Read...My story

    The paragraphs below tell of a very small part of my life story yet the event that occurred on that day April 13, 1981, altered the course of my life forever.

 I kissed my 2-month old  daughter's cheek as I handed her to her daddy, smiled at my 'almost 7 years old in two weeks' son and said to my husband, "My appointment is at 10 I should be back by 11:30. They are usually pretty good about being on time. Love you guys." I kissed the top of my son's head and whispered in his ear. "Be good for daddy. I'll see you in just a little bit and we will pack up the car and be at grandma and grandpa's before supper tonight! Love you buddy."

     I have no real memory of the above conversation. I have zero memory of the 2 weeks that followed that conversation. I have very sketchy memory of the next 6 months.  But I know the story of the events that occurred that day, Monday April 13, 1981, better than any story in my life because they were repeated to me, at my request, over and over and over again for many weeks and months after that day.  And even after 33 years as I think about it and tell this story, again, I get chills thinking of all that happened and how God worked in every single detail to display his power and love.

     I drove to my doctor’s appointment, for my final post-baby check-up after saying goodbye to my family. At the doctor’s office I checked in, picked up a magazine and sat down to wait my turn.  45 minutes later I began to notice that women who had come in after me were being called to the examination rooms. I went to the receptionists’ window and demanded to know why.

     Flustered at my tone of voice the receptionist moved a piece of paper off of the appointment book,  looked down and saw my name had not been crossed off.  

     She looked up at me, embarrassed and said, "I'm so sorry Mrs. Smith. I accidently covered your name and ... come right in now please I'm really sorry." 

     The nurse who had been standing next to the desk quickly found my chart and opened the door for me. We walked to the scale, I slipped off my shoes and stepped up.

      With one foot on the scale my body collapsed and my chin hit the hard edge of the scale. Startled the nurse quickly turned me over, naturally assuming I had fainted and she began patting my cheek and calling my name. After a moment she told the receptionist to get the doctor. As he walked down the hall toward where I was laying on the floor the nurse explained what had happened.

        "I started to weigh her and she just dropped, she fell like a rag doll and hit her chin on the scale. I can't get her to respond." 
                                                                                                                                
       "How long has it been?" He knelt down and began performing CPR.  He glanced at his reception. "Call for an ambulance."  Looking back at his nurse, "Why didn't you..."

        The nurse interrupted him saying, "I thought she fainted!  It's been 4 and 5 minutes since she fell, I don't know for sure."
      At the hospital, I was in a coma, and the medical personnel were at a loss to provide answers to my family about what had happened. They told my family they didn't know why but my heart just kept stopping.

For brevities sake I think the best way for me to continue is to just list the events of those first hours.

1.  As I was taken to the hospital someone called my husband. When told he needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible he replied , “What happened, why is she going to the hospital? I need to find a sitter for my kids…  I need…” The caller interrupted saying, “No Mr. Smith. You don’t have time to do … You need to go now. Right now. “
2. David called his sister who lived a few blocks away. By the time he arrived at the hospital his mother and another sister were waiting for him. After first seeing me in ICU my mother-in-law found a phone and called my mother, who was waiting for us to visit in a few hours. My mom, my 2 younger sisters and their babies began the 3-hour trip to the hospital. 

3. Someone called the pastor of my church. It was his first day on the job. His first sermon as pastor would be preached the following Sunday, Easter Sunday. He contacted my Bible study leader and the ladies were at my home when my mom and sisters arrived, telling them that someone would be there to watch the 3 babies and my son for as long as needed so that family could be at the hospital.
4.  I was taken to the hospital around 12 noon. 12 hours later nothing had changed, I was still comatose and the doctors were clueless as to what had happened or what to do. At midnight the status quo changed. From 12 – 4 A.M., my heart stopped over a dozen times. Each time nurses would use the ‘paddles’ to shock my heart back into rhythm.

                The ER doctor said, “She probably won’t live until morning. For some reason some of her internal organs are not functioning well.  If she does live she will more than likely be nothing more than a ‘vegetable’… If there’s anyone you need to call to see her you better do it now… we don’t know how long she was without oxygen, and being shocked so much… well… there's nothing we can do... it’s not good.” Then he left.
5.  My mother-in-law called her husband’s cardiologist who didn’t have privileges at the small hospital I was in but she was persistent and he was curious because I was so young, he agreed to come see me.

6.  After hearing the doctors’ grim words my husband, David, went into the small waiting room restroom and prayed. “God, I accept Jesus as my Lord right here and now. Our kids need their mommy. I don’t care if what the doctor said is true. I will take care of her. Please let her live.”
7. The visiting cardiologist was standing at the foot of the bed after he had prescribed and administered an antiarrhythmic drug. My heart stopped again and the nurses picked up the paddles. He held up his hand and said, “Wait. Let’s see if the…” He pointed to the flat line on the monitor. “There it goes… yes… there it goes!” Everyone in the small ICU cubicle let out a sigh of relief.

8. Morning came and my heart stayed in normal rhythm. Throughout the day, I remained critical but stable, and still comatose. About 30 hours after collapsing in the doctors’ office I began to wake up. I think of the hours after waking from the coma as evidence of God’s and my family’s quirky sense of humor.                                                                                                                                                                                                              After the tube was removed from my throat, I opened my mouth and tried to speak. My face was askew and the noise coming from my lips was a jumbled mess. Several family members looked on and said, “Well he said he prayed that he wanted her to live no matter what condition.”
 An x-ray was ordered, and before the tech set up the portable machine he stared at my face for a few moments. He moved my jaw from side to side, then gently butted the palm of his hand up under my chin. My face was straight again. I opened my mouth and my speech was clear. I began talking and continued non-stop for the next  24 hours.

9. I was awake, my heart was responding positively to the medicine, I was able to communicate; but  it soon became clear that I didn’t know who I or anyone else was. During my 24 hour, speaking marathon family members took turns sitting next to me in the ICU and answering the same questions over and over. One of my favorite stories that clearly demonstrates how significant the problem was is below.
                Me to a woman sitting next to the bed smiling at me. “Thank-you so much for visiting me, I really like talking to you, I’m really sorry but do I know you? What did you say your name is?”

               The woman replied, “Mom.   M-o-m.  I’m your mother sweetie.” 
10.  As days became weeks and weeks months my long term memory returned. Memories of my childhood and early adulthood are clear. The year before my heart problem is fuzzy but I realized as time went by that memories of my daughter were of her not of my son because of a change we had made to our home after my son was a baby but before my daughter was  born.  We had added an upstairs bedroom to the house.  I have clear memories of holding, nursing, changing a baby up in that room... had to be my sweet baby girl!!  

11. Today over 33 years later I still deal with the one remaining residual affect of my heart stoppage and coma. I have since then had to learn to deal with a significant Short-Term Memory Loss.  I am working on a more detailed account of the events described above and what it is like to live day-to-day with STML.  Maybe it will be an auto-biography of my entire life, but that does seem a bit arrogant for an ordinary gal like me.  We shall see. I will trust that God will let me know how much to share and when.  I guess that...

      ...the most important thing I can tell you about all that has happened to me is that through it all I have known that I am not now nor have I ever been and will never be ... alone. Because I know that even when I can't "feel" His presence there is no doubt in my mind that my God is with me and that my Jesus is holding my hand and His Holy Spirit will bring to my remembrance what I need to remember when I need to remember it, often not a second before!!  Blessings to you!!!  Ginger




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