Fear not for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you.
Yes, I will help you.
I will uphold you with my righteous
- Isaiah 41:10
I'm not sure I can write this post. I'm not sure that I can get the words out through the tears that won't stop coming. I'm not sure.
What I am sure of this morning is that God loves me. He loves Bert. He is here. Thank God, He is here. And Bert is still here. By God's grace, he is still here.
I'm not sure I will ever get that phone call out of my head. I hear it when I go to sleep. I hear it when I wake up. I hear it in my dreams.
Let me back up to Thursday afternoon. After teaching I went to a club meeting at the college where I teach. I am an advisor to these students. We had just had our first meeting of the year.
I turned my phone off because I hate it in meetings where someone's phone rings. It's a distraction.
After a meeting that followed the first meeting, I started to head home so I turned my phone back on so I could call my beloved husband, Bert. He loves "checking in" moments about where I am and when I'll be home. We have two busy schedules to coordinate and knowing my schedule helps in planning.
There were two missed phone calls. I decided, thank God, to check them before I called Bert. They were both from my home phone. Bert doesn't use a cell phone. He just plain hates them. I tease him about being the "last of the land line lovers."
The first message from Bert sounded strange. He is a counselor and had left after his last appointment feeling "wobbly" and not like himself. I thought, hearing those words, that his on and off case of vertigo might be flaring up again.
I listened to the second message.
He said, "Honey, I think I might be having a stroke."
My world stopped. I literally ran through the parking lot, dialing at the same time. He talked about taking a cab to the hospital. I wondered why he hadn't called 911.
There is one lane construction going all the way up to the main street I take to get home. I prayed aloud, "Please God, let Him be okay. Let him be alive. Let help get there. Your help, Lord. Be there with Bert. Please God, let him live."
I have never in my life felt so scared and desperate.
Bert is the love of my life, my soul mate, my life partner. We have been married for 31 amazing years and together 34. We have been through cancer together, blending families together, everything together. I adore him and he adores me. We are best friends.
And because of slow traffic I couldn't get to him. I called and talked to him for a second. I told him I would be right there.
I called back seconds later and he didn't answer the phone. I had forgotten to tell him to call 911.
So I did. As I raced down 29th, I called 911. I told the operator our address, that my husband thought he was having a stroke, and that I was racing to the house. She told me help was on the way.
The minute I got home and saw Bert I knew we were in trouble.
Not one minute later, the paramedics arrived, took vital information and rushed him off to Sacred Heart Hospital, only five minutes away.
One paramedic took a look at me, a complete mess, and said wisely, "We will have the lights and sirens on. You are NOT to follow us and go through the red lights with us. You might have an accident. Lock up your home, call your support folks and then head down to Sacred Heart." And then he said the most important words of all. "I can see how much you love him. I promise you I will personally be with him and take care of him
in the ambulance."
Looking back, I felt like that paramedic was God's messenger
in that moment.
Do not fear, I am with you.
In the deep storms, I will comfort you.
I listened and I didn't argue. I locked up the house and hugged several neighbors who came over terrified to see an ambulance and fire truck at our house.
You see they all love Bert. He is counselor and healer to so many lives, not just mine.
And then I called our daughters. We are a team when there is a crisis. I could barely get the words out as the phone call went to voice mail. How do I say this so I won't scare them to death, but also tell them the magnitude of what has happened.
Long story short I raced to Sacred Heart, praying aloud.
"Dear God, please save him." I was crying so hard I could barely see the road.
My youngest daughter arrived in what felt like seconds.
I called our police officer son in Seattle and told him to call his brother, who lives in Texas.
I told everyone to ask people to pray. Now. In this instant.
I waited in the heart trauma waiting room to hear the news. And then a gift from God... Amy, my youngest daughter, came.
What a blessing to have her there. Jessi arrived later and the two of them stayed late into the night, interpreters of medical information when my critical thinking skills were completely clouded by fear. Terror was more like it.
I kept telling Amy that I couldn't fall apart.
Finally, after what seemed like hours but was only minutes, I was allowed in to see my sweetheart with wires coming out of him everywhere. He was hooked up to machines and monitors with their lights and lines and beeping sounds.
The doctors and nurses were working feverishly, trying to figure out what had happened. The word stroke was thrown around constantly.
Bert was pumped full of what later came to be described as an aspirin compound and taken in for an emergency MRI and CT scan.
I started to breathe again a bit later when someone found Amy and me and said, "It doesn't look like a major stroke, but we have to figure out what has happened and what caused it." I clung to those words. It was probably some kind of stroke, but not major.
In final analysis, Bert had a TIA which is a mild stroke. There are stroke-like symptoms yet Praise God no permanent damage to the brain. After talks, and reading the literature, I now know that after having a TIA you are more likely to have a stroke. The real, hard, awful kind. It is a huge warning.
As if this smaller stroke wasn't bad enough.
We are back home, as I write this, and truthfully we are dazed and scared and exhausted and making a plan. Bert has three new medications. It's complicated because he has a digestive, auto-immune disease (crohn's disease) which can easily flare up. Bert also needs to be on a diet to gain weight (needs to gain ten pounds), and a diet that doesn't aggravate his crohn's disease, and a low cholesterol diet. I have spent the morning trying to coordinate all of these dietary requirements.
Yet what is amazing in all of this, and not a surprise, is Bert's attitude of Thanksgiving, humor, grace and praise. He has told me over and over how much he has to live for, how much he loves his family, how much gratitude he has that God brought him through this scare. He isn't resentful about any of it, but is adjusting to how will he get to his poetry class now if I can't take him. He appreciates life even more, if that is possible.
And now on to the adjustments...
That is the best update I can give at this time.
Please pray for Bert and his health. Please pray about how to figure out all the changes and curve balls thrown our way (can't drive right now, what to do about work...the list goes on and on.)
Today, in this moment, we are leaning into His everlasting arms
as we sort this out and make plans for healing. We are filled with so much gratitude for each day God gives us. We are so grateful that Bert is still here.
Thank you for praying.
May God bless you and keep you!
"We are all just walking each other home." ...