It has been 4 weeks since I walked into my bedroom to find my husband dead. I know that seems a little harsh and morbid but it was real. He was not alive. I remember he had texted me to tell me that he was having chest pain again. He had had some chest pain about 5 days prior that he attributed to acid re-flux and it went away after reclining on the bed for a bit. He was going to try that again. I called him and he sounded fine. He wasn’t in distress. He didn’t see an immediate need to go to urgent care or seek medical attention. He really thought he would be fine.
He was’t fine. His eyes were open a bit and his face looked like it was in distress but he was lifeless. “Call 911, Abby, Abby”…..She came in as I was calling 911 and searching through the drawer in the bathroom for the Nitro tablets. We knew he was a candidate for a heart attack. His dad started his heart disease journey at age 35. My beloved was 45, in excellent health, exercising regularly, eating well, no smoking, no drinking, under the care of a cardiologist who was helping to monitor and manage some cholesterol issues, he was not on deaths door. He was strong and healthy and alive.
I told the 911 operator that my husband was dead and I needed help. She walked me through every step of the way. Remove any pillows, get him flat. “Abby, help, grab his ankles. We are going to get him on the floor. Ready…1,2,3″. 220lbs lifted by two tenacious German women, down to the ground.
7 minutes of CPR…”Abby I really need to you help me, I need a break, I can’t do this any more”. Abby takes my place. 1,2,3,4 1,2,3,4. The 911 operator counted, told us to keep going. After a couple minutes I took over again and Abby went to look for the EMS response team. 12 minutes after calling for help the Deschutes County Sheriff arrived….well 7 Deschutes County Sheriff’s arrived. They did the first defibrillation and asked me to let them know when I was getting tired. “I’m tired!!” Ok. They took over, I went to the deck and together Abby and I prayed. I made some calls to key people: Brek’s mom, My Mom and our community group leader at Church.
We kept praying. Pleading. Calling out.
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. Psalm 18:6
Was that Scott? Scott was walking up our driveway. A good friend to Brek and a lifeline to us! Next my brother came tearing up the street, jumped the fence, ran up the driveway and into our house. I don’t remember when I was hugged so strongly by him.
The EMT’s shocked him 11 times at home. They worked on him in our bedroom for what seemed like an eternity! Finally, about 45 minutes after I had found him, he was en-route to the hospital. That was a good sign right?
Abby drove me, Scott followed behind and Aaron met us there. Before I could take it all in, Neal, our pastor was there, Dave our community group leader and my best friend, Bre came in. Bre is my heart! We all prayed. We waited. I was able to go back in the ER to see him. They explained to me that he was temporarily stable, he needed to be taken back to the ‘cath lab’ to determine the extent of damage to his heart. I was in shock and scared and helpless. Tom, the BIG ER nurse looked me in the eye, “I promise to take care of your husband”. Something in his gentle strength made me believe that this was true. Tom had my back and he would do what needed to be done.
Over the next few hours we heard at least 3 code blues….his heart wasn’t wanting to beat.
They placed a stint in one artery, everything else was fine. The blocked artery was in the area of the heart that gives the timing to the beat. Since that was broken, the heart couldn’t pick up the beat message and that is why it was having trouble working, even with all of the CPR and shocks he received. He needed to be kept in a cold resting state, still assisted with breathing for 24-72 hours. I was able to see him, he was in distress, he was not resting. His eyes were closed and he was not responsive but he was agitated. I was helpless to help him and felt alone. Go home and sleep they said.
Mom and Dad Paul had arrived and we all went home to, sleep?
In case you wondered, you don’t sleep after an evening like this. There is NO WAY! You can pray and cry and shake. That is what you do.
The next morning I hurried back to the hospital. As the morning went on, friends and family poured into the ICU waiting room and we waited. What were we waiting for? I’m honestly not sure. But then it came. Two doctors wanted to have a family meeting. Was this the end? Was it time to decide to let him go?
Mom and Dad Paul and I sat in the room while the Doctor told us, his organs were failing. Cardiogenic shock. Heart was functioning at 15%, Kidneys were shutting down and the liver was dying. They could do one procedure to give the heart support but after that they were at the end of their ability to care for the patient and he needed to be flown to OHSU in Portland. Would I give them permission to transfer?
Is there an option? Does anyone ever say, “no, don’t transfer my beloved?”
I said goodbye to him and he looked at me. Heidi, my pastor’s wife, read psalm 23 and we prayed with him. He still wasn’t present in the body. His eyes were empty. I let him go. I told him to do what Jesus was leading him to do and whatever that was we could trust. He flew away.
4 hours later, I was on my way to the ICU room at OHSU. I prepared myself for the worst. He was probably going to have to be on a bypass machine until his heart got healthy, he would probably still be in a coma, he may be a transplant patient. This was going to be a long road ahead and it may end up that he’d never come home.
As I rounded the corner to his room, he was sitting up drinking water and eating ice chips.
WHAT?!!! IN THE WORLD???
Turns out he didn’t need the big machines at OHSU. He just needed a $50,000 airplane ride and a new view.
Three days after he had died in our bedroom, my husband was sitting in a chair and walking around the ICU. He was alive!
We had a rough go of it. He went home 6 days after the initial event. We returned to the hospital 2 times since then and are now dealing with pulmonary emboli (lung blood clots), but HE IS ALIVE! He is strong. He is loving. He is reset.
I am accounting for this day in History here on my blog because this is where all things are written and stored. To remember and rejoice. To cry and to laugh. To be a marker of where I have been and where I am going! Sometimes it is beneficial for others to read but mostly its beneficial for me to write!
As you can imagine, the faith journey I have been on, carries with it many lessons and opportunities for God to be glorified! I will share with you over the next few weeks, all of these great things! The last 4 weeks have been nothing but miraculous! There is no other medical explanation for where we are today except luck or God. We know it was God.
He did it, we participated and now we Glorify!