It was four years ago today that my life nearly ended. If not for the extraordinary medical minds and skillful hands of Mayo Clinic surgeons and a generous amount of smiling Providences of God (the most important including Karla’s actions) I would not be here today. If you want to get a summary of the events of four years ago just scroll to the bottom of this post and click on the links. But these are my first fresh thoughts on this subject, and my first blog entry since Thanksgiving of 2012!
This day four years ago was exactly two weeks after my brain surgery to remove a peach sized AVM (arteriovenous malformation) a tumor like thing that had been in the left frontal lobe of my brain since birth, unbeknownst to me the whole time. I know. Weird huh?
The brain surgery was traumatic enough, coming out of that being temporarily paralyzed on the entire right side of my body and unable to speak a word. Several days later I developed a blood infection and spiked a temperature of 106 degrees, which could have easily been my demise. But this day four years ago, February 26th, 2009, would prove to be the game changer where I had a seizure in the early morning hours and coded.
If Karla had not been in the room I believe that I would have died, for there were no monitors and there was no one else in my room when my heart stopped beating and I coded. The fact that Karla was even in the room was a smiling Providence of God, for if she had not insisted that I be relocated I would have been stuck in a room with a coughing roommate…and not gotten the sleep so critical to recovery in brain surgery. If Karla had not been persistent then I would also be dead. That is a fact.
Why do I say this? Well, there was a curtain that separated me from my roommate and when my heart stopped I didn’t make any noise….at least I don’t think I did. Here’s why I believe I would be dead if I had a wimpy wife. If Karla had not insisted that I be moved to a room with less distractions and disruptions to sleep she would have not been allowed to stay in the room with me. Hospital rules. So, I was moved to the room next door, a double room with only one patient. Me.
The hospital made it very clear that this arrangement was good only so long as the other side of the room was not needed. Since I had the room to myself Karla was allowed to stay with me overnight. But the night before I coded I insisted that Karla go back to the home of the gracious hosts during our 46 day stay. Karla said that she would agree if I could fulfill one important task: She simply wanted to know that I could successfully push a button to call the nurse if I needed help. And as much as I tried I couldn’t successfully complete this one simple task…so she spent the night…and thus was present early the next morning at 6:00 a.m. when I coded.
I should also say that during the prior evening I had an overwhelming sense of impending doom. I was scared and afraid that something horrible was about to happen. Never had that sense before or since. I had some back pain…pretty bad pain as I think back now. The nurses offered me some strong pain medicine. Instead I opted for one Tylenol tablet as Karla shook her head at my stubbornness. As it turned out there was a massive blood clot in my heart and twenty plus in my lungs that demanded I undergo immediate open heart surgery or else I would have died.
I am so glad that God drew me…first to Himself when I was but a lad of 16, and then to a strong wife who would be used of God to save my life on this very day four years ago. The events of those harrowing days are still fresh in our minds and hearts. Thank you to all of you who were so supportive of us in your prayers, gifts, your home (thank you so very much Ray and Connie!) cards, encouragement, and presence. Life goes on. Different in some ways now than before…ways that I have been coming to terms with as of late, but so much better than appeared to be the case four years ago to this very day.