Lucky or a Miracle?

Two weeks ago, on Labor Day; I knocked off four non-bucket-list items, an ambulance ride, a life-flight ride, surgery, and a brain MRI.  Not exactly, the type of fun events one puts on their wish only.  Only an hour or so after the trauma, I awoke with full memory of the whole scene until sedation.  Two days ago I added electroshock (called a CardioVersion)  to restore my heart rhythm back to normal and endured a 5-day head-to-toe rash from a reaction to meds, which has cleared up fully.  As I sit writing I ponder how ‘lucky’ I am while counting what some call luck – or was it a blessing and bonafide miracle?   You decide for yourself!

Saturday, September 4th, 2021, I spent 6 hours doing yard work.  The time was spent clipping a few dozen hedges and bushes, mulching clippings and two more bags of early fall leaves, edging 300′ of sidewalk, and cleaning it all to spotless fray.  My body felt great afterward.  I was feeling fantastic since recovering from Covid in December.  Oh, I also had a poisonous spider bite in the butt that laid me down a couple of weeks with a 104 fever.  2021 also produced two major heartbreaks dealing with people who used their anger-laced words to try to crush my soul and spirit to the mix.  Little did I know the singes of their venom and years from other people-stress had taken a toll on my ventricular heart. I was up to walking my dog two hours a day and our son had just gotten his first post-college graduation job. Despite the challenges –  Physically, mentally, and spiritually I felt like I could not have been in a better place ….

Monday morning I awoke feeling so good on Labor Day I decided to cook a box of pancakes for the freezer and to enjoy the beautiful morning’s breakfast.  I cleaned the outdoor patio table and planned to sip my coffee and enjoy some cakes with my wife and dog by our bird sanctuary.  The two frying pans and Aunt Jemima were hard at work producing two trays of cakes for the freezer.  I love a chance to spice up a whole-wheat box recipe by adding fresh berries and making it with extra eggs, whole milk, and an almond milk mix. 

Healthy food, healthy body, healthy brain, I’ve studied it and worked on every facet for myself and family and have used early retirement to practice what I like to teach to those who want to learn from this frugal, and I like to think, wise old guy.  A box of Jemima pancakes and other ingredients creates 30 large pancakes for about $4 bucks, and most of it is organic with the adds. Fifteen meals for 50-cents a piece!  I poured the last of the pitcher of batter in the frying pans, turned the heat low after the last flip, and headed to the bathroom to wash up. 

One minute later at exactly 10:36, I found myself propped up on the couch with my wife asking me what day it was, and I could not answer the question.

I have an embarrassing video that we opted not to make public.  Note for one, I had not shaved in a while, two I look and sound angry, and three my normally calm, polite, and quiet wife barked out orders to me part in fear and part because she knew it was a sudden emergency situation.    It appears I was angry which I was not.  What was happening is a stroke, that is – a blood clot crashed into my brain out of nowhere. 

In the video, you would see how I could not answer any questions.  I was frustrated as my mouth felt as if I had just had my wisdom teeth taken. I could not communicate at all.  I was trying to tell her the house is going to burn down if she didn’t turn off the dang stove!!!   My entire right side was frozen solid and my dominant arm was immovable.  That was when I knew it was time to shut up and wait for help.  The right side of my face turned into a sagging bag of jello. 

I later asked Why did she video me?  Because when I had covid, a similar but shorter occurrence happened and she had called the ambulance then.  By the time they arrived, all was normal and she looked a bit like she freaked out for nothing.  She wanted to record it to show the ambulance driver this time, just in case I pulled out of it as if nothing happened.  We thought it was a mini-seizure when most likely it was instead what we now know is called a TIA(click for an explanation).   

At 10:37 My amazing, wonderful, smart, fast-thinking wife Cindy, called 911.
At 10:41 – We heard sirens blaring down the street.  Cindy shoved our much-confused dog Wyni into the bedroom.  I so wished she was sitting in my lap, slobbering that tongue on my numb cheek.
At 10:42 – We heard an ambulance drive past our house. Oh Sheee-ooot. My wife in the panic, couldn’t remember our address but gave them only a number and info on the neighborhood.
At 10:43 – Fortunately, they had turned around and starting back our way.  Cindy made up for the slight brain-freeze and sprinted out in the front yard, shunning the embarrassment of being in her PJ’s and whistled as loud as she could.  They saw her and quickly turned on two wheels onto our street and pulled in our driveway. Normally a fire truck arrives first, but more fortunate, lucky, or blessed for me – the ambulance just happened to be nearby our home.

In a stroke, a blood clot hits the brain and cuts off circulation.  Every second counts as no blood flow kills brain cells, 2 million per minute according to some analysis.  Past 3-4 hours time is when danger of permanent brain damage and possible death occurs. 

(Here’s an experts Timeline of a Stroke -if you want more info.
At 10:44 Within seconds, the ambulance EMT team was in our living room and a team of 7 people were working on getting me on a chair to carry me out to the gurney.   Cindy had fortunately used the important word on the 48 second call, STROKE. 
At 10:46 – I vividly remember the amazing female EMT with sweat dripping off her forehead on to me rapidly strapping all the seat belts onto my body.  I tried desperately to say THANK YOU!
At 10:48 – The sirens were fired up and we were on our way in my first ever ambulance ride. (we know the timeframes exactly as Cindy dialed my daughter at 10:50 to tell her the news)
I could see all the familiar sites of Providence Road Waxhaw as we whizzed past everyone.
At 10:56 – The ambulance arrived at the E.R. pictured on the front of this story.  A team was waiting on my ‘lucky’ rear end as soon as the van hit the door. 
At 10:57 I was in the E.R. room trying to answer questions with my left arm and half of my left mouth with major statements like grgegerbbbragaregnth. My mind told them how I’d bet covid’s clot causing side effect caused this and I am healthy and should not be here. 
From 11-Noon The Emergency Room team performed a series of tests on me.   I vividly remember a Zoom call with two very smart-looking female doctors that were remotely providing instructions to them.  They kept asking me questions that I knew the answers too, but could not communicate it.  I was administered a TPA  (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) through the I.V. to bring blood flow back to the brain and attempt to break up the clot.   Although there was a moment of breakthrough where I seemed to regain speech for a moment, it failed.
At 12:10 – Soon thereafter the TPA, I was on the gurney again and the final straps were placed around my body very quickly.  Next I was in the air on my first ever helicopter ride on this baby. 

As we flew in the air I was asking God to make sure my family would find all my passwords and life insurance paperwork and counting my memories and blessings here on earth.  I was feeling like this was the end and Jesus was taking me home.   I was a bit confused as most of the trip from Waxhaw to uptown Charlotte was all trees, it provided a seemingly wonderful path to heaven adding an extra touch of peace to my thoughts that I was going to a better place.  Amazingly through the whole scene from start to finish this former worrier felt Zero fear and nothing but peace.  That actually scared me, me at peace!

But — we landed!   Gurney ride #4 had me rolling on the roof of the Atrium ER in downtown Charlotte where a team of 12 people was waiting.  They asked how I was doing with all smiles that everything would be ok.  I tried to smile back and tell them my name is O.  O.  OOO.  With no J coming out or anything else that made sense it was The End of questioning; the next thing I knew they had cut my favorite shirt off and I was in a star wars spaceship spinout the next moment remembering no more from that point on.

At 13:31 – Apparently, I was set up in the ICU.  I understand the amazing neurosurgeon and team did a thrombectomy.   Apparently, it took two tries as evidenced by two Band-Aids in my thigh.  Apparently, the first one missed the spot to get or break up the clot I guess.  tick tick tick on the brain cells
At 15:22 aka 3:22 p.m. two hours later I woke up to see Cindy’s dazed but smiling face.   Amazing technology, I have two little holes on my leg nothing else but arm needle marks. 

I looked around astonished that I seemed ok!  I was extremely grateful for all the fantastic first responders that acted as if I was the President or something rapidly working on saving my lucky life.   I can’t wait to hopefully meet some of them, later on, to personally thank them!  Publicly – Thank You EMT’s, Thank You Waxhaw E.R. Team, Thank You Atrium Stroke Center, Thank You Novant Cardio!!!

I texted my kids and found my poor daughter and son who came to see me at the E.R. but were turned away because of covid policies.  They sat in the E.R. parking lot.  To their horror they witnessed me being shoved into the Life Flight chopper and heading off on possibly my last trip anywhere.  As we texted, back and forth we were all overwhelmed with emotion at what had just happened.  24 hours prior, we were laughing and joking around together at what we never thought could have been our last time together.

At 16:10 – But instead, the nurse team that had done the Thrombectomy dropped by for a visit.  I immediately recognized both of them shocking both them and myself.  They asked a bunch of questions and pushed on my arms, legs, head, mouth, eyes, and everywhere else.  This time without hesitation, all the questions were answered and everything was working as it is supposed to.  They were remarking, no way, and taking furious notes.

Also, a key item to note, the hospital I was taken to just happens to have the #1 Stroke Care Center certifications in the Nation! Had I been making the decisions I would have gone somewhere that was in my health insurance network, which this is not.        Who knew that it is the best of the best, I know Who did!!

Shortly after the surgeon and some other doctors rushed into my ICU room.   Same routine of q&a and tests.   The surgeon said I have been doing this for a long time; double mechanical thrombectomy’s do not end up like this very often.  You are one lucky man!

For the next 2 days, I saw a whole bunch of people.  There was a Neurosurgeon, Neurologist, Cardiologist, Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Vision Therapist, Psychologist, a whole bunch of testers for EKG’s and Echocardiogram’s and MRI’s, and nurses checking to see which therapies would be needed over the next week.

Instead, I was discharged on Wednesday and could have walked out the door.  One Doctor finally said the words I had repeated to all the others, nope it is not luck, fortune, good breaks, been living right, or anything else – I was blessed with a bonafide Miracle from God! 

Maybe you have a different view?  Maybe this was too light on details and not enough on where did God fit in this picture?    Well, if you want my real view on that angle, click the bar below and read on.   Otherwise, may my testimony encourage the many who are working through illnesses and crises yourself or at the side of loved family and friends.  

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Lucky or a Miracle?  Most people think the Bible would never mention luck or make light of someone’s death or near death.   But here’s a bonafide miracle story that not only seems to mock the event but even seems to slam the greatest evangelist of all-time for rambling on with his long preaching.  Perhaps some have already read my testimony and written it off as an every day happening no big deal, give me something sensational already!  It happened in the Bible also.

In Acts 20, we read about a 10-year-old who became lucky as a no-name average person getting his name written in the #1 selling book of all history, Eutychus.  The Amplified version here tells us the name translation means ‘LUCKY’ and his plight. 

Now on the first day of the week (Sunday), when we were gathered together to break bread (share communion), Paul began talking with them, intending to leave the next day; and he kept on with his message until midnight. Now there were many lamps in the upper room where we were assembled, and there was a young man named Eutychus (“Lucky”) sitting on the window sill. He was sinking into a deep sleep, and as Paul kept on talking longer and longer, he was completely overcome by sleep and fell down from the third story; and he was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down and threw himself on him and embraced him, and said to those standing around him, “Do not be troubled, because he is alive.” 11 When Paul had gone back upstairs and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked [informally and confidentially] with them for a long time—until daybreak [in fact]—and then he left. 12 They took the boy Eutychus home alive, and were greatly comforted and encouraged.

My family and I’s lives almost came to a tragic ending, but instead we have been deeply changed with super comfort and encouragement from what happened.  As had happened in Lucky’s case.  But this is by no means our first touch with death.  In fact if you’ve never read my story of 3 near deaths before I woke up and saw the light of God I tell of several miracles here.    We also experienced 3 miscarriages, the murder of my sister, and a number of E.R. visits with our kids amongst others.  Miracles and tragedies have appeared off and on often, from our view.  Some argue why does God even allow such things to happen to begin with, why not just prevent them.  Honestly, I cannot even guess how many almosts have happened in our lives.  I think of the times we got in the car and had an aggravating delay take place, and then drive by a fatal car accident 10 minutes later, maybe that would have been us had God not intervened.  Think about that doubters!

Even in the Christian Bible world we are surrounded by people who love John 10:10 especially in the always positive expanded TPT version 10 “A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!”

Yep, the Christian life is 100% about getting everything in abundance and filled with overflow.  Some Preachers (not all just some) stand in a multi-million dollar complex and tell you suffering comes from sin and if you become born-again (and tithe) and believe all will turn into bliss and you’ll have a mansion and BMW just like them.  They got part of that right but too often the reality of the first part of the thief/aka devil is out to steal, slaughter and destroy is softened and ignored until you find out the real truth later and become disillusioned. 

It starts at conception where we find that miscarriages happen between 10-50% of the time.  Another 10-50% are slaughtered in abortions.  When the teenage-young adult years arrive too many are hit  by drug overdoses, suicides, gangs, and bullies of all-types.  The oppressors go after us further terrorizing us with death stats and fears causing depression and anxiety turning people to fear-filled worriers unable to cope with life.  And of course as we get old the inevitable sets in slowly or perhaps sneaks up on us way too soon as nearly happened to me.  Nature’s cancers and now a pandemic from perhaps a man-made virus have reached our entire world stamping the death wish on way too many. 

Therefore, when miracles come, I feel like we need to shout them from the rooftops.  I would be in sin to not write this one up and resume the writing call that I believe God assigned to me.   Stories of redemption and overcoming are needed daily! A friend of mine named Regina shared this article which is an eye opening read on the power of testimonies. An excerpt states:

“A messianic rabbi went on to tell me he and his congregation had been experiencing healings from repeatedly sending believers to sick individuals and having them recount healings they had received in the past. When they testified of their healings, power was released to “do it again.”   The word testimony means ‘to repeat an action or do it again.’ Hebrews believe – “that when we share about what God did in the past, it releases the same power into the present…in other words, power is released to ‘do it again.’

This is why God tells us in Isaiah 43:26, “Put Me in remembrance…” He doesn’t require this because He, like us humans, sometimes needs a reminder. Rather, He is instructing us to ask Him, based on something said or done in the past, to take action today.   God “remembered” Hannah, who had been barren, and she conceived (1 Samuel 1:11). He “remembered” His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and commissioned Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 2:24). For God, remembering involves action.

This was life-changing revelation for me. I finally understood why God said we overcame satan by “the word of [our] testimony” (Revelation 12:11). And I knew why David stated his testimony of defeating the lion and the bear before they ate him!

After doing so, David then did something extremely interesting. He grabbed his staff, five stones and his sling, and approached the giant (see 1 Samuel 17:40). Why would David want to be encumbered with his staff when fighting Goliath? In those days, men carved symbols depicting their history on their staffs; it was their journal, of sorts. David’s staff no doubt depicted pictures of a dead lion and dead bear and others—his testimony, his history with God.”

Going back to Paul and the story of Lucky, Paul did not stop and elaborate on the miraculous death-reversing healing of the boy.  Instead it said they went ‘ back upstairs and had broken the bread and eaten,’     and continued teaching til the sun rose.   Paul brought everyone back to remembering that the fear of death is obsolete!  In remembering about communion, that is the community getting together in union to recall the greatest sacrifice and miracle of all-time by Jesus giving up his body and shedding his blood in death, but worry not, as Jesus then rose from the dead.  He defeated death and proved there is an after life.  Why is there a need to worry about dying? 

When I was on that chopper two thoughts were in my mind; I am either going to heaven or God is going to do a miracle and heal me.  Perhaps I come back with a limp, have to throw left-handed, or worse, but if alive is what He wants me to be, then I need to live each day as if it is my last.  It is a good philosophy to wake up and thank God for another day and live it to the fullest, aka enjoy life and have fun.  But how much different would we be if we knew it was our last, what would we want people to know?

How glorious is Life?  Do you feel fortunate or lucky to be alive.  Some of us have been through situations where a miracle has happened or the time for someone’s departure from earth took place.  In Lucky’s case everyone went away filled with enormous joy.  But should it be too much different deep down for us when someone we know has their life right with God and departs to heaven and now sits in the glory of God.  

Paul shortly after had departing words to people he knew he’d never see again as he was about to get on a ship and go where he knew he’d be seeing his death soon after, he said:  “But whether I live or die is not important, for I don’t esteem my life as indispensable. It’s more important for me to fulfill my destiny and to finish the ministry my Lord Jesus has assigned to me, which is to faithfully preach the wonderful news of God’s grace.”   Acts 20:24 TPT   

I am only like Paul in that I write much longer than most people care to read, just like he preached so long a kid fell asleep and fell from a window.  But to tell a miracle story in Solomons’ Portico bravery style leads me to feel no remorse for breaking short writing rules.  Many people are dying around us now while many miracles are also taking place.  Let my luck, er absolute Miracle that is, lift you to higher faith and power to carry not only this story to others, but to take your testimonies to those around you as well.

God bless you with this and other life-saving stories to bring to remembrance to the cloud of witnesses that surround us.

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