Roy Exum: In Glasgow, ‘Caden Is Alive’

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The first entry on Facebook was horrible. Two weeks ago David Beggan, a missionary in Scotland, wrote to his friends on Facebook, “At 7am on Tuesday morning we found Caden on the bathroom floor after being sick. We had no idea that a few hours later he’d be fighting for his life. He was not meant to survive the night. He was not meant to survive the ambulance journey from Wishaw General to Yorkhill Children’s hospital in Glasgow. He was not meant to survive the next day, or the next night. But, in spite of his critical condition, he is with us.”

Yes, after two of the most trying and agonizing weeks that anyone could ever imagine, a six-year-old boy still clings to life – and hope-- in a Scottish children’s hospital after a rare disease, meningococcal septicaemia, attacked his body. Yet today there are over 18,000 followers of Caden Beggan’s noble fight against a ravaging blood infection and many are in Chattanooga. His mother, Angela, once attended Lee Highway Christian Academy.

This time last week his dad wrote, “Caden is alive. It would have taken less than three hours from the time Caden first received antibiotics to kill the meningococcal bacterial infection in his little body. Now, almost a week later, we are still discovering the full extent of the damage. From the tip of his toes to the top of his head, from his bones to his skin, from his bowel to his brain, there is not a part of his precious frame it has not tried to destroy.”

Yesterday his older brother Declan took a turn as the day’s reporter: “So far, I have seen my brother a total of six times, each time he has looked better and each time different things have changed. I am relieved we are two machines down, one for his heart and one for his kidneys. It was just an amazing feeling on Sunday at noon, praying and hearing everybody's prayers that day. Now, over two weeks down, and Caden is alive....

“Alive, alive, alive! I hear that it was an utter miracle he is alive,” wrote Declan. “I wear as much pink as I can each day. I keep on hoping, keep on praying, keep on believing. I have a dinosaur that I pretend is Caden and sleep with to remind of him. There's not a day that goes by when I don’t weep or feel sorrow for my little brother. It is a complete awful, endless, dreadful nightmare. It is truly horrible. All I want is to see him awake, healthy, and playing with me, my sweet brave little warrior.”

Gee whillickers, have you ever heard anything to equal it? Yesterday, despite immeasurable odds, Caden was taken to surgery and the lower part of both his legs were amputated. The diseased flesh has to be removed due to the sepsis but the amazing story is that his arms – once the color of cigarette ashes -- have rejuvenated.

His father wrote that Caden is alive, that by partially removing his legs Caden will be able to sit, be fitted with prosthesis, and has a much greater chance at a full life. He wrote, “At the earliest opportunity (following surgery), I ran to be with my son. I kissed him. I touched what remained of his limbs and kissed them too. I touched every part of him I could and whispered a lullaby, a father’s song.

“There are only so many words to articulate the heart. I confess to struggling a little but, my dear friends, I want to tell you of the many miracles my Father in Heaven did today for my little boy. It is a miracle that Caden is with us, that he survived the night. It is a miracle that the doctors and nurses stabilized him like they did, that many of you woke up with Caden on your mind at that exact time. It’s a miracle that he survived the surgery when we were prepared for the worst … It could have been our last kiss goodbye.

“It is a miracle that they saved what they did of his leg when up until today surgeons had planned to remove his right leg to the pelvic joint. Now he will be able to sit, to wear and use prosthetics, to walk and . . . who knows what?” his father wrote. “It is a miracle that he did not bleed out. In fact, there was very little blood loss, and no blood had to be given during his operation. It is a miracle that the tissue and muscles Caden is left with in his lower limbs is healthy, much healthier than anticipated.  
“There's more . . . Very early on, we were told that Caden would lose his left arm, that it was as dead as his right leg. Dear friends, Caden's left arm is alive, to the fingertips; fingertips that once looked like ash at the end of cigarette. The only potential loss to this hand would be the tip of his ring finger. In fact, in many ways, it is stronger than his right arm, which was always the least scathed. There is the threat of losing the tips of most of Caden's right hand, but given the progress and degree if healing that has taken place, plastic surgeons will wait again to see what happens. Dear Lord, let it happen.  
“Not only that, the pinking is extensive, and other than the upper limbs, there is no deep tissue damage. There is no more black on his lips! The red areas are disappearing all over his face to leave more pink. The black areas on his cheeks and chin are continuing to get smaller, and as with most of his skin, doctors are content to let the pinking continue. Rather than great swathes of skin grafts on his torso and face, we're looking at possibly just patches. 
“An extensive examination of his precious frame was undertaken, and every member of Caden's theatre (surgery) team wore a smile today. A smile! In the midst of the most horrific moment of my life, I also, bafflingly, found myself "counting my blessings" and thanking God for the "good report." Furthermore, Caden's X-rays, post-op, were clear and good and much improved. He's off nitric oxide, and they've brought down his ventilation assistance by about 30%.” 
David gave details of the surgery, citing miracle after miracle, and then Caden’s dad wrote, “He is by no means out of the woods, and his fever is a significant concern, but Caden is alive. It has been a difficult day for my family, and I am sure there will be many more on this long journey home. Today I mourn for my son, but I am also very grateful he is here by my side, and that once again I may be mesmerized by the beating of his bold, beating heart. Until tomorrow … “

Pray for Caden Beggan. Pray hard with over 18,000 on Facebook who have a precious little six-year-old very present in their hearts. To keep up, check www.facebook/cadenbeggan, but pray, please pray.

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