But God

It was the week of Vacation Bible School. The Church is full with about 900 kids each year and it is the highlight week of my year. I look forward to seeing each of the kids, their eyes full of wonder and excitement as the week unfolds. To make sure this week builds upon the fun each teacher decorates their room to meet the theme that engages their groups of kids. This love for teaching helps me decorate so that by the time the week is over, they have learned, remembered and understood their Bible Lessons for the week. Nothing is more satisfying than teaching those kids.

I spent the whole month preparing and putting things into folders for each day of the week. I was pulling together the design for decorating my room and by the Saturday before VBS I was dragging family to the church with a friend to decorate a fabulous room that the kids would love and want to learn more.

But by Thursday I was getting sick. I just knew it was just a summer bug, so I kept going. On Friday, I was still feeling bad but not telling anyone because I knew it would pass over. I kept my plans to meet my friend at the church, I kept my plans for Friday evening, and I just kept going. Little did I know that things were about to change, forever.

By Saturday, I got up and felt so bad but I got in the car with my family and headed to the church. We were in the middle of putting things together, people were off getting stuff and I just couldn’t stand. I thought “if I just sit for a moment I know I will feel better” but I must not have looked incredibly well because my husband noticed. After about thirty minutes and not getting any better, he finally said we were going home and I could finish tomorrow. But things didn’t get better by tomorrow, in fact they were worse.

Sunday I spent the whole day in bed. I just knew I had the summer flu. My daughter was in the bed next to me feeling horrible and I was sure we had the same thing. By the afternoon, my daughter was extremely ill and since she has Cystic Fibroses and had two liver transplants, we decided that my husbanded would go ahead and take her to the ER. I just couldn’t go, I was too ill and that was a first for all of us. That evening they called to let me know they were admitting her, she was very ill. Then I knew, we both had the same thing.

By Tuesday evening I was so sick I couldn’t even move from the bed. My husband was driving home in the afternoon to bring me food and check on me and staying at the hospital at night with my daughter. She was getting better and I was not. By Friday I had to agree with my husband if I wasn’t better by Saturday I would go to the hospital. He was downtown at Olivia’s hospital and I was at home. I just knew he would forget. What I didn’t know is that was the last thing I would remember.

I look back from today and can’t even believe it happened. That one minute I had the flu and the next, I woke up with those horrible fluorescent lights in my eyes and people saying “Mrs. King, can you follow the light with your eyes?” and other people that were out of my sight yelling “she’s awake, she understands, she’s following instructions!”. My first thought “they are really frustrating me!” because I couldn't understand what was happening at all so I just went back to sleep.

I was told the night we headed to the hospital, I was very ill. Evidently my body was in multi-organ failure when we arrived and that was just the beginning. I was full of pneumonia, my fever was very high, and my heart was failing quickly. When we arrived at the ER, Dean thought I had a bad case of the flu and so did I. This idea was quickly changed when they were putting me in ICU. They put me in some strange bed that rotated and gave me medicine to go to sleep. They started IV’s, intubated me, and hooked me up to so many different machines.

During all of this, what no one realized is that I had no idea what was going on. I had no memory from the Thursday before until I woke up two weeks later. During that time I answered questions, I was very irritated with all the these things happening, I would respond but somewhere my brain shut down and did not let much of it enter. Personally, as sick as I was, I think that was God protecting me from some very tough situations that followed. When we need that protection, God wraps us in His arms.

Psalm 91 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

How blessed I was not to remember all that happened. I know from the stories I have been told, the heartfelt love that was expressed, and the prayers that protected me that there was a lot of stress, a lot of concern and my body was in a severely fragile place.

The first day at the hospital my husband was told by the Doctor that “IF” I survived the night it would be a miracle. He told Dean if he believed in miracles, now would be the time, his response “I can do that.” Dean went directly to the waiting room and pulled everyone there, he says about thirty people, and they prayed. Blasts were sent out for prayer, churches were called and the power of intercession was answered. All those precious friends, prayer warriors, and saints that went to their knee’s on my behalf. How could anyone ever know the love that was shared to me in prayer for me during that horrible time? I made it through the night. The launch of tens of thousands of angels began.

That night was where the rollercoaster left the building and started down the track. The climb up the hill was long and the unknown was on the other side. You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach as you climb the hill. The click you hear as the car goes up the hill, all in anticipation of going down the other side….my friends, my family, my church family, all those outstretched arms felt that feeling. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting.

The next night was when my poor husband was told I needed a heart valve replacement. My heart valve had a bacteria on it and endocarditis. The blood was just sloshing around in my heart and not going out very well. My body was still in organ failure along with a high fever that wasn’t coming down and surgery was not possible until they could get the infection under control. They were going to transfer me to another hospital for the surgery. Again they didn’t know if I would survive. They had given me medicine to put me in a deep sleep, almost a state of coma so that my body would heal but it was still fighting that infection. They wanted me awake before they did the surgery so they took me off the medicine to wake me up, but I wouldn’t wake up. When they received me at the new hospital and I didn’t wake up for three days, the Doctor asked for a CT Scan to see if maybe I had a stroke. Evidently stroke victims like to sleep. When the scan came back, it definitely showed a stroke but it also showed that my brain was completely swollen. As my neurologist later told me “Your brain was like mashed potatoes!”

This was another huge setback. The Doctor again explained for the second time that I might not make it. He was going to re-do the scan in a couple of days and if the brain was healing then we would go from there, if the brain didn’t heal we were talking about a completely different scenario because that meant the brain was dying. I can’t even imagine what my family and friends were going through and down the rollercoaster we went.

But God! They took the CT scan again in three days and it was not what anyone expected. The Doctor came to my husband to tell him my brain was completely healed. In three days it had completely healed itself. He exclaimed “We had nothing to do with that, we can only attribute what happened to God.”

God had now done two huge miracles in two weeks’ time but was another one possible?

My brain was cleared, the fever was finally going down and my organs were working again except my heart. I needed a heart valve replacement. The surgeon called the Cardiologist. He wasn’t sure if he even needed to do the surgery. My body was not ready to withstand the surgery and if I contracted an infection I would not make it through the event. The Cardiologist told him that either way the outcome would be the same, I would /could die. At least I had a small chance with the surgery and if I didn’t survive, well, I wasn’t going to without the surgery.

If I were sitting on the other side of bed, I am not sure how I would feel. I am not sure if I would even have enough in me to ask God for one more miracle. My family and friends though stood vigil, they prayed, they held my husband’s hand, they held my daughter close to their heart. In the midst of all of this, my daughter was still in the hospital and my husband was going to both hospitals as much as he could. Thankfully she was finally released from her hospital in time for my surgery.

So, the day before my daughter’s eighteenth birthday that had so many other plans than being in a hospital, before all this happened, I had surgery. God was so gracious with His love and I made it through that surgery with flying colors and healing began. But there was so much healing to be done. My body was so weak. According the Doctors, I was Septic the week before I went to the hospital and the infection had been in my body for a long time. I had been sick a lot longer than I even knew.

The recovery was very hard. When I woke up, really woke up, I was back at the original hospital and that is when it started. The things I remember before my eyes and brain finally caught up with each other is foggy and dreamy. There are so few things I do remember but I do remember finally waking up because that was so hard. The reality of everything that happened came crashing on me like being caught in an undertow. People around me were praising God about all those miracles they had witnessed but my miracle started when I woke up.

When I first woke up, I could talk but I couldn’t read. I could think but I couldn’t move any muscle in my body. I could want things, ice, food and other things but I could do nothing for myself. I was completely paralyzed. I had so many questions. I was so scared. I didn’t know how I would be and what God had planned but I held on to hope and determination.

I know what you expect here is for me to tell how God healed my body and that was my miracle. That was a miracle that most of my body, after four months of working hard, has healed. I still have a lot of paralysis and I am still rehabbing. I did have to be that person starting over to learn to feed myself, walk, taking my own shower, cooking for my family and re-adjusting to a new life but that still was not my miracle.

My miracle was my family. You see for years I was the glue that held my family together. We had spent years just holding it together because my daughter had two liver transplants and has CF. She spends a lot of time in the hospital and between paying the bills, taking care of Olivia’s medical stuff, and all we ladies know it takes to get it all done, it never occurred to me that I could get sick. Not deathly sick. And if I did get sick, my husband would fall apart. He wouldn’t know what to do because we hold it all together by a thread and usually I am that thread that is holding on to God. There is a verse that says

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Those three strands is Dean Olivia and I. Those strands of family was my miracle. That first light that I had was my husband. The man who fed me, held me as I cried, as I yelled at God, as I learned to do things again. He bathed me, held my hand, held me up. He was the one who figured out all the bills, cooked the meals, made sure my medicine was taken and done, bandaged my wounds and soothed my soul as I worked, cried, gave up, and then tried to go too fast. The one who tried to protect me and didn’t want me to worry about anything. He had the patience of Job as I worked hard and took things out on him. He just loved me and had no expectations. If I came home completely paralyzed he didn’t care. He would figure it out. If I was completely healed, that was just a bonus. For him, the miracle was done. I was alive to be with him and be a part of his life. That was all he needed and that was just what I needed, to know he loved me that much.

My daughter, I just needed to know God had her heart. Through her darkest moment (and she has had a lot but I knew this was the hardest.) That Mom may not be her rock anymore. That life may have to change and she would have to be stronger. That instead of being angry with God that she would lean into Him, and she has. She has grown so much as a person, in the Lord and in her heart. She has been my cheerleader, my friend and my heart. I love that about her and my miracle was her walk with the Lord.

The last miracle was my friends. When my family was lost, nowhere to turn, no way to do all that needed to be done, God just provided the right people at the right time to be a part of that miracle for me. For those who stayed with me, those who took care of Olivia for Dean and for those that took care of Dean….the hands and feet of Jesus was seen.

But if not for God none of this could have even been possible. We live in a world today that is selfish, self-absorbed, and materialistic. God creates a new heart in us that reaches beyond our own desires and reaches out to others. What a miracle, everyone had a hand in the miracle God was wanting to accomplish and because of those faithful hearts, God was with us, in us, and surrounding us the whole time. No words can ever be enough.

I think we are still on the roller coaster ride but at least the hills are smaller and God is still working.

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