“I can tell you he’s not brain dead.”

No one wants to hear the words “brain dead” in relation to anyone they know. No one wants to think about the implications. Not wanting something doesn’t keep it from happening.

On Sunday evening, April 30th, my husband inhaled his dinner and nothing I tried helped. The EMTs got there quickly, and shortly after they got him into the ambulance the food obstructed his airway completely and he went into cardiac arrest.

I learned this after I arrived at the hospital, where I was told that the EMT’s had been doing CPR on him when he arrived, and they had his heart beating again within two to three minutes after getting him into the ER. They’d also removed the obstruction and intubated him. I’m ignorant – was ignorant – enough about such matters that I didn’t realize what wasn’t being said until two hours later.

Mind you, I got people praying right away!

Roughly two hours later, the Intinsivist called me aside and explained the situation. For a young man in good health, you have about 2 minutes of oxygen loss to the brain before you have to worry about brain damage. For a man Jack’s age, and with his medical history, you have 11-12 seconds. They’d been working on him for somewhere between two and six minutes. Also, Jack had yet to regain consciousness, his pupils were dilated, and they were only sluggishly responding to light.

In other words, the doctor wasn’t telling me Jack might have brain damage. He was telling he would have brain damage; it was only a matter of how much. This was when he told me, “I can tell you he’s not brain dead. We have seen signs of brain activity.”

I can’t even begin to explain what I felt at that point. I went to see him as they prepared to chill his body to alleviate the damage as much as possible. They were prepping for other things as well, so I got ready for a move to the ICU waiting room.

Again, prayer warriors were lifting him up. Also, I had some strong support in the room with me, which was good since it was 12:30 AM before we heard anything else.

At that point, another doctor came and got my sister and me. He asked if I knew what all they’d planned to do and I gave him the list, ending with, “and…put him on ice.” (I still can’t remember what they called it.)

“Yes,” he responded, nodding. “On that, there’s been a change of plan. We’ve had him sedated, of course, because of the intubation, but a little while ago he awoke on his own. He’s groggy, but responding to our commands. We won’t be instituting ________ protocols.”

I HAD to clarify. “You’re saying you see no reason to think there’s brain damage.”

“Right,” he agreed as he opened the door.

His ICU nurse told me repeatedly, “You have no idea how lucky he is!” Jack was one of three of the five choking patients they’d had recently who had lived. The two they lost died because of the very lack of oxygen Jack experienced. But…

By 4:00 the next afternoon, he had been moved to a regular room. Two days later, he was transported to rehab. Seven days after that, I took him home. Yesterday, on May 17, the man they expected to either die or come out of this a vegetable walked into church.

But. God.

May 20 EDIT/ADDITION

We saw his primary care today. I’d texted him immediately after my first meeting with the nurse. 

He looked at Jack and said, “What I did not tell your wife is that, when I got that first text, I knew you were gone.”

And again I say…

But. God. 

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

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The Power of Journaling

I discovered the power of journaling decades ago when I was going through an especially hard time. The thoughts in my head stayed confused, whirling about so fast I could seldom catch them and hold them still long enough to actively think on them. I had become frustrated, judgmental, constantly anxious and unsatisfied. I was a Christian at the time, and I prayed, but even my prayers were unfocused and frustrating. And then, one evening while sitting in a laundry mat with a room full of other people,  something wonderful happened.

Since I couldn’t pray openly, like I usually did, I began to write my prayers down in a notebook. I poured out my heart to God in a different way and discovered something totally unanticipated. I was finally able to actually catch the thoughts and put them into some order. I felt, for the first time in a while, that what I was saying was actually making some sense, and having finally grasped those myriad words and crammed them onto paper, I was able to sit back and actually hear God’s voice for the first time in too long.

He told me to go back and read what I’d written, and as I read He pointed out every time I used the word *I*. It was humbling. Right there, in black and white, in my own handwriting, was proof that I had completely lost focus. My attention had wandered away from Him and onto every bad thing I perceived to be in my life. I had become completely focused on ME and how I felt everything was wrong.

The words on the page truly represented the attitude I’d had for a long time, and I knew it. He’d known it all along, but my brain had been so busy griping, moaning, and complaining that I couldn’t hear Him. Like an avalanche carries away an unprepared skier, they had completely consumed me and I was alone in the noise until I found the way to still them.

That experience taught me a great lesson about journaling, and I have kept many journals through the years – some prayer journals and some just records of things I’ve been thinking about that I don’t want to forget. I even have a small journal I carry in my purse today so that I can remember the special things God shows me no matter when I happen to see them.

I also have a formal prayer journal, one I was given on my birthday last year, and it has revolutionized my prayer life. Just this morning I was thanking God for it, because I was trying to pray during my first “get ready” minutes, before I pulled the journal out, and I found my mind wandering all sorts of rabbit trails instead of talking to Him about the things I wanted to discuss. My brain can be like that at times, especially in the morning, but the journal helps it wake up and focus, helps me stay true to what I want to do.

It also serves as a permanent record. I may have only had the journal about a month and a half, but I’ve gone back and reread some of its entries multiple times so that I can keep myself on track, so that I don’t forget the things God has revealed to me and the path I want to walk. This has proven to be a great help in keeping me on the right path in my walk with God.

Whether for prayer, or only for personal use, I highly recommend the journal. Write it down so that you can get it out of your head. Write it down so that you can read it again and actually see what you’re really saying (Just be prepared for a shock, because we can be much more self-centered than we realize.). Write it down so that you can remember, later, what you’ve learned today. The pen really is a mighty tool.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Give Thanks

I’ve been working through a new prayer journal I was given for my birthday in December, and one of the things I most appreciate about it is that it reminds me daily that we are to come to Him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” This is how we should come before God. He blesses us constantly. When we come to Him in prayer, we should first bless Him: Thank Him for all He has done, is doing, and will do, and praise Him for Who He is.

Putting thanksgiving and praise first changes our whole attitude toward prayer. It reminds us that He is not a server at a fast-food window, but a loving father who wants to sit down with us and give us the very best. It builds our faith as we remember all of the wonderful – even wonderfully small – things He’s already done for us; and if we plan to ask Him for anything, we need faith to believe He will answer!

I tried keeping a thanksgiving journal once before, and it was reasonably successful, but I found myself thanking Him only for what I saw as…well, not necessarily “big” things, but readily noticeable things. Now, though, beginning my days in thanks as I do, I find myself coming more like a child who thanks her daddy for every small thing – and in doing so I am reminded over and over again that a lot of those “small things” aren’t really that small after all.

At the very least, they are a continual reminder that He is interested in every area of my life – every minor incident, every dark corner… and I am truly thankful for this, because there have been quite a few of both. Honestly, some days I get so caught up in thanking God in my morning prayers that I don’t make it much further through the journal, and you know what? I find the requests I was going to make still get answered anyway…thanks to Him.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C