Sometimes it seems like God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want him to. That simple statement seems true but we should analyze things deeper before we allow such an idea to permeate our thinking. Sometimes we don’t get what we prayed for but what we do get is an answer to prayer.

Those who have been following this blog know about our son Sam and his dual struggle with Autism and Hirschsprungs disease. Since September of 2009 we have been praying that we might be able to reverse the Ileostomy he was given so he might lead a more normal life. That year of prayer was recently answered but not necessarily how we had wanted it to be.

After months of waiting, we were finally contacted by the Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee Wisconsin. They were now ready to bring Sam in for motility studies; to determine the condition of his colon and see how it was functioning. Shelley and I were elated to finally be on the list so we could find out Sam’s progress. We had been praying for nearly a year for his colon to recover and become fully functional so we could hook him back up. We began our planning and looked forward to Sam being tested.

Unfortunately I had already been scheduled for a company trip during that time, however it didn’t really matter as we had made the decision early on that only one of us would accompany Sam on this trip. Off I went to Austin Texas while Sam and Shelley flew to Milwaukee Wisconsin. As parents we were both anxious to learn the outcome of the testing to know if we might be heading down a new chapter by getting Sam hooked back up.

At this point, it is crucial to understand how Sam’s quality of life has improved immensely. Since his operation last September he has been healthier, more energetic, less disruptive, doing better in school and in general exhibiting -less- autistic behaviors. A quick generalization of the situation would indicate having the Ileostomy was the best thing we’d ever done for him. And now we were seeing if we could reverse it.

Sam's 7th Birthday

Sam's 7th Birthday

The news came pretty early in the testing. Sam’s colon was operating at about 50% efficiency and it appeared he had no bowel control. The bottom line was that Sam’s colon would probably only contribute to constipation (both stool -and- gas) and even if he could successfully move stool through his system he would probably be in diapers the rest of his life. This news didn’t really hit us hard, not like when he had his Ileostomy.

Our prayers hadn’t been answered in the way we wanted. We wouldn’t be hooking Sam back up because we didn’t want to return him to the painful diaper filled days he was experiencing before. We didn’t want him to start blowing up like a balloon from trapped gas again. In short, from the news the doctor gave us, we knew the best course of action was to do nothing; to keep Sam the way he was, with his Ileostomy and using an ostomy bag. But why is it that even though our prayers were not answered, we still found comfort?

God had answered our prayers in a different way, beginning last year in 2009. What this visit to the Children’s Hospital had done, was to give us peace. The medical testing gave us the knowledge behind why Sam had problems prior to his surgery. It told us why we all struggled and it gave us peace in the fact we weren’t going to put him through it again. Although we had prayed to hook him back up and for him to be normal, we now knew it wasn’t going to happen and we were okay with that.

Instead of turning from God and being bitter about Sam’s condition, we were thankful. Shelley and I are grateful Sam is doing so much better than he was before the Ileostomy. We are thankful he’s had such great doctors to attend to him; such professionals that give us the right kind of attention and who answer all our tough questions. Sam has a good life right now and we don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that. Therefore, we will not pursue a reversal of the Ileostomy at this time. So our prayers -were- answered in a way.

Instead of being given the knowledge needed to take a path of hooking Sam back up, we were instead given knowledge to understand -why- we couldn’t. There yet may be some purpose in all this and it may take us time to discover it. We are willing to see it through. Meanwhile Sam will continue to get regular checkups from the Pediatric GI specialist and will probably see his surgeon once in a while too.

There is a slim chance that his colon may develop better motility; however, with the knowledge Sam was born with Hirschsprungs disease, I fear there will be no more improvement. Knowing what I do about Hirschsprungs, I figure the appropriate nerve ganglia never fully developed at all. What he has now is 50% and what was removed in prior operations had even less. It is what it is, and we are okay with that.

Sam has a great quality of life right now, despite the fact he must pay attention to an ostomy system. We’ve had a great year this year, going to car shows, shopping, bowling and more. We aren’t about to take that away from him. God answers prayers, not necessarily the way we want him to and sometimes we need to look deeper into what he is giving us. Sometimes the answers aren’t obvious but they are there.

When you find the answers God has given you, it provides comfort.

Asa Jay

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