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Josh and Amy Hethcox – Live Deeply 2

We’re Josh and Amy Hethcox, and here’s more on how God used our son’s battles with three medical conditions (neurocardiogenic syncope, POTS, and PKD) to enable our family to live deeply. 

JOSH: “Nathan spent the fall semester of 9th grade mostly doing school at home. He’d been having too many episodes (they came on without warning), and we needed to figure out a way forward. By January, with some medications, we felt like he was in a better place. He really wanted to go to school and be with his friends, so we tried to have him go back to CAK. The school requested that we have someone with him in case he had an episode. My dad, who’s retired, would travel from Ohio for one or two weeks of each month and go to school with Nathan every day. What a sacrifice for him to do that! The rest of the time it was Amy doing that same routine and I would go on Fridays.” 

AMY: “I homeschool our daughter, Lauren. That year, we did school in the backseat of our car, in the CAK school building, or wherever we could we fit it in while being available for Nathan. Both of our kids were real troopers through it all. There were several times someone would have to come get me for assistance. The Lord really provided. Once, Nathan was on the floor of the biology classroom in pain. That teacher had an adult daughter with a similar issue, so it didn’t scare her. She was praying over him as I walked in to help. Being in a place where you knew people were praying and you didn’t have to fight with the school system was huge. Nathan’s ability to go to school, even part-time, helped him mentally, helped keep his spirits up. As we walked through it, I kept saying, ‘The Lord has great plans. I don’t know how He’s going to use this, but He will.’ We talked through with Nathan what it meant to live by faith. We can’t always explain what’s going on, but we can trust God when we don’t understand things. We had all kinds of conversations about faith with him.” 

JOSH: “Nathan got very discouraged by his episodes at school. He felt very different from all his peers. In high school, you want to be accepted and fit in. But here he was with a condition no one could put a label on (at this point the PKD diagnosis was not known). When he had an episode, it brought unwanted attention to him. One time the bell rang and he started to have an episode. Amy called me and asked me to head to the school because they couldn’t move him. Nathan’s always been very strong, and during these episodes his muscles would tense up so you couldn’t move him. We literally had to lift him into an office chair and roll him out a back door to our car. They actually shut down that wing of the school so we could get him out. He was very upset by it.” 

AMY: “In April of that year, specialists at Vanderbilt wanted to do an MRA (a type of MRI that looks at blood vessels) of the brain on Nathan. They used contrast dye. It was just supposed to be a one-day experience. Anytime Nathan comes out of anesthesia, he has an issue. That day, we couldn’t get him stabilized and prevent him from having episodes. At 2:30 in the morning, we took his hospital bed down through the elevators, into the parking garage. They literally slid him out of the bed and into the car and we left. When we got home, he couldn’t walk or talk. I called the doctor and said, ‘Something isn’t right.’ She wanted to see him, so we drove back. For two weeks he couldn’t walk, and he couldn’t talk for two and a half weeks. That was maybe the scariest time of all. (The specialists think it was a reaction to the contrast dye.) Nathan never really got super upset, but he did get really scared during all of that. He said he prayed more in those two weeks than he ever prayed before. When he did start talking he was stuttering, so he didn’t know if he was ever going to get back to normal. He did, thankfully, but that chapter of his story gave him new resolve.” 

JOSH: “We were going to a different church when all this started.  Apart from our small group, close connections weren’t happening. Nathan ended up going to one of his friends’ small group at CSPC. Nathan only knew a handful of people there, but he’d always come back saying, ‘Hey, these guys like me. They talk to me.’ He started feeling very connected. So we as a family started saying, ‘Well maybe we should check out CSPC.’ We started visiting and almost instantly felt a sense of community. Before long we became members. CSPC has been the closest to the true sense of the original church from Acts that I’ve experienced.” 

AMY: “The whole church has been precious. The first Sunday service after we came back from the COVID break, Nathan had an episode. People ran to get a wheelchair to help out. I had tears in my eyes, not because it was happening, but because we were watching the Body of Christ jump into motion. So many members and ministers came to our aid immediately. One sweet young girl said to me, ‘I saw what happened. Can I pray for him?’ It took an army to get us out of the church that day. Through the years, church members have provided meals, care for our daughter, assistance with Nathan, visits to our home and the hospital, and prayer.  The youth group, particularly his small group, has loved him so very well.  His small group has continued to meet throughout college and has been a huge support to Nathan. Our family has seen the Body of Christ in action. I think Nathan has really gained empathy through this experience. He has a real understanding now of what it means to be present for someone when they’re going through a hard time. That comes through his experiences and the members of CSPC.”  

JOSH: “While Nathan’s medical conditions are more controlled, he still has episodes from time to time. He’s 21 and is able to be physically active. He just graduated a semester early from UT summa cum laude, and he’s started a job. We’re grateful for everyone who’s helped him get to where he is.”   

AMY: “The Lord really gave us the gift of time with Nathan through all this. I’m pretty confident we have gotten to speak into his life in ways that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. We have gotten to watch his faith blossom and grow, and that’s not something I would change for anything. While I would never wish this upon him, I pray that Nathan has the assurance that if he can walk down that road, he can do anything. There’s a peace that may not have made sense for us to have at the time, but we kept walking the path knowing God would provide. Whether it was a good day or a bad day, we would look for ways He was at work and how we could thank Him for the things He did provide.” 

JOSH: “This was the most trying thing Amy and I have gone through as a married couple. I thought our children’s adoptions were trying, but those paled in comparison. Here was our child in mysterious pain, unable to stop these episodes, with his whole life in front of him. I remember being in the hospital once and thinking, ‘I should be terrified by this.’ But I had a complete peace that, even though they didn’t have an answer for what was going on, this wasn’t the end of the story. I trusted that God was good; He said He’s good and He is. I never remember feeling isolated or all alone, not from God. We had the normal questions about His purpose, but we also had His peace. We have our CSPC family and small group to encourage us when we are having those down days. Through this trial, God has allowed me to push deeper into my trust in Him and the wonderful community of believers with whom He’s gifted us.” 

AMY: “It’s also started to create platforms for Nathan to glorify God. He’s been able to talk with other people going through hard times. He can explain why we trust in God- how He provides every day in big and small ways. I’ve seen his faith mature through it all. You never want your child to go through something like this, but knowing how the Lord’s at work, far be it from us to stand in the way of that. Even when we don’t understand, we know someday we’ll understand more. I think Nathan’s been able to grasp that and looks forward to that day.” 

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