01/01/11 will be a day that I don’t forget. Ever! I would like to. I would like to pretend it never happened. It is so much easier to pretend that live is a bed of roses with no weeds and perfectly groomed soil. But, then how would I know the value of the people I love, of an ever present God. I have never been more aware of these things as I am at this very moment.
Randy and I were supposed to head out early to take a load of things to Jennie in McCall. We were also going to go do some business in Ontario which would require us both to drive separate cars. I was unable to pull myself out of bed that morning. Not such an unusual occurrence but I hadn’t worked for several nights so it shouldn’t have been such a problem. But it was and I had lain in bed for about 45 minutes trying to wake up. At about 9:00 AM I suddenly felt I should get up and dress and head in to the house to get the day started. As usual, Norma was at work so Randy was by himself doing some research on the computer. I fixed my breakfast and sat on the couch to eat and he joined me in the living room. I was feeling like I was coming down with a cold and he said he hadn’t felt well that morning either. We were discussing whether we should go to McCall or not. After I had been in the house about 10 minutes, he got up from his chair and started to walk across the room and suddenly fell to the floor. He went down so gracefully, as if in slow motion, that I thought for a minute his back had just spasmed and he was lying down on the floor to stretch. It only took a brief second to realize that my brain was in denial and that there was something seriously wrong. He didn’t respond to me and he had no pulse. The love of my life was lying on the floor, dieing. My brain felt like mush. “Dear Lord, don’t take him from me yet.” My fingers seemed to dial 911 so very slowly. The lady at dispatch was asking way too may questions. “Just get here fast. I need them now!” “They are on the way already. Just hang on. Their coming.” She verified the address again and all I wanted was to get off the phone and take care of him. Help him…somehow. No pulse. What next? CPR! Go! 1 and 2 and 3 and …. I heard ribs crack. “Don’t you leave me yet!” “Lord, help me. Help me do this” Please don’t take him yet.” Keep going don’t stop. Sirens! I became blessedly aware of their wale as they approached the house. Randy coughed and took a couple breaths, however they were so labored. I jumped up and opened the door. They were here. But moving so slowly. Why does everything seem to be in slow motion during a crisis? I know they were moving as fast as they could but it just seemed so slow. They came in to the room and took control. There were 5 maybe 6 of those wonderful EMTs. Randy had stopped breathing again. One of the EMTs had questions for me. I couldn’t focus. I wanted to hear what was going on. I heard, “get a line in, we need to shock him, shock him!” they did and I hollered across the room, “What’s his rhythm?” “V-fib! Shock him again. Junctional rhythm, Continue CPR and bagging. Let’s get him out of here.” and he was lifted by those 5 wonderful men on to the gurney as the 6th one continued to help him breath. They let me ride in the front of the ambulance. I could hear them in the back. They still couldn’t get an IV line going. The driver spoke soothingly to me. “You did a good job. You did all the right things.” All I knew was that my husband was in the back teetering on the edge of life and death. This couldn’t be. This only happens to other people. Not to me. Not to my husband.
We entered the ER as the gurney was wheeled in to a room. Everyone was there. He was surrounded with caregivers. So much going on, familiar faces, unknown faces all were there to help save his life. I saw efficiency and caring. The ER doctor hugged me, gave words of encouragement. They were still trying to get IV lines in but he was so sick, so very sick. He thrashed and fought until I finally couldn’t bear to watch any longer. There were papers to sign. Quick explanations of the procedures to follow. Should I understand what they are saying? My brain was not connecting well. The hospital chaplain arrived. I knew him. He had helped me after a fetal demise that I had cared for a year ago. Such a tender soul, Pastor Jim. Other things happened but I was so overwhelmed that I can’t recall them at this time. Everything rather blends together. Text messages and emails came in almost continually. People all over the world were praying. Australia, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, people around the US and locals were bombarding the throne of God, doing battle for Randy’s health. He was taken to the cardiac cath lab as soon as they got him intubated and an IV started. Every time I looked at the clock the hands seemed to have barely moved. Friends and family gradually arrived. It is so good to have the support they provide. People would question, ‘What happened?’ To say, “Randy had a heart attack” felt so unreal. I felt as if I were functioning in another world.
We waited. Prayerful, visiting, at times laughing. The Dr. finally arrived with a report. Randy’s Anterior Coronary Artery had a 100% blockage. They placed a stint and the circulation returned. There are still 2 remaining arteries that have 98% blockage but they will need repair after he is stable. Time will tell. The next 24-48 hours are the most critical. However, the doctor feels like things were done rapidly enough that his heart has a chance for a near complete recovery. Wonderful sounding words. We got there in time.
They say I saved his life with my quick actions and CPR. I say, God is good. He saved him from that moment when he teetered on the brink of life and death. He allowed me to be used. I was his instrument. I am incapable of granting life but I am able to do all things through Christ. He is my strength, my foundation, the one who holds me up when I can hardly stand, the hand that is there to grab when I need to hold tight. He is the one that I more than willingly trust my future to. So, no matter what happens from here, I am not alone. I do not have to count on my own strength to get through all of this. God is my strength and my fortress. I will trust and not be afraid. Thank you, Father.
Addendum: I promised to list the miracles of that day so here are some of them.
1. If I had worked the night before, I would have been sleeping in the trailer. Randy would have been alone and the event would have gone unwitnessed. He would not be with me today.
2. If we had left for McCall, as planned, we would have been in separate cars and he would have had his heart attack while driving down the freeway.
3. Our very special friend and adopted son Cole, who is a pastor in the Tri Cities, just happened to be driving over from WA and was just outside of Nampa. He was able to come and sit with us while we waited for Randy to come out of surgery and then pray over him for healing.
4. Seth wasn’t working so he was able to let Jennie know what was going on. Her boss didn’t even question but gave her the week off so she could be down here with us.
5. Krissy was able to find people to watch her kids without much difficulty and Josh brought her over to be with us.
There were other more subtle things but the biggest miracle was just seeing Randy come out of surgery with good color.
He is still in critical condition and only God knows where we will journey from here. But this I know. I am not afraid. I am so blessed to have a Father who loves me and carries my burdens. I will cry and I will laugh and I will be happy for each new day. I will cherish every moment with those I love and never take one second of those times for granted.
May 6, 2013
We spent a full year after Randy's heart attack in Nampa before we started to travel again.We were so blessed to be home with family support and for me to be able to continue to work in a wonderful facility in Boise. He recovered fully and is amazingly healthy.