When I woke up this morning I was thinking about July 16, 2003. This is not a date I think of regularly, thank goodness. It is one of many days that felt very devastating at the time, but has now disappeared into the fabric of who I am and what makes me tick. So it’s a poignant day, but I don’t dwell on it.
Strangely, I thought of little else today. So I am going to tell the story.
July 16 was 13 days after Erik’s heart transplant. He had been released from St. Paul a miraculous 11 days after his surgery, and we were busy driving back and forth from the hospital to my sister’s almost every day for blood work and check-ups. This particular day was his first time in the cardiac rehab gym and he amazed me with 2 miles of brisk walking on the treadmill. We laughed and joked as he lifted weights and actually broke a sweat for the first time in 7 months.
Our physical therapist, Allison, was super-cautious and really serious about this huge milestone for Erik. But the two of us were just like teenagers goofing around and arguing over where we were going to dinner that night with Matt, Kelly, Sarabeth and Amanda. I remember feeling so happy that we were only visiting the hospital and would be leaving as soon as Erik’s therapy was over. (There is no better feeling than walking out of St. Paul hospital with Erik. To this day, I still want to run before someone stops us.)
As Erik wrapped up his workout, I went to the bathroom to freshen up and get ready for the 45-minute drive back to Frisco. When I came back into the room, Allison looked concerned and asked, “Is Erik diabetic?” I said no.
I sat down next to Erik and he was looking up at the ceiling and mumbling to himself. It was in that instant that I realized something was really wrong. I yelled to Allison, “Call a doctor!” Then Erik’s head started twisting violently to the left and I realized he was having a seizure.
Allison grabbed Erik around the waist and lithely took him to the ground on top of her, then rolled him onto his back. There he proceeded to seize for more than 10 minutes. They called a code blue and people started running into the room from every direction shouting orders. Two older black ladies grabbed me and dragged me from the room.
All I remember is that one of them buried my face in her rather large bosom as I screamed and cried. I might have been a bit hysterical. You can laugh here – it’s sort of funny to me, too.
In a moment they rushed Erik from the room on a stretcher and one of the doctors shouted, “We have to get an airway.” I think that’s when I snapped into auto-pilot. I grabbed my cell phone and called my brother-in-law Matt. And he said they would be on their way.
I followed Erik to the ER and in minutes our hero Dr. Yancy came running thru the double doors. We made eye contact for a split second and the look on his face frightened me more than anything else. For more than an hour they tried to get Erik to stop the seizures. He stopped briefly, but when they got him to the MRI lab he started again.
It was the most brutal afternoon of my life as doctors attempted to stabilize him. He was literally thrashing on the table. They wouldn’t even let me in the room, but I could hear his screams from the hallway. In the midst of these seizures, Erik was fighting against the doctors and nurses, ultimately bruising some of them pretty badly.
Finally, they sedated him and the seizures stopped.
Dr. Yancy came out to talk to me and said he had no idea what was going on, but that it had to be one of three things: 1. A massive stroke; 2. A brain bleed; or 3. An allergic reaction. Then he said Erik would be going back to ICU and they were going to keep him sedated for at least 24 hours so they could run some tests.
This was on a Wednesday.
I really thought this was it. After all the previous months of harrowing experiences at St. Paul, I thought this was finally the day I’d been afraid of. The scariest moments prior to this had been quiet and sad – Erik sleeping and me next to him holding his hand and waiting. But July 16 was loud and terrifying and vicious.
Hours later when I was able to catch my breath, there were a few thoughts that started going through my head:
Thank you Lord that Bryce and Lexi were not with us when Erik had the seizures!
Thank you Lord that we were at the hospital and not at my sister’s or driving down the tollway!
Thank you that Dr. Yancy and all our other doctors were close by!
I began to feel overwhelmed with gratitude for a God that knows ahead of time what is going to happen and intervenes in ways that make the moment survivable.
July 16 was the day I figured out what the word SOVEREIGN means. Without a doubt, I finally got it.
On Thursday, the MRI revealed that Erik had spots on his brain caused by an allergic reaction to cyclosporine, his immuno-suppressant. Thank God above there is more than one of these types of drugs, so Dr. Yancy was able to just change his prescription and released us from the hospital on Friday. How about that!
So I had to tell a really long story to get back to today. I woke up thinking about July 16, 2003. But this time a fresh thought was going through my mind in regard to this story. It’s from one of my favorite chapters in the Bible and one of my favorite details about the Lord . . . “He hems me in . . .”
Psalms 139 says, “You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”
He hems me in . . . He was there before me and He’s waiting up ahead of me. Nothing touches me that’s not filtered through his hands. Nothing about my life surprises Him. He knew when I was formed in my mother’s womb that my son would one day have hereditary heart disease and that my life would look the way it does now.
God knew when I went to bed last night that he would awaken me this morning with Psalm 139 and tie it back to an experience 7 years ago that was very profound for me. God also knew I would learn a new song this morning in church that must be based on Psalm 139.
He hems me in . . . . and loves me enough to give me a new song to sing.
by the Desperation Band
Lord You searched me. And you know me. You hear all of my thoughts. No point in hiding. Lord you found me. So completely in need of You. I cannot run from You.
If I go to the heavens or down below, You are right there waiting. If I rise on the wings of the dawn I will find You waiting.
You are in the highest place. You are in the falling rain. You are on the mountain peaks and valleys speak wonders of your name. You are in the perfect sky. You’re in every breath I breathe. You’re in every moment life seems to pass me by. You’re my Prince of Peace.
You’re everything You’re in everything. You’re in every part, it all ends and starts with You my King.