God is in the Details
I have always looked for the ironic in life, in happenings, in jokes, etc. Happenings or words that are different or opposite of what you might expect. That is why I think it is ironic I have no knowledge of one of the biggest happenings in my life. All I know about it is what I have been told.
On the evening of Friday, September 30, 2005, I went to bed as usual. The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital on the next Thursday morning, October 6. I have no memory of anything that occurred in the intervening days.
When I read the literature given to me by the hospital, I learned that I had experienced something called Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD). Their use of the word "death" was kind of shocking to me, but that is their word. Some descriptions I have read since use softer language. SCD is a condition in which the heart beats so fast that it can't refill with blood between beats. This means that no blood is going out to your body, including your brain. It results in your collapse.
As I have thought of all the happenings of those six days, as they have been related to me, I have come to the realization that God is in the details. I am also very grateful to Him for bringing me through this, and restoring life to me with little noticeable effect.
Granted, physicians worked long and hard on my behalf. Some techniques they used are considered new and cutting edge. Of course, I am grateful to them. However, I am most grateful to God, who arranged all the circumstances that gave the physicians the opportunity to do their work. I intend to relate to you as many of those circumstances and details as I have become aware, to show how He worked mightily on my behalf.
On that day in October, 2005, I was about 5 to 6 weeks past quadruple by-pass heart surgery. I had returned to work, and was feeling well. I am told that I didn't feel too well that particular day.
I had been doing some chores around the house, and had tried to install a new garbage disposal, without success. The strain of that may have contributed to later events.
About 4:00 I collapsed, and fell out of the chair in my tiny home office. My daughter, Carol, heard the chair slide across the room, and came to investigate (read: miracles. See details later.) She found me lying on the floor, unconscious.
Carol called 911 and began CPR. She kept it up for six minutes, wanting to stop and call my son, Chris, to come help her. The 911 operator wouldn't let her stop, even when she said she couldn't handle me by herself. Finally, the firemen and ambulance arrived, and took over the effort. When they arrived I was in full cardiac arrest—They shocked me twice and did all the necessary procedures to save me.
Carol finally had the opportunity to call Chris, who lives about two miles away. He had been preparing to come over, anyway, because he and I were supposed to go to the OU vs K-State football game that night. (Which reminds me, those firemen and EMT's must have been Oklahoma State fans, because they cut my OU shirt off me, and I haven't seen it since.)
My wife, Rita, had spent the afternoon at the Weight Watchers center where she works, taking inventory. She got her first notification of what was happening when Chris called and told her I had collapsed, and she needed to get home.
The firemen and EMT's had used a defibrillator on me, and were preparing to transport me to the local hospital. Chris and Rita began driving there. On the way, they received a phone call from Carol telling them that I was on my way to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital, instead. (From later experiences, I believe it is the practice of the EMT's to send in the patient's readings. Based on that, they are directed where to go).
Rita and family were met at the hospital by our pastor, Rev. Darren Pilcher, his friend Rev. Curtis Ivy, and many concerned members of our local church. We are forever grateful for their presence, their support, and their prayers. Especially grateful that their prayers were so effectively answered. Word was spread to other friends and acquaintances around the state, and I was in their prayers as well.
Here is Rita's account of what happened:
"Things were very grim. The ER doctor said they’d done all they could do and it was in God’s hands.
(Believe me –that’s always the best place to be.) They moved him up to the critical intensive care unit
where they did a procedure they called “THE BIG CHILL”. They lowered his body temperature slowly and
kept it in that state for 24 hours. This was to keep his body organs and heart from working so hard and
so his brain wouldn’t swell. In Oklahoma City "The Big Chill" was done only in this heart hospital.
During this time he was kept in a drug induced coma. When he awoke, if he awoke, they would be able to know if there
was damage. After 24 hours they slowly warmed him up and in the next 24 hours we’d know. He began to be
conscious early on Monday, gradually responding to the Doctor (like wiggling his toes). Those things were good, but he didn’t really seem to know who we were. It was Tuesday morning before I felt sure he knew who I was".
According to the March, 2007 issue of Readers Digest, approximately 25% of U.S. doctors use the "big chill" technique. Fortunately, my doctors are in this minority group.
I have said that I remember nothing that happened from Saturday, October 1 until the next Thursday morning. That is true. However, I am told that I was awake during part of that time, and received visitors and talked with them. No offense, any one, but I don't remember any of this. What happened on Thursday that was different? I don't know. I do know that church services were held Wednesday night. I have no doubt that prayers were said for me at Lakeside Assembly, my home church, as well as other churches around the state.
Rita has mentioned my experience to her physician. The doctor's first thought was that Rita was going to tell her that I had died. Upon finding that that wasn't the case, her next thought was that I had brain damage. I am glad to state that that is not the case either.
I know that sometimes computer data is copied off, and the computer disk is reformatted, cleaning up old problems. The copied data is then rewritten to the renewed disk. I feel at times that my person, my being, whatever it is that makes up "me" has been rewritten to the physical presence of my being. Any brain damage that may have occurred has been restored. All of the prayers that were made for me contributed to that restoration.
I have said "God is in the details" of my experience. What am talking about?
My daughter Carol was home. She works every other Saturday, and could easily have been working, or shopping.
Carol knows CPR. I didn't know she did, but she tells me she was instructed in her high school driver's ed class, and was number one in her class.
Carol had been practicing a song for Sunday church service. She had just turned off the music. Otherwise, she would never have heard me collapse. She also came to check on me. At other times she might have ignored a small noise.
The ambulance crew that had stated that they were taking me to a local general hospital instead took me to a heart specialty hospital. A hospital that uses techniques used by only a quarter of doctors at this time.
An article appeared in the Sunday Oklahoman on Easter Sunday, 2007, relating the story of a woman who had had the same experience I did. According to that article, only 7% of people who experience SCD survive. I am grateful to be one of those who have done so.
Prior to my by-pass surgery, tests showed that my heart was pumping out only 28% of the blood it contained. Normal is 50-55%.Tests made in September 2006 indicate that my heart is pumping out 50+% of the blood it contains. That is considered normal. Also, when I first began consulting the cardiologist, I was told that the lower tip of my heart was dead, that there was nothing that could be done about this. That was repeated to me on later visits. When the September, 2006 tests were performed, I was told that the tip of my heart was full of small blood vessels. I didn't think to ask the obvious question then, but I did later. "Does that mean that the tip of my heart isn't dead any longer?" The doctor's reply was a big "Yes"!
One other small detail. I mentioned that I was in my small home office when I collapsed. There was a laser printer sitting in the floor close to my chair. Carol has asked me more than once how I missed hitting that printer when I fell. God is in the details.