Irrefutable is a word I rarely use, probably because it is my nature to see both sides of the proverbial coin.
However, there are times when my eyes see the same thing as my brain does, a sudden, perfect reconciliation. And when others are skeptical, it doesn’t change what I already know in my heart.
We were sitting at our seven-year-old son’s bedside in the Recovery Room of a university hospital. It was his second tumor resection in one year. After the first one was excised the year before, it had grown back with a vengeance, making this particular surgery the most invasive one he had endured to date.
Our only child was named for a great warrior, and he certainly lived up to his name from the moment he came into the world.
After battling two days of labor and a nearly broken neck, we had the good fortune of having an alert OB/GYN notice that our baby’s neck was twisted and gently rotated his head with forceps just as he was bursting onto the scene.
He was healthy and strong, save for a slightly elevated billirubin count. Despite a difficult labor, we were on our way home two days after the birth. And for the first six weeks, he didn’t develop as much as a sniffle.
Then I found it, a bluish purple lesion at the base of his neck. Upon closer inspection, it was clear to me that this was some sort of vascular lesion. The mystery was how it got there.
Seven years later, we were sitting in the Recovery Room, watching him sleep off a long surgery and an even longer day.
He had been diagnosed with something called arterial-vascular malformation, or AVM. His father and I were told that an AVM diagnosis was relatively rare, which explains, in part, why no doctor back home had a clue as to what was really going on.
The other part was both good fortune and the lesser of two evils; our son had a relatively unknown manifestation of AVM.
In the good fortune department, his brain and spinal cord were completely unaffected by it. In the less fortunate realm, a proper diagnosis when he was a mere six weeks old could have spared my boy years of tests and unnecessary procedures.
Instead, he had two surgeries under his belt before he was a year old. By the time he was six, he had undergone five more surgeries and had seen four different pediatricians, one general practitioner, two ENTs, one vascular surgeon and an allergist. He also underwent evaluation and treatment from the former chief of pediatric ENT at another Philadelphia hospital. This was followed by a comprehensive evaluation by their genetics department.
It wasn’t until the current ENT was unable to keep a tube in our son’s left eardrum that we were referred back to Philadelphia when he was a few months shy of his sixth birthday.
We had been waiting for hours while our little boy was in the OR, and by the time we were sitting by his side in the Recovery Room waves of both relief and apprehension were washing over us. He wasn’t completely out of the woods yet.
I found myself doing a quick assessment while his nurse explained that they were doing a “blow by” instead of using a mask for the oxygen, because he had been pulling off the mask. I carefully watched the monitors as she was moving on to another patient.
It wasn’t long before his oxygen level began dropping. I alerted the nurse who said she would be right with us, and I tried my best to be patient. Seconds ticked by, then minutes, while the numbers continued to drop. Again, I summoned the nurse, and again she blew me off.
Just when I was about to start ripping open cabinets and drawers and get the oxygen myself, something happened. And I wasn’t the only one who noticed.
An orange-colored sphere of light about the size of a softball appeared over our son’s body and hovered about 12 inches above his torso.
His father and I looked at each other at precisely the same time and asked one another in unison, “Did you see that?” Then we both found ourselves returning our gaze to the flame-colored ball that continued to hover over our son until the nurse finally decided to take my calls for help seriously.
As she paged his surgeon and several staff members began making their way to him, the ball of light was in motion, moving towards the bottom of the bed and then dropping to the floor, flattening and exiting underneath the Recovery Room doors.
Within seconds, his surgeon came bursting through those same doors.
Our son stabilized.
Later on, I was told that what his father and I saw was known as an angel orb.
Many people believe that each and every one of us really does have a guardian angel and that we can even communicate with them.
One thing I feel is irrefutable, though. A higher power was watching out for our boy that day, and I believe that power has remained a force in his life, and by extension, in ours.