Overdue praise

You may already be aware of the situation I’m about to describe; if so, just humor me.

Even though this is something that I went through, it really isn’t about me.

All day long on Wednesday, June 6th, I was experiencing shortness of breath that prevented me from walking more than about twenty steps or so before seeking a place to sit down.  I’d had a brief encounter with this, to a lesser extent, a couple of years ago where the approximately 150 yard walk from my Sunday school classroom to our church’s worship center had to be made in three parts.  But that had gone away on its own.

I’ve told friends and family for a few years now that I’m ready to go home, but am not going to do anything to effect that myself, as it’s not my decision to make.

It seemed as if every breath might have been my last, though that is true every day, for each of us.

Nevertheless, I made it through the day, not wanting to cause any drama at work.  Calling Loretta to tell her I wasn’t feeling well, I left work a little earlier than usual and went home.  As I was leaving, I asked a colleague, a very Godly woman, to pray against PE, as I suspected I was having a pulmonary embolism.  (My last physical had shown no sign of any heart trouble.)

Next morning, I got an appointment with my pulmonologist, a miracle in itself.  Checking my oxygen saturation level and seeing it was in the mid-80s (with mid- to upper 90s being normal), he said it was dangerously low and sent me for a CT scan for PE.

On the way to get the scan, some cursory research revealed that PEs happen about 600,000 every year, with roughly 60,000 (one in ten) being fatal, and often going undiagnosed until the autopsy is performed.

When the result showed bilateral PEs (i.e. blood clots in both lungs), he told me to report to St. Francis hospital to be admitted for three or four days of blood thinners.  Loretta drove me there.

The triage nurse (Trish) took my vital signs, put me on oxygen, and administered a blood thinner in my hip.  (This may have been done by another staff member, I don’t recall.)  I had joking around with the nurse, trying to inject humor into the situation, when she told me that as soon as a room became available, I would be taken there.

Minutes later, she informed us that one was now open, said she’d take me off the oxygen long enough to wheel me to the room, and moved me into the wheelchair another nurse had brought.  The three of us then went down several hallways, when suddenly I slumped over and began speaking unintelligibly.

At first, Trish thought I was kidding.  But when she stopped the wheelchair and came to look at me from the front, she said “stroke, stat!”, whereupon medical personnel came out of nowhere to attend to me.  I recall looking at my right arm but not having any control over it, and not being able to express any lucid thoughts, which was quite frustrating.

I remember getting the usual set of questions medical staff ask of stroke patients, i.e. what’s your name, do you know where you are, what’s the date, what year is it, who is the president.  All I remember being able to say was my first name, repeatedly.

The next series of events was like a dream that was described to me by Loretta.  Medical staff advised her that, since I’d been given a blood thinner, their options were limited, and that they needed to get me by ambulance to the Medical Center asap, since it had two neurologists who were better equipped to deal with a stroke patient.

Meanwhile, a dear friend (David) and his wife (Danitza) had come to St. Francis about another matter, but then heard I was also there.  Loretta gave David the keys to her car to drive it to the Medical Center so she could ride with me.

Several other ambulances were queued up at the Medical Center when we arrived, but when the EMT’s announced they had a stroke victim, my admission was expedited.  After a CT scan of my brain, the neurologist explained the procedure (trombectomy) to Loretta, which basically involved feeding a catheter from my femoral artery, up through my circulatory system to find and remove the blood clot that had traveled to my brain to cause the stroke.

Prior to the explanation, she had expected surgery that would take six- to eight hours, but was pleasantly surprised when he told her it would take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours.

The doctor’s assistant emerged less than an hour later to the room where Loretta, David & Danitza were waiting to report that they were done, the procedure went well, and that I would be ready for them to see in about thirty minutes, after they cleaned me up.

Loretta said she prepared herself to see me covered in tubes and bandages, something you’d see on the show Grey’s Anatomy.  However, when they came in (and this is the part where I started remembering again), I was sitting upright, speaking coherently, and pretty much back to normal (relatively speaking :-).

They kept me in the hospital for a couple of days, running tests to check for other blood clots in my legs, lungs, and brain.  They put me on a very effective blood thinner, and discharged me Saturday afternoon.

I’ve been taking the medication faithfully, and have been following the doctors’ advice.  Even though the neurologist said I could medically return to work that Monday, at Loretta’s insistence, I stayed home and returned the following Monday.

I feel fine, no shortness of breath like before.  No loss of faculties or anything.  I even remembered my passwords at work.  🙂

If you haven’t already figured it out, this was an absolute miracle.  There is no other way to explain what happened.

To God be the glory.  He is good ALL the time!

In Christ,

Fred

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