyes. “When we go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?”
Corrie considered this well before answering. “Just before we get on the train.”
Still holding his steady gaze, he said to her: “When the time comes, your Heavenly Father will give you all the strength you need.”

Truly when the time came, Leah was also given all of the strength she needed, to die with grace and dignity.