I Believe in Miracles

When something happens in your life that is so monumental everything prior to it is referred to as “pre-incident” and everything that occurs afterwards is from then on known as “post-incident” you feel a certain urge to document the event in its entirety for posterity’s sake. I had one such experience.
On Monday May 24th Will and I welcomed our beautiful baby girl into the world. One week later we moved to Florida. Exactly one week after that our lives were changed even more drastically.

Will arrived home from his first day at his new job and we shared a pot roast that had aromatically filled our home all day. He was telling me how much he missed me and our precious bundle of joy. So after our meal he took her in his arms and smiled and cooed. I took this opportunity to feed our two dogs. Upon returning inside I discover a pile of random items and medicines from our cabinets scattered across the kitchen floor. I step further into the home and see that the baby has been placed in her swing and Will is pacing about and complaining of the worst indigestion he’s ever had.

He had taken Tums and Pepto while feeling severe chest pain, so explains the mess in the kitchen. He alternated sitting, standing, and lying down. After repeatedly asking him if he would like to go to the doctor and being rejected I decided to return a phone call to my mother. After additional pacing Will asked me to hang up the phone and Google chest pain. I did as he asked and started reading aloud the additional symptoms that would require an immediate trip to the emergency room. Each symptom I listed was met with a negative shake of the head from Will until I reached “profuse sweating.” Will had already stripped off some of his clothing he was sweating so badly. I didn’t even really wait for a response, I told him to “get dressed we’re going to the ER.” He consented and I began readying the car seat.

What is a 30 minute trip seemed like an eternity for us. I had trouble navigating out of our octagon shaped house with our other vehicle parked behind me and Will was able to get out and direct my path. At this point, I thought to myself this can’t be that serious or he couldn’t do that. Upon arriving at what I thought was the local hospital and realizing that it was actually an old rail road building, bear in mind that we have only been in this town a week, I panic. I don’t know the name or address of the hospital to enter it into the GPS (I later discovered that you can just ask it to find the nearest hospital). I know we haven’t passed it so I continue in the direction we were headed and pull to the nearest gas station for advice. As I was exiting the vehicle to go inside for directions Will yelled out his window to a woman at the pump who informed us that we continue on a bit further and it would be on our left. With encouragement from Will I drove even faster than before and we both began to wonder if her directions were accurate as we first entered a residential area and then nothing but woods.

With the sight of the blue hospital sign our fears start to abate but that was just the beginning of our fears. I drove up to the door and Will walked himself in. I parked the car, collected the baby, and followed suit. It was later on that we found out that the receptionist had notified the ER manager upon seeing Will’s condition that “this guy doesn’t look too good,” so they took him straight back to resuscitation room six. After signing some documents the baby and I were directed there as well.
I took a seat and watched as ER Manager Joseph and RN Liz speedily worked to hook up the EKG machine to Will as he requested them to “do something about this chest pain.” He asked about the results and Joseph said there were some irregularities but that the doctor would talk to him about them in a moment. Simultaneously Liz was starting fluids through the IV to which Will commented that he felt lightheaded. Then the sight that is forever burned into my brain, he rolled back his eyes, fell back on the bed, and began to turn purple. In that same second Liz immediately started chest compressions and Joseph ran out calling a code blue. In the instant it took me to rise to my feet a swarm of personnel arrived on the scene. Medications were being pumped into the IV, the first shock from the defibrillator is administered…no reaction.

I can distinctly remember my prayer, a selfish one, “Please God, no, I can’t do this alone.” I send a text message to the two people I can count on to pray in an instant, my parents and Elizabeth Fehrman. It was generic, “Will in ER…please pray.”

More medications, a second shock lifting Will from the table…no reaction. I send a second text equally as generic “pray more!”

An additional physician enters the room and asks for an update, he’s quickly filled in and commands another shock…relief, he’s beginning to stabilize. Will begins raising his arms like something out of a horror film when the monster is creeping out of the quicksand. The staff tries to contain him, but he’s freakishly strong. He’s shouting through his oxygen mask “take it out” in the deepest, scariest voice I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. The doctor tells him firmly “Sir, you’ve had a heart attack, we’re doctors and nurses and we’re trying to help you.”

That’s the moment I knew just what had happened…a heart attack; I texted just those two words. It was scarier then than it was before because it had a name, yet the worst part was finally over. The doctor shouts “get the wife over here to calm him down.” I don’t know what to say but I go to his side and repeat the doctor’s words, “they’re trying to help you, calm down.” After a few moments and some regurgitation, Will seems to feel better and they allow the oxygen mask to come off. Then they inform us that he is continuing to have irregular rhythms and they are going to have to shock him again, they add to Will “you’re going to feel it this time.” He tries to dissuade them but they counter that he will have another heart attack if they don’t. The staff clears and the shock is administered followed by Will’s famous line, “good googly moogly, PLEASE don’t do that again.” We all laugh from relief.

In the meantime, both an ambulance and a helicopter have been called. Whichever arrives first will be Will’s transportation to Bay Medical. It’s the ambulance that gets the job. I’m given directions because there is nowhere for a car seat in the ambulance. Will asks me to call his co-worker John to let him know he won’t be returning to work tomorrow. Joseph kindly assists me in carrying out the baby and I begin making the calls. I update Mom and Elizabeth and ask for continued prayers as we explore what just happened. Then I call John who offers to meet me at home and drive me the rest of the way. Consenting to this arrangement turned out to be a wonderful blessing as I was no longer alone in the waiting room and I had someone to care for the baby when I had a few moments to visit with Will. I then made the hardest phone calls I’ve ever had to make…five of them; one to each of Will’s parents and one to each of Will’s 3 oldest children. It is difficult to console others when you’re emotionally in shock and physically in another state, but I mustered up all the strength I had and did the best I could to deliver the news.

After a dreadfully long hour, the doctor emerges and informs us that the procedure went well. He had 100% blockage of one artery which they placed two stents in. Another artery was blocked but his body had created collateral flow to go around it, so deeming it more risk than benefit they left that one alone. I am then informed that he will be spending a couple of nights in the ICU, (it’s ironic at this point to note that Will thought he would be going home from the hospital in Port Saint Joe) and that I wouldn’t be allowed to stay there and Elizabeth wouldn’t be allowed to enter even during visiting hours. We said our goodbyes and John drove me home, I have never felt so helpless. Uncertainty sneaks in and clouds my mind with thoughts of what could have been, and what may come… sleep came in short spurts if at all that evening.

The good news is everything that happened in the week to follow. Our family and friends showed such amazing support, some traveled down to help out, others called and sent cards, many prayed. I juggled my responsibilities as a mother and a wife by a cycle of nursing the baby, driving to the hospital, having visiting hours, feeding the baby in mom’s car, having visiting hours, feeding the baby in the car again, and driving back home. Thankfully his recovery was speedy and he was back at home in just a few days.
For someone who rarely took any medication, the six daily prescriptions is quite a change. That wasn’t the only change to be made though, a heart healthy diet had to start. Along with that came a barrage of continued blood testing and heart monitoring and eventually the insertion of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

I am so incredibly thankful to God and the staff of The Sacred Heart and Bay Medical Center who worked His miracle. Without them I would be lost without the love of my life, and our daughter would grow up never knowing her wonderful father. So, yes, I believe in miracles; and I believe that when you cross one you know it immediately and you NEVER forget it.

I Believe in Love at First Sight

No, I’m not talking about my husband. He swears the first time he saw me I smiled at him, but I couldn’t have picked him out of a line up if you paid me. Working as an Air Force photographer the sea of men in blue uniforms was just a background blur at each assignment. He was undeterred by my seeming lack of interest and chased me for over a month before I agreed to a tennis match, but that’s all a story for another time. The love of a spouse is one that grows over time. There is, perhaps, an instant connection or attraction, but then something more must come about. That is a special love, one that becomes unshakeable because of the strength of its bond over the years; but the love I’m talking about is unique.

What I’m talking about is this:

 

If you’ve experienced it, a photo is worth a thousand words and I’m sure your own memories have already come flooding back. If you haven’t experienced it, there is nothing I can say to properly express it to you. It is all encompassing, unconditional, instantaneous, uncontrollable LOVE. You don’t have to be intentional about it; it is natural and involuntary, not a response to environment or perception.

In that moment, after 42 long weeks of waiting, it was just me and her. Sure there were swarms of other people, but I couldn’t see or hear them. The entire hospital could’ve collapsed around me and I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed. Was I exhausted and delirious from labor? Sure. Could I tell, no way! It was the single most perfect moment in time if you’re on the inside looking out.

Agape love is at first sight and eternal.

I Believe in Being Molded

Concrete walls covered in dust would standout anywhere but here. Here, they matched the floor, the ceiling, the tables, the stools…everything. It was well-lit, so it couldn’t be haunted. No, it was just Stables Studio, and extension of Huntingdon College where they kept the ceramics to themselves. Earlier in my life some had marveled at my play dough sculptures, perhaps this would come just as naturally. It had to! Afterall, this IS my grades we’re talking about here. The wet clay lay lifeless before me, waiting. Waiting to be molded, thrown, flattened, something, anything. Anything to change it into a form. It continued to lie there, taunting me. I knew I had a project due and the specifics were laid out; it was up to me to make the magic happen. I carried on in this manner the entire semester, longing to know just what to do; then falling short of my vision, only to sign up for another semester the next year. In the end I’d won an award, the Herb Patterson Work of Outstanding Merritt. It didn’t feel so outstanding to me though. I could still picture it in its natural form, a damp clump; wishing to become more.

It hit me sometime after that, I am the clay. The only difference is the potters’ hands change from year to year, even day-to-day sometimes. It is taking a lifetime to sculpt me, and I can only hope that in the end, the hands that mold the fingerprints in my skin are proud of what I’ve become. In the beginning I’m sure there were visions of grandeur; I had proclaimed the desire to become the first woman to become President of the United States of America hadn’t I? Thumbs kneaded me in any direction I desired to go, they pushed me to excel in my education, and they pressed harder when it came to extra curriculars. All the while, still not sure of where I would end up. None of the hands seemed surprised that I’d chosen to go to Huntingdon College, I was the only one taken aback. I thought I’d resolved to be a housewife and a wonderful mother like the path taken by so many of the other lumps of clay I’d called my friends. It was the hands that saw some potential they wouldn’t let rest.

From then on the pressure came, I couldn’t let so many hands down. I had to succeed at something, anything. Would Dean’s list be enough? Hardly, they had come to expect those results. Would joining the Secret Service be enough? Certainly, but that wasn’t a love that ran deep for myself and I couldn’t live the rest of my life just for them. The motherly desire lingered with me, longer than any other. Then it hit me, of course, it was so obvious now. I had wanted to be shaped into a teacher for as far back as I could remember. I was saddened for a moment, not wanting to disappoint all those who had high hopes and had molded me all along the way. It was a risk I would have to take, although I wasn’t sure when or how.

Then came my loving husband who believed in me and supported me more than anyone else. He only barely shaped me in his image for fear that he might change the woman he so deeply cared for already. If teaching was my desire it was his as well. The dream was quickly becoming a reality; I could be a mother to the masses! It was then that I began my Masters degree. These sculptors were professionals. They had worked with many like me before. Their own bodies having been formed much in the same way, just ahead of my time. They were careful not to push too hard, but just enough to share what they’ve learned. It isn’t over yet, and I can’t wait to be formed even more meticulously.

In my future I will become every teacher that’s ever fashioned me in their own image in some way. Even the ones I didn’t like had something positive to add to my experience. I believe they were all placed there at just the right time in my life to make an impact, an impact that I will carry with me forever.

I will stand out from the crowd like Mrs. Drozdowski. I’ll have some cutesy opening one liners from Coach Harmon. I’ll carry the air of respect of Mrs. Golden. I’ll have the warmth of Dr. Hogan, the organization of Dr. Gilchrist, the tune into the younger generation of Dr. Bowden. I”ll carry the serenity and artistic talents of Mr. Payne. I pray that the love of Christ will overflow me like Ms. Jones, that the laughter of Mrs. O’Rear will calm me in days of strife, and the peace of experience will come with time as with Coach Edge. I’ll view the many sides of the situation as Dr. Deal did. There are plenty more, too many to name. They too have impacted my creations, I will carry their imprints with me for a lifetime.

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