If, in your life, you have felt the agony and despair of losing someone that is as much a part of your life as the heart that beats in your chest then you know misery. Misery is a special kind of pain that has taken everything that could bring you suffering and molds it into a pill made of broken glass. I say that because in our life, our Christian walk, we will face situations that are seemingly impossible to comprehend much less accept as a fact.
From here I’ll continue from the first half of this entry.
The woman who went to get a wheelchair had returned. She positioned and parked the chair beside the truck after I opened the door. My dad had just commented on how fast we arrived and then said he needed a moment to prepare. He was exhausted and the act of transitioning between the truck and the wheelchair became a mental battle of will. He said okay and repositioned. Then he began to retch and vomited a small amount of liquid. The moments after are burned into my memories, chiseled into stone to remain as a reminder of how close we are to death. His body began to contort backwards, his arms trembling and drawing in, his eyes… His green eyes were far back into his head. I have one hand on his back trying to pull him forward and one hand around his wrist fighting his movements. I was speaking loudly, frantically, “Dad! Dad!”
I turned to the woman standing behind the wheelchair, “what’s happening!?”
She replied, “Get him to the emergency room!” (The entrance to the ER was about 100 yards away.)
While she was pointing to the ER I was focused on him. Still fighting. Seconds had passed by this point. Seconds, minutes hours… a moment in itself can feel like forever
“Dad, please,” I begged.
The moment he began having this episode my aunt began screaming causing my grandmother to become frantic. The woman beside me had disappeared. A moment later, his body stopped fighting and eased all tension. He was pulling himself forward completely unaware of what had just occurred.
“Jared, what’s wrong?” He asked.
My mind has to hit the clutch and change gears after stopping momentarily. What… happened… The woman that brought out the wheelchair was back with paper towels and a “barf bag.” She’s insisting that I take him to the ER. I’m still trying to process what occurred a moment before.
“Are you okay, Deddy?” I asked.
In a clear and concise voice he responded, “yes. What’s wrong? What’s going on?”
He was losing patience and I assume after studying my facial expression he knew that something had taken place. I can admit… I was afraid.
“I think you had a seizure. Are you okay? (I kept asking as if the response would change every few seconds) What’s your name?”
“Ben!” He said with a greater impatience. “A seizure? No, I just woke up from a nap. I told you I was going to take a nap. Are you okay?”
Of course… he would ask me if I was okay before figuring out what happened to himself. He’s always made sure those around him were okay, fed, warm, cool and clothed before tending to himself. And now… In a moment I was faced with losing my earthly father, my Deddy, and he ask me if I’m okay…
“I’m not okay… what year is it Deddy?”
Before he could answer, the woman behind me was repeatedly asking me to take him to the ER so I finally responded, “lady did you see what just happened? He’s got to have surgery today. He’s sick! He may not make it another day! I need to get him to the waiting room…”
*Honestly, I didn’t know what to do and I’m not great in situations where I have no control. I’m grateful that my Creator and His host were there. I was merely a an empty boat on the river.
“Sir, we are not capable of handling his condition as he is in this area. For his sake, please take him to the ER.”
Okay… okay… my dad had already pulled his legs back into the vehicle. Less than five minutes had passed. A truly large amount of time existed in those moments. I saw my brother exiting the garage and motioned for him to get to us quickly. Seconds later we were all tucked into the Fifth row SUV like sardines. The woman told me as I was getting into the truck that she would call ahead to the ER. She didn’t call quickly enough for my super hero brother and his speed of thought. After we parked at the ER door (odd setup for an ER entrance) my brother was inside frantically asking and searching for a wheelchair. We had never dealt with armed security at a hospital (we live in a small town) but that day, my brother Tony, got to know a few guards on a first name basis. As he was searching for a wheelchair in every room that he had access to, the security guards were following him around trying to get him to stop and follow security protocol (metal detector walk-through, no knives or weapons or bombs etc.)
I was outside talking with our dad. He was speaking as if nothing had occurred and he remembered nothing from the episode as well. I was thanking God over and over that we were at least at this juncture. I was still incredibly nervous, anxious. I don’t know the future and learned that lesson the hard way many years before. All I knew at this moment was that my dad was being himself and that thirty feet away medical professionals were present. The doors busted open and Tony was walking out with a wheelchair while a guard followed behind. Everyone was hyper at this point but the woman’s call helped calm them a bit. Tony and I helped dad into the wheelchair and off we went. Finally… he was sitting in the nurses check-in station. I had to take my dad’s, Tony’s and my knife (country boys have pocket knives) to the truck and also needed to park the truck. With Dad in a place that was absolutely capable of taking care of him I went ahead and took the truck the garage. I didn’t deserve a moment to myself but at that point, if I was going to be useful in any way, I needed to catch my breath.
While walking back towards the ER (I parked in the hospital garage instead of the ER garage which is much longer walk. *I didn’t know the ER had a separate garage) I had time to quickly post a prayer request on Facebook. If I remember correctly it was, “Prayers needed for Dad. This is an emergency!” It was amazing how many people prayed to God in those moments.
*In the blog entry before this one (Your Faith Will Be Tested part one) I mentioned the word miracle and that using it for any good thing is an Injustice towards how amazing the definition of miracles is. For us, for my Dad, Tony… just, well… all of us witnessed something that was an intervention… After discovering the extent of what my dad was going through, endured and walked out a new man you may believe the same.
I had already convinced myself that pleading with the medical staff to keep him overnight IF they were not going to do the surgery was my only option. I know in my heart, that had one more day passed without assistance, he would no longer be with us. A couple of hours of fluids and rest starting bringing his color back. They kept a close watch on his blood pressure. For him, 170/100 is normal and it’s run high for years. That day, that Friday, his blood pressure was barely 90/50 and it wasn’t coming up fast. Blood work revealed something almost unbelievable…
The staff explained that my dad had experienced major blood loss. Four pints! FOUR. Over a two week span and especially the last few days he had lost over forty percent of his blood volume. At his age the sheer fact the he was still breathing was a miracle.
God’s plan is perfect. We may not always agree with the outcome but that doesn’t change the fact that His plan is perfect.
After giving him fluids and two pints of blood he was visited by the surgeon. She had spoken with the Emergency room doctors (truly capable, intelligent doctors) it was decided that the surgery to remove the tumor would still happen and must happen for his survival. Dad was confident with that and so was his surgeon and her staff. She explained that they would continue to give him blood throughout the surgery until his levels were normal. Shortly after his blood pressure stabilized, they wheeled him into the Operating area.
At this point we had been at the hospital for almost six hours. My brother, grandmother, aunt and myself were allowed to give hugs and say I love you before he was wheeled into surgery. Everyone was in good spirits, thankfully. The weeks and hours and minutes leading up to his body trying to give up and give in had taken longer mentally than physically. The battle my dad faced is a story in itself.
God is good.
The surgery was extensive and lasted a little over five hours. My grandmother wouldn’t eat until she knew he was okay. The nurse called the waiting room almost every hour to tell us that the surgery was going great and with each call I would ask her if she’d like to eat. I could see where my dad gets his “others above self” mentality. The final call was around 7:45 p.m. that night. The surgery was a success! All of the prayers, all of the hope and especially His mercy and grace were present in that final call…
After my dad was in a room and we were allowed to see him he asked when they were going to do the surgery. I asked if he remembered what happened throughout the day but his recollection was fuzzy or not at all. I’m grateful for that. The next day the nurses wanted him to start moving and waking. He had been so weak and wobbly the past few weeks that I wanted to be there in case he needed someone to hold him up. He stood to his feet, looked towards me and gave me a grin. At first I thought he was falling and even the nurse grabbed him. He wasn’t falling. He had his legs back and was trying to test then out! All I could do was thank God. No more wobble from my friend.
When I tell you that my faith was tested it isn’t to say that I would give up my belief in God. My faith was tested because of past experiences. It was an, “Oh God… Oh God… I’ve been here before. I’ve been in this moment before and Your response to my prayers was not what I wanted. Please Father!” I’ve lost before. I know well the pain of mourning and giving years to suffering over loss. Even now in this moment the pain exist but there’s a difference in my life now. I stopped blaming God and began accepting that His way is the only way, the perfect way. My faith was tested. I do know this… This is where God wants us right now and of every possible outcome this is the one we were faced with and given. God is good regardless of my wants or desires.
OH YEAH!!! I almost forgot to mention… My dad was given five pints of blood which means by human accounts he… It doesn’t matter what could have happened now BUT please know that he was closer to death than to life. By God’s grace, he walked out of the hospital. Walked out…
I absolutely appreciate everyone who was in prayer over this situation. Our Father’s mercy and grace were ever present and present still. I’m also grateful for all of you who support me and share these blogs and respond to them. If I can reach one for God then maybe that one can reach millions.
Over the next few blogs I’ll be discussing and detailing some of the philosophical questions that are asked or presented in these two entries. I didn’t go into great detail because this entry and the first half were going long. Essentially, it’s a short story between the two. We will have a discussion though.
God Bless and I hope you have enough.
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