Patience, Prayers, and Time This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 29, 2012
By , Orono, MN
The smooth glassy water rippled as my sister, Mackenzie, glided swiftly across the wake as she prepared for her landing. At only eleven years old Mackenzie was going to try and master the complicated dock landing. As she let go of the rope, Dad quickly circled the boat back around so we could watch. As Mackenzie’s ski carried her only a few meters away from the dock, we realized what was going to happen. She was cutting through the water too fast and headed at the wrong angle. She was going to hit the dock. My mom, dad and I were forced to watch and unable to help because of the captivating measures of the boat. And then it happened. She hit the dock.

As her frail body made impact with the dock, she went limp like a ragdoll. She bent at the waist, where her lifejacket ended, folding over the dock, looking boneless. I watched, horrified, as her body slid limply off the dock, like a slinky, and into the frigid waters of Lake Manitouwabing.

At that moment Dad left the wheel, mumbling something incoherently, he jumped in the water, and raced to his helpless daughter who was now floating face down in the water. When he reached her, he gently flipped her over so she floated on her back. He then promptly and carefully swam his daughter to shore.

Mom took the wheel of the boat and drove it to the dock while Dad tried to communicate with Mackenzie. When she calmed down enough and was able to breathe, Dad was able to get her out of the water, and they began the excruciating journey, of only about ten meters, to the cabin. Once indoors Mackenzie was put in her bed and Mom began asking her questions.

“Where does it hurt?” I could hear Mom ask as I sat down at the kitchen table. “On a scale of one to ten how bad is the pain? What kind of pain is it? Ache or stab?”

Between the questions my mom was firing at Mackenzie and Dad being on the phone with the insurance company, my ears were ringing. Is she ok? Did she break any bones? Are we going to have to take her to the hospital? I thought. With thoughts like those running though my mind, I couldn’t be anything but worried.

Although there were no physical marks on the outside of her body, the internal damage was more than we ever could have imagined. Within twenty minutes the decision was made to bring Mackenzie to the Parry Sound hospital. Even though in reality it was a twenty-minute car ride to the hospital, it seemed like a lifetime before we got there. The only noises throughout the whole car ride were Mackenzie making feeble moans and mumbles as she sat in the backseat wrapped in a blanket, loosing color in her face.

Once at the hospital, the doctors wasted no time; they brought her back to a room to be examined immediately. Mom joined Mackenzie with the doctors, and me and Dad stayed in the waiting room praying for good news. The bright white walls felt as if they were burning my eyes, and after an hour the antiseptic smell started to give me a headache. A few hours later it was made clear Mackenzie was going to need to spend the night at the hospital. After saying our goodbyes and goodnights to Mackenzie and Mom, Dad and I left for the night. On the way back to the cabin I prayed that Mackenzie’s injury wasn’t that bad, and that all we needed was patience, prayers, and time to fix her.
The next day Dad and I woke up and went to the hospital right away to see if the doctors had made and discoveries on Mackenzie’s injuries. The doctors had learned through x-ray and an ultra sound, that all the damage was internal Mackenzie was then moved to the intensive care unit. Within a couple of excruciatingly slow moving days of moving Mackenzie to the ICU, doctors had discovered she had burst her spleen and was going to need surgery. Luckily the doctors had a plan, they were going to stitch up Mackenzie’s spleen so that there would be no need to remove it. After hearing the news my mind was swimming in thoughts.

What’s a spleen? Surgery? Isn’t that dangerous? Is she going to be ok? The thoughts were filling my head, drowning out sound from the busy world around me.

Throughout the next two days Mackenzie was going to be getting prepared for surgery, and I was going to be spending my days at my cousin’s so I could have a break from the white, clean, antiseptic smelling hospital my sister was trapped in. Although my days were spent away from the hospital, they weren’t much better than being in the hospital. I was constantly worried and my thoughts were filled with silent prayers for my sister.

It was finally the day of the surgery and everyone, especially my sister, was nervous. Although the surgery was a simple one, it was going to be a lengthy one.

Finally her surgery was done. Aside from being groggy from the anesthesia, she was awake and well. Now all we had to do was be patient and pray for her health and that she would get better.

My week was spent with frequent visits to the hospital, each day seeing my sister hopelessly lay in bed.

“You look much better honey” Mom told Mackenzie only a few days after her surgery.

Without hearing what Mom had previously said I walked in, saw my sisters pale face and her skinny body and accidentally blurted out, “Oh my goodness!” which of course was no comfort to her.

Only about three days later, we learned that the stitches holding Mackenzie’s spleen together were not working and she was going to need a second surgery to get her spleen taken out.

A second surgery, I thought. Why didn’t they just take her spleen out the first time they went in? Why can’t they just fix Mackenzie? I want to go home.

As the week went on her surgery got closer and closer and the day finally came. It was a success. They had removed her spleen and now all we had to do was wait for Mackenzie to heal so we could travel back home to Minnesota. It seemed as if patience and prayers had finally caught up with us.

The doctors gave us the okay to travel home with Mackenzie a few days after her surgery. The sixteen hour long car ride went smoothly and when we got home, Mackenzie’s friends were waiting for her, to surprise her with a welcome home celebration. All was going well and we thought that after the two extra, unplanned weeks in Canada we could put the accident behind us. But three days later our hopes were crushed by reality.

Mackenzie had struck a fever of 103 degrees, and her being asplenic wasn’t helping. We rushed her back to the hospital, but this time a hospital in Minnesota. Although it was a different hospital, it looked the same; it had bland white walls and a dank antiseptic smell. Doctors soon figured out that Mackenzie had an internal infection and quickly gave her antibiotics. When the antibiotics proved to be unsuccessful, the doctors switched to treatment by IV. While Mackenzie spent her nights in the hospital, I spent mine at friends’ houses so my parents could be with Mackenzie. After fourteen more days of hospitalization, patience, and prayers Mackenzie was discharged from the hospital and our family could once again celebrate Mackenzie’s health.

This was a short-lived celebration because a few days later Mackenzie started to get extreme abdominal pains and was once again carried off the hospital. The doctors figured out what was wrong quickly. Her appendix had burst. The only way to fix this problem was another surgery to remove her appendix.

Her third surgery to remove her appendix was a success and Mackenzie’s living nightmare seemed to be over for good. And like before all we could do was be patient and pray for a swift and smooth recovery from her third surgery. After a few days of recovery, the doctors discharged Mackenzie from the hospital and she was allowed home once again.

A few days later, it was neither a burst appendix, nor an internal infection that sent us back to the hospital, but the fact that Mackenzie’s scar had started to reopen. Once in the hospital the doctors opened her up for a fourth and final time to clear her body of any and all infections.

Mackenzie’s final episode in the hospital took about ten days and in all Mackenzie had spent seven weeks in the hospital, had had four surgeries, and had lost twenty-four pounds. But thanks to patience and prayers (and of course the amazing doctors who helped her) Mackenzie was finally allowed home from the hospital for a final time and has not had to go back since.

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