By Debbie Kennedy:
It wasn’t until I heard the words, bleeding in the brain, that my concern turned to panic. After the swift ambulance ride to the emergency room and a CT scan, the diagnosis confirmed the source of the excruciating pain and illness that came without any warning – my husband’s brain was bleeding. How could this be, I wondered? Doug was only 46, and seemed to be in good health- I mean, we practiced better health by choosing to exercise. He hadn’t even started his normal workout routine before he became violently ill, so how did this go wrong? I questioned.
After the doctor finished his phone conference with specialists, he informed me that Doug would be transferred by air to Harborview Medical Center – a trauma center with some of the best specialists in the state of Washington. Still stunned by the news, I filled out paperwork and prepared to fly with Doug on the medical Redwing. Close family stood and watched, teary eyed, as Doug was whisked into the exit foyer to meet the ambulance that would take us to the small airport where the Fixed Wing medical plane awaited us. The word” CRITICAL” flashed in my head like a flickering billboard and my heart raced to keep pace with the blinking image.
The evening was dark and dreary – January 2, 2012 to be exact, and not the way anyone would predict to begin a new year. The red lights of the Fixed Wing were like beacons as we arrived to the airstrip. I walked behind Doug as they rolled him up to the plane and lifted the gurney inside. I entered the plane and was instructed to sit in the back – the pilot informed me the weather might make for a bumpy ride as I buckled into the seat. I watched in disbelief as they situated the gurney that held my motionless husband. The plane lifted within minutes and I was glad as I knew every second counted. The brain controlled everything, I knew that much – I watched in anguish my mother’s mind be taken slowly by Alzheimer’s for 12 years at a very young age. My thoughts were uncontrolled as I fixated on the monitors attached to Doug . Oh Lord, I thought, this isn’t the flight we are supposed to be taking, we have a different flight booked in 3 weeks- a vacation. Lord, I thought, my kids will be driving over the snowy, mountain pass in the late hours of the night to get to the hospital – help them! I can’t lose Doug – not now! This can’t be happening! His mind, Lord, his beautiful, beautiful mind – no! The tears flowed freely now and I closed my eyes, overwhelmed, and began to take deep breaths as I sensed a complete shutdown coming on.
After only a few minutes of the deep breathing, I started to pray. The Holy Spirit whispered to my soul a beautiful truth, “I’m with you” – hope and peace beyond my understanding blanketed me that very moment. Deeply feeling His presence, I chose to thank the Lord for who He is and I spoke silently countless words that I knew to describe God’s character , which spurred flashbacks of times of His faithfulness in my life. Overflowing gratitude engulfed me and moved me to then thank Him ahead for how He would continue to walk me through my experience no matter what the outcome was. My prayer continued and I thanked God for the pilot, the medics, the doctors that would care for Doug when we arrived – anything I could think of to give thanks to God for I gave it. This practice helped my mind from shifting back to the fear of the circumstance. A favorite scripture came to mind – Isaiah 41:10 “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 right hand.”
I didn’t beg or plea for Doug’s life, which surprised me at first, but I had learned a bit from some other tough life experiences that it was in God’s hands – all that I needed in the moment was to have the assurance of the Lord’s presence with me, which He had given me. Throughout the flight I had so many beautiful visions of dear times with my husband and our family – good thoughts all jumbled together, but all of them gifts from the Lord. When fear or panic tried to push its way back, I again closed my eyes and said – ” I believe you Lord, you will walk me through this.” I knew I would have to repeat the process.
We spent 21 days in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center – which seemed like ten times more. By the prayers of so many people and the grace of God, we were granted more time with Doug and he was able to return home to recover- in full, I might add. A full recovery after a subarachnoid hemorrhage is rare and so many witnessed this miracle! Despite the many, intensely scary incidents that consistently rocked me to the core, Jesus, my hope and anchor never left my side.
I simply love to record stories that move my heart! As a wife, mother, grandma, friend, nature lover, and a lover of Jesus I never find myself without something to share every now and then – record, and leave the rest to the Lord.