The last 27 days have been a whirlwind. Scary. Fearful. Exhausting. Yet… Exciting. Hopeful. Peaceful.
On January 11 Dan was rushed to the hospital with breathing issues. It was scary watching my husband gasp for every breath… even while on oxygen and being pumped full of medication. I was told that if his blood gases did not begin to improve they would have to intubate. They didn’t improve; in fact, they worsened. He was rushed to a trauma room for the procedure. Papers were shoved in my hands while a nurse explained what they were going to do. I was told that he could be intubated for up to 24 hours, maybe longer. That was around 5 or 5:30 am.
Yet there was peace. In fact, one of the local pastors who had come in the wee hours stood by Dan’s bedside and said he felt there was such peace in the room. He later told Dan that I was rock steady, even keeled. I’m not so sure about that. My temperament is such to remain calm in a crisis. It is afterward, after the adrenaline fades, that the physical crash comes.
But the spiritual? Well, that was a completely different story. There was peace. It is true that you can feel the prayers. Nathan and I had begun texting pastor friends nearly immediately. The Lord worked several circumstances for pastors to be awake in the middle of the night to receive those texts who also began texting others for prayer. Once we contacted family, we posted and requested prayer on Facebook. That was around 7:30 or 8:00 am.
I only recently learned that there were about a half dozen or so pastors who had come to the ICU waiting room. (THANK YOU Preachers!) I stayed with Dan the entire time while Nathan slipped in and out to allow a few people to come back to pray over Dan and with me. The pulmonologist came in twice. The first time was to check in and check stats. He had them dial back the oxygen and some of the medications to begin to wake Dan up. He returned around 9:15 am, did a few checks, and walked out. The respiratory therapist came in shortly after that and said they were removing the breathing tube. By 9:45 am the breathing tube was out. Between 4 and 4 1/2 hours was all the time Dan was intubated. (Remember, they had prepared me for approximately 24 hours.) A gastric tube remained for several hours more until he fully awakened, but the danger was over.
During the crisis I could do nothing except to request prayer. And be still. And know. During the crisis my heart was calm. Fixed. At peace. As I have learned of what was happening outside that ICU room I am so grateful. Text messages were flying across the country. Facebook posts were shared and received around the world. Prayers went up. Prayers were answered in a mighty way.
There is a distinct difference, however, between spiritual peace and physical peace. The body is designed to handle stressful events. Some do so better than others in a crisis. But the body can only handle so much for so long. While the spiritual peace remained (still remains) the physical peace, that appearance of steadiness mentioned previously, well, that lasts until the crisis is over. After we got home the adrenaline wore off.
Full disclosure is of utmost importance here because too often we link the physical with the spiritual and beat ourselves up when we have negative physical reactions believing we are failing or have failed spiritually. The physical and spiritual are entirely different. Some people may have physical symptoms during a stressful event; others may suffer from what is called a “let down effect” after a crisis. It all has to do with the release and decline of certain hormones such as cortisol, nor-epinephrine, and adrenaline. Within a few hours of being home, I broke down in tears for a bit and cried without warning for several days. I literally shook for 3 days. I hurt in every muscle and joint of my body for 3 days. It took 2 days for me to be able to sleep through the night. These were my symptoms; yours may be different.
I am thankful for my church family. Before we left the hospital, we were told that several were going to be bringing meals. I didn’t think we needed it. However, a wise friend named Colleen had once remarked to me to “not rob my blessing” when I told her that she needn’t have done a particular kindness for me. That has always stuck with me. So, I didn’t want to rob my church family of their blessing. I am so thankful that they blessed us with meals. Frankly, looking back at it now, there was no way I could have managed without them.
THEN, a few days after coming home from the hospital, we went to pick up my Dad to bring him to Georgia to begin his search for a retirement community for my Mom and him. This is an answer to a three year long prayer of serving and “being still” at the same time. After a week of touring facilities, he chose one, the one that the family had hoped he would choose at that. The one with a staff so loving and caring that my Dad made the statement as we were walking out after he signed the contract, “I don’t know if I can handle all this being taken care of.” (Dad would be the first to help someone; he doesn’t like to be helped.) This will bring them to within 35 minutes rather than 8 hours away. A huge blessing and answer to prayer. I took Dad back home to begin the process of choosing what items to keep, what to hand over to family, and what to discard. That was difficult on many levels. There is still much to do in packing, listing and selling the house, then moving Dad and Mom but we are thankful for the Lord answering prayer in such a specific and special way.
Scary. Fearful. Exhausting. Yet… Exciting. Hopeful. Peaceful. This has been the last 27 days. When I chose to focus on the thought of “Be Still” on January 2nd I had no idea how the Lord was going to begin to use that phrase in my life just 9 days later. But over and over these last 27 days the Lord has whispered, “Know.” Know that I am in control. Know that I hear. Know that you are loved. Know that I have sent people to be My hands and feet. Know that I am with you.