How do you thank God for saving your husband’s life? You can’t write a thank you note. You can’t say ‘thank you’ a million times and it be enough. The only way to say thank you to God for saving your husband’s life is to do what Jesus said in Luke 8:39 “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.”
Tell everyone you meet what the Lord has done for you.
So that’s what I’m going to do, tell everyone I know every chance I get that not only has Christ saved my soul but He carried our family through a devastating illness that hit my husband March 29. (I’m keeping his name private)
March 29 started out just like most days. I left for my early morning workout but decided to skip a second workout because I felt like something was wrong at home. Nothing was wrong when I got home. The kids were fine, home on their second day of spring break, my husband was asleep. He didn’t feel good, from what we thought was sinus and allergies.
The day went on, I started work, the kids played and he slept. Later that afternoon my middle child’s neck lymph nodes turned into huge lumps. I raced him to our pediatrician who said he had a bad case of strep. He wasn’t complaining of a sore throat. I told my husband he had to go to the doctor because although he wasn’t acting like he had strep, he must have it. He said he would go tomorrow.
As the night rolled on, bed time came around and so did a series of events that would send us down the longest and scariest journey of our married lives.
Around 9 p.m. my husband turned super pale, started sweating heavily, couldn’t walk and had shortness of breath. I called 911. Told the kids to get dressed, called my parents to get the kids and waited as the paramedics arrived to assess and get him to the hospital as quickly as possible.
We had the choice of St. Vincent’s East, St. Vincent’s Birmingham or UAB. I thank God everyday, every single day, we chose St. Vincent’s Birmingham.
Arriving at the E.R. around 10 p.m. the doctors made the decision to move him to the main building MICU. Night shift met him and got him set up for the night. I remember thinking ‘okay so this is gonna be a couple of days in the hospital.’
Little did I know…
The next day was a day of blood work, high fevers, fluids and really it was an extreme blur. I seriously don’t remember too much about that day. He doesn’t either.
I remember leaving him that night because I had to get the kids. I remember asking the nurses to call me if anything changes. I remember texting him that night. Then a phone call around 4:30 a.m. Thursday changed everything.
The nurse called to say they needed to intubate him because he was so sick he couldn’t breath properly.
How does this happen? How do you go from regular family daily life to giving permission for doctors to insert a breathing tube and hook him up to a ventilator?
Permission was granted but I needed to tell him what was happening. They let me talk to him on the phone and they generously let me see him before they sedated him. I got there just in time to talk to him and tell him how much I love him. His eyes were panicked, he was fighting the tubes, he was waving his arms but he calmed down just enough to make our hand gesture that means ‘I love you.’
Let me pause and say this: I’m not gonna lie about my fear. The fear inside me poured out in tears as I raced to the hospital. It poured out of me as I prayed with our three kids, as I explained to them how sick daddy had gotten, how urgent it was for the doctors to do this procedure, how I shouldn’t have driven so fast to the hospital that morning but wanted to talk to him in person one more time before he went to sleep. A sleep that my children and I prayed wouldn’t be forever.
Thrown into a decision making process
Later that day I met with surgeons, a hospitalist, an infectious disease doctor, a cardiologist and a pulmonologist. They all said the same thing he’s extremely sick, he may not live and here’s what we must do. He needs surgery because strep has infected his whole body. Strep throat was in the process of killing my husband.
Strep throat of all things.
I’m not going to go into the laundry list of things that happened medically to my husband. I will tell you that doctors said the day he was intubated that the next 72 hours would determine if he was going to live or not.
Really? There could only be 72 hours left on this planet with the man I’ve known and loved for 18 years?
The human side of me wasn’t satisfied with that. I’m not gonna put up with that answer, 72 hours with my husband wasn’t good enough, especially if he’s asleep. There’s too much that needs to be said, things he needs to do, people who want to talk to him, kids who want to love on him.
What are the kids gonna do without a daddy? What are they gonna do when they want to talk about sports, go fishing, paintball, watch movies, take naps, travel, dream big, build big with LEGOs, watch the Three Stooges and Rifleman? Who’s gonna teach the boys how to be men and teach our daughter how to take care of herself and be confident?
I don’t want anyone else to do that and I don’t want to do it by myself. I, I, I….
Praise God though it’s not about I, me or myself. It’s not about the kids, it’s not about all
the things that haven’t been done or said. It’s about this:
How can God use this illness and unexpected tragedy in our little family to bring honor and glory to His name?
Bringing honor and glory to His name
God delivered my husband out of the grips of death, restoring him from multi-organ failure, 20 plus days of sedation and 70 days in the hospital. I choose the word delivered over healed because delivering is a such a powerful description of the miracle God performed in my husband’s life.
Let me start off with how God did this.
He placed us at the MICU downtown for a reason. He knew that the nurses there would become my friends. He knew that so many of them were Christians, shared the same world view and would pray for my husband, me and the kids. He knew they would have the right words to say and know exactly when to say them. He knew they would give me time alone with my husband to cry and talk to him. He knew they would hug me and cheer with me when things went well. They would tell me don’t get upset unless we get upset. They would make me laugh. They also would teach me how to care for him and tell me questions to ask doctors.
Nurses like Maddie, Kaitlyn 1 and 2, Sabrina, Rachelle, Katherine, Shelley, Emily, Susan, Josh M., Tim, Paul, Sandra, Christina, Pam and nursing students Hallie and Cara, dialysis nurses Phillip, Corey, Rose and Natasha, plus many more all let me help with his care when it came to changing his bedding, helping with is hygiene, cleaning his room or letting me go on Starbucks coffee runs with them. Even Desiree who managed the nurses station area was a great friend to chat with every morning and throughout the day as I waited on test results, doctors to round and on and on.
They took me in and comforted me every single day and night. I slept on a couch by him as we waited for God to heal his body.
The doctors Dr. Allen, Dr. Patel, Dr. Blalock, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Shellcross, Dr. Heidecker, Dr. Black, the kidney doctors all treated me with respect, answered my questions and even cracked jokes with me when I pointed out improvements that were small to them but major events to me – Major evidence that God is still in the miracle business and He has a plan.
During that time God was working on my heart. The sickness and dance with death put me in a place where I had no other choice but to look at what was going on in my own life, my own heart and how I was acting towards God, my husband and my kids.
When you get so overwhelmed with circumstances that you don’t know what to pray you can simply pray, as I’ve learned, “Father, Your will, not mine be done.”
If Your will is to save his earthly body from death - Praise You.
If Your will is to take his earthly body now - Praise You as well for I know he knows Christ as his savior and ‘To live is Christ, to die is gain.’
Every step along the way was tough but for every set back it seemed there were so many more praises. I remember yelling ‘Thundercats a go!’ to the nurses when he produced urine, (a big deal when your kidneys stop working).
There was a major turn around after doctors performed a tracheotomy on him in mid-April. He started to slowly wake up. He eventually got to where he could interact with me and the nurses.
Although he couldn’t talk he could blink his eyes and shake his head. Remember my fear of not being able to talk to him again? God’s faithfulness and mercies are new every morning. I had hope that we would be able to speak to each other again and we did.
One particular moment was when “I asked him if he knew who I was?” He shook his head yes. I then asked if he wanted me to give him a kiss? He shook his head yes. I kissed him. He smiled.
For my eyes are toward You, O GOD, the Lord; In You I take refuge; do not leave me defenseless. Psalm 141:8
The same eyes that were panicked weeks earlier were now filled with confusion and anxiousness. But speeding up the story a bit, now they are filled with gratitude. God used the 70 days across three facilities to get him home to us. He’s learning to walk again, using a walker. He’s still very weak. But that doesn’t bother me, I’m just glad he’s here to laugh, make me laugh, pick on the kids and mainly to tell his own story of how God gave him a second chance.
Don’t let anyone tell you God is not real if they do, you think of my husband.
You think of how doctors could do all they could but they said we have to leave off here and let God do the rest.
You think of my kids having their daddy at home.
You think of me being able to talk to my husband and tell him how much I love and need him.
You think of Psalms 1 through 82 passages I read to him every day talking about how God can deliver you from the grips of death.
You think of the doctors that called him a miracle because none of them thought he would live.
You think of just how hard it is to lose all your muscle mass and have to build it back. But God made the human body with capabilities to do just that.
You think of how I didn’t post a single word of this event on Facebook or social media yet word of his illness spread and prayers for him were made on three continents, countless churches and numerous brothers and sisters in Christ across the nation who know that the author of life is the only one who can truly spare lives.
Now here’s the brutally honest part, because I’m not playing around any more
There is only one way to heaven it is through believing in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. You want to make the decision now before something bad happens to you.
You may not get a second chance. So here it is: Jesus Christ was the only perfect man to walk this planet. He is fully God and fully man.
He is the perfect atonement for our sins. You are a sinner, you are, you can’t deny it.
Sin separates you from the Father, accept Christ’s free gift of salvation by asking Him to forgive you of your sins, make you a new creation and ask Him to be Lord of your life.
You will die one day. You will go to heaven or hell. There is no getting around it, no matter what lame argument for no heaven or hell this world makes.
It’s up to you. Simply read the whole book of John. (no excuses you can read it on your phone) If it doesn’t make sense ask God to help you understand it and keep reading it until you see how desperately we all need a Savior, Jesus Christ.
There were two songs that kept playing in my head one during the trial and one towards the end. The first is Overcame by Jeremy Camp, the second is Day One by Matthew West.
Matthew West – Day One