Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of Passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.







Let's be more aware of all the choices, situations, twists and turns that brought us to this place right here and now. They May Be Miracles.



Saturday, June 6, 2009

More Aware of Gifts

My dad almost died once.

Well, he actually had several occasions over his lifetime where he almost died. He had heart surgery when he was 16 years old - to date he's the oldest living person to have that particular surgery. I'm told he would have died without that procedure...it was experimental at the time. He's had some other close calls, but I'm privy to only one for now.

In February of 2002 I received a call that my mom had taken my dad to the hospital. I was told not to worry or get excited because they didn't know if it was anything serious - they just wanted to make sure he was ok because he had been feeling some numbness in his hand and arm. Something just didn't feel right about the call so I left work to go to the hospital. He had been undergoing some tests that morning including tests to check for stroke and heart attack, they would do a ct scan and a spinal tap too. The numbness kept getting worse and was slowly spreading to other areas but they could not find anything wrong with him.

My older sister who was living in North Carolina thought the whole thing sounded strange too, so she booked a flight into Columbus immediately and I went to pick her up at the airport later that day. By the time we got back my dad was almost completely paralyzed. My younger sister was there too, so all of us were witnessing this deterioration. I really can't recall the timetable of events...it seemed to all move so slow and so fast all at once. No one could determine what was happening to him. My husband arrived sometime that evening. Well into the night he was not only unable to move, but soon became completely incoherent.

The doctors were baffled and finally told us that sometimes a body just decides to give up and there is nothing they can do about it. A nurse came into the special waiting room that they took us all to and told us that we should all prepare to go and say our final good-byes to him. We each went and took our turns with him. The nurse had asked if there was a minister or priest we would like to have present and she called the priest from St. Mary to come over. Meanwhile we all sat in the little waiting room and prayed...together. We prayed that we were not ready for him to leave yet, to please spare his life, to help the doctors figure out what the problem is, to help the doctors save him. The priest came and gave him his final blessings.

A visiting doctor came up to where they were holding/treating him. He was told what was going on with him and he said he had seen something like this at the hospital he works at. (My details as to what they did are very foggy now). He said they had performed a plasma transfer (or something like that) and it stabilized the patient. So expediently they did this procedure. I think it must have been like 2:00 am by this time.

Just like that, after a day and night of horror, fear, uncertainty, and continuous prayer, my dad was stabilized.

At this point they wanted to life-flight him to Riverside Hospital in Columbus since they could not diagnose him in Marion. Upon arrival to Riverside he was quickly diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome. He was in ICU for about a week. This portion of time was extremely painful for him because I guess the virus attacks the nerves before rendering them useless. Then they moved him to a long-term care floor because it would take a few months for each part of his body to get feeling back. Unfortunately a couple of big mistakes were made by a staff person on a couple of different occasions which set his recovery time back due to complications. He was in the hospital for 8 months. Fortunately, though, he recovered....mostly. There was another man, a minister in his 40's, in the hospital at the same time with Guillain Barre Syndrome as well. He had many more complications than my dad and last I had heard was in a wheel chair for up to a year after his experience.

I can't say that my dad ever recovered 100% but I can say that he recovered and was able to walk and talk again.

We're eternally grateful to God for sending the visiting doctor to my dad in the nick of time to give him the plasma transfer that saved his life. We know this to be a miracle and have since become more aware of all the gifts that we are given.

2 comments:

Lydia said...

It's interesting and frightening all at the same time how many stories I have heard about people nearly dying because medical staff don't know about Guillain Barre Syndrome. I don't understand why it isn't a more commonly known medical issue.

By the way, I adore your writing.

Lydia

Dustine said...

I agree that it should be more commonly known about and considered as a diagnosis. Perhaps it is still a pretty rare virus and just doesn't top the list of things to look for when a patient comes in with those symptoms? I don't know.