Although my husband and I had struggled financially early in our marriage, after years of struggle we came to a very good place. We were blessed abundantly… but the truth is that we didn’t fully know the true meaning of ‘abundance’ until we had nothing.
MOVING TO A NEW LIFE: THE SEASON OF CHANGE
In June of 2008 we moved to another state, another life. This was a step of faith for us. His job in his field of work did not pan out after we moved and the economy fell flat that summer. But even so, we believed God had called us there so we prayed and we waited.
We thought we were going for our daughter’s ballet training, and although that was part of it, God had other plans in store for us. Moving away from family and the comfortable life we knew actually grew us in many ways for the better. We found a church home, a place to live, and our daughter was getting the best training of her life. We were growing as a family and loving it.
ICU: FINDING LIFE AS DEATH KNOCKED
Not too long after moving to Kentucky, Everett became recurrently ill with sinus-like infections. He had already been suffering from one-sided body numbness and pain for a few years that no doctor or test could completely diagnose. The stress level was rising, and the fact that he could not find a job on top of all of this made it skyrocket. Everett continued to be very ill for the entire summer and into the fall. We lived every day one step at a time.
By November of that very same year, we found ourselves in the ER. Everett presented with symptoms of a possible stroke. That day had started out as normal as any other. He still had not found a job and I was just trying to start my freelance writing business. So as I worked on that in the morning hours that day, he was teaching our daughter advanced algebra in her sophomore year of home schooling. He is mathematically minded and he has a very subdued kind-hearted personality, so what happened during that lesson should have been our first clue that something had gone terribly wrong.
He became very upset, nearly angry, at trying to teach her what was really an easy word problem. To take a much needed break, he went downstairs to do something on the computer, and within minutes he was back upstairs acting very disoriented. He told me that he couldn’t turn the computer off. I asked him why, thinking that our old desktop was probably quitting on us. What he said and did next was very frightening.
“I keep pushing the screen button and it won’t turn off.”
Screeching breaks applied.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “You don’t shut it off on the screen.” I knew something was very strange. He then told me he was not feeling well and sat down on the stairs. I knew right then that his demeanor meant we needed to get him to the doctor. I said, “Why don’t you put your shoes on and we will go to the doctor, honey.” As he tried to tie his shoe – AT HIS KNEE – I became very nervous. I helped him tie his shoes and motioned to head to the car. He turned to the kitchen balcony doors to go to the garage. Yes, you read that correctly… balcony. We were on the second floor of a condo!
We quickly guided him down the stairs to the car and drove to the hospital closest to where we lived. I had called a new friend whom I had just met the month before at a women’s ministry event. I knew she would know where the hospital was since her husband was a Physician’s Assistant. She met us there. What an amazing God-sized thing to do! She barely knew us but stopped her day to come to the hospital to sit with my daughter.
Minutes after arriving at the ER my husband seemed to come to his senses better. But after giving his name and symptoms – including telling them he had a terrible headache that day – they rushed him into the ER. No wait time. That should have been my second clue that something had gone terribly wrong.
Within about 5 minutes he was not only disoriented again, but he did not know who I was nor could he answer questions. He became angry and was trying to leave. His personality was completely turned upside down. The nurses had to strap him down to keep him from leaving and being highly agitated. He was not the man I knew hours before nor the man I had known for years. Whatever this was began changing him immediately.
The battery of tests that they performed extremely quickly showed no cause. Our pastor came to the hospital as well as another friend, the only other friend we had made since moving to KY, the founder of a ministry for drug addicted, sometimes homeless men. God had certainly orchestrated putting these two women and our new pastor into our lives at just the moment He would work through them.
The prayers of friends and family in several states began as my heart began to think the worst outcomes. But I stood on the promise of God that I could trust Him to guard our hearts. My daughter stayed so very calm and trusting that God would take care of us said simply, “He is going to be okay, Mom. I know it.” Oh the faith I saw in her lifted me to know the same to be true.
We were told by the ER doctor that they may have to fly him to Cincinnati because they were not staffed to handle his needs… unless an available neurologist was found quickly. Immediately, I made phone calls.
It is at moments like this that many turn to God even if they have never done so before.
I had already been through so much in my life that I knew God was there.
I called everyone I knew who would pray for him; for a neurologist to be found in time, and for God to heal him so that our daughter would not lose her dad because I knew that feeling all too well.
After many, many tests it came down to Everett needing a Spinal Tap. The doctor told me there were no other options left. I will never forget the words from the her that night – they still resonate ever so loudly in my mind.
“If we don’t do this, he’s going to die.”
I was hit as if a brick wall had just crushed my entire being. Words can be a powerful sting. But I also knew the Word can be the power that changes the sting.
I remembered advice from a friend:
Facts are facts but the Truth is the Truth and the Truth always sets us free.
I clung to that. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by trusting God. If Everett were to live then God had a plan that death could not stop.
Truth is the Truth and the Truth always sets us free.
As it turned out, my husband was diagnosed with Meningitis and placed in the ICU within hours of reaching the ER. An infection had somehow traveled into his brain.
I could do nothing. I was numb but somehow mechanically moving through the motions. I was counting on the prayers of many – believing – but knowing that if God chose to bring Everett home we would be okay and he would be in a far better place.
Since they had to do more testing, I went home to unlock the door to let my parents and his mother in. They had traveled all night to get there after getting the phone call.
I can barely hold back the tears as I write this. I experienced a peace that I will never be able to explain, but I was aware I could lose my husband, my best friend, the one who had unconditionally loved me through all that we had been through.
Less than 12 hours later, as I walked back into the ICU that he had been transferred to in the same city – at a larger hospital to see a neurologist – I was told he had just been walking and talking as if he had never been ill. God had answered our prayers! Further tests showed no brain abnormalities and no long term damage. My husband had remembered who I was and he was asking if Emmy and I were ok! I had cried enough tears by that time to fill a room, but at that moment tears of joy flowed in my heart and spilled out onto my face. I was so thankful that my husband was alive.
It even astounded the doctors. The CDC doctor, who was brought in for this case since they could not identify the infection, told me that she had never seen anyone, ever, recover that quickly from meningitis. All I could think about was the multitude of people praying and all I could say was, “That is the God we serve.” I was overwhelmed. The miracle was being played out in front of everyone in that ICU.
(It is a good thing computer monitors don’t crinkle from tears like paper does because if they did this one would be toast.)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
We thanked Him. For everything.